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Is Christianity the One True Religion?

I believe is that Jesus is THE way, THE truth and THE life and that no one comes to the father but by him. However, most Christians basically change that text to read that “no one comes to the father but by believing in” Christ. Now, I do believe that there are benefits and rewards for those who affirm Christ knowingly and by name. Scriptures promise us that. I also believe that it is desirous that every man would know and serve Jesus in that way. However, it is also true that God, like the land owner in the parable of the talentsreaps where he did not sow and gathers where he did not scatter seed.” Anyone who seeks after and submits themselves to love is seeking after and submitting to God. God is love. There is no expression or experience of love apart from God whether he is known or named or not.

I see other religions very much along the lines of what Paul told the Athenians when he said that the unknown God they worshiped was God himself and then quoted pagan poetry in order to illustrate the fact that although they did not know this God by name, tradition or doctrine, they had still attained some measure of understanding about him.

It is my understanding that any time someone is are able to find some measure of love and truth, this is due to the work of Jesus – both his salvic work and his creative work – “through him all things were made”. But this reality is not dependent on human knowledge, understanding or even acceptance of Jesus. I think of it as being a lot like oxygen. Oxygen existed and was sustaining our very lives for a long time before anyone knew it was there or what it did or even that they depended on it for life. The life sustaining work of oxygen doesn’t depend on human knowledge, acknowledgment or understanding. I think that the truth that no man can come to the father – or can even know love – outside of Jesus is much the same. It is a truth which exists all on its own regardless of whether we know or accept it as true.

I do believe that the day will come when it is revealed to all mankind that every good thing in their life – all the love, the joy, the beauty, etc – exists because of Jesus and no other teacher or prophet can lay claim to those things. And I believe that will be the day when every knee bows to Jesus. Those of us who know Jesus personally don’t have to wait for that day and I believe that is a great blessing on our lives and for our standing in the Kingdom. Other prophets and teachers may have been able to testify to whatever truth they knew, but Jesus is the truth through which every good thing comes into existence.

All of my life I have been close friends with people who are Muslim, Buddhist or even atheist. In fact some of the smartest, best, most honest people I have known have been atheists. They have all known that I think they ought to be Christians. But they also know that if they aren’t going to be Christians, my hope for them is that they would be the most devout, loving Muslim, Buddhist or whatever that they can be. God and Jesus will take and receive the credit in due time. (FWIW, I’m also fully aware that my non-Christian friends believe that time will prove that I am wrong. Which is fine. We can disagree and leave it at that. Time will tell that I’m right. ;P )

It’s not that I hold to the idea that there are many paths up the mountain. Rather, I believe that there is only one path up the mountain and you can call it different things and you can bring different baggage with you as you climb it, but the reality is that there is no other way up the mountain except for the way that Jesus offers – love, sacrifice, humility, patience, peace, forgiveness, endurance, etc. God’s truth is written into reality and we all carry his image within us. Anytime someone looks for divine love, they will find whatever measure of that love and truth which they are able to hold. So there are many faith traditions which hold some measure of truth – nothing which you can’t also find in Christianity as well, to be sure. But I think this we do see so many commonalities between religions despite wildly different ideas about the reality of life and our spiritual existence.

Ultimately, I believe that the Christian faith is the truest, clearest, least encumbered revelation man has for how to walk that path, know it and understand it. It is without any doubt in my mind, the surest way to make the climb to God, to our salvation and to the redeemed world we’ve all been seeking.

For those of you wondering, “but what about hell?”, please check out the series I did last year on just that topic.

BTW, have you “Liked” The Upside Down World on Facebook yet? You should.

*This post was written in response to a question from Dan Rial of This is My Story sent me an email wondering about my ideas regarding the particularity of Jesus. You know – the claim by Jesus that “I am the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the father but by me.” In many Christian circles this is used as a proof text to show that all other religions are false (and probably demonic) and that only Jesus believing Christian folks can get to heaven. I asked him if it would be OK if I shared my response with the rest of y’all and he said yes and I said that I’d tell you all to go check out his blog. He’s a very good writer and I really enjoy his perspective, so you really should. After you read this, of course:

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23 thoughts on “Is Christianity the One True Religion?

  1. I have a very hard time myself with this issue. I don’t believe, for example, that when/if Jesus said that about being “the Way” (aka “the Torah”) that he was speaking as “this body here” but rather that he was speaking as the Spirit we also call “Christ” or “God”. We can’t get anywhere useful without That — but It does want to be known, does find multiple ways for us to find.

    I also see that people who’ve given up on checking out the reality of Jesus, because of too much exposure to ugly false images — have a very long and (I feel) unnecessarily difficult time seeing what Jesus was born to teach specifically to the Western world (which needs it a lot!) After a long practice of other teaching, you can arrive where he started… but what a hassle!

    I also find his style of understanding to be rare among “Christians”…

    What to conclude?

