Patterico's Pontifications

12/10/2008

To Christians, Is Accepting Christ the Only Path to Salvation?

Filed under: General,Religion — Patterico @ 6:32 am

Allahpundit has a video clip of President Bush talking about faith and Christianity:

The most interesting bit: The beginning of the second clip, when he talks about Christianity being but one “avenue” to the God whom believers of all faiths worship in common. A fine, politic answer, but in my Catholic days I was under the impression that the only path to salvation lay through Christ. Maybe I’m misremembering?

I don’t think so; there’s plenty of Biblical authority for that proposition. Ann Coulter got in trouble for saying just that, but I think it’s theologically sound — and I went to church long enough to be familiar with the passages that appear to dictate this principle. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

The seemingly exclusive nature of the club has always been one of my major problems with Christianity (and indeed religion in general). My first question to Christians is generally: so all my Jewish friends are going to hell? The response I generally get is: “Not necessarily. They always have the option to accept Christ.”

At the same time, I had a long discussion with a devout Christian within the past year who gave me a different answer. She claimed that she believes that the Jews, God’s chosen people, get “a different deal.” I threw Christ’s quote above in her face, but she remained adamant.

What say you? As always be charitable in your discussion — but especially when discussing religion. This is the first post I ever published in the “religion” category; don’t cause it to be my last.

100 Responses to “To Christians, Is Accepting Christ the Only Path to Salvation?”

  1. An FYI, the Jews believe that ALL righteous people will have a share in the world to come.

    sam (1a8310)

  2. I’m Christian, and I believe what President Bush believes. Perhaps it isn’t sound based on the teachings of any one church, but it is what I firmly believe.
    Perhaps he has come to some of his own conclusions, too.

    MayBee (4a9480)

  3. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

    I’ve always thought that Jewish belief was that Christ was not the “Christ” for Jews, that while Jesus was a profit, He was not the “Christ” yet to come.

    The other side of this would be that while religions are different, God is basically the same, so, getting to Him would be different, but successful, in each….

    Anyway, who are we to know until we can’t talk about it anymore….

    reff (b996d9)

  4. I kant spel prophet…sorrie

    reff (b996d9)

  5. In a word, no. I preached on this very problem this summer.

    This is a whole can o’ worms, Patterico! In my interpretation, John 14:6 (“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”) only has universal application when you accept the premise that individual phrases or sentences may be isolated from their original meaning and context in the Bible and applied directly and literally to other situations and contexts today. I do not agree with this assumption.

    To be brief, Jesus’ truncated comment in John 14:6 was not a statement about whether members of all the world’s religions would be able to attain salvation. It is part of a statement of comfort, directed to his fearful disciples who are not sure whether they are on the right path. (‘What is the way?’ And Jesus’ response is, ‘I AM the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’) I interpret Jesus’ exclusivity in the context of the particular alternatives that were available in his day: allegiance to the Roman state or hypocritical religious worship – neither of which are ‘the way’ to God.

    Another way to look at it is to consider that the Father/Son relationship of God/Jesus is only possible through knowing Jesus as Son. But neither God nor Jesus ever declares that that God only ever manifests in the world in this one way.

    Tom (e710d8)

  6. There probably isn’t any salvation. I have a follow up question: of the thousands of religions that have existed throughout human history, why do you think yours (any and all of you) is finally the right one?

    Justin (747191)

  7. Hindus believe that there are many Paths to the Mountain top. Aum!

    Dandapani (7aefb0)

  8. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

    Ah, but how does a God of Love apply this teaching to those who do not know Him? That’s the question. The answer may be found in Matthew 25:33ff … too long to include here but it is the parable of the sheep and goats. Money quote: “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Not a word about knowing who Jesus is, and there is a strong implication that neither the “sheep” nor “goats” knew him.
    Most of Christianity does not see it as black and white as some would have us read it.

    But remember: scratch an proselytizing atheist and you find a Fundamentalist.

    quasimodo (edc74e)

  9. Justin, who said anything about “the right one”? My faith is not the “right one,” period, but the “right one” for me, because it makes more sense than any other way for me to interpret my life in this world. What’s wrong with that?

    Tom (e710d8)

  10. Tom that sounds like relativism – that there is no truth – just feelings, no?

    quasimodo (edc74e)

  11. “in my Catholic days I was under the impression …”

    Catholic ideas wouldn’t really transfer to any Christian believer.
    Some variants of Christianity hold to that notion (of one path to God) but it is by no means universal.

    I wonder where Allahpundit ever got that idea.

    SarahW (a6e80b)

  12. There is absolute truth. My path, and the truth on my path, is absolute. But my absolute truth is not yours, nor should it be. There is no biblical support for absolutism.

    Tom (e710d8)

  13. Quasimodo:

    “…scratch an proselytizing atheist and you find a Fundamentalist”

    I have long believed that to be the case.

    SarahW (a6e80b)

  14. In fact, one of my absolute assumptions is pluralism, that we are created specifically to manifest different relationships with God, different tasks on earth. Like-minded believers should congregate together, but not everyone needs to come to the same exact conclusions. We have been fundamentally created otherwise.

    Tom (e710d8)

  15. Having just finished Isaacson’s biography of Franklin, I’m full of Deism these days. Franklin was asked this exact question in the waning days of his life, and answered by saying that JC’s philosophy was the “greatest” ever produced by man, by which I think he meant it has universal appeal and applicability, but having introduced humanity to a new way to look at God JC doesn’t axiomatically become divine himself. I think Franklin was on to something, because why would God want people to argue over JC’s divinity? Isn’t that issue beside the point, at the end of the day?

    There is a wonderful book called God: A Biography that anyone interested in this subject might enjoy. Miles is a former editorial page writer for the intellectually and financially bankrupt LA Fishwrap Times, but don’t hold that against him. Anyway, one thing Miles argues in his book is that God wants to “save” everyone who returns the desire back to God, and belief in JC as a divine gets in the way.

    MTF (8254eb)

  16. I don’t buy Tom’s argument; it seems a bit too much like trying to weasel out of something uncomfortable.

    On the other hand, I ALSO don’t believe that the only way to salvation is by believing Christian beliefs. Here’s the thing: Jesus did NOT say “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by BELIEVING IN me,” he said “no man comes to the Father but by me.”

