Gospel of John: a partial account of signs and wonders

In the Gospel of John 21:30-31, Jesus said:

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Sidenote: a fragment of an Egyptian papyri containing a text of Gospel of John 21:20-23

These few verses are rarely discussed, as to its implications, in how we perceive Jesus’ earthly ministry. Upon taking a closer look at what the writer of John’s Gospel said himself, the Gospel represents only a partial account of the totality of Jesus’ earthly ministry because he explicitly said, “…which are not recorded in this book” meaning there are many more signs and wonders that we haven’t read about but that were performed and witnessed by the apostles.

If so, then is it possible that we also may have a partial written account of miraculous signs in the Acts of the Apostles, and of the New Testament epistles? 

Then does the bible as a whole represent a full or partial account of Jesus’ and the apostles’ history and ministry on earth? 

On the surface, this question itself is suspect and smells of heresy because the sufficiency of scripture is questioned.  Before I went to seminary, I might have thought so because I was taught to believe the bible was the entire revelation of God. The word of God was the be-all and end-all.  Do I believe that God is fully revealed in Jesus and that the gospel is fully sufficient for our salvation?  Yes, indeed! But this differs from what some call Bibliolatry.

Acts 5:12 says,

“Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.”

Let’s allow ourselves to ponder… how many of these signs and wonders were actually recorded in the book of Acts?  Back then, it is a fact that few people knew how to write, and to even find a scribe or writer to record everything would have been next to impossible.  The actual total number of acts of God’s miracles and healings would fill up multiple volumes of books. The books of the Gospel of John and the Acts of the Apostles are only a fraction of what Jesus and his apostles actually did on earth. It only gives us a small impression of what their earthly ministry was like.

Moreover, to say that some things were not recorded means that the accuracy, validity and historicity of recorded signs were important to the writer of John’s Gospel. He also implicitly understood that the visible and powerful signs of God would have a major influence in the faith of future generations of believers.

He says that these were written with the intention that future Christ-followers would come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God; and that by believing, we may have eternal life.  Today, this has come true.  Our belief in Jesus as the Son of God was the goal of the disciples in these written instances of God’s signs.

The glory of God in creation… or modified creation?

crops_fieldPsalm 19:1 says: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

Thomas Merton, a Catholic contemplative said:

“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree.  For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him.  It “consents,” so to speak, to His creative love.  It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore imitates God by being a tree.  The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him.  If it tries to be like something else which it was never intended to be, it would be less like God and therefore it would give Him less glory.”  Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (1961), ch.5.

In our new age of science and genetic re-engineering of GMO foods, chimera and cyborg technologies, there is always the possibility that these bio-technologies can go sideways.  If human beings try to re-create something into what it was never intended to be,  I wonder if it would then be glorifying to God?

It used to be that chimeras (part human–part animal) and cyborgs (part human–part machine) were a thing only from science fiction movies, comic books, and fantasy animations, but these are now a reality today.  Many of the products we eat today have been genetically modified. They’re able to implant animal DNA into the foods we eat in order to allow it to grow faster and be less prone to disease.  If you knew what science and technology can do, you may never look at your food the same way again. Science today can manipulate genes in plants, animals and human beings that might shock people to their core.

This week, our family was eating seedless watermelon and grapes; and homemade popcorn, possibly from GMO kernals.  Many people buy foods from the grocery stores, eat it, and never consider how it’s already been genetically modified.  Many might even be dangerous to human health.  Did God ever create edible fruits without seeds?  No, I doubt it was ever God’s intention.  According to the book of Genesis, you would think that God intended for all living things to reproduce itself and multiply.  Is this type of human re-creation (or manipulation) glorifying to God or distorting God’s creation?

•    Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants
•    Mice eating GM corn for the long term had fewer, and smaller, babies
•    More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, and were smaller
•    Testicle cells of mice and rats on a GM soy change significantly
•    By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies
•    Rodents fed GM corn and soy showed immune system responses and signs of toxicity
•    Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen
•    Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced
•    The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer.
•    Studies showed organ lesions, altered liver and pancreas cells, changed enzyme levels, etc. (Source: website here; see here)

We like to play God, and as a result, we do things that God likely never intended.  Some things may bring better health and advancement to society, but some things can just be plain frightening.  No wonder why cancer and autism rates have skyrocketed and infertility has increased.  What’s been killing the bee and butterfly populations around the world?  The end of the birds and the bees may spell an end to the human race as we know it.  We might never fully know the harms done to us as human beings until 50 years down the road when it’s all too late…and it’s irreversibly damaged our health and human genetics.

If we move into an age of Iron Man and Planet of the Apes, we will need strong morals and ethics to keep us from re-creating some really weird things before they’re introduced into our world.

Bishop T.D. Jakes on Larry King Live

It seems like Christians are the CNN spotlight tonight: Sarah Palin critiqued on AC360.  Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter’s House Church, was also on CNN’s Larry King Live for an hour and gave him the opportunity to promote his new book “The Memory Quilt: A Christmas Story for Our Times”.  However, his book was not the attention grabber–at least not for me.  As I watched Jakes, I was very impressed with how he handled himself with Larry King. King certainly seemed to carry different tone when interviewing pop culture stars; he seems more human with them, but King does not seem as personable with Jakes and other conservatives and evangelicals.  Nevertheless, Jakes gave his honest opinion and expressed them directly and with a sense of firmness, yet while showing his compassionate human side. Bishop Jakes has previously been on Larry King Live so he knows what kind of questions to expect and how to respond with clarity and grace.

While King asked him potential time-bomb questions that would make many evangelicals squirm in their seats, Bishop Jakes remained positive. You should have seen Larry – he kept his eyes on his sheet of questions and didn’t hold back on the tough time-bomb questions.  King fired away, one provocative question after another, as if trying to see what might evoke a certain response from Jakes, e.g., President Barack Obama and his faith, gay marriage and gay unions, health care and abortion, prosperity gospel, the economy, Islam and the Ft. Hood massacre, war, Sarah Palin, death penalty.  I strongly sensed King was trying to get a sense of Jakes’s religious and political positions and fired them with machine gun speed.  King asked Jakes tough questions that could potentially evoke controversial responses from other evangelicals but Jakes handled King’s questions honestly and adeptly.  Through it all, Jakes remained very gracious and carried with him a clear set of moral values. He is a great clergy-interviewee.  I can see why King would invite Jakes back to his show.  Way to go Bishop Jakes!