Jesus said that he is the way, the truth and the life. Not one way, but the way. That sounds straightforward to Christians, but arrogant to others.
So what else did Jesus say? Much debate has been had over what Jesus meant when he said “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.” Are these other Christians or others waiting to become Christians or non-Christians somehow known by Jesus? As we often say, only God knows.
Christianity has traditionally not taken a universalist stance, which says that all may be saved, no matter their religion. However, it is common in mainstream Christianity to take a hands-off approach, a non-judgmental respect of other traditions. Vatican II said that salvation may await those who had not heard the Gospel but still sought God. It is our duty as Christians to make sure that the word of God is available to all, and that we live our lives in such a way that others admire and are attracted to the Savior that animates us.
Ultimately, God knows more about salvation than we do. We try to make sense of scripture and are as faithful as the Holy Spirit gives us strength. Beyond that, we can only be respectful of the diversity of God’s creation. That means being respectful of God’s plans, whether they meet with our own ideas or not.
Michael Rich, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Jacksonville
I will not be silenced
The apostle Paul teaches that if one should speak, enlighten, give or make a sacrifice absent love, the said action has brought no benefit. To speak truth without grace can be offensive and Christianity indeed has its share of people who speak without grace. Zeal, yes. Grace? None.
Having made that admittance, it is often curious to me why Christianity seems to be singled out as being arrogant in its claim, when the truth is that all religions make their stands. From the belief that there are many gods, to there being no gods, to all religions are essentially the same. All religions make their “truth stands” which by definition are exclusive.
Many have commandeered the definitions of words and forced them to mean something entirely different. No one wants to be known as “intolerant,” “arrogant,” “insensitive” or “bull-headed” and so to avoid such a label several have acquiesced to the agenda of religious pluralism, but this results in a negative peace.
As for me, I am in total agreement with the disciple Peter, who confessed of Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” I further accept the claim of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.”
I will not allow inaccurate accusations to shame me into silence!
E. Steven Richardson, 17th Street Missionary Baptist Church, Anniston