Friday, January 09, 2009
Is John's Gospel Sectarian?
According to the most usual definition, a sect is a religious group that rejects the social environment in which it exists. In that sense, the whole New Testament can be typified as sectarian to some degree (I would put Revelation on one end of the spectrum and Luke-Acts on the other). Given that the Gospel of John is largely salvific and missional towards the world (e.g. 3.16; 20.31) on the one hand, to what extent is it sectarian on other other hand. Bob Gundry provides an answer:
"John paints the world in very dark colors. It is full of darkness Those human beings who make up the world are children of darkness. They do not belong to the light. They do not comprehend the light. Their deeds are evil. They do not acknowledge God, God's Son Jesus, or God's children, who believe in him and in Jesus. Moreover, they hate God, God's Son, and God's children. They murdered God's Son, rejoiced over his death, and excommunicate and kill God's children as well. Satan dominates worldlings. He is their father. God loved the world; but because of their unbelief his wrath rests on them already, so that they are headed for a resurrection of judgment. And only God is said to love the world. Though John often portrays Jesus as loving those who believe in him, he never says that Jesus loved the world."
Robert H. Gundry, "Is John's Sectarian?" in The Old is Better (WUNT 178; Tubingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2005), 316.