>What a great week of discussion! After honing this down a bit, I wanted to post it and get some thoughts:
In John 14:6, when Jesus says “I am the way” – that Jesus’ way is the humility that we see in John 13 (washing the disciples’ feet)
When he says “I am the truth” – that Jesus in the revelation of God.
When he says “I am the life” that it is Jesus’ life that reconciles ALL things to God.
I get that from verses like:
Colossians 1:20 “and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
Romans 5:10 “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
2 Corinthians 5:18 “ All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”
When he says “no one comes to the Father but through me” – he is saying ‘everyone who comes to God comes through me’. Jesus reconciled ALL things to God.
This is built on the previous understanding that:
In was in response to Thomas asking about “where you are going”. Thomas would not have had the concept of the after-life that we have. He was a first century Hebrew.
- the word Hindu does not appear in the Bible. So the Bible has nothing to say about Hindus. If we do… then we are INTERPRETing things that are in the Bible and APPLYing them to Hindus.
- as a 1st century Hebrew, Thomas was not asking about our concept of heaven.
- Jesus was not talking about “life after you die”
- Jesus was talking about a KIND of relationship with God (the way he had) before you die.
February 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm
>i don't know about this stuff man, i only read the king james bible and it's not so clear cut in there. i think you're being too liberal with your scripture reading.
February 25, 2011 at 3:22 pm
>:) funny. seriously – being THAT ironic with only one comma and two periods is masterful. I applaud you sir !On a serious note, … oh, never mind. Why wreck the mood? ;p
February 25, 2011 at 10:34 pm
>Everyday, I keep thinking you might elaborate on this verse in a way that gives me an "aha" moment but you keep repeating assertions without much by way of proof.You often say things like like " a fist century Jew wouldn't think that way" as if that settles the question. But John writes his Gospel after two decades of animosity between the Jews and the new sect, the Christians.One of the things he is trying to show is why the first century Jews need to think in new ways, with a new paradigm. First century Jews had a very exclusive view of the afterlife, they called it "Abraham's bosom" because they thought that it was a place for themselves, the promised descendants of Abraham. I think Jesus is talking about an afterlife here. But suppose that he is not talking about an afterlife, but that he is talking about a relationship. He's still telling them that the relationship is not gotten the old way, by the way of their religion. This is something that the first century Jew must grapple with.The relationship is gotten through himself. In fact there is no other way, he says. So he is talking exclusively. It's written exclusively in every translation. I get that it is an invitation of sorts. But do you get that it is an exclusive one?
February 25, 2011 at 11:44 pm
>Someone asked me one time what I believe about hell. I told them “I believe exactly what the Apostle Paul teaches.” Do you get it? 🙂 Paul doesn’t ever talk about hell. Not even once. We get the lion’s share of our salvation theology from Paul but… then what do we do with stuff he is NOT saying? Most of our Hell ideas come from Dante and Milton literature, not scripture. That is a fun little way to say – that I am limited in this conversation by the nature of the medium, by the space limitations and by the nature of this mode of language. I do apologize for that. SO here is the thing: If Thomas is not asking about the Heaven the that we have. If Jesus is not answering the pluralism question of later centuries. If that it not what the text is addressing THEN I think we need to be careful about making it that answer to a question that it is not trying to answer. Does that make sense? We are interpreting it and then applying it to a modern situation. And that is OK – I mean what else are we suppose to do right? BUT we have to be humble about it and not ram it into every situation as the answer to a question it did not have in mind! as if this one utterance (in a conversation in a story) settles all issues on the matter. Would you agree with that? If you do, then I will attempt to go one layer deeper in answer to your question… but if you don’t, then there is not much I can do here. You already have your mind made up with a certainty and confidence that I can not crack in a blog post 🙂 Looking forward to your response. You are a valued dialogue partner!!
February 25, 2011 at 11:47 pm
>I should also mention that in 1st century Israel there were several differing ideas about heaven and the afterlife. We get a window into this at a couple points in our gospels. When I say that about Thomas, I am not saying that he had NO idea – just that it positively was not the same as our concept.
February 26, 2011 at 3:33 am
>i think Ike makes a good point about exclusivity.it is a clear assertion of Jesus that 1st century judaism is not the way to the father, Jesus is.yes this is not an afterlife discussion, this is a here and now invitation for intimacy with the father through Jesus.it is an accurate thing to say that whether you are hindu, muslim, jewish, or xian if you do not relate to the father in the way Jesus did, than you are not following Jesuspersonally, i do not see this as a heaven or hell question but rather a question of whether or not a person will have access to the blessings that come from real relationship with the Father through Jesus.
