Herald Press and John Howard Yoder
John Howard Yoder (1927–97) was perhaps the most well-known Mennonite theologian in the twentieth century. While his work on Christian ethics helped define Anabaptism to an audience far outside the Mennonite Church, he is also remembered for his long-term sexual harassment and abuse of women.
Yoder taught ethics and theology at Notre Dame University and Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. He received his doctorate from the University of Basel, Switzerland, and was a member of Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Indiana. Widely recognized around the world as a theological educator, ethicist, and interpreter of biblical pacifism, he is best known for his influential book The Politics of Jesus. Yoder is credited with defining Anabaptism to a wide audience.
From 1992 to 1996, John Howard Yoder submitted to an extensive investigation regarding his sexual harassment of women. Such abuse of women led to a church-sponsored disciplinary process. At the conclusion of the process, Yoder’s writings were recommended as an ongoing resource for the church. In 2013, with many calling for a fuller acknowledgment of Yoder’s abuse and criticizing the church’s care for his victims as inadequate, Mennonite Church USA authorized a discernment group to coordinate this work.
We at Herald Press, the publisher for Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada, believe that Yoder and those who write about his work deserve to be heard; we also believe readers should know that Yoder engaged in abusive behavior. Herald Press continues to publish the work of Yoder and those reflecting on his legacy. We hope that those who study Yoder’s writings will not dismiss the complexity of these issues and will instead wrestle with, evaluate, and learn from Yoder’s work in the full context of his personal, scholarly, and churchly legacy.
For an update on the denomination’s responses, click here.