    What’s the distinction? The distinction is that Jesus’s statement, taken literally, means that there is something about him which is necessary for the salvation of humankind – Christians tend to believe that it was Jesus’ death and resurrection. But nowhere does it say that one must believe in Jesus’ resurrection to receive the benefit of it.

    So what is the answer? Search me. Here’s what I believe, though: a central tenet of Christianity is that, without Jesus and his sacrifice, it doesn’t matter how righteous and good you are. You still fall under Original Sin, and therefore cannot be in the Father’s presence. The sacrifice of Jesus wipes that slate clean, so that we as humans are free to choose whether we wish to be the kind of people who (to paraphrase C.S. Lewis) who, in the end, will say to God, “Thy will be done,” or the kind of people to whom God will say, in the end, “Thy will be done.”

    kiltedscotsman5 (37abb6)

  17. Salvation is from the Jews………….it is the Jews who accepted Jesus Christ and became the first Christians who stayed within the core of Judaism, while those who rejected Him left the mainstream, the fullness of the truth of the religion.

    As Rosalind Moss, a well-known contemporary Jewish-Catholic evangelist put it, becoming Catholic is ‘the most Jewish thing a person can do'”

    He will come to judge the living and the dead.

    Joe Gringo (e343f3)

  18. kiltedscotsman5, I like your interpretation, a lot. I just don’t think that Jesus was talking about universal exclusion of all others, or making a statement which somehow limited the scope of how God might manifest in the world.

    Tom (e710d8)

  19. While I am no expert in apologetics, I thought I would weigh in on this. And as a matter of full disclosure, I should mention I was raised and spent most of my childhood and adult life as a practicing evangelical Christian. I am also no longer practicing, but I do still have the intellectual connection to historic Christian teachings.

    First, I have no philosophical problem with the belief that there is only one way to salvation. If we stipulte that this universe is the creation of some omnipotent Being (a requirement for this discussion), I do not find it contradictory at all He would set up the rules as He sees fit. To say that there is only one way to salvation is not capricious, but exclusive. If you founding your own club, you have the right to set up the rules for entry as you see fit.

    But I think the bigger problem that most have with this is the seeming rejection of those of the “one path” without knowledge of it’s existence. This is where an expert in apologetics would suit the discussion, but I will make my layman’s attempt at a satisfactory response. Scripture teaches that all are eligible for judgement, as all have had the opportunity to accept or reject God. (I’m speaking here of adults; the problem of young children I submit is beyond the scope of this thread.) First, we are given the light of creation, which Scripture teaches speaks of God’s power and majesty. We also have the light of conscience. We then have the choice to either respond to the light we have been given, or reject it. Christianity teaches that God is fully merciful and fully just, and that He is capable (and in fact, our mere existence is dependent upon) His ability to make faultless judgements. As such, on judgement day, nooone will be able to say to Him that his judgement is not fair; He will demonstrate and vindicate the rightness of His judgement for all to see, and each one will accept them as such.

    embarrassedinIL (15f7f6)

  20. In a nutshell, Christian doctrine states unequivocally that faith in Christ as Savior is the only way to salvation. That’s simply because Christ’s death was the atoning sacrifice for man’s sins.

    Second, Tom is wrong. His position is wrong. John 14:6 was not a “statement of comfort,” it was a statement of deity. John 14:6 is one of the several “I AM” statements Jesus makes. Those statements directly parallel and implicate the Old Testament passages where God identifies Himself as “I AM WHO I AM,” or Yahweh. Jesus in John 14:6 is claiming He is God. Tom says context is king, yet ignores that Jesus was informing the disciples of how they could enter Heaven, of which He was speaking. It wasn’t a statement of comfort, it was a statement of instruction. Tom also ignores the fact (and, indeed, impeaches himself by noting he’s a pluralist) that Jesus claimed that faith in Him was a necessary predicate to gain salvation (John 8:24) and that early church leaders, such as Paul, viewed those comments as not comfort but pointed instruction as well (1 Timothy 2:5).

    As for Jews obtaining salvation, they have the same option today as all: faith in Christ. In latter days, in the Canon, it is widely viewed that some were “saved” despite Christ not having died prior because they had the same type of faith required today. But I leave that to theologians better than myself to explain.

    JEN (7143db)

  21. Having been raised Episcopalian, my early version was straight from the King James Bible. I’ve come a long way since then, and now look to some of the Buddhist beliefs about God, and that there really isn’t a Heaven or Hell, but that your soul must keep living the same life until you progress into a higher level of consciousness. No, don’t ask me what exactly that encompasses, since I don’t believe I’m at that place yet. But how about this postulation: if there is a God (and I believe that there is a higher entity), could he not have sent many emisssaries to different parts of the world, in order to get his message out to many different cultures? Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha -all were God’s children. Makes sense to me, IMHO.

    Dmac (e30284)

  22. First, to clarify the point about Catholic teaching: the latest RC catechism says (para.847) “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.”

    In other words, if you try really hard you might be saved. Apparently the Pope also caved in to pressure, like Tom, and thought it would be easier to relativize.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  23. Christianity starts with a holy God, absolutely perfect in every way. It moves on to us – we are sinful, in rebellion against God. It’s not just that we sin, although even the “smallest” sin would taint us. It is that we are sinful. If we are honest we know that we have a problem. We tend to sin. And God can not tolerate sin. In other words, if you don’t think you deserve hell you are not getting it. And what is sin is besides the point – if you have ever, ever done anything you think was wrong, you condemn yourself. You need a savior.

    The punishment of sin, any sin, is death. The question is not who gets into heaven, but why do we not all go to hell? Justice sends us all to hell. God is not obliged to save anyone at all.

    This is where Jesus comes in. He lived a perfect life. He is God. He, and only He, can take our just punishment on himself. God accepted his sacrifice – he was raised from the dead. Therefore it is only through what Jesus did that anyone is saved. But this mercy is apparently not applied to all. It is only applied to those who have faith in Jesus, or in the case of those before Jesus to those who anticipated his work (read Isaiah 53).

    You may be angry with God for not overlooking sin. But He is the judge, not you. And He provided the remedy – he loved enough to sacrifice all. If we are unwilling to accept that, why should He accept us?