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  2. This is the hardest thing about my walk as a Christian. I don’t know if I don’t understand what I’m reading but there is a disconnect between the loving Jesus and a god that would send people to hell because they didn’t perceive reality correctly. You have given me something to ponder. I like the way your twisted mind works :-)

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    • I would really encourage you to check out the series I wrote on hell. You’re totally on the right track with your thinking and in those posts I explain that what the bible – and specifically Jesus – teaches about hell is quite different from what we’ve been taught for the last several hundred years.

      People will sometimes tell me that maybe I’m one of those people who are “tickling ears” which makes me laugh. There’s this assumption tickling ears would mean telling people nice things but it seems to me that what people have repeatedly shown that they want to hear are things like judgment, anger, condemnation, etc. Things that are good don’t “tickle ears”. How many teachers through the millenia have tried to convince us of the truth and need for love, peace, joy, humility and such? Whereas teaching condemnation and wrath has always been readily accepted, those teachings of love and joy all too often fall of deaf ears.

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  3. As usual, many interesting points, although it still bother me to think that such important insights were left to us in a way that is so dependent of individual interpretation… Besides that, I loved the “Coexist” built with starships!!!! (:-)

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  4. The Ancient religions and many contemporary religious Traditions, especially those from the East, express and teach their sacred truths (Divine Revelations) through myths rather than dogma. A myth is not something that never happened, it is something that happens all the time, an “archetypal event.”
    Myths speak to the heart more than to the head. That is why St. Anselm defined theology as “faith seeking understanding.” When theological understanding does not “descend from the head into the heart”, as the Eastern Church teaches must happen, there is no spiritual/psychological transformation in the life of the professed “believer.”
    In every authentic religious Tradition there is a mythological Christ-figure. Krishna is the Christ-figure in the Hindu religion. Don Richardson’s story of the Peace Child ( http://www.incourage.me/2010/04/the-peace-child.html) speaks to the human heart whatever the person’s theological beliefs may be or even it there is no theological faith. Cradle (and creedal) Christians often fail to recognize that there is an intuitive faith in a Benevolent Force in the hearts of all. Unfortunately, it is very fragile if not supported by a credible belief system and is easily lost if it is challenged in our relationships with others who can be neglectful and cruel rather than nurturing.

    This is what my son, Paul, posted in response to the sectarian triumphalism of a Christian fundamentalist who had claimed that only Christians were “saved”:

    “Those who are pursuing Love are pursuing God. Through His grace, this allows them to partake as they are able in the divine life and thus also partake in the redemptive work of Christ. It is not necessary for an individual to outwardly profess a particular set of theological dogmas for Christ’s work to be effective for redemption in that individual.
    This is what a comprehensive contextual reading of Scripture leads to, instead of having to balance apparently contradictory texts against each other when they are plucked out as ‘proof texts’.” –Paul Sauberer

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  5. Ahh…I remember cutting my sister’s hair when she was about that age and I 4 years older. I probably didn’t do much better back then than your daughter did now.

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  6. Pingback: Faith, Doubt and Love « The Upside Down World

  7. Pingback: Worst Clobber Verse EVER – Christian Patriarchy Edition « The Upside Down World

  8. Part of the problem with saying, as many do, that you can’t be saved unless you believe in “Jesus” by that name and “personally” is that the Lord is not really a face-to-face person for any of us now some two thousand years after the Incarnation, and thus of course whatever one imagines that person (Jesus) and that “personal relationship” to be is inherently subjective. What are not subjective are His commandments and the accomplishment of the Cross, and, whenever the question is raised in the New Testament, how does one inherit eternal life or how does one love one’s neighbor, the answer is always to keep the commandments. Of course this indicates also the problem with saying that being nominally Christian is not necessary: it can open up the excuse for people to violate this commandment or that (most easily these days, it seems, the commandments of sexual morality) and yet claim, “Oh, but I still love my neighbor, and I’m a good person,” which is nonsensical and dangerous.

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  9. Gee whiz, I just noticed that this post was written half a year ago, and yet it appeared at the top of my Feedly feed, as though hot off the presses. Man. Feedly’s been doing that a lot to me, and I guess I didn’t catch it this time.

    Shucks. Sorry about jumping on an old and cold post. Now, I bet every one of your other posts showing up today on my feed is probably ancient history too. I’ll have to keep a closer eye on the dates.

    And write a stern letter to Feedly.

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      • Well, then you’ll be pleased to know that I tweeted it right after I commented. I don’t exactly have a ton of followers, but I put it out there. :)

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  10. I really liked this Rebecca:

    “It’s not that I hold to the idea that there are many paths up the mountain. Rather, I believe that there is only one path up the mountain and you can call it different things and you can bring different baggage with you as you climb it, but the reality is that there is no other way up the mountain except for the way that Jesus offers – love, sacrifice, humility, patience, peace, forgiveness, endurance, etc.”

