Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Universal Negatives in John's Gospel, Part 3

Universal Negatives in John's Gospel, Part 3

Universal Negatives in John's Gospel, Part 1
Universal Negatives in John's Gospel, Part 2

That Blasted Christian Intolerance and Exceptionalism

One of John's universal negatives is particularly provocative:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth and the life, No one comes to the father except through me.” (John 14:6)

This says: the only way—no exceptions, favors, or quid pro quo–  to stand in the presence of God the Father, is through Christ. 

Is the New Testament anti-Semitic or anti-Islamic?

Obviously not in the civic or legal sense—all people are to be shown unconditional kindness and charity and afforded equal rights.
But is is in this sense: One must present himself to God through his son, and only Christianity acknowledges the Son.
We do not worship the same god. Only adherents of one of the three major monotheistic religions point to Jesus and say: there, that person right there is God. To the other two, he is just a man, a teacher, a misguided rabbi, whose bones are in the ground in Palestine. Two of the three do not even grant that the third (Christianity) is monotheistic. Axiomatically a god who is not a triune god cannot be the same as the Christian god.
Strangely enough, in my experience it is usually atheists who get upset about the claim that we do not worship the same god.1 Typically (but not universally) Christians, Jews, and Muslims rather matter-of-factly acknowledge the obvious.

In the OT period we did worship the same (more) incomplete understanding of god, but that is no longer permissible: The times of ignorance have been overlooked (Acts 17:30)
So does that mean only Christians are saved? It does. So does that mean that nice Muslim man who spent his life helping others and never acknowledged Christ and perhaps never even heard the Christian gospel is bound for hell? I don't think it means that at all.2 It means that only Christians are saved. But it doesn't say what the definition of Christian is in the statement "only Christians are saved." More on that anon.

1 From a a secular, anthropological viewpoint one can make the reasonable claim that the gods are descendants of a common ancestor. But from a theological viewpoint, they are different as night and day. 
2 Of course if he does go to heaven, it is not, in my understanding, because he spent his life performing laudable works of charity. He would be in heaven for the same reason that anyone else is in heaven.


Jump to Part 4

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