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 talents “reaps 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 salvific 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. Continue reading