One of the signs of a dying belief system is the self-affirming rigidity and exclusion that it promotes.
A deeply held belief in evangelical Christianity is that “Jesus is the only way to God and heaven.” A statement like this is attempting to deny all other attempts and paths to God. Classic arguments for this way of thinking is when Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Proponents of this view sound like a broken record constantly repeating this line as if it alone proves their point.
In growing up in this kind of culture, there is an inherent fear in actually believing certain ideas because of the threats that apply once you do. There is so much value and weight placed on whatever thoughts are going around in your head, that even the slightest variance from what the church’s stated dogma is considered a ‘slippery slope, ‘breeds fear of the unknown and warnings.
All this to say, I think some things just need to be said in order to give permission for us that have thought it before and our hearts were filled with anxiety or we were dismissed by institutional Christianity.
There is more ways to God/Heaven than through Jesus.
For those of you that thought it before, breath a sigh of relief, it’s been said, you are allowed to believe it, afterall there is very good reasons to do so.
For those of you that felt your heart sink a little bit and think I’ve fallen off the boat. That’s ok. I love you. You’ll get over it. I’m still a Christian.
For those of you who don’t believe a single word that I’m saying then that’s cool too, why are you still reading?
I’m not even going to get into all the reasons why I can say that now. We know the self-proclaimed enforcers use guilt, manipulation, repetition and circular reasoning to ensure that if you do believe that, then at the very least you can’t call yourself one of them anymore. I object to that line of thinking. You don’t have to be a Christian to know God. To believe and act otherwise is to repeat all of the same mistakes that we have a whole book trying to warn us against making.
I refuse to hold to a way of believing that excludes most of the world and doesn’t take into account the violence in which is self-perpetuating by holding that very belief. It really is unfortunate that a belief that ‘Jesus loves the world’ turned into ‘Jesus is the only important thing.’
Go into the world and love it, stop trying to change it.
24 thoughts on “There Are More Ways To God than Jesus”
Nathan, how can you be a Christian if you don’t believe Jesus isn’t the only way. Christianity isn’t about getting tuned in with God through prayer and meditation for the purpose of self-improvement. Nor is it about legalism by toeing the line to impress God. It’s foundation isnt self-deprecating acts or using guilt to control people. It’s not even really about going to church, communion or baptism. It’s about one thing. Christ. Jesus didn’t come to teach us about a better way. He became the way. He was the sacrificial lamb, he was the conqueror of sin and death. The blood he shed paid our spiritual bills. When I say Jesus is the only way to God, it isn’t about superiority, pride or winning an argument. Jesus is the only way because every other option is about us. Without him it becomes about what we do. Whether it’s karma, sharia or “christian” legalism it’s all about doing the right things to please God or the Universe or whatever. True Christianity is accepting that Christ is what he said he was and did what he said he would do. Jesus is either the saviour of mankind or a liar. I really hope you can rediscover this truth. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. And it is not for me to answer all the what-if scenarios. But if you are a brother in Christ I cannot remain silent. Nobody’s theology is perfect but you’ve lost the key ingredient: Jesus is Lord.
Well articulated. Thank you. :)
Sorry I didn’t proofread lol. First sentence makes no sense.
Nathan, Jesus didn’t just say, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Of course, the other half of that verse is, “No one comes to the Father (God) except by me.” Now, by your reckoning, that makes me a “self-proclaimed enforcer using guilt, manipulation, repetition and circular reasoning.” And of course, you put me into the category of your 3rd paragraph too. And I don’t accept that one either. I don’t feel threatened by non-orthodox thoughts going around in my head. In fact, if I feel strongly challenged by the Lord about a few things, one of them is to think honestly before him. If I feel the Bible seems wrong about something, or God seems wrong about something, or I just really don’t get this or that, well, those are the exact conversations that God seems to be most interested in me being honest with Him about. (They often remain unresolved.) But for me, I am very settled about the fact that Jesus meant what He said in His simple statement. Why would He lie, unless He was an imposter. I don’t see how this could have hidden or deeper meanings. Anyway, the other point is that you say it is a dying belief system that believes Jesus is the only way to God. It may be that fewer and fewer (in our culture) believe this, but I wouldn’t count it out, or pronounce its death on that basis. I also should just say in closing, please accept that I simply can’t and won’t engage in lengthy debate over this. Simply don’t have the time and energy. But I did want to simply state those points if I could. If that’s not fair, don’t publish. Also, please note there is not a word in what I said of condemning others for not believing as I do.
Wow. Seriously? Are we reading/studying the same Bible?
Hi Merm… if you follow the link you’ll find that all of these different groups claim to read/study the same Bible that you do…so what seems to be their issue?? Most of them can’t agree…
Carson, you’re wrong about which ‘your’ you’re using here…
Haha, best comment
Jesus himself is God, and what’s more, identified himself as the only way to God. Truth, by definition exludes the false. Jesus is the only way to God because He is true.
