Jodie on Repentance
The following is an excerpt taken from a comment thread (meta) on Jonathan Moorhead's blog. I use it without permission of Jodie (c:
John's Gospel asks to be isolated, not as the only NT message or as the only good news resulting from the incarnation, but the one and only exhaustive book on how to recieve eternal life. (jn 20:31)
What would motivate John, late in the game in terms of the writing of the NT, to leave out repentance if he knew it was the necessary precurser to faith? Would you do that? Even though he himself was a disciple of John the Baptist he even chose too mention John's baptism without using the word repentance.
Is it possible that the obstacle to seeing this, that John taught a profoundly free gift of eternal life, really is your own conscience? Are you possibly using your own conscience as your real authority, and not letting the Word of God break through that barrier. It's hard for me to see how anyone can understand that idea, that John speaks authoritatively only on that one core topic of eternal life, and honestly fail to see the incredible power of distinguishing John from Luke, who speaks on repentance.
What power? The power of (A) the simple beauty of God's generosity in wanting people to avoid torment. But also (B) the power of leaving the stern and majestic call to repentance unhidered!
Why tame that message by framing it as the humble doormat to belief? Yes it makes your interpretation of the NT neater but at what cost? Why picture repentance as not important enough to be mentioned but still invaribly present like the queitest of all maidens. When I read Revelation I notice that that's not how John (the Son of Thunder) treats the theme of repentance. John is not, as you know, the fay man of DaVinci, he is the one trusted with the stunning letters to the churches.
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place
That is, if you don't stop sinning it will cost you, soon, right here on planet earth, not in eternity. Repentance is never treated as a necessary precurser to faith it is treated as the fearful warning of God's temporal wrath on sin.