    There should be no room for self righteousness. We can not save ourselves.

    Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.
    John 3:36

    Sorry I don’t have more time for this.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  24. embarrassedinIL has no reason to be red-faced. I thought you put that pretty well. The only problem is that you say you won’t live according to your own convictions. That’s too bad.

    Here’s the deal. It’s not a “club” that God has set up and he gets to decide the membership. It’s like any other relationship. C.S. Lewis explained it well. God isn’t rejecting anyone – they’re rejecting him.

    On the contrary, God did everything to reconnect us to himself (kind of the point of the whole Christmas thing, don’t you think?). That rather more famous passage (I hope it doesn’t seem cliche’) John 3:16, says that God sent his Son so that whoever believes in him could be saved and have eternal life. “He who believes in him is saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (quoting from memory)

    People who don’t go to heaven aren’t denied anything. They get exactly what they want. They do not want a relationship with God’s Son – then they will not have it. And, of course, since they will not come to the Son, they will not get to the Father. They will be separated from God.

    Frankly, y’all do the same thing. If people reject you – don’t want to talk to you – and disregard the “rules” of your house – then would you invite them over? Why bother them? I would LOVE to ask Obama over for dinner. I’m sure we’d have, um, uh, a great conversation. But why should he spend his time on somebody who’s only going to reject him?

    God, of course, spends a lot of time on us anyway – inviting and inviting. But after a lifetime of that, it sounds like he says it’s time to give up.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  25. Here’s a link to Isaiah 53, one of the most concise and beautiful statements of the Gospel, written centuries before Christ.
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=is%2053;&version=31;

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  26. JEN,

    Tom also ignores the fact (and, indeed, impeaches himself by noting he’s a pluralist) that Jesus claimed that faith in Him was a necessary predicate to gain salvation (John 8:24) and that early church leaders, such as Paul, viewed those comments as not comfort but pointed instruction as well (1 Timothy 2:5).

    I’m sorry, I thought we were referring to John 14 here. But since you brought it up, I think it’s worth noting that Paul didn’t actually view these comments in any context, given that 1 Timothy was written a good 20 years before the Gospel of John.

    As to John 8:24, I think that to ignore the context of who Jesus was speaking to and what he was actually saying, and instead select and remove single sentences, to be applied to all people throughout all time, is theologically shallow.

    Tom (e710d8)

  27. The gospel is clear that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Our current postmodern worldview does not care for the biblical worldview. Man however does not get to define how man approaches God. God gets to decide. It isn’t just John 14:6 that states that Christ is the way but also simply John 3:16.

    Enter through the narrow gate for the gate is wide and broad is the path that leads to destruction and there are many who enter it. For the gate is small and the path narrow that leads to life and there are few who find it. Matt 7:13-14

    The narrow path is the path of faith not works nor universalism.
    On another note this does explain much about GWB. That perhaps he isn’t strongly groundedin what he believes about anything.

    Joel B. (3284c9)

  28. “She claimed that she believes that the Jews, God’s chosen people, get “a different deal.” I threw Christ’s quote above in her face, but she remained adamant.”

    You “threw it in her face” (take that!) but you seem to feel that the concept of salvation and God’s favor based on DNA and racial bloodline is more tolerant, less elitist, more open. Please.

    Almost all religions but Judaism say that God’s favor will go to those who follow each faith’s religious and moral beliefs. That is tolerance in the extreme compared to Jewish belief. That is certainly less elitist and racist than Jews who openly call themselves a Chosen People and will happily explain that such favored status on earth and in heaven is decided by having been born to a Jewish mother.

    Please choose a religion that has a belief-based route to God’s glory rather than a smug assurance that only the right DNA can lead to God’s favor.

    Mike Jackson (a7da41)

  29. Some people have suggested that they could never accept a God who could be so “narrow minded” as to reject people.

    So you would prefer a god who would accept whatever version of the ‘truth’ seems true to you? That would mean that sincerely blowing yourself up to kill infidels would be a dandy way to prove your worthiness.

    You can’t have the “flexibility” that helps you to be comfortable with God – lowering his standards until you’re OK with them – and still be able to set your own inflexible limits on what God should not accept. In that case, you’re just making up your own god – or, in fact, playing the part yourself.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  30. Gesundheit – thank you for the kind words. My moniker was in reference to the current news cycle, not an statement about myself. As to my convictions – I make no excuses; my life is what it is today, and I have to deal with the consequences.

    As to the metaphor I chose, I should have prefaced with the caveat that, as usual, such metaphors are at best only shallowly applied. I believe you expressed my point much better than I.

    embarrassedinIL (15f7f6)

  31. I have a suspicion that this is going to be one of those r-e-a-l-l-y long comment threads.

    Oops! Just made it longer.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  32. The problem in Christianity is taking the Bible literally. For Jesus to say that he is the only way is to impute an ego to Jesus. He never evidenced it. A looser reading would be that Jesus is the medium. His teachings and parables are the real message. Accepting his wisdom and teachings is to accept Christ.

    John425 (eae6ea)

  33. Well, I have a follow-up to my follow-up then. If you don’t think your religion is right, then why do you adhere to it?

    Justin (747191)

  34. Embarrassed: personal note… You’ll “have to deal with the consequences”??? ouch! Even if we were only talking about your relationship with an old friend, those would be very sad consequences – allowing a friendship to fade from neglect.

    May I make a gentle suggestion? Don’t think about “practicing” your faith – or obeying attendance rules. But consider what you “intellectually” know about your Savior and start a conversation. A long conversation. And then maybe talk to some other people who like to hang around with him too. This is a relationship that you don’t want to look back on and say, “I used to know him.”

    He still knows you.

    God bless your Christmas.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  35. Note that my post 23 above does not paint Christianity as a set of rules, or morality. Because that is not what I think it is, contrary to what even many Christians believe.

    Christianity is a solution to a problem. It assumes we are NOT good. We need a savior.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  36. Didn’t a recent Pope say that Jews have their own arrangement with God?

    roy (d6fc79)

  37. Yes, Gesundheit, that’s what I learned in catechism in Catholic school so long ago. As long as you are making a good faith effort to “know God,” you are okay.

    No wonder so many Catholics make fine lawyers!

