Reflecting on the state of theological ethics in 1981, James Gustafson wrote that "the radical Christian ethics of Yoder mark a substantive position for which there are many sound defenses; to opt against it is to opt against some fundamental claims of traditional Christianity." This, however, comes fast on the heels of Gustafson's remark that, despite its historical, biblical, sociological, and moral warrants, "I note Yoder's option here because it is the one most dramatically different from the option I shall pursue.'' The attentive outsider, unaccustomed to the ways of Christian ethics, is likely to wonder what, with all those warrants, makes Yoder's a "radical Christian ethics;' and why Christians would pursue anything else. The knowledgeable, of course, will recognize Gustafson as the heir and representative of an important tradition in Protestant ethics, running back through H. Richard Niebuhr to Ernst Troeltsch.

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Copyright © 1999 Eerdmans Publishing. This chapter first appeared in Wisdom of the Cross: Essays in Honor of John Howard Yoder.

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