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A Precarious Peace

Yoderian Explorations on Theology, Knowledge, and Identity
A Precarious Peace

Series: Polyglossia: Radical Reformation Theologies
Author: Chris K. Huebner
Product Code: 9341
ISBN: 9780836193411
Pages: 252
Binding Information: Paper

Publication Date: 11/17/2006

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A Precarious Peace poses a formidable challenge to mainstream accounts of Christian pacifism. In place of an approach which seeks effectively to implement and distribute a peace whose content is known in advance, Chris K. Huebner develops a radical understanding of peace that interrupts and puts into question many of our most deeply held convictions, including much of what is offered in the name of peace.

John Howard Yoder developed an understanding of "non-constantinianism" and a vision of Christian discipleship as involving a cultivation of a "readiness for radical reformation." This book explores the possibility of a specifically Mennonite theology, problems of knowledge, and questions of identity from a peaceable perspective of unpredictable gracious gifts given and received rather than a violent longing for possessions owned or territories protected.

This book presents an interpretation of Christian pacifism that turns upon the call to live out of control. Key conversation partners include Rowan Williams, John Milbank, Karl Barth, two Mennonite grandmothers, Canadian cinematographers, radical reformation, and most of all, John Howard Yoder.

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Disestablishing Mennonite Theology

  1. A Precarious People: The Ambiguity of Mennonite Identity ... 35
  2. Radical Orthodoxy, Radical Reformation: What Might Mennonite and Milbank Learn from Each Other? ... 39
  3. Mennonites and Narrative Theology: The Case of the John Howard Yoder ... 49
  4. Radical Ecumenism, or Receiving One Another in Kuala Lampur ... 69

Disowning Knowledge

  1. Can a Gift Be Commanded? Political Ontology and Theoretical Closure in Milbank, Barth, and Yoder ... 83
  2. Globalization, Theory, and Dialogical Vulnerability: John Howard Yoder and the Possibility of a Pacifist Epistemology ... 97
  3. Patience, Witness, and the Scattered Body of Christ: Yoder and Virilio on Knowledge, Politics and Speed ... 115
  4. The Agony of Truth: Martyrdom, Violence, and Christians Ways of Knowing ... 133

Dislocating Identity

  1. Christian Pacifism as Friendship with God: MacIntyre, Mennonites, and the Genealogical Tradition ... 147
  2. Curing the Body of Christ: Memory, Identity, and Alzheimer's Disease by Way of Two Mennonite Grandmothers ... 163
  3. Image, Identity, and Diaspora: The Ethics of Visual Culture in Charles Taylor and Atom Egoyan ... 177
  4. Between Victory and Victimhood: Reflections on Martyrdom, Culture, and Identity ... 189


  1. Putting Ourselves in Question: The Triumphal Entry and the Renunciation of Triumphalism ... 205

"A Precious Peace is intelligent, at times elegant, and unremitting in its depiction of the church as a counter-polis, gifted with witnesses and martyrs and a distinctive voice, but resistant to the frozen embrace of a theology captured by method and harnessed to rootless abstraction." —Paul J. Griffiths, University of Illinois at Chicago

"The precarious peace that Huebner describes is just that—Christian convictions are not possessions but a gift and they are received through vulnerability, not control. Don't miss the chapter on memory, identity, and Alzheimer's disease." —Gayle Gerber Koontz, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary

"I believe that A Precarious Peace is a break through book. I simply do not see how the mainstream intellectual cultures, Christian and non-Christian, can ignore this book be relegating it, just as they have tried to relegate John Howard Yoder, to the Mennonite ghetto." —Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University, from the Foreword

If the church were true to its call, it would speak, not of such worldly peace, but of the peace of Christ, which, as gift, is precisely out of control. Christian pacifism is distorted to the extent that it could be spoken of as something owned. The peace of Christ is first of all to be spoken in a confessional vein. It arises from struggle against the background of a recognition that it is always already implicated in some form of violence or another. It is not yet free from sin. The peace of Christ, the church's grammar of peace, is as fragile and vulnerable as it is threatening and explosive. It cannot but exist in the absence of guarantees. It moves wihtout the benefit of stategic calculations designed to bring it about more effectively. It teeters uneasily on the edge. It is, as the title of this book suggests, a precarious peace. —from the Introduction, p. 20

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