Friday, November 06, 2009

A note I prepared on theology of mission in John's gospel

1) The fourth gospel itself is a mission-oriented medium; a missionary artefact (John 20.31). That means it is produced wholly for the sake of extending the initiated yet unfinished work of Jesus Christ (John 4.34).

2) Jesus Christ is portrayed as the co-eternal divine agent who was on a mission in the world to initiate a global adoption of alienated humans to be the children of God (John 1.12, 11.52).

3) The end of the mission is the belief in Jesus as God’s agent who is the co-eternal son of God, who brings life to humans by adopting them as God’s children (John 20.31). Hence John’s proclamation of the ‘good news’ in the fourth gospel is simply this divine activity.

4) The by-products of this divine adoption are:

a. Reconciliation among different ethnic groups (John 4.22-24: God is initiating global adoption. This point is based on Tony Siew's lecture note). True children of God will worship God in spirit and truth without hindrance based on ethnicity, as symbolized in Jesus’ references to “in Jerusalem” and “on this mountain”.

b. Reconciliation among different social groups. God’s global adoption through Jesus includes social pariahs (Samaritans in John 4), socially respectable people (John 4, 12.42), and disabled and unfortunate people (John 9.1-7). All are adopted as God’s children as long as they believe in the good news.

c. Pacifist confrontation with social and political powers is a given in mission work (John 18.11, 36). Pacifist is not being immobile or do nothing. Pacifist approach as portrayed by Jesus is a confrontation without initiating physical harm on the dissenting parties. That does not mean no pain at all, but what kind of pain. For eg. Pushing an approaching violent people away is not harmful, but pushing him over the bridge is.

d. Rational and dialogical confrontation with social and political powers is a given in mission work (John 18.20, 23).

5) Mission though began by God (John 4.34), yet it is a continual effort commissioned to his followers (John 21.15-17).

6) Finally, the author of the fourth gospel saw his own endeavour in writing the book as a missionary effort. Given that the literacy at that time was low and writing apparatus were expensive, the author nonetheless still uses this exquisite and powerful medium in his mission work. Do we explore and use those exquisite media of our time for our mission work? Since literacy is relatively high and literary apparatus are easily available, writing blogs, books, banners, and journals for missionary effort are much easier.

Besides, there are more expensive media in urban setting like art exhibition, moviemaking and screening, advertisement avenues, and others that worth our consideration to expand mission work. Yet we have to also bear in mind that neither Jesus nor the early Christians mint their own coins to propagate the gospel. (Coins were used not merely as economic tools but also used by emperors and revolutionary military leaders - eg. Bar Kochba - as the media to mark their reign). So we have to careful not to set up Christian political party in our political endeavor.


Tony Siew said...

Joshua, it's good to have you in the NT 1 Class and your questions and comments are much appreciated. I still owe you a response on my blogpost on "Apostleship". Hope to find time to do that soon. BTW, it's time to start marking the NT 1exams.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Tony, thank you for another learning experience from you.

I still have the "Apostleship" question hanging in my head. Not settled yet. So, when you are free, would like to read your thoughts. Happy marking papers! :)