The Humdrum Kingdom

mundane[Originally posted at Six:Eight Community Church]

Does life sometimes feel… boring? Mundane? Like you’re just plodding you’re way through it day in and day out? We go through these seasons sometimes, don’t we? Life is just so routine, so monotonous, and just uneventful. Shouldn’t life be “brand new” every day? Shouldn’t we wake up excited about all our life has in store? Isn’t it time we break out of this wearisome cycle of dull and drab and a set out on a fresh, lively adventure?

It seems like we’re always on the lookout for “the next big thing.” This expectation is actually built into our society in a very real way: a “new” car model is released every year, “new” clothes arrive for every “new” season of the year, and there’s a “new, must-have” iPhone every few months. You can probably think of even more examples. Bottom line: our constant desire for “the new” makes it difficult for us to appreciate anything resembling “the old” – especially when the “old” thing has been around for a while.

In our minds, there’s not much difference between “the old” and “the same.” Neither one gets much love because neither one are “new.” After all, isn’t there a saying about “the same old things”?

This is not just an individual feeling either. Any group of people is bound to feel the same way – families, clubs, businesses, and… churches. All of us seem to be pulled towards doing something “new” simply because it’s not the same thing we’ve been doing.

What causes this? Maybe it’s our lack of thankfulness and contentment for the present, or our jealousy of what others have or maybe it’s something else… Certainly these two things are significant reasons for our obsession with “the new,” but I think there’s an even more powerful force at work here.

Freedom. Or, more specifically, liberty. As Americans, we love talking about our liberty don’t we? Liberty and freedom are often used interchangeably, but there’s a subtle difference. Liberty is a particular kind of freedom; its freedom from something or someone, as in “Liberty from tyranny.” Liberty is about being free from constraints or limits.

Think about it: sometimes we just want to do something new or buy something new just because we can! We have the liberty, so why not!?!? It’s awfully hard to turn down something new when we feel like there’s really nothing stopping us from doing/buying it… even when we don’t have any good motivation to do/buy in the first place.

Isn’t liberty good though? Isn’t the opposite of liberty something like slavery? Why not do something new if nothing is holding you back?

I was reading a blog this morning over at the Harvard Business Review (ok, no I wasn’t… but Jason was) that was talking about success in the business world. The question the author posed was this:

Why don’t successful people and organizations automatically become very successful?

His answer to this question is pretty interesting. Successful businesses often fail because of what he calls “the clarity paradox.” It goes like this:

Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.

Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.

Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.

Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

His conclusion: “success is a catalyst for failure because it leads to the ‘undisciplined pursuit of more’.”

It’s pretty interesting. And, it makes complete sense in light of what we’ve been talking about so far. Our success gives us an increased level of liberty. We have more choices. We can do more. We can get rid of the old and FINALLY move on to something new!

There’s one word we really, really need to focus on: undisciplined. I think many of us would admit a lack of discipline in our lives. It’s tough being disciplined because any exercise of discipline is a limit on our liberty. Being undisciplined means we get to “keep all our options open.” We don’t have to limit ourselves. We’re free… or “at liberty” to do/have what we want.

When we’re undisciplined, we give up “the old” or “the same” for something, anything, “new” simply because we can, because we have the liberty. This kind of behavior is deadly for businesses. When the sense of clarity in purpose that gave rise to a business’ success is muddled by all “the new” choices, businesses can sometimes end up doing things they never really wanted to do, and things they don’t do very well. Their liberty – the result of success – kills their clarity, which led to the success in the first place.

Churches can do the same thing, especially churches like 6:8 in transition between “church plant” and established church. We’ve had some pretty awesome success over the past year: our worship gatherings have grown like crazy, we’ve added new community groups, and we’re out serving in our community in more ways than we ever have before. Our own lives are being changed and our community is being changed too! We’re so thankful for the success of God’s work in our midst. Of course, our “success” as a church is not like the success of a business at all. Our mission is not our own. No matter what happens with 6:8, we know the end already: the King is on his way and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord when he arrives.

As we await the consummation of the Kingdom, we can still enjoy some measure of “success” and that is exciting for us, but it also makes us vulnerable. With all this success, we’re tempted to lose sight of our focus and try something “new.” Now, you may be thinking: “Hasn’t there been a ton of changes at 6:8 this year?” Yes! We have new staff, our worship space has evolved, and, of course, there are lots of new people in the room. Like I said, this is an exciting time precisely because there’s growth and change and newness.

But we can’t forget what, or rather, who, has been responsible for this success. As we grow, it becomes absolutely vital to stay committed to our purpose, vision, and mission together as the body of Christ:

To live in obedience to Jesus’ teaching and commands

To live as Jesus did, in word and deed. Awakening others to their own spiritual journey with him

To be the hands, feet, & voice of Jesus’ in the Ardmore/Havertown area and beyond.


What will this mean? It means we keep on keeping on. We don’t need to be worried about doing something “new” now that we’ve had some measure of success. Now is the time for discipline; for being committed to who we are as disciples of Jesus Christ seeking the Kingdom of God in ourselves, our families, our community groups, in the Ardmore/Havertown area, and all over the world.

Let’s take our newfound liberty, our freedom from, and willfully – joyfully even – choose to submit it to God. Like we said earlier, liberty and freedom are not equal; liberty is only half the story. Freedom is not just being freed from something; it’s also about being freed for something.

The apostle Paul says it well: “For freedom Christ has set us free… Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Galatians 5:1, 13-14).

Loving your neighbor as yourself is really not very glamorous. It can get old pretty quick. Relationships take time and, while people might buy new things or do new things, they don’t really change very quickly. God’s love for us is steadfast, loyal, and abundantly patient. Seeking the Kingdom of God requires us to show this slow, abiding love to our neighbors. Sure, it gets old sometimes. It’s not always exciting. But, it’s really the only thing we have to do. We’ve been set free from sin for a new life of love in community with God and our neighbors. This is our discipline.

As we look back over the past year, we’re so thankful for how God has blessed us as a church. As we look ahead to the new year, we’re ready for more of the same. We believe that the only real way to be “made new,” to be a “new creation,” hasn’t changed much at all: it’s the same ole, same ole, day in, day out, humdrum work of the Kingdom “in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit.”

Are you ready for “new” life 2013? It’s just more of the same.

Pledging Allegiance

33 Pilate walked back inside the governor’s residence and summoned Jesus and asked him: “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 Jesus replied: “Is this (what) you say or did other people say this to you about me?” 35 Pilate replied: “I am not a Jew am I? Your people and the chief priests handed you over to me. What did you do?” 36 Jesus replied: “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom was of this world, those who serve (under my authority) would be (passionately) struggling (with all their might) so that I might not be handed over to the Jews. But now – mykingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate then asked him: “So you are a king?” Jesus replied: “You say that I am a king. I have been born for this (mission) and for this (mission) I have come into the world: that I might bear witness to the truth. Everyone who (abides in) the truth hears (and obeys) my voice.” 38 Pilate asked him: “What is truth?”

John 18:33-38a

In this dialogue between the Jesus and Pilate, the author of John’s gospel reveals the impotence of all worldly power and points the reader towards the one and only source of life.

The original audience of this gospel would have been well aware of the power differential at work in this scene. Jesus stands alone and condemned before Pilate, who is the representative of the greatest political power in the world. He has been utterly rejected by his own people, who claim to be the people of the one, true God. Jesus has no allies; he has been marginalized politically, culturally, and socially.

As followers of Jesus in late first or early second century, the gospel’s audience would have been searching for a source of strength to sustain them through a period of brutal persecution. They needed wisdom to inform their encounter with a world that wanted them dead – just like Jesus. In this text, the author of John’s gospel clearly dismisses violent resistance as a viable option for the persecuted community. Jesus’ insistence in the text on the other-worldly character of his kingdom, one that cannot be bound to ethnic or national categories, makes the argument for political revolution irrelevant.

However, the text does not simply leave the reader without an option for moving forward. Jesus does not deny his kingdom. The readers of this gospel would know that Jesus is in fact the King. However, as the gospel has emphasized throughout, Jesus’ kingdom is first and foremost a spiritual reality. However, this does not imply that Jesus and those who serve under his authority have no earthly power or commitment to life together in their world. Rather, by its emphatic announcement of Jesus’ mission to bear witness to the truth, the text points its readers towards the only source of real power in the world. The power of nations that is imposed on others is not real power because it leads to death. Real power is found in knowing Jesus and being transformed by his life, which is his truth, from within. Followers of Jesus do not violently lash out against the powers that oppress them; they listen for the voice of Jesus and obey him with all their heart. When they do this, they will find life – even abundant life – in Christ.

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you… For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.


Homo Liturgicus

Well, I finally just finished up an amazing book that I started back in January. I need to thank my newest sister-in-law for providentially selecting this book for my Christmas present from a list of nearly 100 books on my Amazon wish list – not sure how you did that Amanda, but good choice! The book is one that I’ve blogged about before, and that I really should blog about a bit more: Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation by James K. A. Smith. The main idea of the book goes like this:

  • Human beings are liturgical creatures and not just thinking or believing ones; you are what you love and not, primarily, what you think.
  • Practices – the things we do – shape our desires. The end, the goal, the telos, of our lives is oriented by what we do day in and day out. The shape of our desires reveals our definition, or our vision, of the good life.
  • We participate in “liturgies” all the time – going to the mall, attending a sports game, or going to college. These seemingly “secular” and “neutral” practices are actually forming us into the kind of people who desire a specific vision of the good life; one that is antithetical to the Kingdom of God.
  • Christianity is not primarily a set of beliefs or a worldview, but rather “an encounter, a love story; it is an event.” What we think and believe as Christians is born out of what we do and this raises the stakes for what wedoin Christian worship.
  • By analyzing the common practices of Christian worship (the stuff we usually think of when we hear “liturgy”), we can articulate a Christian worldview. Worship should be seen as a counter-formation to the secular liturgies that vie for our hearts.
  • Finally, this has implications for “Christian education.” The usual goal of Christian education is to develop the same kind of students as non-Christian education, only with a “Christian perspective.” This results in students who act the same as their peers and who still desire a life that is antithetical to the Kingdom. Instead, “Christian education” should be deeply connected to the formative practices of the Church. Its goal should be formation; not information.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this book. It really has me excited in a lot of ways. I could not recommend it enough!


Toyohiko Kagawa: Do You Know the St. Francis of Japan? [Part Two]

Have you read Part One yet? This will make a whole lot more sense if you read that first 🙂

A Celestial Coffeehouse Conversation

Moderator: Mr. Kagawa, before we begin our discussion, I want to thank you for taking the time to make this brief stop on your very busy lecturing tour. It is quite an honor to meet you. I am very much looking forward to our conversation today.

Mr. Kagawa: Well, you are most welcome. I am never too busy to spare a few moments for conversation with a fellow brother in Christ. This will be a nice break from the book I’m trying to complete while on tour in your magnificent country. Where should we begin?

            Moderator: Let’s begin with a brief introduction of the three themes I would like us to discuss: evangelism, church, and kingdom. In an article by Paul Hiebert, a seminary professor who served as a missionary to India, these are described as the core themes of the modern missionary movement that defines both the missionary’s purpose and work.[1] Hiebert explains how missionaries have tended to focus on one of these themes at the expense of the others and then offers a way to hold all of them together.

With that said, we can begin with a question on evangelism. Hiebert says that the “Kingdom motivates us to do evangelism, because we want to see God’s honor and rule extended to all people. Evangelism is the central task of the church on earth, because it is the one function the church can do better here than in heaven.”[2] How would you respond to this statement? Would you describe evangelism as the “central task of the church on earth”?

Mr. Kagawa: First, I would certainly agree with Hiebert’s premise. After many years of organizing unions to fight for the rights and dignity of both the industrial workers in our cities and the tenant farmers spread across our countryside, I came to realize that our efforts to transform society could not succeed with the number of Christians on our side. We were simply too outnumbered. In nearly every union I organized, we were constantly struggling against Communists who demanded a violent class revolution. I wanted no part in violence. I was confident we could push the changes we desired through the parliamentary system with consistent and organized peaceful protest. But without knowing the love of Christ, why would the people follow my non-violent way? Why not follow the violence of the Communists with their promises of change overnight? The non-violent way requires patience and endurance – the kind that grows out of a deep love for others, which is nourished by the very love of God. So, yes, I agree that the kingdom should indeed motivate us to do evangelism so that more and more will come under the reign of God’s love. In fact, I was very ambitious in my evangelism. My goal for the Kingdom of God movement in Japan was to win one million souls for Christ! We spent three years touring the country and thousands came to know Him.

I should also mention an experience I had in the slums that was foundational to this realization about the need for widespread evangelism. Living in the slums was, of course, a very difficult task because the people there are riddled with the various diseases of poverty – some physical, and others mental. After returning to the slums upon the completion of my degree at Princeton, I had the idea to start a cooperative factory right there in their midst. I was tired of seeing laborers exploited and wanted to show Japan, and the world, that workers are better off when they are in control.  With that goal in mind, I opened a toothbrush factory. It went ok at first but it was short-lived. The factory struggled because its workers struggled; many suffered from illnesses, alcoholism, and fatigue. A cooperative factory depends on the self-management and self-discipline of its workers and many of these workers were simply not capable of taking on this responsibility. Some have called me naïve for thinking that I could turn slum dwellers into productive individuals and I think that they are mostly correct in that judgment. [3] This experience taught me that personal transformation through salvation in Jesus Christ is absolutely necessary for sustainable cooperative practices. While the conversion of all the workers would probably not have guaranteed the success of the factory, it would have been a giant leap toward the renewal and healing of the destructive ways they had learned from a life of poverty in the slums.

Now, on Hiebert’s proposition about evangelism being the chief task of the church on earth, I do not think I can agree wholeheartedly. While I appreciate Hiebert’s attempts to delineate these three important themes for discussion’s sake, I think his characterizations become misleading at this point. The chief task of the church on earth is not simply evangelism. Rather, it is the work of translating the Kingdom within us into the life of the world around us. Christians are to build a more just society. Does this include evangelism, by which I assume Hiebert means preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ? Of course! However, I would be wary of evangelism for evangelism’s sake. Our goal is the total transformation of society and, as I just explained, evangelism, which results in the inner transformation of the individual soul, is a necessary objective as the church pursues this goal.

Moderator: Thank you for your honesty Dr. Toyohiko. I sincerely appreciate how you’ve shared from your own experience – even one of your failures. Let’s shift our discussion from evangelism to church. I understand that you have been very critical of established churches in Japan throughout your ministry, yet you have remained connected. How are you able to maintain that tension? More broadly, how do you view your role within the church?

Mr. Kagawa: Yes, you understand correctly. I have often criticized our churches on several accounts. I cannot be quiet when I see our churches fattening themselves on the donations of the bourgeois who prosper in the exploitative and damnable system of capitalism that – much to my disappointment – still rules our world today. I imagine you see the same sorts of behavior in your churches in the United States. I apologize for the sudden harshness of my tone in this regard, but this entire system of capitalism is infuriating. I would be happy to be rid of it altogether.[4]

As I was saying, I also find fault with the church’s incessant need to bicker and fight about every fine point of doctrine. I see this so often in our churches; I am even a little surprised to see that Hiebert has not included “useless argumentation” as one of his core themes of the missionary movement! I have no time for the church’s debates. The title of one of my books perfectly describes my final argument in doctrinal matters: Love the Law of Life. I am only concerned with seeing this love at work in our societies, especially for the sake of the poor. In addition, the gospel messages our churches now preach are so catered to individual needs. I can hardly bear it; it is as if the gospel of Jesus Christ has only to do with saving individual souls, with no bearing on how those individuals should live together in a just and loving society.

Alas, in spite of these criticisms, as you have noted, I have not been able to simply leave the church altogether. A quote comes to mind that has been attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo: “The church is a whore, but she is still my mother.” Indeed, the church has been my mother in many ways. As you know, my birth mother died when I was very young and I never felt loved as a child. However, my sadness was turned to joy as I experienced the wonderful love and hospitality of Dr. Charles Logan and Dr. Harry Myers, both Southern Presbyterian missionaries. Dr. Logan and his wife became like parents to me. Both he and Dr. Myers faithfully supported me throughout my life. It was their love that convinced me of my need for Christ. I shudder when I consider where I might be today had it not been for the Presbyterian Church in America that sent and supported these godly people in their missionary work. I am sure there are countless others like them; faithful missionaries all over the world who are supported by the generosity of the church. How could I turn my back on this institution that has nurtured and loved me so dearly? This would be a very selfish and ungrateful response.

With these thoughts in mind, I think of my role in the church as both prophetic and apostolic. As much as I love those in the church who have supported me, I will not be silent in my criticisms. I will continue to call the church away from her individualistic, privatized faith toward an all-embracing mission for the renewal of societies all over the world. However, I do not merely criticize the church; I offer a new way: The Society for the Friends of Jesus. In this order, my friends and I have provided a place to revitalize the church. My recent biographer has captured the spirit of our society very well. He says that we have combined “the Franciscan compassion for the poor, the Dominican preaching spirit, Jesuit discipline, the methodism of John Wesley’s spiritual group, and the hands-on activism of the Salvation Army.”[5] Our group exists to guide the church towards a way of life that brings economic, psychological, social, physical, and political emancipation to all – just as Jesus taught us in Luke 4:18-19.[6]

Our goal is not to take people out of their churches and sequester them like monks. Not at all! We want to send them out into the world where they can worship God in everything they do. We want to focus on building up the lay people. Our churches, especially those in the urban slums or out on the rural countryside, struggle to adequately equip and train their laity as workers for transformation. We’ve built several “Gospel schools” specifically for the purpose of training lay leaders in the knowledge and work of Jesus Christ. We want all people of the church, not just the pastors and priests, to join cooperatively in the movement of God.

In this way, I consider myself not only a prophet, but also an apostle – one who is planting, watering and nurturing the new seeds of faith as they grow and produce the fruit of righteousness in our world. I have never been attracted to long-term positions of simply maintaining the status quo of an institution; I thrive on being a catalyst of new life.

            Moderator: Wow, I can feel the passion in your words Dr. Kagawa. The Friends of Jesus order sounds like an amazing group of people. I wish I could hear more about your work with them, but we need to move on to Hiebert’s theme of kingdom. In his article, he reminds us of the danger of confusing our own ideas of utopia – Marxism, capitalism, or socialism – with the Kingdom of God.[7] Being an ardent supporter of socialism, do you share Hiebert’s concern? What does your support of socialism have to do with the Kingdom of God?

Mr. Kagawa:  Yes, I do share Hiebert’s concern on this matter. When we pursue God’s Kingdom here on earth, there is always a great risk that we will misrepresent the infinite love of God. While we may dearly desire to love others with the same love we have received from God, we still contain great capacity for evil that can sometimes overwhelm even our deepest desires for good. I have fought many battles against this seemingly ingrained bent towards violence and destruction in our society. As I expressed to you earlier, we are in dire need of individual transformation through Jesus Christ. We must be changed by his love if we are to have any hope in seeing the Kingdom come in our midst – both individually and corporately.

However, we cannot allow our fear rule over us as we strive to partner with God for the establishment of the Kingdom here and now. We must have faith in the love of God at work in us. Our faith gives us new eyes to see possibilities beyond what our minds can conceive, and the vision of this new creation calls forth our wholehearted response. Do we believe that God’s love can save humankind completely? This is the question we must answer. If we say yes, and I believe we do, we must overcome our fear and put our faith in God. Unfortunately, the Protestant church, amidst its fervor for preaching the forgiveness of sin, has been quick to forget that the comparatively “little” works of men and women can be united with the all-fulfilling, world-changing love of God in Jesus Christ. This is the love that can, and indeed already has, overcome all evil. We must be willing to let go our fear of failure and allow ourselves to be caught up in the mighty current of God’s eternal and ineffable love.

I have belabored this point because I sense a tinge of fear in Hiebert’s words of caution that I cannot ignore. We must dream big dreams for this world! And we can! When we look to the cross of Christ, we see the perfection of redemptive love: a love that binds together the love of God and the love of man and takes on God’s mission for the salvation and renewal of all creation. As individuals enter into this redemptive love and are themselves saved, they become saving individuals for the world. The fear I sense in Hiebert’s words makes me wonder if he has grasped the immensity and power of God’s redemptive love in the cross of Christ. It can overcome our limitations and empower us to live out the ideal of God in every aspect of our lives – especially our economic life.

Moving on to the second part of your question, yes, I am an ardent supporter of socialist economics and I have already voiced my utter disgust with the system of capitalism. I should clarify that I do not support all forms of socialism. Since we do not have time to explore all the details of my economic views, let it suffice to say that I support a system of cooperative economics – since the term “socialism” arouses such a varied, and mostly negative, response in the United States.

Cooperation is simply the most logical result when the cross-embracing love of Jesus is allowed to transform our society’s economic life. When this love takes root in our lives, things like individual property and inheritance rights are freely dedicated to God and to society. Profits are recognized as belonging to God, not to individuals, and are joyfully offered up in service of the Kingdom. Labor is respected and interest on money is not allowed. In cooperative economies, people are valued above materials and mutual aid supersedes the profit motive. These are economies are designed to be non-exploitative and eliminate the need for violence. I wholeheartedly believe that peace will not come to our world until our economics reflect the love of Christ that draws us together as one body, members one of another.[8] Since the cooperative movement is so wonderfully aligned with the ideals of Christian love and community, it is the best way forward as we seek to enter and receive the Kingdom of God in our world today.

Moderator: Thank you so much for that thorough response Mr. Kagawa. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to hear you speak to such vital issues. Unfortunately, we are reaching the end of our conversation. If I may, I would like to end by asking a somewhat selfish question. In a little more than two years, I will be complete my graduate education at Palmer Seminary and Eastern University and will set out as a leader and co-laborer in God’s great rescue mission on this earth. Could you offer me a few words of advice as I embark on this journey?

Mr. Kagawa: Certainly! I would be happy to impart a bit of wisdom that I have found along my own journey. Actually, I have two bits that I would like to share. Do we have time?

Moderator: Yes, yes. Please, you have my full attention.

Mr. Kagawa: Ok, thank you for your vigilance. I will try to be brief. When I was a young man, nearly your age, living in the slums of Kobe, I served my poor neighbors constantly and with all my heart. Like the Apostle Paul, I was poured out as a drink offering for my brothers and sisters in the slums. However, in the midst of all my loving service and sacrifice, I was ensnared by racist theories regarding my burakumin neighbors. These people are Japan’s hidden minority; the no-caste; the untouchables. While I did not refuse to serve the burakumin, I degraded them in my writings and never lifted my voice for their civil rights. These people were treated as less than animals, and I was complicit in supporting those who held them down. This is a mistake I sincerely regret. My first piece of advice is this: struggle with all your might to see the image of God embedded in every person you meet. Until you can see the divine reflected in the lives of those you serve, your love for them will remain shallow and incomplete. When you have caught a glimpse of this divine image in the ones you serve – celebrate, shout it out, rejoice in the goodness of God’s creation standing before you and become an advocate on their behalf so that the world might behold the glory of God in each and every man, woman, and child.

Finally, as you may know, I had the great privilege of meeting Mohandas K. Gandhi at the World Missionary Council in 1938. At this time, Japan was at war on the Chinese mainland. It seemed the entire country was overwhelmed with a spirit of nationalism and militarism. I was an outspoken critic of the war and had been arrested several times for my views. However, during our brief conversation, Gandhi went straight to the heart of the matter when he responded to my question about what he would do in the face of such vile hostility: “I would put the cooperatives and all your work in one scale, and put the honor of your nation in the other… and I [would] ask you to declare your views against Japan and in so doing make Japan live through your death.”[9] These words would come to haunt me. As you know, I was not able to stop Japan’s war machine. In fact, for a time, I even supported the war efforts. I could not find the courage to give my life for the sake of my country. My advice to you is simple: be strong and very courageous. As Jesus told his followers, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”[10] You are that grain of wheat. Now go; bear much fruit.

Moderator: Dr. Kagawa, I cannot thank you enough for sharing this time with me today. I will remember and cherish your words for a very long time. Your life is a great inspiration to me and many others. Thank you so much for your example of faithful obedience to Christ. May God bless you as you continue on with your lectures.

[1] Hiebert, 154.

[2] Hiebert, 160-161.

[3] Schildgen, 88.

[4] Schildgen, 93.

[5] Schildgen, 132.

[6] Mark R. Mullins, “Christianity as a Transnational Social Movement: Kagawa Toyohiko and the Friends of Jesus.” Japanese Religions, vol. 32 (2006): 76.

[7] Hiebert, 158.

[8] Rom. 12:5 NRSV

[9] Schildgen, 213.

[10] Jn. 12:24

Toyohiko Kagawa: Do You Know the St. Francis of Japan? [Part One]


Toyohiko Kagawa, a Japanese evangelist, church reformer, labor leader, socialist economist, and faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, was celebrated in his day as “the Japanese Gandhi,” “the Japanese Albert Schweitzer,” the “St. Francis of Japan,” and “Christ’s Samurai.”[1] His work for social justice should be considered on equal footing with that of revered saints like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa. Yet, he is mostly unknown in the Western world. His life’s work is just as relevant in the world today as it was during his lifetime. His story deserves to be heard. In order to tell this story, this paper will use the three themes of the modern missionary movement developed by Paul Hiebert – evangelism, church, and kingdom[2] – to present a brief biographical sketch. In its second section, this paper will engage Kagawa in a “celestial coffeehouse conversation” organized around the same three missionary themes.

A Brief Biography of Toyohiko Kagawa

Toyohiko Kagawa was born on July 10, 1888, in Kobe, Japan, to a wealthy family. His circumstances changed drastically when he moved in with his stepmother after the death of both his parents when he was only four years old. He moved again at age 15, this time to an uncle, when his family went bankrupt. His uncle financed his education and encouraged him to learn English from two American Presbyterian missionaries. Along with learning English, he met Jesus Christ in the love and hospitality of these missionaries. He was kicked out of his uncle’s house upon his baptism into the Christian faith and was taken in by the Presbyterian missionaries, Drs. Logan and Myers, who would remain his lifelong supporters.

From a young age, Kagawa was known to be very intelligent. He enrolled in Meiji Gakuin College in Tokyo in 1905, with help from his Presbyterian community, and studied there for two years before transferring to Kobe Theological Seminary in 1907. After five years, he graduated in 1912 and was married to Haru Shiba the next year. Kagawa made his first journey to the US to attend Princeton Theological Seminary in 1914, where he earned his final degree, a Bachelor’s of Divinity, after three years of study. At every place he studied, Kagawa amazed his professors and peers with the breadth of his knowledge. He read voraciously: philosophy, literature, economics, biology, and poetry.

Kagawa became an international celebrity through his many international lecture tours. He was introduced to the Western world during his first tour through the US and Europe in 1924 and 1925. He had achieved celebrity status by the time of second US tour in 1936 through the propagation of his books and news of his extensive work in the Japanese labor and cooperative movements. He crisscrossed the nation on this six-month tour as a highly sought after lecturer. His most famous stop was in Rochester, NY, where he delivered the Rauschenbusch Lectures. These lectures were later compiled into a book entitled Brotherhood Economics that set forth his ideas on cooperative economic systems.

Kagawa kept a very busy schedule throughout his life and rarely had time to help raise his three children. He remained happily married to his wife, who often served as an administrator for his many projects and ventures. Their struggles with a chronic eye disease that they had contracted while living in the Kobe slums served as compelling evidence of their mutual commitment to lifelong service among the poor. After a long and illustrious life, Toyohiko Kagawa died at his home in Tokyo on April 25, 1960, at the age of 72.

The theme of evangelism was prominent throughout Kagawa’s life. He was inspired to begin his work as an evangelist after seeing the example of poor pastor faithfully serving among the poor. In the summer between his studies at Meiji College and Kobe Seminary, Kagawa preached in the slums for forty days, but was hospitalized when he collapsed immediately after completing his final sermon. After a powerful, mystical experience of God on his deathbed, he miraculous recovered and returned to street preaching. On Christmas Day 1909, he packed up his meager belongings and moved out of Kobe Seminary and into a tiny apartment in Kobe’s Shinkawa slums. While he continued his theological education, he preached to his poor neighbors in both the morning and evening. He eventually left the slums when his first child was born in 1922, but his evangelism continued. He organized international support for a Kingdom of God movement in Japan with a goal of reaching one million souls for Christ. The movement was planned to last three years, but was suspended in the wake of relatively poor results at the end of its second year. This experience did not keep Kagawa from mounting yet another national evangelistic campaign in 1946 in the midst of Japan’s World War II reconstruction efforts. Kagawa showed his commitment to evangelism right up until his death as he ignored the advice of friends and doctors in order to continue his preaching tours.

While he consistently criticized the Japanese church establishment, Kagawa nevertheless played a vital role in life of the church. He was ordained a minister in the Japanese Presbyterian Church, but never served as a church employee. He also maintained close ties with Drs. Logan and Myers, who helped him connect with supporters in the United States. Instead of becoming involved as a leader in the church establishment, he created a new order in 1921 called the Society of the Friends of Jesus. The Friends’ purpose was to catalyze an ecumenical reform movement within the church. This group was based on Catholic and Buddhist orders, which Kagawa greatly admired. They were active in social improvement projects throughout Japan and led the church toward more sustained ministry on behalf of the poor. Kagawa was also involved in several international church and mission conferences in the second half of his life: the World Missionary Council held in Madras, India, in 1938, the China National Christian Council in 1944, the World Church Conference held in Evanston, IL, in 1954, and the Christian International Conference for World Peace in 1958.

While he was a committed evangelist, as well as a church reformer, Kagawa is best known for his kingdom work. This began with individual acts of charity upon moving into the Shinkawa slums. In addition to preaching, he cared for three other men in his tiny shack, taught reading classes, opened a cooperative restaurant to fight malnutrition, built a school and a clinic, and made nightly rounds as a sort of psychiatric social worker. In the slums, the people honored him with the title of sensei Kagawa. However, he often expressed frustration at the futility and negligible impacts of his work. When he left the slums to attend Princeton, he was simultaneously convinced of the global evils of capitalism and the necessity of labor unions to bring about transformation at a societal level.

Upon returning from Princeton in 1917, he became heavily involved in the Japanese labor movement and soon rose as an intellectual leader. He also continued to experiment in cooperative economics by organizing the Kobe Consumers Cooperative. In 1921, he led a massive strike at the Kobe shipyards that ended in failure after several weeks of stalemate. After this incident, his opponents, mainly Communists, became increasingly frustrated with his gradual, non-violent, and constitutional approach to social change. As their voices grew more prominent within the unions, Kagawa quickly disassociated himself from the urban labor movement and after a short break of two weeks had organized his next project: the Japan Farmers Union. Poor, rural tenant farmers often faced more extreme poverty than the urban laborers and Kagawa eventually wanted to form a rural-urban coalition of poor people to demand economic, labor, and land reforms. Kagawa’s work with the farmers was interrupted in 1923 when he was called by the government to lead reconstruction efforts in Tokyo after a devastating earthquake.

After successfully fulfilling his commitments in Tokyo, he set out building “Gospel Schools” in rural provinces with the help of the Friends of Jesus order. In 1928, he organized an anti-war league to oppose the escalation of Japan’s militarism. He was jailed several times for voicing his anti-war stances leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. He made desperate attempts, even communicating with President Roosevelt, to stop the war in the Pacific, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

When the war was over, Kagawa seemed to bounce back on to the national scene with new life. He became very involved in Japan’s new democratic government and served as the National Commissioner of Prison Affairs and the National Social Welfare Commissioner. Later in life, he was an extremely vocal supporter of the international cooperation movement. He was elected as president of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rdAll-Asian Congresses for World Federation. His efforts to establish world peace through international cooperation were recognized by his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954.

1Robert Schildgen, Toyohiko Kagawa: Apostle of Love and Social Justice, (Berkeley, CA: Centenary Books, 1988), 2.

2Paul S. Hiebert, “Evangelism, Church, and Kingdom,” in Good News of the Kingdom, ed. Charles van Engen, et al., (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1993), 153.

The Way to Truth and Life in the Non-Violent Kingdom: An Exegesis of John 18:33-38a

Translations of John 18:33-38a

Personal Translation

33 Pilate walked back inside the governor’s residence and summoned Jesus and asked him: “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 Jesus replied: “Is this (what) you say or did other people say this to you about me?” 35 Pilate replied: “I am not a Jew am I? Your people and the chief priests handed you over to me. What did you do?” 36 Jesus replied: “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom was of this world, those who serve (under my authority) would be (passionately) struggling (with all their might) so that I might not be handed over to the Jews. But now – my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate then asked him: “So you are a king?” Jesus replied: “You say that I am a king. I have been born for this (mission) and for this (mission) I have come into the world: that I might bear witness to the truth. Everyone who (abides in) the truth hears (and obeys) my voice.” 38 Pilate asked him: “What is truth?”

The New Revised Standard Translation

 33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35 Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”[1]

Interesting Words


            In John’s gospel, ἀλήθεια is a signature term. It is usually translated as “truth.” In the Synoptic gospels, ἀλήθεια simply means “truly existing” or “reality”[2], but in John’s gospel it takes on a deeply theological and highly nuanced meaning. In John, Jesus “possesses this truth in its fullness and reveals, transmits, and explicates it.” To see Jesus is to see truth; He is the way that leads to truth and life. In essence, Jesus is the “Revealer par excellence”[3] of the truth; he is the “self-revealing divine reality.”[4]

The ἀλήθεια that Jesus reveals requires his followers to know Him as the source of all truth. In this text, those who would follow Jesus are called to be “ὁ ὢν ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας” (of the truth); they are to “depend on, abide in” the truth, which implies a sense of permanent obedience to the truth as it is revealed in Jesus. Disciples of Christ are sanctified in ἀλήθεια as they are “invaded by it and transformed within.”[5]

ὑπηρέτης and ἀγωνίζομαι

             In verse 36 of the text, Jesus says that, if his kingdom were of this world, his ὑπηρέται would be ἠγωνίζοντο so that he would not be handed over to the Jews. These words are translated rather vaguely by the NRSV as “followers” and “fighting” respectively. Unfortunately, this translation fails to communicate the powerful meaning these words express.

The term ὑπηρέτης is used only twenty times in the New Testament and nine of those appearances are in John’s gospel. Of those nine appearances, five are found in the 18th chapter. The reference in verse 36 is the final reference in the chapter, and in the four previous references the word refers to the “temple police” or “officials”.[6] The ὑπηρέται are not simply followers, but are rather those who are “in the service of a higher will and [are] fully at the disposal of this will.”[7] Jesus is employing the language of a king who has full authority to order his servants according to his will.

The translation of ἠγωνίζοντο as “fighting” is even more inadequate. In Hellenistic writing, this word refers to a hero struggling for virtue. It was used in the book of 4 Maccabees to relate the passion of a martyr to the struggle of an athlete in the arena. While it takes on a more nuanced meaning in the New Testament, the author of John means to say that those under Jesus’ authority would be passionately struggling at the expense of all their energy and resources in order to keep Jesus from being handed over to the Jews.[8] This is the kind of struggle where one must be willing to give everything. Otherwise, the struggle would have no purpose.

Grammatical Analysis

Use of Emphasis

            The author’s use of grammar to add emphasis in this text is very interesting. On six occasions in this brief dialogue, the author supplies a personal pronoun as the subject of the sentence. This is a common method of adding emphasis in koine Greek since the subject is already implied in the verb.[9] This use of emphasis heightens the sense of drama in the narrative as Pilate questions, and is questioned by, Jesus. The Jesus in John’s gospel does not remain virtually silent before Pilate like the Jesus of the Synoptics. Instead, he responds to the force of Pilate’s questioning with equal rhetorical strength. This display of strength in the face of death contributes to John’s majestic presentation of Jesus as king and reminds the reader that Jesus’ life is not being taken from him – he is choosing to lay it down.[10]

Literary Analysis

This text presents an episode in the gospel of John’s passion narrative. The Synoptic gospels also include passion narratives, but John’s is unique in the amount of conversation it includes between Jesus and Pontius Pilate. In the period of the gospel’s writing, a crucifixion was a shameful event. This shame drove early followers of Jesus to reinterpret the event in various ways, which they did through the passion narratives. These stories are based on an ancient literary genre known as court-conflict. According to this genre, the life of an innocent protagonist is put in danger by an evil scheme. The outstanding qualities of the protagonist, who is usually vindicated after suffering or death, are celebrated. These characteristics of ancient court-conflict literature help to reveal the source of a popular reinterpretation of the cross event by early Christians. Because of its combination of “vindicated innocence” and “vicarious death,” the prophet Isaiah’s image of the suffering servant of God was used by New Testament authors to embed the shameful event of the cross into God’s greater story of redemption for both Israel and the world.[11] The court-conflict genre also helps to focus attention of the reader on the qualities of Jesus revealed in the passion narratives. By paying close attention to these specific qualities, Christians today can gain a clearer understanding of what kinds of people the gospel writers are calling them to be.

Historical and Cultural Analysis


The dating of John’s gospel has been thoroughly disputed in the past and the debate continues amongst scholars today. The date of authorship has traditionally held as later than that of the Synoptic gospels. A later date was assumed due to the prevalence and depth of theological reflection found in John. While this observation is correct, it was coupled with a separate assumption which held that the author used the Synoptic gospels as a source for this theological reflection. In addition, most scholars saw no need to consider an earlier dating of John since they believed John’s gospel to be a spiritualized version of the Synoptic gospels and thereby unconcerned with historicity.[12]

The assumption that the Synoptics were used as a source for John’s spiritualized gospel account has been heavily criticized in recent years. The most commonly held view puts the writing of John’s gospel sometime in the last decade of the first century. This date is based on the dating of the Ryland’s manuscript, a fragment of John’s gospel. This manuscript dates to 125 CE, and by allowing a few decades for dissemination, scholars place the gospel’s original writing late in first century.[13] However, since the dating of the Ryland manuscript is also debated and because no references to the gospel are found in extant writings until the late second century, some scholars continue to date the gospel to the middle second century.[14]

Political and Economic Considerations

As the first century CE came to a close, the political climate of Palestine and Asia Minor was, at best, hostile towards the Jews and the early Christians. After a period of semi-autonomous rule lasting nearly a hundred years under the Hasmonean dynasty, followed by a period of decreasing freedom as a vassal Roman state, Palestinian Jews attempted to revolt against Roman rule in 66 CE. Unlike the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid dynasty in 166B BCE, the Jews suffered massive defeat at the hands of the Romans in 70 CE with the destruction of Jerusalem along with its temple. After this event, most Jews were scattered throughout the Roman Empire.[15] Life for Christians was not much better in the second half of the first century. As they grew progressively distinct from non-believing Jewish communities, Christians lost the protection of religious freedom that Jews enjoyed.[16] Severe Roman persecution began under Emperor Nero in 64 CE and continued until the mid-second century under Emperors Domitian, Trajan, and Hadrian.[17] In addition to this external persecution and oppression, there was often conflict between Jewish and Christian groups as evidenced by the book of Acts.[18]

While there was a definite political hostility towards Jews and Christians in the first and second centuries, they lived in the midst of a prosperous economy. The pax Romana created by Caesar Augustus in the late first century BCE provided a fertile environment for economic growth.[19] However, this economic growth was never fairly distributed and as a result the society was deeply divided along class lines. Heavy, and often corrupt, Roman taxation, especially on vassal states and conquered peoples, ensured that a significant portion of any financial gain by Jews and Christians did not lead to subsequent prosperity. This economic oppression contributed to even more tension and division in the society at large.[20] While surrounded by a thriving economy, the majority of Jews and Christians had no access to this wealth or the power it could provide.

Authorship, Setting, and Audience

Similar to the Synoptic gospels, the gospel of John is written anonymously. In the gospel, the author is only identified as the “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Several theories have been suggested to name this disciple based on loose textual evidence, but church tradition, namely through the writings of Irenaeus, names the apostle John, the son of Zebedee, as the author. However, even church tradition is not absolutely clear on this point. A statement by the fourth century historian Eusebius, who quotes the early church father Papias from the early second century, has led some scholars to believe that John the Elder, not John the apostle, is the gospel’s author. While debate continues on this point, there is currently not enough evidence to reject the authorship of John the apostle.[21]

Traditionally, the gospel is said to have originated from Ephesus, where the apostle John ministered. Some scholars have noted the presence of traditions that probably originated in Palestine and were further developed in Hellenistic cultural centers with significant Jewish populations – which supports the Ephesus location. Other major centers, like Alexandria or Antioch, have been suggested.[22]

The audience for John’s gospel is usually described as the Johannine community – a faith community that gathered around the apostle John; following his teachings and preserving them for later generations. This community would have been distinguishable from other Christian communities and composed of both Jews and Gentiles. It is most often described as a group that broke away from the Jews in the synagogue either because of persecution or by their own choice. While the concept of the Johannine community has been debated amongst scholars,[23] there is ample textual evidence that suggests an audience of second generation believers, both Jews and Christians, who are in need of guidance about their life together under the Spirit. If there was hostility between this community and the synagogue, it was probably over by the time of the gospel’s final publication. While it does take on a sharp polemical tone when referencing “the Jews,” there is not enough evidence to support an audience whose identity is based on persecution from non-believing Jews associated with the synagogues. Rather, the gospel seems to be written to a group of believers that need to be reminded of Jesus’ life and mission.[24]

Conclusions for Exegesis

            At least two conclusions can be drawn from this historical and cultural. First, since both the author and audience of John’s gospel are members of a politically and economically marginalized group, the power dynamics presented in the gospel, along with their political implications, should be considered carefully. Second, close attention should be paid to the gospel’s portrayal of violence since it was written to guide second generation believers through a period of extremely violent persecution.

Theological Themes

Two major theological themes of John’s gospel are evident in this text. Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus describes his kingdom, or eternal life, as a spiritual reality that is universally accessible to all those who are “born again of the Spirit.”[25] In this text, Jesus explicitly states that his kingdom is “not from [this world].” He rejects the title of “king of the Jews” because he is king over all creation. His reign does not extend over a piece of land, but into the lives of those who hear and obey his voice.

The Gospel of John’s Christology emphasizes the role of Jesus, the Son, revealing the true nature of the Father. This was built on the Jewish idea of agency. An agent was a surrogate who was sent on a specific mission with the authority of the sender. The agent was considered as an equivalent to the one who sends and would act on behalf of the sender; speaking to the agent was the same as speaking to the sender.[26] In this text, Jesus defines his mission in terms of agency. He has been born to testify to the truth, which is to say that he has been born to be an agent of His Father.


The Essential Message of the Text

            In this dialogue between the Jesus and Pilate, the author of John’s gospel reveals the impotence of all worldly power and points the reader towards the one and only source of life.

The original audience of this gospel would have been well aware of the power differential at work in this scene. Jesus stands alone and condemned before Pilate, who is the representative of the greatest political power in the world. He has been utterly rejected by his own people, who claim to be the people of the one, true God. Jesus has no allies; he has been marginalized politically, culturally, and socially.

As followers of Jesus in late first or early second century, the gospel’s audience would have been searching for a source of strength to sustain them through brutal persecution. They needed wisdom to inform their encounter with a world that wanted them dead – just like Jesus. In this text, the author of John’s gospel clearly dismisses violent resistance as a viable option for the persecuted community. Jesus’ insistence in the text on the other-worldly character of his kingdom, one that cannot be bound to ethnic or national categories, makes the argument for political revolution irrelevant.

However, the text does not simply leave the reader without an option for moving forward. Jesus does not deny his kingdom. The readers of this gospel would know that Jesus is in fact the King. However, as the gospel has emphasized throughout, Jesus’ kingdom is first and foremost a spiritual reality. However, this does not imply that Jesus and those who serve under his authority have no earthly power. Rather, by its emphatic announcement of Jesus’ mission to bear witness to the truth, the text points its readers towards the only source of real power in the world. The power of nations that is imposed on others is not real power because it leads to death. Real power is found in knowing Jesus and being transformed by his life, his truth, from within. Followers of Jesus do not violently lash out against the powers that oppress them; they listen for the voice of Jesus and obey him with all their heart. When they do this, they will find life – even abundant life – in Christ.

Conversation with Other Commentators

            In Wes Howard-Brooks’ commentary of this text, more weight is given to how Pilate’s responses to the Jesus’ questions reveal the author’s message. He uncovers the irony of Pilate’s attempt to disassociate himself from Jewish infighting by explaining that Pilate actually becomes a Judean through his complicity with the Sanhedrin’s scheme to kill Jesus. He also points out the condescending nature of the title Pilate gives to Jesus, “the king of Judea,” which acknowledging the colonial nature of Roman rule over the area. He also points out the other-worldly source of Jesus’ kingdom in opposition to those who use this passage to claim an other-worldly location for Jesus’ kingdom. The kingdom is not from this world, but it is certainly in this world. Brooks also mentions that Jesus’ kingdom is of a completely different type than Pilate’s kingdom. It does not require violence or oppression. Instead, it is about the love of God revealed in truth by the life of Jesus. Attentive to the purely political language in this conversation, Brooks observes that there is no “God-talk” but only language that is familiar to Pilate. However, Pilate has no time for what seems like philosophical questions and sarcastically dismisses Jesus’ claim as the one who bears witness to the truth.[27]

In her commentary on this text, Dr. Sherri Brown, identifies kingship and the character of truth as the main issues in Jesus’ trial before Pilate. She also focuses on how Pilate’s responses to Jesus bring out the meaning of the text. While he begins the interrogation with a question concerning the political implications of the Jews’ accusation against Jesus, Jesus deftly shifts the dialogue back on to Pilate. As he attempts to defend himself, Pilate gives Jesus the opportunity to describe his other-worldly kingdom of those who are born from above. As Pilate continues with his questioning, still concerned with the political nature of Jesus kingship, Jesus stays true to his mission of bearing witness to the truth. Dr. Brown connects Jesus’ mission statement with the theme of covenantal gift that was introduced in the gospel’s prologue. She notices the great irony of Pilate’s denial of the existence of truth while he stands face to face with truth himself. For her, this passage is about Pilate’s refusal of the truth gift, which reminds the reader that Jesus’ kingdom is about hearing and accepting the voice of Jesus as the true revelation of God.[28]

[1] John 18:33-38a (NRSV).

[2] Ceslas Spicq, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 1:70.

[3] Spicq, 76-77.

[4] Gerhard Kittle, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W. M. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1964), 245.

[5] Spicq, 78, 80.

[6] John 18:3, 12, 18, 22 (NRSV).

[7] Kittle, 8:531.

[8] Kittel, 1:135-137.

[9] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997), 321.

[10] J.B. Green, “Death of Jesus,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Kenneth DeRuiter (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 162.

[11] J.B. Green, “Passion Narrative,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Kenneth DeRuiter (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 603-604.

[12] M.M. Thompson, “Gospel of John,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Kenneth DeRuiter (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 370.

[13] Thompson, 371.

[14] Colleen M. Conway, “Gospel of John,” in The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Katharine Doob Sakenfeld (Nasvhille, TN: Abingdon Press, 2008), 3:362.

[15] Mark Strauss, Four Portraits One Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), NEED PG NUMBER

[16] Martin Marty, The Christian World (New York: Modern Library, 2007), 19.

[17] Marty, 31.

[18] Acts 16:19-40 (NRSV).

[19] Strauss, NEED PG NUMBER

[20] Strauss, 114.

[21] Strauss, 334.

[22] Thompson, 371.

[23] Conway, 3:364.

[24] Thompson, 371-372.

[25] John 3:6 (NRSV).

[26] Thompson, 377.

[27] Wes Howard-Brook, John’s Gospel and the Renewal of the Church (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1997), 119-122.

[28] Sherri Brown, Gift Upon Gift: Covenant through Word in the Gospel of John (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2010), 203-207.