The believing body is the image that the new world — which in the light of the ascension and Pentecost is on the way — casts ahead of itself. The believing body of Christ is the world on its way to its renewal; the church is the part of the world that confesses the renewal to which all the world is called. The believing body is the instrument of that renewal of the world to the (very modest) extent to which its message is faithful. It may be “instrument” as proclaimer, or as pilot project, or as pedestal.

For the people of God to be over against the world at those points where “the world” is defined by its rebellion against God and for us to be in, with, and for the world, as anticipation of the shape of redemption, are not alternative strategies. We are not free to choose between them, depending on whether our tastes are more “catholic” or more “baptist,” or depending on whether we think the times are friendly just now or not. Each dimension of our stance is the prerequisite for the validity of the other. A church that is not “against the world” in fundamental ways has nothing worth saying to or for the world. Conversion and separation are not the way to become otherworldly; they are the only way to be present, relevantly and redemptively, in the midst of things. — Body Politics

I first read Yoder last year during a course in Ecclesiology, and his writing has had a grip on me ever since. His thoughts on what it means for us to be the Church — growing out of his unwavering loyalty to his Mennonite faith — are a personal challenge to me. Here are four things I really like about about Yoder:

  1. He argued for the critical value of local churches that were alive and vibrant.
  2. He believed that the Church needs to orient itself by Scripture.
  3. Despite his lifelong commitment to the Mennonite church, Yoder acknowledged and interacted with a wide range of Christian perspectives.
  4. Although Yoder often wrote on complex and difficult theological principles, he was more interested  in the practical than the theoretical.