    Regarding hell, I think that few ever entertain the idea that not all people are born immortal. For hell to exist one has to believe that all people are born immortal. Another view is that one is born immortal (i.e. born spiritually ala John 3) after they are naturally born. Food for thought.

    Have a great weekend!

    Blessings, Bob

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  11. This is so much how my own thoughts have developed in these matters. This ‘believing’, ‘knowing’, ‘believing in’ and the like really makes it hard to try to communicate clearly sometimes. I have tried to come up with analogies and metaphors that work, though none seem entirely satisfactory. Such as, suppose a road, that you know goes to Topeka. Knowing the road goes to Topeka isn’t going to get you TO Topeka. You’d have to journey along that road to get to Topeka. And should one et out upon that road, to journey it to where ever it might go, not knowing it is a road to Topeka, they are still going to end up in Topeka if they travel it to its destination. Or perhaps in a ‘salvation’ analogy… one may be struggling, about to drown, lost in rough seas far from land. Out of the darkness and turmoil, appears a boat, and a kindly stranger, that reaches down and pulls you, near unconscious, out of the water and safely into the boat. You do not have to know who that stranger is, or even know that the stranger performed that saving action, if your consciousness was so far gone you were unawares. But he still did, and you were still saved from drowning. Now perhaps you are drowning, and you do know there is a guy that goes about in a boat saving drowning people, even know his name. Or at least, you’ve been told there is. And maybe you’ve been told that if you call out to that guy, let’s say they’ve told you his name is ‘Sam,’ that guy is going to hear you and come rescue you.. Is ‘knowing’ that sufficient to save you if you are drowning? Or maybe you call out, “Sam! Sam! Help! Save me!” and along comes a boat, but the guy says his name is Joe, not Sam. Are you going to turn away Joe and his offer to rescue you, just keep calling out for Sam?
    There have been times in my life when I found myself walking some pretty deep dark scary valleys, struggling to not drown in some pretty rough deep dark seas, and there was ‘someone’ that held me, kept me, drew me back into the light, back onto solid ground. That was not always in ways that ‘sounded right’ to the religious people in my life, or to whom I may have sought help or guidance from. I got told, no, that’s not Jesus, no that’s not a place a “really saved” Christian could have wound up in to begin with, even that I must have been drawn in my some demons or something. Because I experienced something that didn’t sound like what they had ever experienced, something that didn’t ‘fit’ their ‘salvation experience’ or whatever. I had to learn there was no point in arguing any of it with them. I had to learn to just be kind, smile, step back, and say, if you ever find yourself in such a place, believe me, you will just accept the hand that reaches to lift you up out of the darkness, the turmoil, to draw you back into the light, to solid ground. And believe me, you will not concern yourself about whether or not he seems to have the ‘right’ name.

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  12. Of course Jesus said I am the way and no one comes to the Father but by me. We need to remember the beginning of John to know who is speaking. It is the Word made flesh. So in a way it is God saying, “No one can come to God but by God’s way.” And oh by the way God’s way is Grace. God saying I can’t take a chance on these humans messing it up. I want to be in a peaceful relationship with each and every one of them so, “If you want a job done right do it yourself.” I will make them my own. end of story. Now if I can find some faithful ones to tell the story they will all know my love.

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  13. Rebecca, great post! I have come to the same conclusion. You have explained it well here. it’s amazing to me how conservative Christianity reads into that scripture (and many others) the notion that one needs to formally become a “Christian” to be saved, rather than as a statement of truth that when one approaches God the Father, they go through Jesus (as God’s personal expression of himself to humankind) whether they realize it or not. Keep up the good blog. Cheers! ~Michael http://www.michaelcampbooks.com

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  14. For the sake of life and truth, I would just like to speak my mind about what is true and what is not. For many years I have searched many spiritual avenues and depths for the truth, and made a promise that when I find the truth, I will follow that truth no matter the cost. As for Christianity, when a child is molested by a priest, a woman raped by a preacher, a family torn to pieces by a pastor, people being accused of being the devil by churches, poor needy people being shunned by the rich christians, churches competing and praying against each other, preachers commiting adultery, corruption and theft, and all these things happening on a daily basis within the ranks of Christianity; How does one prove that Christianity is something one can believe in? The proven facts are there that rich Christians prey on the vulnerability of poor Christians, so to boost their ego. No normal person can dispute the fact, that everything I have said here is only the truth. So how can any sober minded person believe in a religion like Christianity when it is so messed up and confusing? Maybe only the insane and the evil.

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    • So what is “Christianity”? Is it what the Pope believes? What a Baptist or a Russian Orthodox Bishop thinks? What the next guy you meet on the bus says if you ask him about it? Certainly it isn’t these things you’ve mentioned; but it seems to take a great many forms for many different people. Many of them would say that I’m ‘Christian’ and many of them would say that I’m not.

      I say “I’m a fool and the gospel is true.” Because it’s true regardless of what I say. But that gospel is what Jesus was saying; it doesn’t have to be what people think it means…. and what do you think it means?

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