Is Jesus the “only way to God?”

One Way“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

Every time I hear someone quote John 14:6 as proof that the Christian religion is the only way to God, I cringe. Is it possible that there is a God that condemns people because they don’t follow the correct religion? I know there are plenty of religious fundamentalists (in particular Muslims and Christians) who do believe their religion is the only true faith, and everyone else is going to hell.

I can’t imagine God is that small. Could it be that Jesus is “one way to God,” but not the “only way to God?” And that His message is more about a way of living, and less about a way of avoiding torment in an afterlife?

I found a refreshing perspective about John 14:6 by Carl Gregg on the patheos website. I hope you’ll check it out. In case you don’t read the entire article, I like this from his conclusion…

“As I have continued to wrestle with the reality of religious pluralism, I have found the following two short sayings helpful.  First, theologian Huston Smith says that God is “defined by Jesus, not confined to Jesus.” Second, Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong has said, “I walk the Christ-path into the mystery of God, but I do not believe that God is a Christian.” The common core to both of these slogans is that one can affirm the validity of other religious traditions without abandoning Christianity.”

Lectionary Commentary: “A Progressive Christian Reading of John 14:6” (for Sunday, May 22, 2011).

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About Beyond The Letter

Mike is a designer and writer. He blogs about the spiritual side of life at www.BeyondTheLetter.com. Additional background and sample pages from his book of spiritual poetry can be found at www.dyingtolivebook.com.

Posted on February 10, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. tamara strickland

    Michael, I have reached the same conclusion you have. Thanks for your post.

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  2. God does not have a religion, and Jesus is not Christian. Go figure. 😉

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  3. Dear Friends,

    As an agnostic, humanist, and naturalist, I am sure that you view me as the enemy. But I am actually a friend; a friend trying to rescue you; a friend trying to rescue you from a false belief system; a friend trying to rescue you from a cult.

    Imagine that I am a friend or family member and imagine that I have joined a new belief system, a belief system that believes in black magic, witches, wizards, and evil goblins that have the power to control one’s brain. In this belief system I am taught that “the movement” is right, and everyone else is wrong, and not only wrong, but evil. I am told that all my friends and family who are not members of this belief system are incapable of seeing the truth because evil goblins control their minds and blind them to the “hidden” truth that only members can see. I am told not to listen to my non-member friends and family. I am told to obey and follow, without question, the teachings of our “error-free” holy book. I am told that the leaders of the movement have special, advanced training in “the truth” and therefore I should trust that they understand the truth better than I as a layperson ever can.

    So what would you do if you really cared about me? Would you leave me in this cult without lifting a finger to rescue me? Would you refrain from criticizing my new belief system for fear of insulting me? I hope not.

    What I hope you would do is this: You would try to expose me to information that would open my eyes to the delusion that my cult has convinced me to believe as absolute, unquestioned truth. You would ask me to read information that counters the supernatural claims of my cult. You would not let me live my entire life in this false, delusional belief system without making an effort to rescue me.

    That is what I am attempting to do for you, friends. I am attempting to rescue you from a false belief system; a false belief system based on the powers of the supernatural; on the powers of MAGIC. You have been convinced that the world is controlled by magic.

    Your magical belief system tells you that witches exist and have the power to call up the dead (I Samuel chapter 28). Your magical belief system teaches you that wizards can turn walking sticks into snakes (Exodus chapter 7). Your magical belief system teaches you that goblins (demons) can enter and possess large herds of pigs (Mark chapter 5) driving them to commit mass suicide. Your magical belief system tells you that blindness can be healed by rubbing mud and spit into someone’s eye sockets (John chapter 9).

    This is not a rational, informed, belief system, friends. This is an ancient, scientifically ignorant, superstition. It is magic.

    I once was a member of your cult. I know how you think. I know how your magical beliefs seem so real. But it is a delusion my friends. It isn’t real. If it were real we would still witness these fantastic, magical events occurring today…but we don’t, do we? Think about that: so many magical events allegedly occurred several thousand years ago, but you have never seen one single magical event occur in your lifetime, have you? And neither has any other rational, educated human being living today.

    It is odd how magic never happens when there are television cameras, video recorders, cell phone cameras, tape recorders, or scientific observers to verify the claim. Think about that, friends.

    Your “movement” has had 2,000 years to come up with every imaginable excuse and harmonization to explain why these alleged, ancient, supernatural events really did occur. But Hindus, Muslims, and Mormons can do the exact same thing for their supernatural claims. You may think that their excuses and harmonizations are nonsensical and easily falsifiable, but they think the same about yours!

    Bottom line, friends: Magic is not real.

    I strongly encourage you to do this:

    1. Allow for the possibility that your belief system is wrong.

    2. Read information that challenges your belief system.

    —I recommend the following websites: Bart Ehrman’s blog, Debunking Christianity, and The Secular Web.

    I am available for questions anytime.

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    • Hi Gary, thanks for your detailed and creative response to the original post. You’re not my enemy! In fact, your desire to try to help people that you think are in a cult means you’re a caring person. I think your description is of religious fundamentalists (of which there are many). But I think there are many people of faith traditions who view their scriptures as stories that teach lessons about how to live. The magic or supernatural events are part of a story, not necessarily a part of history. Personally, I’m more interested in a way of being in the world that a way of believing. Since you’re an agnostic, humanist, and naturalist; I would like to know your opinion of the Jill Bolte Taylor TED Talk that is toward the bottom of this page on the blog: https://beyondtheletter.com/science-and-religion/
      -Mike

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