Sunday, April 20, 2008

Getting Personal

Mary Cat gave today's sermon. The readings inspired her to give a personal account of her youth and journey along the Way. Jesus as "the way, and the truth, and the life..." John 14:1-14. She left out the tough bit, the part about "No one comes to the Father except through me," and this is the part that inspired me to think about another controversial area. This verse never sat right with me, and I have found that when I am made uncomfortable, that is the time for more reflection. The other option would be to ignore those parts of the Gospel that one does not like. Reflection gets personal. Over the years, my thinking about this verse has evolved from believing in the literal exclusiveness of the statement (which seems to say that only Christians would find the Father, and all others, such as the oppressed souls in China, or beings in another galaxy, were condemned), to leave me open to the possibility that Christ may lead others through ways we don't understand. To some, this is a grave error. It could certainly lead some to say, "Well, in that case, who needs Jesus, I can do this on my own." It seems that when you stray from the literal, you might indeed stray into such heresy.

I have seen the literal interpretation become a stumbling block to evangelism. Other religions may also teach that their path is the one exclusive route towards truth. It is not particularly helpful to point at them and say "You are going to h..." because they point right back at us and say the same thing for our belief in the Holy Trinity is blasphemy to some. The literal exclusivist track may lead to this unchristian condemnation. If you take an exclusivist attitude towards others, you may sabotage the message of Christ, "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:17). As a Christian, I have the assurance that Jesus lives and is guiding me, other religions and the non-religious lack this particular assurance. Their paths are different, most of their simple pewsters have not studied the Gospels (nor have most of us studied their scriptures). Some have their own exclusivity rules, and would kill any members becoming Christian. Others are more tolerant as in the notion that the world's religions are like rivers, they all eventually will take you to the same ocean.

We believe in one God, one ocean, but the question is this, is there more than one way to the Father? Personally, I have found the Way through Jesus. Now, how do I share it with someone who has found another way? Is the Episcopal way the way for you? Why not become a Baptist? Some don't think we are on the path, but come to a similar conclusion
"In conclusion the intelligent reader is reminded that in a little while (Job 16:22) the name by which persons are known here will be a small matter; the supreme issue will be their standing before the Lord. No tradition, or sentiment, or human creed will then avail; but the Word of God will be the test of faith and character (John 12:48). Search the Scriptures. Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim. 4:16; 6:12)."

3 comments:

  1. While I am not one of those who believes that each culture has a Christ-figure or that all religious belief leads to the same place, I do think that God, through the Holy Spirit, prompts each person with the knowledge of the following truth: Sin, Judgment, Necessity of a blood atonement. If one acknowledges that truth and truly beseeches God for an answer, He will not turn His back. I cannot say, how He does this. Indeed, I'm sure He works in mysterious ways to us. Yet, my faith requires that.

    Cheers.

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  2. So there are many doors. Is Jesus standing behind only one of them, or behind all of them? If Hell picking the wrong door to go through, or refusing to go through any door at all?

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  3. The old joke was that the Devil offered the condemned man his choice of Hells. Of the 3 doors from which to choose, the man chose the one where he heard a nice peaceful shhh... sound as opposed to the other doors behind which he heard screams of agony. Entering his chosen eternity, he was up to his lower lip in feces, surrounded by millions of other souls whispering, "Shhh, don't move..."

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