Review: Daring Faith — Meeting Jesus in the Book of John
I have come to see my role not just as a content creator, but as a content curator. With so many resources available for group studies, I try to recommend ones that reflect Scripture well and will benefit the ones asking for recommendations.
After reading and viewing “Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John,” by Randy Harris and Greg Taylor, I know I have another excellent resource to add to my list of recommendations.
Harris, a professor at Abilene Christian University in Texas, and Taylor, a minister in Tulsa, Okla., and former missionary to Uganda, previously teamed up in 2012 for “Living Jesus: Doing What Jesus Says in the Sermon on the Mount.”
Randy Harris and Greg Taylor. Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John. Abilene, Texas: Leafwood Publishers, 2016. 192 pages. $14.99 (book), $29.99 (two-DVD set).
Each of the 12 video lessons features the same formula. First, Harris provides a short introduction in an location that matches the theme — a funeral home or a cafeteria, for example. Then he gives us a mini-lecture on that unit of text, recorded at a previous event. The session closes with a wrap-up and challenge. Philip Dosa and his team continue the great camera and editing work they practiced on the duo’s first series to make these videos — especially the introductions and closing — compelling visual events. The DVD comes with a small booklet of discussion questions.
I am unsure how to categorize the book. It is not really a commentary, since it makes no attempt to cover all of John’s gospel. And it is not a devotional book. (Imagine you sat the authors down and asked them to give you an informal lesson or sermon on 12 interesting parts of John’s gospel. That seems to be the best description.)
‘The book is an easy, captivating read.’
I really enjoyed the way the authors help the reader understand complex concepts — including the intricacies of the many titles claimed by and about Jesus, or the difficulties with the way people apply cause-and-effect theology.
Harris and Taylor challenge us to read some familiar stories in new ways, such as Jesus and the woman at the well. I may have cringed a time or two during the discussion of “Christian cannibalism,” but the statements were spot-on.
Maybe I’ve become cynically accustomed to popular-level works that don’t take deep dives into Scripture, so I’m pleasantly surprised with this book. Along with a serious look at John, we get some good humor and compelling personal stories mixed in. The book is an easy, captivating read.
Each of the two items can stand alone. An individual could read the book for personal growth. A small group could use the DVD and accompanying questions for a study series.
Neither product is an academically robust resource you might use to build a complete understanding of John’s gospel, even though both authors easily could produce one.
Instead, these ministers dare us to read the Gospel of John and follow Jesus. Imagine that!