“The Way to God of the Exclusive Claim of Christ,” by Andrew Schatkin
In the modern, world and in our society there is a general opposition if not dislike of any exclusive claim of truth, or, better put, a claim of some objective truth as opposed political moral relativism which may claim all religions are the same and perhaps that persons illegally here have some sort of rights when obviously their illegal status entitles them to nothing.
Jesus of Nazareth, in his earthly life, said much of what for want of a better word, might be termed of a radical or even cryptic character. The Gospel of John contains a number of these sayings that at first glance are puzzling if not shocking. Most people have a general conception of the deity of god in the modern world, given the number of religions, including Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. There would seem to be many points and many pathways to knowing God. Many people believe that they can and could know god through nature or through other people. This is not to say that these things are not true or have some truth. Religious expression, in its manifold variety and nature, can lead us to know god in a certain sense. This is also true of our relationships with other people or with the beauties of the arts such as music, painting, and literature. Surely, the arts represent a kind of spiritual expression that can lead us to the face of god.
Jesus, in the Gospel of John, presents a quite different picture concerning or how we may come to know god. Jesus says that we can only god through and by means of him. For example, in John 10:9, Jesus says “I am the door; if any man entering, he should be saved, he should be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture.” In John 9:5, Jesus again makes the outrageous claim that “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” In John 11:25, once again we are faced with an even more apparently ridiculous and insane claim, when Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” John 15:1 is another radical saying of Jesus. Here, he says, “I am the true vine and my father is the husbandman.” In John 6:51, Jesus make the simple, yet again radical claim, “I am the living bread, which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world.” In that same chapter, in verse 35, again Jesus says the same when he says “I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Earlier in the Gospel of John in chapter 4:14, Jesus says. “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
It seems that Jesus never ceases to make what appears to be a one way street for humanity concerning himself. He leave us no options. He leaves us no way out. He says he is it. Make your choice and take your chances. He seems to say, “It is me or nothing.” To my knowledge, no human being in history has made such an apparently blatant, if not insane claim, about himself.
In John, 8:12 Jesus says: I am the light of the world; he that followeth shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” Finally, in the 14th Chapter of John, verse 6, the disciple John reports Jesus as saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh onto the Father but by me.”
What can we paltry weak and fairly ineffective and corrupt human beings of these sayings? The first question did he say them? Since the Gospel of John has been in public circulation for some 2,000 years it would appear to carry some weight in human history. Jesus said a lot of things. No one has ever said that he is the only way to know God and nobody else matters. this is the essential claim of the Christian religion. It is the historical claim. It is a truth claim.
For some 2000 years, Jesus of Nazareth has stood at the crossroads of history. Christianity in the person and claim of Jesus Christ, brought the Roman Empire to its feet for some years in Eastern Europe. Communism yielded before the Vicar of Christ. Communism in Russia promulgated atheism in trying to crush the church. Jesus and the church have risen up in that country. Jesus is a puzzling man. He makes people uncomfortable, in a good way. He calls all of us into question. The fact of the matter is he says, ‘I am it, it is me alone.’ This is the Christian claim. This the Christian religion. The world waters it down. The world says all religions are the same; all people are the same; and everything and everybody, whatever their beliefs have validity.
Jesus rejects the world system and he calls us to him saying, ‘I am the only way, there is no other.’ The Church has been promulgating this message for 2000 years. We will see what will happen in eons and ages to come about him about what he has claimed and what he has said.
Let me make a closing statement. Our modern world and society by reason of political hype wishes to convince us and our children that there is not objective truth about anything. Perhaps it is our democratic system and the current political jargon concerning inclusiveness. Whatever the cause or reason, in our modern society, there is no truth and everybody can have their opinion and that opinion has to be accepted and respected and every opinion has truth and validity. That the person offering that opinion may have little or no knowledge, I see that as a weak position. There is objective truth on every issue but that truth must be sorted out and understood. I choose not to be manipulated by political jargon, media propaganda, or someone’s ideology. Whatever truth there is will be found in the Biblical revelation and in such great books as Milton’s Paradise Lost; Dante, and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Truth will not be found in our cell phones, text messages, computers, some latest fad in fashion, or a late-model car. Truth will be found in the faith of the African believer coming from poverty to the true and evangelical faith. That will eventually transform the world from its present darkness to the image and likeness of Christ.