From Joe James:
Can you help me make sense of John Yoder’s interpretation of the Temptation Narrative of Jesus in the desert?
I thought I had this clear in my mind, and was explaining it in our book club. However, a wise old Baptist preacher stopped me and said, “What’s wrong with being a welfare king? Sounds like something you and me both would advocate!” I wasn’t sure how to respond myself, nor was I sure what Yoder would say! As a Yoder student, how do you respond?
Jesus responded, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” The problem with both capitalism and socialism is the reduction of political realities to mere economic exchange, without a true or full account of the whole of human life. To be merely a welfare king–to be simply a conduit of the doling out of bread–is to shortchange the fullness that is the Kingdom of God. There is obviously a place for “welfare,” in the sense of giving to those who have need; but the way of the church is the way in which such giving is not separated from a desire for the whole goodness of an individual human being; i.e., we give bread when needed, and without strings, but we are also present to give more (in the sense of a call to change and repentance and renewal, etc.) as it is needed and desired.
Or so it seems to me…