February 26, 2011 at 7:05 am
>Ok – many of us do not have the same relationship with God that Jesus had. Agreed, but I just want to make sure that you are with the main point.This passage is not the answer to the pluralism question. John 14:6 is not about Heaven and Hell 🙂 we agree. But it is also not about 'other religions'. It is about an invitation to caliber of relationship.
February 27, 2011 at 4:02 pm
>I know this is a little off topic but here goes. When you say that Paul never talks about hell, how do you mean that? Do you mean that he never says the word "hell" or that he never mentions it at all?If we use the concordance to do our theology and forget to consider dynamic equivalents we make a huge mistake.For example, if one used a concordance one might make the mistake of saying that according to Matthew, the "kingdom of God" isn't an important topic. But when one realizes that Matthew uses the term "kingdom of Heaven" instead and that the phrases mean the same thing. well then you see that he does indeed talk about it.So when 2 Thess. 1:9 uses the phrase "Punishment of eternal destruction." I ask myself, isn't that a dynamic equivalent for the concept of hell?I know in some circles they don't admit that Paul wrote 2 Thess but the early church thought that he did. So do many today. Anyway, "Paul doesn’t ever talk about hell. Not even once." is at least over the top. At most, it's misleading.
February 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm
>This is a great thing to clarify! So let me be clear: Paul never uses the word "Hell". Never. Not even once. What is over the top about me pointing that out? It is not the same as saying that Matthew never says 'the Kingdom' of anything because Matthew talks about 'the Kingdom' – his use of 'heaven' over the title 'God' is telling you something else. It is not the same at all – not even a little bit. Ike! if you read Paul saying one thing and substitute it for another… you are admitting to the very thing that I am saying!! You are interpreting and applying – do you not even know that is what you are doing? Do you just do it on autopilot? Are you so conditioned that it is second nature now? I said in an earlier post "we need to be careful that we don't get so comfortable with our interpretation of the text that we think it is the meaning of the text". Your substituting one thing for another (a) and then your discomfort with my pointing out the obvious (b) and calling it "at least over the top. at most, it's misleading" makes me wonder: you DO know that your interpreting … right? Paul says one thing and you INTERPRET it as hell because of your previous conception. I'm OK if that is what you are doing as long as you admit that you are doing it. You are making me nervous that my pointing out how Paul never uses the word "hell" is anything other that revealing.
February 28, 2011 at 9:36 am
>I'm not trying to be contentious, Everyday please forgive me.You didn't say that Paul didn't use the word hell you said that he doesn't "talk about" hell. You do realize that cognates and dynamic equivalents exist in language?If you said, "Paul never talks about the messiah, not even once." That too would be misleading. It would be misleading because the word Christ is the Greek cognate of the Hebrew word Messiah and Paul uses it over 300 times.It's like saying that the Bible doesn't ever talk about human rights, not even once.
February 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm
>Ike- thank your for not being contentious 🙂 I appreciate that. A LOT.I think I see where we are missing each other. I wanted to ask you "don't you think it's weird that Paul never uses the word 'hell'?" You would say "no – because he has the concept but never uses the exact word in greek that we are looking for from a hebrew understanding" and I would say 'I think you have missed my point'.by the way – I know what dynamic equivalence is. I'm not sure that you are using it right. I get why there may not be a specific Greek or English word in, say, the Serbo-Croatian language for a word we use in scripture. So translation is needed using D.E. That is one thing. But when a scripture writer does not use a word that they HAD in their language… I think that it is telling us something different. SO – let's take you cognates for Messiah that Paul uses over 300 times. How many occasions are there for "Hell" ? Every time you say "It's like this __________" I think to myself 'no it's not – that is very different.' The comparisons you are using are at best half-analogies. Why don't we do this : no more analogies (i.e. Human Rights) – you tell me where Paul teaches on Hell. That will be easier and clearer.
February 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm
>I want to be clear about 3 things:A) we are not arguing semantics here. We have an honest disagreement. I am saying something and you do not like the content of what I am saying. We are not splitting hairs here – we have a honest difference of opinion. B) I think it is disingenuous for you to say "well for this OTHER word there are over 300 examples." That is a red-herring. I want to say "fine- but how about for the ACTUAL word we are talking about?" C) My point is that Paul's gospel is NOT built on saving people from Hell. That is not Paul's framework or primary concern. He never even uses the word. so it doesn't matter how many time the word 'messiah' appears some place else – you are avoiding the issue – how many times does Paul reference (even by dynamic equivalence) Hell? was it a part of his mental framework? I would say 'no'.
March 1, 2011 at 12:38 am
>Everyday:I think it might be helpful if you gave us some idea of what the 1st century understanding of "death', "gehenna", "hades" was.In your travels, what have you learned about the 1st century Jewish understanding of the aferlife?What was the context into which Jesus and eventually Paul spoke?