It is hard to believe that I would recommend a book by Robert Gundry with whom I disagree in numerous theological areas all the way from eschatology to hermeneutics. But in this little book with the huge title Gundry has done a great service for the cause of Christ.
He clearly outlines his thesis: “I will try to show that a Christology of the Word dominates the whole of John’s Gospel more than has been recognized before; that this domination makes the gospel a totalizing narrative; that in conjunction with corresponding features of John the totalizing character of this narrative exhibits strong sectarianism; and that current trends in North American evangelicalism call for a strong dose of John’s logocentric sectarianism” (p. 3). That’s a mouthful, but in essence he believes that the Fundamentalists of the early twentieth century had it right. They emphasized the Christology of the Word [as] John the Sectarian did, thus engaging the world; sanctification, as Jesus separated from the world; and the exegesis of God, which was the message of Jesus (John 1:18) (see p. 94).
In order to prove this thesis, Gundry spends half his book proving that the Gospel of John portrays Jesus and His message as sectarian. Jesus came to save and draw a community of believers to Himself and apart from the world. Gundry recognizes the dangers of sectarianism such as isolation, divisiveness and repression (p. 72), but he sees the dangers of the nonsectarianism of modern evangelism as far worse. Those dangers (and realities) are accommodation to the world, dulling the gospel, blurring the distinction between believers and the world, and softening the wrath of God (p. 74). Such nonsectarianism has spawned the seeker-sensitive movement which soft pedals both sin and the gospel (pp. 77-78) and leans toward inclusivism (pp. 108-110).
Jesus the Word is not an easy read and only the hearty will probably persevere to the end (although it is only 113 pages long), but all who do will be rewarded. All Christian leaders should read this book.