Elizabeth A. Johnson & John Howard Yoder: Community as Power

One day a few weeks ago, I was on John Howard Yoder kick, needing desperately, to sip some Nonviolent theology kool-aid, when I came across this quote in For the Nations: Essays Public and Evangelical,

“Love is power when it denies the enemy, the oppressor, the last word in defining his relation to us. Community is power.” (page 229)

Usually, I have a rather easy time understanding where JHY is coming from, but at first I had a hard time deciphering what he meant by “community is power.”

Enter Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J.:

“Sophia-God is in solidarity with those who suffer as a mystery of empowerment. With moral indignation, concern for broken creation, and a sympathy calling for justice, the power of God’s compassionate love enters the pain of the world to transform it from within.” (She Who Is, page 170).

I think it is no coincidence that Johnson goes on to argue in the subsequent sentences in favor of non-violent action, which I should note is quite different from Yoder’s all too not-popular concept of non-resistant love, still emphasizes enemy love and peace-making as part of Christian discipleship.

0 thoughts on “Elizabeth A. Johnson & John Howard Yoder: Community as Power

  1. Myles

    Yes–Yoder isn’t concerned with “empowerment” in the same way that Johnson is. For Yoder, to say that the community is power is to say that the community is a witness to its origin, and to the practices sustaining the community which are “the grain of the universe”. For Johnson, the community becomes a resource for the individual, whereas for Yoder, the individual bears witness to the community.

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  2. Pingback: Ezra 8:21-23: John Howard Yoder and Jewish Pacifism | Political Jesus

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