The Gospel of John: A Discussion …

So for those of you who are reading along with me, here are my initial thoughts regarding my “brisk run” through John. The first observation I will pose in the form of a question: does the Gospel of John lend itself more easily to synchronization with the Pauline epistles then the so-called Synoptic Gospels (e.g. Matthew, Mark, and Luke)? I ask this because much of the “discipleship” presented through John is focused on “belief in the Christ” as opposed to the Synoptics where “discipleship” seems to be focused on “praxis” – or action.

Second observation. Orthopraxis (or “right actions”) cannot exist without orthodoxy (or “right belief”) because every action is precipitated by some measure of belief, no matter how small. On the other hand, can orthodoxy exist without orthopraxis?


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6 Responses to The Gospel of John: A Discussion …

  1. Consider John 5:24-25 …

    “I’m telling you the solemn truth: anyone who hears my word, and believes in the one who sent me, has the life of God’s coming age. Such a person won’t come into judgment; they will have passed out of death into life. I’m telling you the solemn truth: the time is coming – in fact, it’s here already! – when the dead will hear the voice of God’s son, and those who hear it will live.”

    This is exactly the kind of passage I’m talking about. John seems to be littered with these sorts of passages regarding “belief” whereas the Synoptics contain very few passages that are similar in nature.

  2. Bob Bryant says:

    Those were my exact thoughts after reading John. After having ready Matthew, Mark and Luke, John did not read like a gospel account. I know that the miracles that John chose to write about are specific in nature for the audience that the gospel is written to, but it seemed unbalanced comparatively. Jesus speaks almost from the get go with boldness in his claims and various titles that he claims, “Bread of Life”, “Resurrection and the Life”, “I AM” and each of these moments are followed with extensive theological teaching that appears to focus more on the nature of the disciples belief than anything else. I actually really enjoyed reading John this time, more so than the other 3 gospels.

    The other piece that stuck out to me, was the focus on spiritual warfare throughout the gospel account. While it is present in other 3 synoptic accounts, it appeared to have much more of a focus from John. This was interesting in light of reading the Drama of Ephesians by Timothy Gombis right now and understanding a bit more of apocalyptic literature and the role of the powers and authorities in the redemption story of creation.

    In response to your second question, I pose the situation of the man who asks for healing from Jesus. Jesus simply turns and asks him “do you believe?” The man responds, I believe, help my unbelief. In this case,,the man’s actions, or orthopraxis, appear to be his seeking out Christ, but there is an absence of belief to some extent, or orthodoxy. What do you make of this encounter?

  3. In response to your question, Bob, I would say this: “every action is precipitated by *some measure* of belief.” In other words, we assume a history that reads something like the following. The man hears a story of an itinerant prophet and hears of the alleged healings. On the one hand, he is completely skeptical because this isn’t the first so-called prophet that claims an ability to heal. But, on the other hand, where is the harm in going to ask. If this is the real deal, the man walks away as a winner. If not, his alternative belief is probably strengthened – the belief that the world is full of false prophets and deluded nuts. Either way, his belief system drives him to Christ. Once there, he is faced with Christ’s counter-question, and he admits to having both sets of beliefs in side him: the belief that Christ can help and the belief that there are false prophets. He’s hoping for Christ to be the former.

  4. Bob Bryant says:

    Ok, so this may be a little jumping the gun with today’s reading, as I have only read half of Acts as of 9:30 this morning. But, take the example of Simon the sorceror who is healed in Acts 8 by Phillip. Verse 13 tells us that “Simon himself believed and was baptized.” However, just a few verses later, it appears as though Simon has not demonstrated much belief at all (orthodoxy). Peter’s response, is rightfully harsh, but also seems to imply that Simon’s heart is still ” captive to sin” (verse 23).

    Acts reads like a thrilling suspense novel unfolding. There is so much action in the book of Acts. I love the subtle subversive writing techniques of Luke like in chapter 12 when he writes, “So Peter was kept in prison, BUT, the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” And then later in the chapter, “Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. BUT, the word of God continued to increase and spread.”

    Midway through, and having just completed the gospels, my thoughts are still in a place of trying to seek out what true biblical faith looks like when exercised (orthopraxis with orthodoxy) today? The life of faith in Acts seems and reads so dynamic and this is not my experience, nor what I see in the church today. More later…

  5. I know I am a little behind on reading, but after reading John I found that it actually seemed to explain why Christ came to earth and really contrasted the dark to the light. The other gospels seem to giv e a much more historical account of what Jesus did while he was here on earth.

  6. I am logged in as scott — it’s actually Sarah making comments.

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