Over the past two months we have been having a lot of fun talking about John 14:6. The release of Brian McLaren’s new book Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World and our subsequent live event with him at Wild Goose West (audio here) got us started.
Then Jericho Books gave us some copies to give away so we put out the John 14:6 Challenge. People stepped up with posts and used the speakpipe to leave us messages.
I swung first with “Jesus wasn’t talking about Muslims in John 14:6” and followed it up with “an alternative to John 14:6” saying that one that famous passage is off the table for thinking about how to deal with other religions … where does one start? What are the alternatives?
Last week, Tripp and I recorded a TNT that will come out this afternoon where we listen to some of the calls and talk about some of the posts… in that midst of that conversation, (beginning in minute 15) we put out an idea that I thought should be in written form and not just audio. Here it goes:
Not only is John 14:6 not about other religions – since it is a disciple’s invitation – but it is not even about salvation. It is about relationship and not salvation.
I blame it on lazy reading that results in conflating subjects. I think that Jesus is inviting those who follow him to relate to ‘the Father’ (Abba) as he relates to Abba by:
- living the life he laid out,
- walking the way he modeled and
- embodying the truth we proclaim.
Tripp implies that is has something to do with Calvinism and it’s histroical impact of making salvation:
A) transactional instead of relational
B) individual instead of communal
So I want to ask the question (you may want to listen to the TNT episode to hear the whole context):
What if John 14:6 is not only not about other religions – but isn’t even about salvation? How would that impact your use of that passage and where else would you turn in the Bible for an alternative?
Personally, I would go to Acts 4:12 “God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Mainly because it has the word ‘saved’ in it AND sounds semi-exclusive … which is what people TRY to get John 14:6 to be – but simply isn’t. That is the conflation that I am talking about.
December 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm
Truthfully, Bo, to think about John 14:6 in a non-salvific way is pretty refreshing to me. Until you started this whole challenge, I felt like I could never discuss the very thought of another religion without the J14:6 bomb being dropped; now I can. Following this for the last month has been relieving and wonderful; it gives hope to those who doubt, who are groping about in their walk with Christ and can’t see where they were going (Tripp’s story about the discussions with the monk were awesome, BTW). So a big thank-you goes to you and Tripp for helping push this weight off my shoulders by getting closer to the true meaning behind Jesus’ words here.
As for Acts 4:12, that does sound pretty exclusive, but not as condemning as I would expect, considering the Jewish idea of salvation. After reading Stephen Prothero’s book God is Not One, knowing that the Jews view the world as broken and needing to be put back together, I think this throws what Peter is saying into a whole new light. For him, the way, truth and the life of Jesus is the only way to put the world back together (or, in NT Wrights terms, put the world to rights). In a way, every time the early church invited folks to believe in Jesus, it was a way of saying, “We are building up a new world in Christ; join us in this work!” I guess to reject Jesus, in this case, is to say that you benefit more from the old way of doing things, of oppressive laws that only prove that no one is righteous.