Quote(s) of the Day

On my way to school I came across the following passage from Yoder. It made me laugh, but I realize I’m a total nerd.

“To deny Jesus Christ today would mean being secularist, an agnostic, or an atheist, claiming in one way or another that there is not, or that there is no way to talk about, a transcendent reality coming to us in Jesus. The doubters in the late first century were making just the opposite point. They did know about transcendent reality. They thought of themselves as responsible for the preservation and refinement of a high level of religious insight. Historians call their position ‘gnostic,’ from a root which refers to special inside knowledge. They were the insightful, the initiated. Today we might call them gurus, maharishis, or systematic theologians.” (J.H. Yoder, “Glory in a Tent,” He Came Preaching Peace, 77).

A couple pages later, Yoder writes this beautiful passage on John’s inversion of gnostic language:

“That is what the Gospel prologue [John 1:1-18] does with the language of gnosticism. It turns inside out a whole system of thought, whose entire purpose had been to dramatize the distance between the spirituality of God and our poor humanity, and to describe the need for rare and costly exercises of meditation and initiation to seek to rise in contemplation just a step or two toward that distant light. This is the language which is seized and stood on its head to claim–no to proclaim–that all the meaning behind creation, all of the orderliness and purposefulness and goal-directedness of the created order, has come right into our life in a form which preposterously puts itself at our mercy, letting it depend on us whether we will let it illuminate us, transform us, and make us children of God.” (J.H. Yoder, “Glory in a Tent,” He Came Preaching Peace, 80).


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