More Than Atonement: Anabaptist-Mennonite Discipleship Ecclesiology and the Work of Christ
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This thesis focuses on seven authors writing in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition who have made the argument that traditional atonement theologies have not only failed to adequately integrate the church and the kingdom with the atonement but the very articulations of the atonement logically exclude and marginalize these important themes. Traditional accounts of the atonement have failed to adequately integrate the church as a community of disciples or Christ’s work of bringing the kingdom. In light of this failure these authors propose models of the atonement that promise an adequate integration of atonement, church and kingdom. These authors focus on the wider work of Christ, seen as bringing the kingdom and forming the church as a community of disciples. While having a consensus around these themes their thinking on traditional atonement themes (such as sin, guilt and punishment) is remarkably variegated with little discernable unity. This thesis concludes by suggesting that if Anabaptist-Mennonite theologians make the distinction between the ultimate work of Christ (i.e., bringing the kingdom and forming the church) and his penultimate work (i.e., of atoning for sins) this would bring greater coherence to these traditional atonement themes which in turn would help deliver on the promise for a more adequate integration of atonement, church and kingdom. In the first chapter this thesis gives an account of Anabaptist-Mennonite discipleship ecclesiology through two representative authors, Harold Bender and John Howard Yoder. The next three chapters take a closer look at atonement theologies of seven representative Anabaptist-Mennonite authors, both their general proposals but also how they integrate atonement and discipleship ecclesiology. The concluding chapter will draw the analysis together indicating what has been learned about both atonement and discipleship ecclesiology within this tradition, and how they relate to each other.