Mark Thiessen Nation
- BA, University of Illinois
- MA, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Peace Studies)
- MDIV, Christian Theological Seminary
- PHD, Fuller Theological Seminary (Philosophy of Religion and Christian Ethics)
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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. His chief current academic focus is on the life and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 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.
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.
Church, Community and Professional Service
- Elder team, Early Church (Mennonite Church), Harrisonburg, 2008-2016
- 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