Is Jesus the only way?

Here are a couple passages that I found a bit contradictory at first read:

““Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”” ~Matthew 12:30

““Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”” ~Luke 9:50

The line in Matthew was brought up to me in conversation in the comment section of another blog in speaking of how Jesus called for divisiveness.  I took a closer look and found the opposite to be true.

The line in Luke is one that I actually latched on to and thought was a great thought!  It is Jesus speaking about someone else casting out demons much in the way Jesus was, possibly also claiming to be the messiah.  That seems to be a pro-humanity message.  It seems applicable in how Christians should not view other institutions that are also working a humanitarian angle as a threat.

Now back to Matthew’s more divisive line.  Now, this line comes after Jesus is accused of being evil after casting out a demon.  It is suggested that only someone evil could accomplish such a thing.  Jesus suggests that would be evil dividing against itself, which would cause evil to collapse.  He then turns to those calling him out that if the good he has done is attacked by others who aim for good, the foundations of goodness would collapse.  It is not so much as divisive of a statement as it initially seems.  It seems applicable in how Christians should view other institutions that are humanitarian-minded as allies and not as opponents.

I find this to be evidence that Jesus didn’t necessarily see himself as the only way to God.  He allowed others separate from him but preaching a similar message to be seen in the same light as what he was doing.  He also suggested that those who cast out evil must not be evil.  Indirectly that allows Christians to be able to embrace other philosophies and religions that are also humanity-minded.

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15 Responses to Is Jesus the only way?

  1. Soduhson says:

    I think all believers have to accept the possibility that God can extend multiple way to him beyond being a Christian. I tend to embrace ideas like the age of accountability and “law written on their hearts” theories myself.

    More conservative and pre-deterministic believers will say that Jesus is the only way, and if someone dies before knowing Jesus they never would have accepted Jesus him in their life. Harsh, but a possibility we ought to accept as well.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      I have a difficult time with the “Jesus is the only way” view. To claim a loving God and then to claim accepting Jesus is the only way when not everyone has access to knowledge about Jesus – that seems to contradict itself without coming up with exceptions in order to save the theory. The question it brings to me is if God is all-mighty, why did He choose to communicate something of utmost importance in such a limited way?

      • Soduhson says:

        Once again, I think it’s a possibility a believer has to accept. It goes back to loving God and loving your neighbor. What does it mean to you, especially as a believer, if God only chose one way? Oftentimes I think we limit God through universalist sentiments like this. He is no longer sovereign, but bound by his immense nature and influence to create alternate pathways assuring others are reconciled with him. My professor actually articulated a similar point (arrogantly and borderline heretically I might add), saying that if Jesus does not save the entire world, then he failed.

        On the other hand, I do like Hank Hanegraaff’s statement that it’s not the absence of knowledge that condemns, but the despising of it.

      • jasonjshaw says:

        I like that final statement there! I think that touches well on why both determined Christianity and determined Atheism both face so much condemnation these days. Both have tendencies to be ignorant of their foe’s point of view.

        If God only chose to connect through Jesus, it gives me the impression that He is toying with humanity. I’m not so sure that fits with the loving nature He is presented as having if that is the case.

      • Derek says:

        I’m trying to reply to Soduhson, but apparently I’m technologically inept, so understand that this post is a response to his recent comment. Why do we have to accept this possibility? What reason is there to believe that there are multiple routes to salvation? You bring up some very good points, but they’re contextually weak.

        Why should we love God? Because he is just, fair, perfect, good, loving, kind, and generous–not to mention the creator of the universe and ourselves. How do we know God is just, loving, and generous, especially in a world that is often cruel, corrupt, and painful? Because he sent his Son to die for our sins and redeem individuals who do not deserve to be redeemed. We can’t take God’s love out of context and then apply it to an idea that God himself rejects and say “well God loves us”. Yes God loves us, but we have to focus on how we know God loves us. Not everyone will be accepted by God. If that makes us uncomfortable we should not create a convoluted explanation to comfort ourselves because in doing so we cover up the good news of the Gospel.

        The fact that not everyone will be saved is not an opinion or some tenuous inference I’m making, this is what God’s human form, Jesus Christ, said. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’. We are all evildoers, but through putting our faith in Christ our evil is forgiven and we are redeemed before a perfect God.

  2. Derek says:

    I don’t understand how Jesus allowing some people preach his good news, and telling other people not to preach things that are incorrect means there are multiple ways to be justified before God. This seems like a stretch.

    • Soduhson says:

      Replying to your above post.

      Honestly, it’s weird finding myself on the liberal side of a debate. I actually agree with your response though. My only justification for multiple pathways for salvation is God’s sovereignty. If God wills that there are multiple ways beyond (or to) Christ, then so be it. As a Christian, however, it’s not a theological position I would center my faith around. My professor was an example of what not to declare (ie: failure if God doesn’t save everyone).

