Continued from Part One….
On what does the issue of Christian exclusivity depend? Quite simply, any view of whether or not Christ is the “only way” must begin with an answer to the question of Christ’s identity. And this is no simple issue. The early church struggled for several centuries in its attempt to arrive at a consensus of opinion as to the Master’s identity. And ultimately, answering this same question is a necessary task for each of us as followers of Jesus. Just what manner of being was Christ? Was he human? Was he divine? Was he, as claimed by the early church councils some vague mixture of both? When we encounter Jesus Christ, just exactly what are we dealing with?
Any answer to whether or not Jesus is the “only way” hinges upon how we answer this question.
If Jesus, like Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, Abraham and other religious founders, was human through and through, then it would take quite a leap of faith to believe that he was the one and only way to God. Like these other religious figures, Jesus was a great moral teacher and a prototype for what we should all be like. Does that uniquely qualify him as the sole avenue to the divine, the only author of salvation? No, it most certainly does not.
What if, however, Jesus was exactly who and what he said he was? What if, in fact, he was exactly who and what his early followers claimed he was? What if he was in some mystical, metaphysical was God made flesh? If these things are true, then that changes everything, doesn’t it?
So, it is like I said earlier. How you answer the question about whether or not Jesus is the only way to God in large part depends on how you answer a more fundamental question nature and identity. If you firmly believe that Jesus was in some way divine, then to believe that he is the only way to God makes perfect sense. Further, when you view Jesus’ mission on earth in the larger story of renewal and restoration as described in the full sweep of the biblical narrative, his claim to exclusivity is even clearer.
When viewed in the broader context of the biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation, Christ’s mission on earth is not only far-reaching, it is unique among the major religious figures. Granted, religious scholars are often quick to point out that the story of Jesus Christ is similar to those of earlier religious figures, yet this proves nothing. An equal number of Christian scholars point out that these earlier figures were a part of God’s plan as well, making it easier for other cultures to recognize and understand who and what Christ was.
When looking at Christ’s claim to exclusivity, there are no easy answers. As stated several times already, one’s answer to this issue depends entirely upon whether or not a person believes Christ was a divine being, part man and part God. If he is seen as a mere mortal, just the same as the rest of us; if he is seen as a great moral teacher, but human through and through, then his claim to be the only way to the Kingdom of Heaven is dubious at best. However, it one views Jesus Christ as a pre-existent part of the triune godhead, the Son of God himself, then his claims cannot be so easily dismissed.
Think about it.
© L.D. Turner 2013/All Rights Reserved