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  38. Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Three in One. There are things which are beyond human comprehension. How can God be one, yet three, all at the same time? We are limited, God is limitless. It is not for me to judge others. Each is free to discover or develop whatever view of God they so choose. For me, the pathway to Salvation is through Christ Jesus. His coming was clearly foretold, what happened to him was clearly foretold, what he actually did was foretold and he actually did do it — Raise Lazarus, heal the cripple, etc, etc. I also know from personal experience that He saved me from hell. I am a sinner and he has forgiven me my sins. When God the Father looks at me, he doesn’t see me and all my sin, he sees his Son, sinless.

    Do I believe that the only way to Salvation is through Christ? This is a great way to start an argument or a fight. Wars have been fought over this simple question. Millions upon millions of lives have been taken and destroyed because of this question. I would never impose my view upon another, or force another to take a position on this issue. It is up to each person to decide how they choose to answer this question. We do have free will.

    So, to answer this question I guess I could look at what I teach my children. They are the most precious people on earth to me, they mean more to me than anything else except for Jesus. He means more to me than even my children because he is my Father, my Brother, my Salvation. I teach my children that the Bible is true, that Jesus Christ really was born and lived and healed and was killed on a cross and died and three days later arose from the dead and ascended into heaven and one day will come back again.

    I teach my children that they can have a very personal relationship with Christ, through the Holy Spirit and that Christ wants to save them from hell and all they need to do is to believe in Him and they will be saved. The choice is theirs. If they were to tell me that they believe that there is no God, no heaven, no hell I would not disown them or condemn them, but rather I would love them to the best of my abilities and I would would gently try to convince them that Christ is real by demonstration rather than argument. Show them mercy, show them faith, show them forgiveness, show them unconditional love; live my life as an example for them to see how Christ can change you and make you a better person.

    And when I make mistakes, which I often do, I try to take responsibility for my part in it, I try to own my stuff. I am broken and Christ lifts me up and makes me whole. He fills the hole in my soul. He quenches my thirst and hunger for love and acceptance and he can do the same thing for you too. Just ask. I encourage you to reach out to Christ, I have found that he is always there for me, patiently waiting to love me in any way he can, without judging. He wants you to be whole, let him in and you will be filled like never before. Feel the tingle down your spine as the Holy Spirit descends upon you and fills your soul and you will be forever changed. At least I was, and I can only relate my experiences strength and hope. There is Good News brothers and Sisters, Good News, Christ lives and he forgives and he heals. All you have to do is let him….

    J. Raymond Wright (d83ab3)

  39. It is amazing to me how people talk about Christianity without reference to who Jesus is and what He has done (and why).

    If Jesus is not in the center, if you do not explain why the crucifiction happened, you are not talking about Christianity. You are talking about some form of man-centered humanism or a set of rules we will quickly break.

    Why did God have to die?

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  40. To Christians, Is accepting Christ the only path to salvation?

    From my limited understanding the answer is no, there was one other way and that is to perfectly obey all the laws as given in the Old Testament, which is impossible given our inherent sinful nature, so in reality there is only one way but theoretically there are two.

    Now I am saddened when I reflect on my many family members and friends either being Jewish or atheist that I love and wonder if they will be in heaven.

    The good news being that decision is not mine, I can only judge by outward appearance while God judges the heart so a certain percentage of the people I think are going to heaven are not and a certain percentage I think are not, are.

    I say that in the context of the BTK killer who was by all outward appearances a good church going guy, yet inside it was a completely different story.

    ML (14488c)

  41. John425, that is only a problem if the bible is not intended to be taken literally. This argument only succeeds in given is proponent the authority to decide for him-or-herself what they will choose to believe from the Bible. To do so, as was put forth earlier, elevates you to the place of god, deciding what is and is not true.

    embarrassedinIL (8763ea)

  42. Patricia – there is a certain plea bargaining character to that approach to salvation, isn’t there.

    Amphipolis – your posts have deserved greater attention. Please accept my belated affirmation.

    Of course, the answer to your latest from the non-Christian point of view is that Jesus died because he was a nice man – and we should all be nice people like him. Somehow the logical inference from that doesn’t go where I would think they’d want it to go.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  43. The Law (Jewish) was a tutor leading to Christ. It indicated that even the chosen of God were sinful, and that atonement needed to be made for their sins. And since atonement was ongoing, they were constantly reminded of their sins and their separation from God. Even though God led them, they were still under His judgement.

    But Christ was a sacrifice one time for all sins, because he sacrificed willingly what we gave up willingly, a perfect life. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” illustrated the concept of equality in sacrifice (what is sacrificed must be equivalent to what was lost). Any serious reading of the NT reveals that Christ’s sacrifice reconciles us to God, but we have to exercise faith in that sacrifice.

    Kudos to everyone for keeping this civil. Good indication of the readership.

    Brian (f8a504)

  44. What Amphipolis and kiltedscotsman5 said. Eloquently put, on both counts.

    In regards to Patterico’s original inquiry as to the fairness of the exclusivity of Christ as the way to salvation, I would add a reference to Matthew 7:7-8 (7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.)

    Any man who truly seeks salvation will find salvation, through Christ; any man who truly seeks God will find God, through Christ. It’s a matter of intention, which only God can judge – is a man willing to live for God, or is he concerned only with living for himself?

    One way or another, it strikes me as an egalitarian system.

    Leviticus (ec360a)

  45. Gesundheit – thank you. I cannot go into details here in an open thread, but your concern is appreciated. So as not to disrupt the thread (I only laid it out in the beginning so that those reading my comments could evaluate whatever bias I may have), let me just say that what has occurred shook my to my being, and it will take me a while to regain my balance.

    embarrassedinIL (8763ea)

  46. An oddly evangelical thing to say for someone named “Leviticus”.

    But, as you would probably expect me to say, “Bless you.”

