Why I’m Not Quoting John 3:16

Over the last few days, I’ve noticed that lots of people have posted the words of John 3:16 on Twitter or on Facebook. Without wishing to sound heretical, I do find myself wondering what the point of this is.

I’m more than happy to acknowledge that John 3:16 is a wonderful verse of Scripture and it captures a central theme of the Gospel very well. Then again, Colossians 1:21 also captures the central theme of the Gospel as does Romans 1:16 and a number of other verses. I often wonder why John seems to get a better press than other writers – but that’s a question for another time.

My problem is that I’m not convinced that the words of John 3:16 (or the other verses I’ve mentioned) actually mean very much to most people today. Christians may understand this passage and find it very simple and straightforward, but it relies on a back-story which is simply not shared by most people in our culture today.

It could be that reading this verse might prompt people to ask some questions of it: Why are people perishing? How does God sending his Son give people eternal life? What is eternal life anyway and why would anyone want it?

However, I suspect that it just comes across to most people as something weird that Christians do.

As I wrote in another context:

Witnessing to Jesus is pointing people to a person so that they can come to know him for themselves. It isn’t about simple slogans – even if they are taken from the Bible. Holding up a placard saying “John 3:16″ at a sporting event is not witness; it just blocks the view for the guy behind you.


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5 replies on “Why I’m Not Quoting John 3:16”

I remember Dave Burnett doing a fantastic role-play on why John 3:16 is terribly *bad* news for a Theravada Buddhist.

“God”… not sure which one you mean but we’ll go with it.
“so loved the world”… can’t be a very pure god if it demonstrates that level of attachment.
“that he gave his only son”… certainly can’t be a very pure god if it breaks the first rule of the Sanga.
“that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”… but I want to perish and attain nirvana! The circle of eternal life is what I want to get away from!

As I understood it, it’s been related to American date issues in that yesterday was 3/16 /13 … But then people just started sharing. Interesting opportunity but … Yes.. People need to think how it fits into the bigger picture…

Surely they should have been writing: “They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.”

The 3rd Gospel, 16th chapter, 13th verse reads “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”, perhaps an equally important message for the American Church.

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