Mark Thiessen Nation
Office Phone: (540) 432-4962
Main Campus, Harrisonburg
Office Location: SB 226
Professor of Theology
“I am an adult convert to the Anabaptist/Mennonite tradition. While being in serious and enriching conversation with Christians from other traditions, I am excited about our own. I believe there are riches yet to be mined, riches that enable us to combine grace and faithfulness, a trinitarian faith with serious discipleship. In my own calling as a teacher, I hope to contribute to the shaping of future, visionary leaders for the Church and I endeavor to foster imaginative teaching and preaching that calls forth joyful obedience.”
Growing up in a non-Christian home within a racist community, being encountered by Christ in a Baptist revival toward the end of high school, and being pastored by a WWII veteran—these would not seem to be the ingredients to produce a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. But then the gospel of Jesus Christ is not predictable. It changes lives! In Mark’s case, a radical conversion followed by reading the New Testament and hearing many sermons about God’s love for the whole world convinced Mark that following Jesus included not killing one’s enemies.
Several years later Mark discovered Christians within various traditions who, with Mark, saw peace and social justice as inherent in the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it was through reading The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder that Mark began to find a theological home in the Anabaptist/ Mennonite tradition. Mark’s subsequent studies with Yoder, followed by doctoral studies under Jim McClendon and Nancey Murphy, along with a co-editing friendship with Stanley Hauerwas deepened Mark’s commitment to the centrality of Jesus for ministries of peace and justice, and led to the integration of theology and ethics that infuse his teaching and writing.
Mark’s voracious reading in multiple disciplines is animated by his passion to help the church remain faithful to Christ. His current writing project with two former seminary students is focused on recapturing Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s commitment to the centrality of Jesus Christ linked to faithful discipleship as the defining center of his life and work.
Mark’s teaching at the seminary draws on his experiences within several early “emergent/new monastic” Christian communities, his brief stint as a child protective services social worker, his six years as the founding director of an ecumenical peace and justice organization, his pastorates in several denominations, and his 5 ½ years as director of the London Mennonite Centre, in London, England. He is currently on the leadership team of a Mennonite church organically connected to Our Community Place, a center devoted to serving the “least among us” in Harrisonburg. His preaching and teaching in that community coupled with his attentiveness to the vast needs and challenges within our larger cultural contexts serve to ground his life and teaching in the transforming work of Christ in the world through the church.
Acknowledged as one of the foremost authorities in the world on John Howard Yoder, Mark’s interests are wide ranging. However, in a few words, his driving passion is to discern with others what it means to articulate afresh the holistic gospel of Jesus Christ for today or, in other words, to ask what it looks like to embody “the politics of Jesus” for our time.
Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary
M.Div., Christian Theological Seminary
M.A. Peace Studies, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
B.A., University of Illinois, Springfield
Most Recent Essays
- Check out my blog: Anabaptist Nation
- 2015 “‘So Far as It Depends on You, Live Peaceably with All’: On Pluralism, Particularity and Proselytizing,” in Practicing to Aim at Truth, ed. Ryan Newsome and Brad J. Kallenberg (Cascade, forthcoming).
- 2014 “The Narrative of the One Jesus, Compassionate Evangelist and Commanding Lord,” The Mennonite (June).
- 2014 [theological sections on lectionary texts for Propers 23-28, Year B], in Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary: Preaching Year B, ed. Paul Scott Wilson (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press), 290-325.
- 2013 “Against Christianity and For Constantine: One Heresy or Two?,” In Constantine Revisited, ed. John D. Roth (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications), 68-82.
- 2013 “‘A Blanket License to Commit Evil Acts?’: A Fresh Examination of Bonhoeffer’s Christological Framing of Ethics.” Perspectives in Religious Ethics, No. 40 (Summer): 143-153.
- 2012 “Naming What Unites Us.” The Mennonite (April).
- 2011 “Foreword.” In The End of Sacrifice: John Howard Yoder on Capital Punishment ,ed. John Nugent. (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.).
- 2011 “The ‘Ecumenical’ and ‘Cosmopolitan’ Yoder: A Critical Engagement with Nonviolence: A Brief History and Its Editors.” The Conrad Grebel Review (Fall): 73-87.
- 2011 “Conscientious Objection” and “Conscription.” In Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics, ed. Joel Green, et al., Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, s.v.
- 2011 “Footwashing: Preparation for Christian Life,” in The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, Revised edition. Edited by Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing), 479-490.
- 2011 “Mennonite Theology.” In Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology, ed. Ian McFarland, et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), s.v.
- 2010 “The ‘Fear of the Lord’ Is the Beginning of Anabaptist Wisdom.” The Mennonite Quarterly Review (July): 397-416.
- 2010 “John Howard Yoder,” in Mennonitischen Lexikons (revised ed.; online), ed. Hans-Jürgen Goertz. (article in German) (reprinted, with slight revisions, in GAMEO in English, 2011)
- 2010 “The Politics of Yoder Regarding The Politics of Jesus: Recovering the Implicit in Yoder’s Holistic Theology of Pacifism,” In Radical Ecumenicity: Pursuing Unity and Continuity after John Howard Yoder, ed. John Nugent (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press), 37-56
- Bonhoeffer the Assassin?: Challenging the Myth, Recovering His Call to Peacemaking. Co-authored with Anthony G. Siegrist and Daniel P. Umbel (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Press, 2013).
- Reasoning Together: A Conversation on Homosexuality co-authored with Ted Grimsrud (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2008).
- John Howard Yoder: Mennonite Patience, Evangelical Witness, Catholic Convictions (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2006).
- Yoder, John Howard, Revolutionary Christianity: The 1966 South American Lectures, co-edited with Paul Martens, Matthew Porter and Myles Werntz (Eugene, OR: Cascade Press, 2012).
- Yoder, John Howard, The War of the Lamb, co-edited with Glen Harold Stassen and Matt Hamsher (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2009).
- Yoder, John Howard, Karl Barth and the Problem of War and Other Essays on Barth, edited by Mark Thiessen Nation, (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2003).
- Faithfulness & Fortitude: In Conversation with the Theological Ethics of Stanley Hauerwas., co-edited with Samuel Wells (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2000).
- The Wisdom of the Cross: Essays in Honor of John Howard Yoder, co-edited with Stanley Hauerwas, Chris Huebner and Harry Huebner (Grand Rapids, MI; Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999; reprinted by Wipf & Stock, 2005).
- Virtues & Practices in the Christian Tradition: Christian Ethics after MacIntyre, co-edited with Nancey Murphy and Brad J. Kallenberg. (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997; Reprinted: Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003).
- Theology Without Foundations: Religious Practice & the Future of Theological Truth, co-edited with Stanley Hauerwas and Nancey Murphy. (Nashville, TN; Abingdon Press, 1994; reprinted Wipf & Stock)
- Elder team, Early Church (Mennonite Church), Harrisonburg, 2008-present
- Director, London Mennonite Centre, 1996-2002
- Interim Pastor, Glendale Church of the Brethren, 1995-1996
- Pastor, Ladera Church of the Brethren, 1991-1995
- Pastor, Orestes Christian Church, 1989-1991
- Pastor, Grace Community Church (GC Mennonite), 1987
- Founding Director, The Champaign-Urbana Peace Initiative, 1981-1986
- Child Protective Services Social Worker, 1977-1979
- Evangelism, Youth Ministry, 1972-74
- The American Academy of Religion
- The Society of Christian Ethics