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Vocation, Christendom, and Public Life: A Reformed Assessment of Yoder's Anabaptist Critique of Christendom

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In this article I reflect upon the implications of Christendom for Christian vocation. It begins by describing the condition of Christendom in the United States. Then it traces John Howard Yoder's critique of Christendom. Finally, it assesses Yoder's critique with a view to a revised understanding of the public vocation of the Christian in a post-Christendom USA. Part of that assessment involves distinguishing three forms of Christendom: state-enforced Christendom, voluntary cultural Christendom, and Christian culture within the church as minority community of obedient witness. I propose that Reformed vocation should join embrace Yoder's rejection of state-enforced Christendom and affirm his call to develop Christian culture as a minority community. But unlike Yoder Reformed vocation requires Christians, where possible, to work toward voluntary Christendom in the broader society.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of religion, St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, USA;, Email:


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