If the way to God was so broad and wide, how could could Jesus say, “21At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There He is!’ do not believe it. 22For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible. 23So be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance.” Mark 13:21-23? Who led you astray. I know you say that you are still a Christian, but the word Apostate must modify that identity. Reading this made me so sad. Your view of me is so very wrong and your view of yourself is so very false. May God correct your path and prevent you from causing any more to stumble by preaching another gospel.
I really love you’re perspective of Christianity Nathan. Extremely refreshing. Keep in mind I’m no Christian however I truly respect your vision of Christianity. Love to pick your brain one day.
Your so on the right path Nathan. Keep on reminding us of the real truth of God’s love for all humanity not just the straight white people.
You have great message. Peace, light and love.
I can’t help but wonder if part of the discussion here is problematic because it is defining the “way” of Jesus as a limited notion of being a ticket to the afterlife (ie to “God/Heaven”), rather than what I would suggest is the more Biblical and expansive notion of Jesus as Lord of all who incarnated, died and rose for our redemption (personal) – as well as for the redemption of the whole the earth (collective) so that all things would be made new in the great eschaton and so that all might have life and that, ultimately, all would be reconciled to God.
Perhaps this is because you are writing from a very (inverted) evangelical framework here. But even open evangelicals like N.T. Wright have been challenging this limited scope of “The way” for decades. It was in reading Wright that I realized that I “thought that I had the answers / it was the questions I had wrong” (to quote early U2).
Just who experiences that great resurrection of the body and the new heaven and earth is a mystery that won’t be resolved by mudslinging on the blogosphere or facebook. To try and declare with certainty the mystery of how – or who – does or doesn’t receive God’s grace/redemption in this is folly – from either a polarized ‘progressive’ or a ‘conservative’ position. I’d suggest that it’s is a distraction from the primal call to love God and love neighbour. Our rigid modernist categories of exclusion and inclusion just won’t help this debate – or help us live into that love – in my estimation.
And that’s part of what I struggle with in your piece – it’s the missing element of mystery and love. By declaring a fundamentalist Truth that there are many paths to God, in reaction to the old fundamentalist Truth that there is only one way to God, I wonder if he is really merely switching fundamentalisms (not uncommon amongst post-evangelicals – I know as I am one) – and not allowing the deep and profound mysteries of God’s grace as revealed in Christ Jesus to reveal, in time, the meaning of the Christ-event.
If we could take this posture, we could lovingly maintain the centrality of Jesus Christ, while living conversationally, generously and lovingly toward the belief claims of those who do not hold this Truth claim I think we’d find a ‘third way’ beyond the “My Way or The Highway” vs. “One Truth Many Paths”.
How about we resist the modernist need to define these things into categorical definitions? To submit to them just encourages the (conservative) fundamentalists to polarize against the (liberal) fundamentalists on Facebook and the blogosphere – and there’s more and more e-conflict and division in a very limited cyberforum.
Yes, the vast majority of Christians have historically declared that the Christ-event is central to the redemption of all things. I side with your reactionary conservative critics on that and affirm that (though I don’t affirm their tone). As one who hangs his hat in liberal Churches, many of whom have abandoned the centrality of Jesus in redemption / salvation / liberation I would say that rigidity from the left or the right is actually the cause of the decline you speak of.
Because of that, I would strongly and lovingly caution against Christians eliminating Jesus from the Lordship stool, and suggest that in doing so many would then fill that stool with the lordship of the market, consumerism, destructive technologies, militarism, etc. Put another way, to have a low Christology leaves no power to challenge the empire with Jesus’ Lordship. It’s tough to say “your lovely equal path challenges the empire” in the same way that “Christ above the powers” does.
Look, at the end of the day, Nathan’s statements aren’t anything new or radical. It’s what white, male, academic middle-strata liberal religion has been saying for well over a century now (and then picked up by various other strains of liberal theology in mainline white seminaries since then). But that monocultural boomer-dominated form of religion is dying as quickly (or more quickly) than even US evangelicalism… so it’s good to not point fingers too quickly.
So yeah, I’d posit that one can live in this pluralistic age with a definite Christ-centred truth claim, and do so with an open-hearted ‘agnostic’ generosity and openness to the story/claims of the other.
I’m worried that what’s happened in this article is a sincere attempt at doing that, but instead the result is polarization and an unnecessary side-swiping of the millennia-old truth claims of Christianity – and thus a softening of the radical counter-cultural implications of the primacy and Lordship of Jesus Christ over the empire, not to mention in the renewal and reconciliation of all things.
I’m confused about what colour has to do with this discussion. I think black Christians believe the same as white Christians. Also it doesn’t really matter what we think it only matters what HE said which is “no one comes to the Father except through ME” and the Bible also says “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved” and if you believe in HIM you will walk as HE walked. Yes HE loves the whole world but it is their choice if they come to HIM or not. If people have never heard I believe HE will give them a chance somehow. I trust HIM no matter how he does it. Blessings to all of you!
Nathan, your critics are generally fond of selectively quoting John’s gospel and would prefer Matthew’s gospel having Jesus say, “Whoever who is not for us is against us,’ rather than Luke’s gospel having Jesus saying, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” Quite a different emphasis! There were huge differences from the earliest days of Christianity about who Jesus was and what his significance was. You have only to read some of the other gospels that didn’t make it into the canon (but that was only 4-500 years later!) to realize that there was no agreement at all. Emperor Constantine and the church councils convened in his time rigidly enforced conformity for purposes of imperial control by a church allied by then with the state. It seems many fundamentalists still want to do the same.
God’s covenant with Abraham was a one sided contract. Because God put Abraham into a deep sleep, and consequently, only God passed between the pieces of meat, he was the sole party responsible if the Covenant was violated (which it was by Abraham’s descendants). What God was saying, as was customary with contract signing during that time, was that if either of us violated the Covenant, it would be my blood on the line.
This same God, hung on the cross, paying his blood for the Covenant violations caused by Abraham’s descendants.
So why is Jesus the only way?
Because Jesus blood was paid on behalf of those in the Covenant. They are already paid for, and free from condemnation. But for those who aren’t a part of this Covenant, they do not have this representation before God. They are responsible for their own sins, and receive their just penalty of eternal death.
When you say Jesus is not the only way, you are laying on people a responsibility which they won’t be able to uphold and will result in their eternal death.
Your role as a pastor is to shepherds God’s people, those in the Covenant with Christ and urge others to join in this Covenant.
He came to reveal the Father
He died so we could die to sin and live
He rose and provided a way that we can live with him
and be one with him and the Father
Jesus passion was to send Holy Spirit to live in us so we can live an abundant life here on earth
If anyone else can do all that than let me know
Read acts 4 vs 12. There is no other name under heaven that we should be saved except by Jesus Christ. Unfortunately if you believe that there are other ways to heaven you shall perish. Jesus Christ is the king of kings and lord of all. Read Romans 10:9-10 New International Version (NIV)
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Nathan it seems you lost your way. The problem with being deceived is that you actually believe your right. Your wrong. Repent and turn back to the lord.Let me give you a prophetic word.”Time is running out, Jesus will make his return soon. You are not ready.”
God’s word does come with some warning for our good. It speaks of thewisdom of the Spirit of God for the wisdom of the spirit of the world. Please read all of 1 Cor. Chapter 2 which speaks of true wisdom. Paul could say vs 2 “for I determined not to know anything among you save ” Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.”. Vs 14 But the natural man receives not the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.
Please read all of Hebrews chap 10 Vs 29 ((God’s Word, not mine) ” Of course how much worse punishment do you suppose, will he be who has trampled the Son of God underfoot and counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of Grace”. Vs 38 (God’s word not mine) “now the just shall live by faith. But if anyone draws back, My Soul has no pleasure in him.”
By saying “There are other ways to God, than Jesus!” You are making a mockery of Jesus death on the cross. You are saying Jesus death on the cross was in vain. Those are some scary statements you are making. I fear for your soul. I will pray for you!
The first sentence of the article is either misleading, empirically falsifiable or logically inconsistent. While Nathan does not state that all belief systems exhibiting the sign are dying, the implication is that his ideas are necessary for the survival of Christianity (unless he was making an irrelevant statement, which is misleading and rather unlikely). This is false, as Christianity has always been exclusionary and has survived quite well these past two millennia. Even the more exclusionary streams of the Reformation have thrived over the past five centuries.
Moreover, his belief system is exclusionary, hence the article criticising others, with the only difference being that he regards himself as more enlightened than others, whereas I regard him as being in dire danger of being sentenced to hell and leading others with him. Proponents of Jesus’ teaching sound like a broken record precisely because the danger of deserved divine judgement is so real and people are so quick to dismiss it. Either Jesus is the only way, or he is not a way at all.
Please refer to the most quoted bible verse: John 3:16 and read on
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall nor perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
I am sorry to hear that people are being mislead as they try to build a relationship with Christ. How can it be said that we can earn our way into heaven? If you are saying that we do not need Jesus then you are saying we can figure it out ourselves. This sir is ludacris!! Through Jesus’ death on the cross and the relationship that anyone can chose to have with him are made perfect and given a ‘pass’ to heaven.
Without Jesus we have no chance at all: for we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. You CANNOT and WILL NOT ever be able to do it on your own. “I am the way the truth and the life; NO ONE comes to the Father except through ME”. Do just expect everyone in the world to just disregard Jesus’ teachings and live their life trying to be a ‘good’ person? Good luck with that, we are all sinners! Born as sinners! Will always be sinners!
Luckily for all of us it has been spoken: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall nor perish but have eternal life.”