Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Christ is the Way

Among the subjects that some folks these days seem to be getting their knickers in a twist about is how to understand John 14:6: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." The "hardline" interpretation of this is that unless one has consciously and explicitly professed one's faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, one cannot be saved. (There is, of course, a wide spectrum of less "hardline" interpretations. Even the Roman Catholic Church, which is not exactly "soft" on Jesus, grants the legitimacy of acknowledging the possibility of salvation for those whom Karl Rahner called "anonymous Christians.")

Here's what I say, and I'm pretty hardline about this:

Muslims cannot be saved by Islam.
Hindus cannot be saved by Hinduism.
Buddhists cannot be saved by Buddhism.
Jews cannot be saved by Judaism.

And finally (all you who recall Amos 1-2 will see this coming):

Christians cannot be saved by Christianity.

We are not saved by our religion(s). We are saved by the grace of God.

God does not consult with us about who is qualified to receive grace.

When Jesus talks about being "the way, and the truth, and the life," I see no indication that he is talking about ecclesiastical membership or theological orthodoxy or religious observance. I think he is talking about coming with him into the Kingdom of God. How well we can articulate the fullness of the identity of our Divine Companion is pretty much beside the point, which is good news for us, because none of us really understand the fullness of his identity.

Or, as the folks who had been rescued/healed/saved in the old western movies used to say, "Who was that masked man?"


Thomas B. Woodward said...

This is a wonderful reflection. Right on the mark and with great sensitivity.

Fred Preuss said...

So atheists/agnostics will end up in the same place as you?
Then why bother with religion/church at all? Why run twice as fast to get to the same place?