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  47. As a Catholic,I was taught that they who had not heard of Jesus were open to salvation if they accepted the obvious evidence of God’s presence in the world and lived their lives accordingly (trees are known by the fruit they produce). All others had a simple choice, ala Paschal’s box. As for Jews, being God’s first chosen people, I truly feel they have a unique “backdoor” entry available to them, with a special one-question quiz at the door. “Do you now accept Jesus as God’s only son and the Messiah?” Where they spend their next several eons depends on the next syllable they speak. My respect for Judiasm runs deep. Attending a friend’s son’s bar mitzvah put me in awe at the ancient feel of their faith, still alive. And I am fond of Catholicism tracing back the entire history of the Christian church. BTW, Merry Christmas to all…

    Chris (d098d0)

  48. One’s religion most often has to do with geography.
    You’re born in one place, you’re most likely to be a Hindu.
    Born in another you become Muslim.
    And so on with Christianity, its various iterations, as well as myriad other religions.

    The discussion here brings to mind the mostly geographical followings of professional sports. Good luck getting a die-hard Yankee fan and a similarly inclined Red Sox fan to agree on some certain basic truths. What you all are engaged in here is Rotisserie Religion.

    Religious faith is described in philosophy as the irrational. That’s not a pejorative term. It’s a technical one: Religion can’t be measured. You either accept it as, uh, gospel, or you don’t. Then there’s trying to force the other guy to accept what you believe, which usually leads to some nasty ventures from what religion is supposed to do.

    Larry Reilly (d11f9a)

  49. I can be charitable toward people, but not some institutions. Your blog; your rules; delete if you’d like, of course. And there might be some charity in here.

    If somebody persuades the Catholic Church that it’s the only way, they’ll have to open limbo back up again.

    Remember, limbo was a solution for the problem of infant damnation. Didn’t seem reasonable that the all-loving God would send babies to hell just because the priest had accidentally tripped and dropped them on the way to the baptismal font, say. God is not, the thinking went, a total asshole.

    Hence, limbo: not Heaven — there’s that passage in John, after all — and not Hell, as that’d be, well, wrong. But sort of a cutrate heaven.

    Around the time of John XXIII, the Church quite quietly came to a new POV: God isn’t an asshole at all.

    I have a noncoincidence to report: Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was very much not an asshole. Since God isn’t an asshole, the reasoning went, more or less, he’s not going to send babies to some sort of cutrate heaven; so limbo got closed down.

    Once they started letting the babies in, it was only a matter of time before the Jews could, and well, you know the rest: there goes the neighborhood.

    Joel Rosenberg (5ec843)

  50. “An oddly evangelical thing to say for someone named “Leviticus”.”

    – Gesundheit

    As I’ve said before, my moniker has nothing to do with the book of the Bible. My first name is Levi, and at some point several years ago I had to pick a handle for this blog – “Leviticus” seemed an obvious choice at the time.

    Leviticus (ec360a)

  51. Larry R, what you are describing is one’s culture, not their religion. And I’ll freely admit that many growing up in a “Christian” society do not embrace the tenents of the faith. This explains the success of missionary’s ability to enter a “non-Christian” society and, by force and the grace of their argument (usually demonstrated rather than “argued”), convert people to a new faith. Yes, it becomes colored by local tradition, but much of this must be looked at as seeds which are sown on rocky soil, sprout initially, and then wither.

    Chris (d098d0)

  52. Levi: Sorry. Tried to be amusing. Failed.

    It looks like this comment thread is slowing down. I thought it was an interesting conversation and that it would probably hit 150, but there’s no sex in it. And people are being so nice to one another that there’s no big brouhaha. Under the circumstances, that’s a good thing.

    In this season it seems more fitting than ever to remember that the heaven we are talking about is not an entitlement – certainly not something that any of us could demand of God. It’s a gift. And it is a gift that God says he truly DESIRES TO GIVE to all of us.

    I pray that this Christmas will find you opening something special from God.

    Haben sie ein froehliche Weihnachten, und ein gesegnetes neues jahr.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  53. The Passover points directly to the sacrifice of Jesus.

    During the days of Moses, the last plague on the Egyptians was the plague on the first born. The Hebrews were commanded to put the blood of a sacrificed lamb on their doorposts. The angel of the Lord saw the blood and passed over their children.

    They were saved only by the sacrifice of the lamb.

    See Exodus 12.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  54. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. And just before he did, God stopped him, but look at what it says:

    “Father?”
    “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
    “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
    Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

    and later –

    Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

    Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
    Genesis 22

    God provided the sacrifice, instead of Isaac. There was a substitution. But don’t miss the wider point – God did not hold back from sacrificing His only son.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  55. The position of most Christians is that even those who may be saved without fully accepting Christ are saved through Christ; they say that God may allow some who don’t come fully to faith in Christ to still be saved through Christ’s sacrifice.

    The funny thing about the trouble AC got in is that devout Jews believe people must be proselytized and become part of God’s chosen people in order to have the sort of relationship Christians say you have just by virtue of religious conversion. That seems a much more exclusive position than the Christian position that Jews have a special historical relationship with God, but that relationship needs to be perfected by acceptance of Christ.

    And the funny thing to me about Bush’s answer is that devout Muslims would so strongly disagree with him about whether we worship the same God.

    Joseph Bingham (80ec6e)

  56. Religion can’t be measured. You either accept it as, uh, gospel, or you don’t.

    Larry- and during the process of accepting it or not, don’t you have to “measure” it?

    ML (14488c)

  57. Did you know that the original Lord’s Supper was a passover celebration? This is my body, given for you. This is my blood, poured out for you.

    Or was it THE Passover Celebration?

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  58. Jesus said, destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days.

    Once a year the High Priest would offer animal sacrifices for himself and for the people. This Day of Atonement went back to the Tabernacle in the time of Moses. But when Jesus died the curtain of the Temple was torn in two. Then it is reported that he rose from the dead three days later.

    The Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in the generation after Jesus. It has not been rebuilt.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  59. What i was taught in Catholic Theology (U. of Scranton) was that since God is infallible, the covenant he made with the Jews is permanent, and they will always be the chosen people, they do not have to believe that Christ was their messiah, and are still waiting. As long as they continue to practice Judiasm, they are just as ‘saved’ as Christians.
    The problem is the evangelical protestants, who believe that everyone who doesn’t follow whatever minor splinter group they belong to are hellbound. Generally obnoxious bunch, they are

    Thatguy (eb09ed)

  60. that devout Jews believe people must be proselytized and become part of God’s chosen people in order to have the sort of relationship Christians say you have just by virtue of religious conversion.

