living through death

"The only way that you can accept life is if you can accept death.” –Leo Buscaglia

No one comes to the Father but through Me…

with 2 comments

In John 14:6, John has Jesus declare “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” This remark by Jesus has often been used by some Christians to declare the supremacy of their beliefs and to justify heavy-handed apologetic activities as well as the denigration of other faith traditions. Such is the way of context-free proof-texting. In context, this declaration was made in response to the disciple Thomas who, after hearing that Jesus was leaving them, asked despairingly, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” From this we can see that the primary intent of Jesus’ response is to comfort. It’s not a club, it’s solace, hope and peace.

I think this case can be made further by reading this passage in light of John’s logos Christology (Jn. 1:1-18). Here John envisions the Son as the union of Hebraic wisdom traditions and the Greek doctrine of the Logos. In other words, John sees the Son as God’s knowledge of God’s self, and the rational principle in creation. With that in mind, a more adequate reading of this passage goes something like this: “Whoever comes to the Father comes through me.” In other words, whoever lives in wisdom, reason and love has come to the father through the Son, for the Son is the Father’s wisdom personified.

From all this we have a different question now before us. The question is not, “do we believe in Jesus?”, for the meaning of this question is almost completely broken in our time; rather, the question is “have we come to the Father?” Do we live in wisdom, reason, and love? Ironically, in present times this is not the question that Christianity is asking to the culture, but the question the culture is asking to Christianity.

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Written by Alex

December 14, 2011 at 8:11 am

Posted in Theology

Tagged with , ,

2 Responses

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  1. If it’s only in present times that Christianity is being critically assessed with regard to wisdom, reason and love, then that’s because Christianity has now become a dominant force within the culture. As a counter-cultural force – in Jesus’ day, for instance – it served as a firm standpoint for asking tough questions; as a pro-cultural force, it’s ethically impotent. I’m not arguing against the point you’re making, by the way – I’m only pointing out that ‘Christianity’ is a loose agglomeration of thousands of different factions, and some (the less culturally powerful) of those factions are asking the tough questions you mention in your post.

    Philboyd

    January 29, 2012 at 12:05 am

  2. Hi Philboyd,
    Thanks for contributing. You make a good point. The radical and confrontational elements within Christianity are easily lost in the move to “Christendom.” There are many who see the ongoing disestablishment of Christendom as a good thing for the very reason you mention. Reminds me of the early Christians who, after surviving decades of intense persecution were suddenly faced with Constantine declaring the entire Roman Empire “Christian.” The response of many was to completely abandon the world of nominal religion and head off to the desert for a life of serious devotion to God. From the desert then came major church leaders, reform movements… as well as a good deal of fanaticism. Go figure.

    Alex

    January 30, 2012 at 7:29 am


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