Though the great Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder died in 1997, new writings of his continue to appear in print. Just released (hat tip to Danny Postel) is a new collection of his work on the connections between pacifism and epistemology—the study of knowledge, of how we know, believe, and understand.
The two subjects might appear to have only a tendentious tie. What does nonviolence have to do with knowledge? For the beginning of an answer, one need go no farther than Gandhi’s concept of satyagraha, truth-force. Truth, he taught, is the method and medium of nonviolent force. But then further questions arise. What do we mean by truth, and where does it come from? How do we recognize it?
For the rest of an answer, this book seems like an excellent place to start:
In A Pacifist Way of Knowing: John Howard Yoder’s Nonviolent Epistemology, editors Christian Early and Ted Grimsrud gather the scattered writings of Yoder on the theme of the relationship between gospel, peace, and human ways of knowing. In them, they find the beginnings of a pacifist theology of knowledge that rejects strategies of empire while at the same time avoids a self-defeating relativism.
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