I. Howard Marshall's chapter on John in terms of Dogmas, Doctrines, Distinctives, and Details.*
Dogmas. In John, Marshall rightly recognizes Jesus' claim to preexist Abraham and sees support for Christ claiming “parity with God,” but his insistence feels lacking in some areas (502). He accurately captures the main theme as Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God “who came into the world to bear witness to the truth and to give his life so that all people might have the opportunity of receiving eternal life through faith in him” (512). From here, Marshall wonderfully describes seven principal points that impact Christology, being the Logos's: 1) divine eternal nature, 2) responsibility for creation, 3) bringer of light (salvation), 4) rejection by the world, 5) human nature, 6) witnessed by disciples, and 7) the mediator of full blessing (492-493). These are summed up in Christ's role and status, where he is: God's sent one (implying that it is God's will and purpose to save the world), and the founder of salvation (not the “Revealer” so Bultmann or “mythological divine figure” so Ernst Kasemann) (512). The Bultmannian school is cast as only “superficially plausible” and “breaks down under closer inspection” since Salvation goes much deeper, being a “life in relationship with God” (520). This demands that “faith is not only an intellectual acceptance of the message, but also a total commitment of the person to Jesus and to God” since faith is a continuing relationship and not an aorist event (521).
Marshall also sees the passion and resurrection as equivalent in John's usage of Jesus' appointed “time” (501). He very bluntly states the Soteriological truth that “eternal life = Jesus = the Holy Spirit” (501). From this he develops a strong Pneumatology using five passages in John to show His roles including being a: helper/Counselor, teacher/reminder of Jesus' instructions, testifier about Jesus, convicter of sin, righteousness and judgment, and glorifier of Jesus through human salvation (507).
Marshall's emphasis on the Holy Spirit as the third Paraclete shows his strong support for “the understanding of God as a Trinity of divine persons in communion with one another” (522).
Doctrines. Marshall's assessment of Jesus' words about “eating his flesh” and “drinking his blood” is seen as an allusion to the Lord's Supper with a veiled warning against Sacramentalism, that is “against assuming that eating the bread and drinking the cup confer life” in lieu of belief in him (501).
Marshall gives affirmation to important doctrines in passing, including: the parousia – Christ's second coming (506) and the filioque clause, saying the Holy Spirit is sent by God and Jesus (512).
The alluded “Church” in John takes on a more Covenantal tone as “Israel of God” (523).
Distinctives. Marshall fully displays his Arminian position by stating that the “text clearly favors” the understanding that “God responds to human faith by conferring the new birth on believers” over “God causes certain people to believe and so to come to new birth” (493). Again, predestination in the Father giving people to the Son is roundly bashed as out of context with John 3:16, though Marshall's four part explanation of Jesus' intended meaning feels stretched. He does conclude well by highlighting the “tension in this passage and the Gospel as a whole that must not be resolved one-sidedly” (501). Later, he interestingly states that “salvation is entirely due to God's initiative,” to indicate the gift nature of salvation, but quickly states that how God draws people to Jesus is not explained (521). Either way he clearly reveals the tension of salvation as purely from God and yet requires human response. Also due to his Arminianism, Marshall glosses rather quickly over Jesus' claim that no sheep can be snatched from his hand, seemingly attributing it just to the Apostles (503).
Marshall clearly sees the Women Caught in Adultery (John 7:53-8:11) as textually unsupported by relegating it to a mere dependent clause; however, this may not sit well with some believers (501).
Details. Marshall's interpretation of the Wedding at Cana is so symbolic it borders allegory (497) (a Dogma level style of hermeneutics).
*Dogmas are theories directly impacting God's mission to reconcile all people to Himself (orthodoxy & orthopraxy required).
Doctrines indirectly impact God's mission (and are thus vitally important), but people can fail to interact with or understand them accurately (essential to orthodoxy, not orthopraxy).
Distinctives don't affect the orthopraxy of salvation, but will impact the orthopraxy of a church.
Details have little to no effect on orthodoxy or orthopraxy.
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.