376. my take on John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (TNIV)
More specifically, they were asking people to respond to the question, how do you have a conversation with another Christian who uses this verse to claim that Jesus here is saying that people who follow other religions will go to hell.
The Homebrewed crew took all the responses, chose a few and put them in their latest podcast. People whose responses made it into the podcast got a free copy of Brian McLaren’s new book, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?.
After listening to the podcast, I think it’s clear that this challenge was above my pay grade as a theologian, but still, I had a good time crafting a response and thought I’d share it with you all.
I encourage you to listen to the John 14:6 podcast – the people who contributed had some really fascinating things to say and the hosts’ engagement with the responses is fun and enlightening.
And here’s what I contributed:
I completely affirm John 14:6.
I do believe that no one comes to God except through Jesus.
But I read that verse as saying that when it comes to what happens to people in the afterlife, I don’t get to decide, my theology doesn’t get to decide, my denomination and its doctrines don’t get to decide. Jesus is the one who decides.
Now some Christians claim this verse as an assurance of their own salvation. They read this verse and come to the understanding that if they confess faith in Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life, then Jesus will allow them through to God.
But I don’t know if that’s exactly what Jesus is saying here.
I think the idea that NO ONE comes to God except through Jesus should give everyone pause – even those in the church.
The writer of Matthew quotes Jesus as saying “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
That seems to suggest that it’s not what one profess that saves, but how one lives within the will of God. And if that’s the case then if there are people of other faiths (or no faith) who live out an ethic that mirrors that of the kingdom of God – one that is in line with the way, truth, and life of Jesus (whether they profess Jesus or not) – then I don’t see why it’s necessary to claim that Jesus will exclude them on the basis of John 14:6.