Archives For Branson Parler

 

More Apotropaic Arboreal Adventures:
A Response to Parler
By Paul Martens


Paul Martens RespondsThis response is directed at the longer ebook version of Branson Parler’s review.

[ Click here to read/ download (PDF) ]

CLICK HERE for the shorter version of Parler’s review of:

The Heterodox Yoder

Paul Martens.

Paperback: Cacade Books, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

When one writes a book suggesting that an important Christian thinker might best be understood as heterodox, one expects a swift and strong response. In these respects, Branson Parler has not disappointed with his thirty-eight page ebook—The Forest and the Trees: Engaging Paul Martens’ The Heterodox Yoder—that appeared a mere two and a half months after the publication of my The Heterodox Yoder.[1] I sincerely appreciate the conviction evident in Parler’s engagement. Although the length of his review is oddly flattering, it is absolutely clear that his ebook is an energetic attempt to reject my rendering of Yoder:[2] following a brief summary of my argument, it provides a lengthy explication of three central elements of Yoder’s authorship—politics, Christian particularity, and sacraments—that allegedly undermine my argument, ultimately leading to a pithy (and rather brazen) conclusion that not only overturns my application of the proverbial “forest for the trees” imagery but also appropriates and extends my invocation of heterodoxy in order to claim that my reading of Yoder is analogous to heresy.

Parler correctly observes that I view Yoder’s thought as a sort of cautionary tale and that I believe it is important to avoid reducing Christianity to ethics (not, however, because of my experience in Anabaptism but simply because reducing Christianity to ethics is problematic theologically – my experience in Anabaptism has simply illustrated this problem). Yet, Parler also claims that The Heterodox Yoder “only confuses rather than clarifies things” because I do not account for the “whole forest” of Yoder’s corpus (37). At the gracious invitation of The Englewood Review of Books, I offer the following comments of response in order to clarify what I take to be (a) missing from Parler’s analysis; and (b) misleading in Parler’s description of three central elements—very significant trees, to continue the metaphor—of Yoder’s thought.

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“The Active and Persistent Pursuit
of Ecumenical Reconciliation

Part Two of a Two-Part
Review of
Radical Ecumenicity:
Pursuing Unity and Continuity after
John Howard Yoder
.

John Nugent, Editor.

Reviewed by Stephen Lawson, Chris Smith and Nate Kerr.

[ Read this Book’s Intro Here… ]


Radical Ecumenicity:
Pursuing Unity and Continuity after
John Howard Yoder
.

John Nugent, Editor.
Paperback: Abilene Christian UP, 2010.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

[ Editor’s note:  This review of Radical Ecumenicity, edited by John Nugent is blazing new trails in its format for us here at The Englewood Review.  First, this review represents the first time that we’ve had several reviewers do a part-by-part review of a single book.  It is also the first time we have had a review that spanned two issues.  We reviewed the first half of the book last week and the second in this Friday’s issue.  We welcome your feedback on these new experiments with format. ]

Chapter Six, “John Howard Yoder’s Reading of the Old Testament and the Stone-Campbell Tradition,” by Paul Kissling attempts to appropriate Yoder’s reading of the Old Testament in the Stone-Campbell Movement (SCM). For those familiar with the SCM, it is no surprise to hear that Kissling finds the traditional postures of the SCM in regard to the Old Testament as problematic and short-sighted. Early leaders of the SCM felt the need to affirm the Old Testament as inspired Scripture, but struggled with how to conceive of that inspiration in light of the witness of the New Testament. Most of these founders leaned on doctrines of differentiation and dispensationalism (e.g., the idea that the Abrahamic covenant was starlight, the Mosaic covenant was moonlight, while the Christian covenant is sunlight). Others attempted to demarcate the progress of revelation in ways that hindsight tells us were ill-conceived. These muddled views can often result in a ‘practical marcionism.’

Kissling offers Yoder’s emphasis on the macro-narrative of the Old Testament as a corrective to this tendency. He posits that Yoder’s inclination to read the Old Testament as a whole corrects some of the struggles that readers of the Old Testament have (e.g. ,the monarchy, holy war, etc). As such, Yoder’s posture offers some real insight and a viable alternative to those who implicitly divide between the God of Abraham and the God of Jesus. Furthermore, this narrative reading of the Old Testament prevents the abuses that can arise when the ethics of the church are formed more by the conquest of the first Joshua than by the sermon of the second Joshua (i.e. Matthew 5-7). Yoder “helps those of us in the Stone-Campbell tradition to see that the narrative trajectory of the Old Testament leads us to reject violence and trust in the Lord to secure our future” (133).

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