    • jasonjshaw says:

      I think that may indicate that there is some lack of clarity in what is considered incorrect.

      • Derek says:

        In response to your above post in which you suggest: if Christ is the only way, God is toying with humanity. Can you explain this position more?

      • jasonjshaw says:

        I mean it in the sense that God is only working in a small area of the world. Other areas of the world don’t have a clue about what’s going on, and they have their own sets of beliefs that don’t connect. Not to mention that God is changing the rules all of a sudden. How can you be sure of any consistency with that? And if morality comes from God’s word in the Bible, how have all the other civilizations on earth managed to end up with their own morality? It seems like God is playing games rather than making His intentions clear to everyone.

  3. Derek says:

    Great questions!

    ” mean it in the sense that God is only working in a small area of the world. Other areas of the world don’t have a clue about what’s going on, and they have their own sets of beliefs that don’t connect.”

    What area of the world is oblivious to Christianity? Some might reject it, but I don’t think it’s fair to say God is working in a small area. We are after all discussing Christ almost 2000 years after he lived, died and was resurrected in a countries thousands of miles away in a language that didn’t even exist during the time of Christ, and you are suggesting God is narrow minded?

    “Not to mention that God is changing the rules all of a sudden.”

    I don’t know what you mean, but I think you’re basically asking how people were redeemed before Christ. We look back at the perfect life of Christ for redemption they looked forward to the perfect life of Christ for redemption. I’ll expand on this more if need be. The other side of this question might have to do with laws and rules in the Bible. People don’t understand this all the time. There are three types of rules: ceremonial (for use in the temple) civil (for use by the Hebrews when they were a nation) and moral (for use for all people throughout time). Christians are not part of the Hebrew nation, and therefore not bound by the first two categories.

    “And if morality comes from God’s word in the Bible, how have all the other civilizations on earth managed to end up with their own morality? ”

    Can we regard their morality as equal to God’s morality? If we look at certain societies we see a very perverse and immoral set of rules relative to God’s law. Anyone can make rules, are they good rules is the question I would ask. If you’re trying to explain commonality between civilizations I think people are aware of right and wrong but they’re not experts on the issue.

    In regards to your final statement, God, promises us that those who earnestly seek him will find him. Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” We can’t say with any amount of certainty that God isn’t at work in those who are not immersed with the story Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and yet desire to find God.

    These are the best questions I’ve seen on your blog! Very thought provoking.

    • jasonjshaw says:

      Alright, I’ll hit you with some more.

      How can you describe Jesus’ life as “perfect” – especially when over half of it is unknown?

      You think people are aware of right and wrong, but how?

      And you say anyone can make laws – why would they make laws?

      And why would God have His message take over 2000 years to spread throughout the world – especially when the OT set of laws were quite location-based?

  4. Derek says:

    1. Because that’s what the authors tell us and that’s what the Bible says. We also don’t have any evidence that it wasn’t perfect. God speaks and says he’s very happy with Jesus to paraphrase. I could go on, but I need more specific context to answer this question. What evidence do you have that Christ wasn’t perfect?

    2-3. Romans 2:14 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.

    4. I’m not saying that the gospel just finished spreading yesterday. How fast should it spread according to you? What would be fast enough? I’m not sure I understand your OT question. the OT laws, except for moral laws, do not apply to Christians. The moral laws are not cultural (I think that’s the word you mean).

    • jasonjshaw says:

      1. Lack of evidence doesn’t equate with proof. Because it is deemed so by others doesn’t equate with proof either. There are some pretty good scam artists out there that leave their victims feeling a sense of value even though what they were led to believe was formulated with the purpose of separating them from their money and leaving them with nothing more than a placebo.

      4. The moral laws in the OT are still location-specific. I am not sure, but I am not aware that they spread throughout the world. And I would think that God would want to get the word out on the atonement of sin. Unless he was playing a game of ‘let’s see how long it takes for this message to spread’.

  5. Derek says:

    1.”Lack of evidence doesn’t equate with proof.”
    I’m not saying it does. But it’s difficult to prove something for which there is lack of evidence in the first place. Your asking me to prove something for which there is no basis to disprove it. We have no reason to believe that is not true. I’ll ask again can you prove that he was imperfect?

    “Because it is deemed so by others doesn’t equate with proof either. ”
    Interesting argument. I don’t completely disagree. People can lie. But witnesses still must be accounted for, especially when they’re all saying the same thing. To say that witnesses are not proof seems a little on the harsh side though. Even society uses witnesses in court.

    And then we get to the hypothetical scam artist… I don’t know what to say to that. Yes some scam artists are very good. We should all be careful.

    4. Really? Name one. Is murder cool everywhere? Is marriage between a man and a woman almost everywhere (for now). It’s interesting you place the blame on God when it’s people who have to atone. Our natural inclination is not towards God, we are sinners.

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