    Well, other than being utterly wrong, that’s well put.

    Joel Rosenberg (5ec843)

  61. Someone say something?

    Da'Shiznit (089453)

  62. Nope. Sorry.

    I just sneezed.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  63. A lovely and respectful thread. The bible is full of inclusive and exclusive statements about people’s ability to come to god. This joke illustrates much of my feelings, about getting to heaven. The Religions mentioned are arbitrarily assigned.

    A man dies and goes to Heaven. The angel Gabriel meets him at the Pearly Gates and takes him on a guided tour.

    The man sees various groups of people all standing around and talking to each other. “These are the Buddhists,” says Gabriel. “And over there are the Jews, and the Hindus. Over here are the

    Muslims, and over yonder are the Jehova’s Witnesses.” In fact, the man sees every religious group, every nationality, and every culture in Heaven.

    Eventually, the pair comes to a large wall. “Hey, what’s this wall doing in Heaven?” asked the man.

    “SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” said Gabriel. “Lower your voice. Behind that wall are the Mormons. They like to think that they’re the only ones here.”

    We may not only not understand the rules to get to heaven, we might not understand the rules after we get there. People’s ability to be willfully blind to the truth may a the greatest immovable object.

    Joe (d737be)

  64. Religion is an acquired neurosis. Priests learned early on to take advantage of a primitive human survival trait — to act on less than complete information, i.e. belief. They made themselves into societies’ most dangerous and powerful institutions and we have been ****** since.

    (And I’d like to hear the Shrub try to reconcile his wealth, his political career, his role as Commander In Chief, and his finger on the nuclear trigger, with his Christianity.)

    nk (094d4d)

  65. Amphipolis,
    Thanks for your comment on Abraham’s son & the altar. My stepdaughter had been offended by this and stumped me for an answer. Your comment was an elegant thought and a blessing.
    As far a the question posed, the Gentiles were shown to be “clean” when someone who was searching for the truth was given an avenue to it by G-d. Cornelius (sp?) I think? The apostles had to be convinced that we are allowed to convert to Christianity without being circumsised or converting to Judiasm.
    I believe we are all required to search for truth as hard as we can. Then G-d promises “search and you shall find”. There is a passage in Rev. that states that in heaven there will be some from every tribe and people. So, I am glad that a better Judge than any here will read our hearts. Thanks for the discussion!

    AI (ba105f)

  66. allahpundits problem is he left GOD.he makes this claim himself.he then judges Christianity and the word of god based upon the beliefs of man.1tim.2:5 .

    as for allahpundits “Jewish friends” going to hell. gal.3:28.god shows no partiality,ezek.18:20.

    his “Christian friend” was partially right about israel.they are infact “gods chosen people”.it was gods promise to Abraham that his seed would continue.there is a “remnant” in israel that believe in Jesus as the Christ.

    when anyone judges Christianity by the standards of men.they will ultimately come to the conclusion that Christianity is false in it’s premise,rendering it powerless and useless.allahpundit uses this to justify his own un-belief.

    the beautiful thing about god,his savior,and his word is,it does not rely on the belief of man to make it real and true.it is true,whether you believe or not.

    chris (a162f0)

  67. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
    John 3:18

    but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
    John 20:31

    On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.

    Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us:

    “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends
    of the earth.'”

    When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
    Acts 13:44-48

    “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

    But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”
    Romans 10

    There’s more but that’ll do for now.

    Gerald A (138c50)

  68. Almost all religions but Judaism say that God’s favor will go to those who follow each faith’s religious and moral beliefs. That is tolerance in the extreme compared to Jewish belief. That is certainly less elitist and racist than Jews who openly call themselves a Chosen People and will happily explain that such favored status on earth and in heaven is decided by having been born to a Jewish mother.
    That is actually not true. The criterion for what place non-Jews have in the world to come is based on following the Noahic laws (i.e. basic moral principles). The term “chosen people” does not translate to a get into heaven free card – it means that Jews consider themselves a ‘nation of priests’ that has to follow more commandments from G-d (no shrimp!).

    There’s also the joke where a Christian asked a Jew: “We believe that our faith in Jesus Christ will let us go to heaven. Do you believe that you will go to heaven?” And the Jew replies, “No. We go to a place called ‘discussions about heaven.'”

    Polybius (3ec006)

  69. First of all, I believe that the essence of God is pure unadulterated LOVE. He loves all of us. He made all of us (because he loves us). God desires that we all grow, learn, create and get along with each other. He gave Jesus as a sacrifice in order that we all might be saved from our own bad choices.

    I think that all of us that pursue what LOVE requires, and steadfastly try to do the right thing in each decision and action that is presented to us are living our lives to please God. Not coincidentally, we will also live most productively both for our own personal growth and development, but additionally for the highest good of all.

    Christ died for all of us. God took on a human form in order to bridge the gap and to save part of his creation (us humans here on Earth).

    I think that the Christian church has most things right, but I would look to the underlying message of a “religion” to see whether it is driven by LOVE to determine if its beliefs bring one closer to God or not.

    Gabby (1566d8)

  70. I don’t know about you, but I am mostly concerned with where I am with God. I know I have offended him. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). I need a savior, not a religion. I need someone who will fix the sin from the inside out. Only God is able and willing to give me the comprehensive forgiveness I need. But it comes at a great cost.

    As far as Jews and babies and others, that’s between God and them. If they are saved, it will only be through what Christ has done for them. In that sense there is only one path. If they are saved, they will exhibit faith – if they have the chance. But, like the thief on the cross, God can save anyone He wants to. He is sovereign.

    God is love (1 John 4:8). But his love is absolutely perfect and pure, not mere sentimentality. And he is also perfectly just. What he does is right by definition. The cross is the point where his love and justice meet.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  71. Are you familiar with the account of Barabbas? He was a murderer, condemned to death. The tradition was to release a prisoner at Passover. So Pilate thought maybe they would want Jesus to be released. From Mark 15:

    “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

    “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

    “Crucify him!” they shouted.

    “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

    But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

    Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

    Do you see it? We are in the position of Barabbus when he got the good news. The cross was supposed to be for US. We are released, and Jesus is crucified in our place.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  72. Patterico,

    We don’t know the answers to your questions and we probably never will, because man can’t comprehend God’s perfection. I think it’s important to study God’s Word and to try to understand so we can move our knowledge forward, but ultimately all we have is faith. Faith in God’s perfect knowledge, justice and love for every person, whether they know Him or not.

