Is Jesus the “only way to God?”
“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).