Is the only way to God through Jesus?

This is one of the questions I struggled with as I began to doubt my faith many years ago. In addition to many other things, it was the fact that you can worship God and have faith in God through Christ, without believing that those who do not are “damned to (the proverbial) hell”, that moved me to reaffirm my faith. This understanding of God and truth (common in the emerging church) has since strengthened my faith and commitment to God and to the message of Jesus Christ.

This is the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, answering the question “Is the only way to God through Jesus?” The bottom line (for me) is that it is not possible for us to know all truth. We are foolish to think that one person’s interpretation of scripture is the only interpretation. Thus, it is not up to us to decide who is and isn’t “saved” in God’s eyes…it is up to God.

“I believe that the whole world has access to God; I’m just not too worried about the mechanism.”

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4 responses to “Is the only way to God through Jesus?

  1. Perhaps I’m just being a bit of a Baptist here (and I no longer consider myself to be anything other than a Christ-follower) but this legitimately makes my soul uneasy. I think it’s valid to believe that Christ died for the sins of Man and that without faith in Him, we will be separated from the Father. Sure, this is divisive, but Jesus didn’t come to earth to unite the world, he came to disrupt the current construct of religion and to enrage the “leaders” of the faith. Is it so wrong to love Jesus for doing so and want everyone to worship Him?

    Again, maybe I’m just spewing years of VBS brainwashing here, but I think not worrying about the “mechanism” of our redemption of sin is a very slippery slope.

    • mseewer

      Good thoughts, Jeff. I’m not saying that I do or don’t think that Jesus is “the only way”, but I am saying it’s not for me to decide (or any other human for that matter). We can’t know what is in other people’s hearts, only God can. I first started to really struggle with the concept of exclusivity of salvation when I learned about the religions of the East, and how very similar their teachings are to the teachings of Jesus. The principles are the same, so why does the mechanism have to be the same? Again, I just feel it’s not for any human to decide.

  2. Mark Jerrell

    I’m siding with Jeff on this one, too. In short, to be a Christian is to believe in Christ as God incarnate whose death on the cross overcame our sin that we cannot overcome on our own. To believe otherwise is to be, say, Universal Unitarian.. or I dunno.. Episcopalian. ; ) But in all seriousness, I’m not about to play God and make any assumptions about who’s ultimately going up or down. The Bible does allude to every person being given an opportunity for salvation… which does leave a lot of loose ends that I’m not about to try and tie up. But, by definition, a Christian believes the only way to God is through Christ. While the entire Bible could be used as reference, the first chapter of John is a good summary of this topic.

    • mseewer

      Interesting take, Mark. I especially find your definition of a Christian interesting! I would never define a Christian like that. I believe that a Christian is simply a person who professes faith in Christ. And hey, what’s wrong with being an Episcopalian? 😀

      Here are a few interesting takes on this subject from one of my favorite authors, Brian McLaren:

      -Many people use John 14:6 to defend the exclusivity of Christ. Brian explains a different understanding of this passage in this reflection. One of Brian’s statements that speaks to me from this is: “I believe Jesus primarily came not to proclaim a way out of hell for some after death, but rather a way into a better life for all before death. His message was not about going to heaven after history, but about the kingdom of heaven coming to earth in history.”

      In this article, Brian answers a blog question about Luke 16 and “hell”. Another interesting take on the exclusivity of Christ.

      Again, I’m not saying what I do or don’t believe about this…as I feel it’s not my decision to make. But, I do feel that preaching to others that they must believe that Christ is the only way to eternal life and not going to hell causes more harm than good. Especially in our multicultural and multiethnic society. This is between each person and God.

      Thanks for having this conversation with me. This is how we grow in Christ and are better able to live and serve as witnesses to God’s endless love for us!

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