    DRJ (b4db3a)

  73. My question for Patterico is why do you have a problem with the exclusiveness of Christians? If Christians believe they have the way to Life, and you don’t believe it, so what? How does their faith effect you at all?

    Sure, some Christians are stupidly smug that they are going to Heaven and you are not. Their attitude is incredibly off-putting and counter-productive to growing the Kingdom of Heaven. However, the majority of Christians would be happy to have you accompany us home; all you have to do is believe. If you don’t want to believe, that is fine. All we would ask is to be left in peace, and we will leave you in peace.

    For my non-believing friends (and for my parents) I take solace in the words of Christ from the Apocalypse of Peter. The book is not canonical, I know, but if you read it, I am sure you would understand why the Church would not want it in the Bible. In that book, Christ reveals Hell to Peter but assures him that for even the souls in there, because of the prayers of the faithful, there is hope: ‘My Father will give unto them all the life, the glory, and the kingdom that passeth not away,’ . . . ‘It is because of them that have believed in me that I am come. It is also because of them that have believed in me, that, at their word, I shall have pity on men.’

    Merry Christmas!

    Targeted Outrage (9c1fa5)

  74. It is interesting to note in this thread, the amount of biblical verses that are used to support both positions (regarding the question of Christianity being the only path to Salvation).

    In those instances, the quotations are stated and then interpreted. Sometimes, two people holding opposite opinions use the same quote (albeit different interpretations).

    Is it possible that both positions are correct (illogical and contradictory as that is)? In the study of Quantum Mechanics this principle is called superposition (and yes, it is illogical and contradictory – at least in human terms) –things like mutually exclusive events both occurring.

    This principle has been proven (well, maybe universally accepted because it cannot be disproven) in nature; could there be an analogous principle in divinity? That is, two mutually exclusive positions both having equal validity — bizarre, strange and incomprehensible as it may be.

    No idea, but here are my two-cents: in the story where Jesus speaks about rich-men having a hard time making it to heaven, and being asked who can be saved:

    With men it is impossible; but to God all things are possible.
    – Matthew 19:26

    (I sure hope that means not every “i” needs to be dotted and not every “t” needs to be crossed.)

    Pons Asinorum (5fa803)

  75. It is easy to state that someone is saved. It is more difficult to show how that person is saved.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  76. “Religion is an acquired neurosis. Priests learned early on to take advantage of a primitive human survival trait — to act on less than complete information, i.e. belief. They made themselves into societies’ most dangerous and powerful institutions and we have been ****** since.”

    – nk

    I worried about that myself, nk – worried that I was seeking after a God that didn’t exist out of a fear stapled to my subconcious by cynical clergymen at a young age…

    I pushed that doubt to the back of my mind: I knew the logic of what I believed, knew my own sin, and knew that there was compelling evidence for belief in God – but it was a terrible burden, the worst I’ve ever born.

    And then it was dispelled, in an instant, by an experience that I can only describe as touching God, reaching out with my hand and having him grasp it – it was unmistakeable and undeniable (and I don’t use those words lightly); an unimaginable gift that provided me with an empirical foundation for my faith that I hadn’t had before.

    My mom had a similar experience, as have many Christians I have spoken to over the past few years.

    My question to you is this: what would you have us do? Write off the experience as a symptom of an “acquired neurosis” and go back to living our lives for ourselves instead of a God who has shown himself to us in a way that the deepest parts of our hearts and minds cannot deny?

    As Madeleine L’Engle said, “Those who believe they believe in God but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.” It’s part of being human to question these things, to anguish over them with every part of your being… and I have. But that’s faith… and, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “we live by faith, not by sight”.

    And as Oswald Chambers said, “The real attitude of sin in the heart towards God is that of being without God; it is pride, the worship of myself, that is the great atheistic fact in human life.”

    Leviticus (ec360a)

  77. I’m an incurable neurotic, too, Leviticus. My religion colors my life as much as President Bush’s colors his.

    Patterico’s question is unanswerable because the premises it is built on are unknowable. Not unknown, which is ok, many things are unknown but with inquiry we might learn them. Unknowable, which no amount of inquiry will make known. And that, I opine, is the conflict between religion and modern western thought. We pursue knowledge, to make the unknown known, and refuse to bow to the unknowable. It’s not exactly atheism.

    nk (094d4d)

  78. SarahW:

    Catholic ideas wouldn’t really transfer to any Christian believer.

    Except perhaps a Catholic one. You do realize that the Catholic Church isn’t a denomination of Islam, right?

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  79. You do realize that to say “Catholic Church”, you are saying the “universal church”?
    Do you not intend to say, The Roman Catholic Church?

    Another Drew (4fff38)

  80. “Patterico’s question is unanswerable because the premises it is built on are unknowable. Not unknown, which is ok, many things are unknown but with inquiry we might learn them. Unknowable, which no amount of inquiry will make known. And that, I opine, is the conflict between religion and modern western thought.”

    – nk

    I think the problem may be that the two use different timelines. Modern western thought says the premises to these questions are unknowable, because the assumption of modern western thought is that there is nothing after death. I (and many other Christians) say that the premises to these questions are unknown, because I believe that there is something after death, and that the answers to these questions will be made clear in due time. It’s one of the great anticipations of my faith.

    Leviticus (ec360a)

  81. I had planned to steer clear of this discussion since, mostly, I’m not a Christian and don’t have a clue what Christian theology teaches.

    Unfortunately, Mike Jackson (at comment #29) has presented an old canard as a truism of Judaic belief that I think should be addressed a little more fully than Polybius does at comment #69.

    Mike states:

    That is tolerance in the extreme compared to Jewish belief. That is certainly less elitist and racist than Jews who openly call themselves a Chosen People

    turning the meaning of the phrase entirely on its head. Israel was chosen, not as Mike suggests in order to receive special dispensation from the Holy One, but rather to have a special responsibility: to be a Light among the Nations, to strive for just and moral way of life. And the reward was (and is) to be the Lord’s special whipping boy. (An old saw~ Goldstein to Rosenfeld, “I know we’re the Chosen…just once in a while I wish He could Choose somebody else!“)

    According the original deal (or “Covenant,” as its often referred to), the rest of us have a far easier path to divine favor: The seven rules of the Noahide Covenant. (Although I am not familiar with The Ohel Moshe Society, they have what seems on the surface to be a good capsule description of the Noachide Covenant here.)

