I’m wrestling with the idea of the ramifications of my recent post. I admit that I am a blatant and careless at times and get quite a bit of pleasure at watching the ruptures of empty ideology, but the last thing I actually want to do is cause hurt or more pain in the world. While I have yet to see the apparent negative affects of a post like I wrote, according to some people I trust, they are out there and I’m selfish for having not thought about this beforehand.
By saying ‘There Are More Ways To God than Jesus‘ I seemed to have triggered many fears among my Christian comrades that I no longer am a Christian and that I am leading a whole church community astray (despite the fact that for ten years I have not ‘lead’ theStory in any sort of theological way). Verses like “no one comes to the Father accept through me” get quoted over and over again in attempts to show that I am disagreeing with Jesus, the creeds and 2000+ years of church history. I am quite intrigued at the fear and accusation that comes along with making a statement that is in opposition to the church. I think in many ways, the responses that happened exemplify how far apart what we believe is from why we believe it.
When I say there are more ways to God than Jesus, I am trying to confront “the traditional view that implies that anyone who does not “believe in” (think about, assent to) Jesus in the same way is unable to know or be in relationship with God.” Thanks Josh for an excellent post expounding on my thoughts and challenging me to continue to think out my convictions. I was confronting a simplistic ideology with it’s opposite to make a point – not to write a new theology with a two paragraph blog post.
We fear opposite and different thoughts and we invoke aggression and violence of a sort on those that hold them. As Christians, we end up denying people the love and hospitality that literally define our beliefs because they disagree with our beliefs. All I have to do is say the opposite of what Christians believe and I have a group of Christians telling me I am not a Christian anymore. It’s unfortunate that for 2000+ years of church history that we choose to identify them by the thoughts that they have in their head and unless people align with the right ones than they can no longer maintain that identity. Is Christianity really just a group of people that believe the same things? I thought it was a group of people that chose to live a certain way.
Never mind the fact that Jesus also seems to say that people gain eternal life and have no idea they are even doing it (Matthew 25 and the sheep and the goats). Turns out Jesus was not concerned at all about the thoughts they have in their heads, or even their motives of doing something, he just cared that people actually lived in such a way that was true and asked of them.
Why don’t people say “Nathan, you don’t actually live a life in solidarity with the poor, therefore you are not a Christian and you shouldn’t call yourself one?” Why is it “Nathan, you think differently in your head from what I know to be true, therefore you are not a Christian anymore?” How do we not see how messed up this is? How do we not see how far from the truth this is?
Are we not called to be people of love and not belief? Since when did being a Christian involve subscribing to a particular version of beliefs? Should these beliefs not be ridiculed and criticized and questioned if they result in the kinds of Christians North America is filled with? If our beliefs are resulting in more exclusionary, rigid and unloving people – then should they not be on the table and challenged? Are we really unwilling to challenge the basic tenants of the faith because they are the basic tenants?
Like I said, I have yet to see these so called negative affects of stating out loud something that’s going on in my head, but I am told that they are there and that something big is coming down the pipe. What this is, I don’t know. What I do hope and pray is that the peace of Jesus be on us all. Lord have mercy.