The Politics of Yahweh: John Howard Yoder, The Old Testament, and the People of God

John C. Nugent, Cascade Books, 2011

Nugent’s book is of special interest because it feeds into my current writing project, namely: “The Politics of the Nonviolent God” —one that might be seen as a sequel to Nugent’s Politics of Yahweh and to Yoder’s The Politics of [the Nonviolent] Jesus. My line of reasoning is that if Jesus was the fullest revelation of God (Yahweh) available to us, and if Jesus was nonviolent, then the God whom Jesus worshipped is nonviolent. Yet Yoder’s God is a “Warrior God,” and Nugent’s work is a thoroughgoing affirmation of Yoder’s Warrior God!

Herein lies the spiritual and ethical challenge for all of us: As long as we believe that Ultimate Power (our God, the God of Jesus of Nazareth) is characterized by violence, by the Warrior, then we as followers of Jesus, as pacifists, as citizens of a global humanity, will consciously or subconsciously support the instruments of violence as a necessarily essential part of our political institutions. But we now know (beyond the aid of the biblical canon) — that unless we learn to live together without violence, we will be destroyed by Violence.

—Ray Gingerich is professor emeritus of theology and ethics, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA