The words believe or belief are on virtually every page in John’s gospel urging a faith response to scriptural Christianity. Translations, interpretations, and concordances offer their influence. Chapter divisions and chapter headings may try to force their effect. Culture and books attempt to sway points of view. Helps all, as belief packages pass through generations with weight of heritage and established community; “then it must be right.” Old dust of history and new winds of doctrine plus ancestral circumstances of upbringing are certain to produce softly lit prejudice. But copied recitations foster but do not establish belief, for doctrines are only understood when obeyed.
This generation has many English translations of the Bible. Six hundred years ago there were none (English). There are word and phrase variants in each translation. Some attempt word for word equivalent with established manuscripts, some attempt thought for thought, and some are paraphrased. Some biases are based on understanding filtered through early Roman culture and later on, Puritan thought. With instant internet helps which did not exist forty years ago, it is suddenly easy to interpret portions of scripture according to preference.
However, these revelatory Truths serve to be redeeming: 1) Jesus leads us to the Father; 2) Jesus saves us from our sins and consequences, as in, to distance us from them, give us power to STOP, and deliver us safely home; 3) The will of Jesus is identical with the Father’s; 4) The Holy Spirit of God is for each disciple, their teacher; 5) Divine humility is the glory of the universe.
It is of no little standing what we believe and why. Yes it really matters. While some tenants or ‘isms may be of less consequence than others, beliefs that stunt spiritual growth matter even if gathered unaware, and are eternally significant. The beliefs of those who have gone before do undoubtedly command respect. But each generation should pause and ask; are inexhaustible Scriptures being probed or is theological corn beef being predictably rehashed from familiar verse props? Are we playing in the shallows, or swimming in the deep? Is denominational cover distorting a search for truth? There may be so much invested in unseen error that starting over would be prohibitively embarrassing.
Now, God is very able to defend His dignity and glory as He deems appropriate. Still, irrational pronouncements that libel His work and character harm the members of His body. But Pink, Luther, or Calvin has written. So too has Oral, and Alamo, and the priest, and Wesley. No doubt there are times to defer to excellence. Innumerable are the preachers, countless are the teachers who are God-gifted and God-called. But Truth issues from the Spirit of God through the word of God to truth seekers. God can be trusted to supply our need for wanted truth and to forgive error. We sing truly, “our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness.”
The church local offers succor of opportunity to the comely and the un-comely, as the church universal assumes and obeys the complementary tasks of edifying the body of believers and glorifying Christ. Come to My church, Jesus beckons. Attend, fellowship, learn. It is mule-headed to think to know more than He. Disdainers, be aware that frivolous criticism is treasured up far, far away. The agony in Gethsemane and the pain and shame of the cross suffice to show that God’s glory is unashamedly vicarious sacrificial suffering for sinners and their hospice.
Truth is not a circle in the sand to squat in. In so far as we confess correctly our primers, it becomes line upon line and precept upon precept. The translators of the King James Version of the Bible were wise when they wrote of their task at hand, “Fearfulness would rather become us than confidence.” One time a fellow was asked about more than he understood so he boldly asserted what he knew. “Whether he [Jesus] be a sinner or no, I know not. One thing I know that whereas I was blind, now I see.” John 9:25.