    Far from being an ‘exclusive’ religion, that Jews must work harder than anyone else in order to receive whatever just rewards the Ineffable Name may determine militates against that idea.

    The Jewish tradition that Judaism is not the only path to the Holy One seems a much more reasonable concept to me than many others that have arisen in various religions.

    Of course, Judaism also teaches that G-d is “unknowable.” Which means to me that any attempt to impute motive to the Holy One is misguided.

    Two cents worth, and pass the salt.

    EW1(SG) (078642)

  82. Think of it this way:
    There is Infinite God and finite man, and between them is the gap that separates infinity and finitude. Man, being finite, can not bridge it, but God being infinite, can. Christianity calls the state of human finitude Original Sin, and teaches that God has in fact bridged the gap, that bridge being Christ, and that there is one open and publicly known way to get on the bridge. But that does not mean that there are other ways to get access to the bridge, nor do we know that there is in fact only one bridge. So the fact that a person is not a Christian believer in the commonly accepted sense may mean that person is no access to the bridge, but it does not mean that person necessarily has no access to the bridge.

    If you find the concept of Heaven and Hell unreasonable, think of it this way. God gives people what they want. If they want themselves, he gives them themselves, eternally and unalterably: that is Hell, the state of being apart from God and trapped in one’s one ego. It they want God–even if they don’t know that what they want is God–then they will get God; that is Heaven. And of course, one can be in Heaven and Hell even as one walks and lives on the living earth. Heaven and Hell are states of being, not locations. However, ultimately they are illusions, because in truth it is impossible to exist apart from God because it is impossible to exist except as God imparts Itself, and thereby imparts Existence, to the created thing. The very fact that we exist in any autonomous fashion is part of the miracle of creation. which is the making existent what did not previously exist (and it is a miracle that was not confined to the beginning of the universe, but occurs continuously in every moment and place of the universe), and the imparting of existence is an act of Divine Compassion and Love. So as long as that existence is imparted to us, we continue to exist and we are not separate from God, however appearances look. It is up to us to recognize that we are not separate from God; until we do, we are choosing to be stuck in our own ego, and therefore in Hell; when we do, we are choosing God in preference to our own egos, and therefore are in Heaven.

    kishnevi (33a0bd)

  83. …(and it is a miracle that was not confined to the beginning of the universe, but occurs continuously in every moment and place of the universe),…

    Dear Kishnevi:

    Quite fascinating (indeed, as are the vast majority of contributors to this thread) — please explain the parenthetical, if you would be so kind. I am just curious.

    Much appreciated–

    Pons Asinorum (5fa803)

  84. The statement that no one can come to the Father except through Jesus does not necessarily mean that the individual has to have conscious knowledge of Jesus and accept him. If I said that I-5 was the only way to get from Portland to Seattle (obviously not true, but this is just an illustration) then it doesn’t necessarily follow that everyone going north on I-5 knows what highway they’re on or where it will end up. It’s only if you make a conscious decision to turn south, or to take a different road that your ultimate destination becomes shaky.

    Xenophanes (4c30e0)

  85. Targeted Outrage in #74 writes,

    “If you don’t want to believe [that Christ is the only path to G-d], that is fine. All we would ask is to be left in peace, and we will leave you in peace.”

    Ahh, but to often people from many different faiths who think other people are not on a (notice I didn’t say “the”) path to G-d treat such other people with disrespect.

    Ira (28a423)

  86. God speaks for Himself, very eloquently I might add, through His Word on the matter. Read Isaiah 53, John 3:14-21, 36, John 5:19-40, 6:40, 47, John 10:27-28.

    Jesus Christ came, died and was resurrected to be our living Savior. He fulfilled the law in our behalf, and suffered the cost/punishment for sin, which is death and which is required, on behalf of any and all who place their faith in Him alone and in none other. The person, any person, who does not believe in, and trust only in Christ for their salvation, is not saved and will suffer the wrath of God forever for their own sins. This is what God’s Word teaches. I, nor anyone, can save themselves from God’s wrath for their sins. Otherwise, God’s Son Jesus would not have had to die.

    Paul Totten (84d19c)

  87. #84 Pons Asinorum:

    I am just curious.

    I am not kishnevi, nor do I play him on the Internet. He is much better able to articulate this classic Jewish theology than I, but what he seems to be referring to is the Jewish view that Creation wasn’t a one time event~but an ongoing process that continues throughout all events, whether it be a bird taking wing, the grain growing in fields to the more sublime: the choices that we make to participate in that process or to turn away from it.

    The process is tikkun olam, often rendered as “repairing the world,” but really is our decision to participate in the process of Creation, the conscious decision we make to sanctify ourselves (to remove ourselves from the mundane) and lead a moral and just life, thereby minimizing the gap between ourself and the godhead to as small a distance as possible (and in doing so, achieving self realization and self actualization) or turning away from the process of Creation and, in effect, bringing upon ourself the “punishment” of isolating ourself from all that is holy.

    Hopefully, kishnevi will be along to point out the error of my ways, but I hope I’ve given a glimmer of the idea. A good description of the process intended for the casual reader unfamiliar with the Jewish tradition can be found in the book “The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism” by Joseph Telushkin and Dennis Prager.

    EW1(SG) (078642)

  88. #84

    The reason the Apocalypse of Peter is not in the canon is, among other things, the author is unknown, it clearly draws from Greek mythology, and generally is incompatible with other biblical texts. No wonder it was not included. There were a few who considered it scripture but most in the early church did not.

    Gerald A (138c50)

  89. I meant #74 in the prior post.

    Gerald A (138c50)

  90. See it this way, Jesus is God manifested in the flesh. He is God. Receiving Him is receiving life, rejecting Him is rejecting life. Without Him there is no salvation because He is salvation. We don’t preach that Jesus is a prophet that shows us the way to God. We preach that He is God. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the word, the word was with God and the word was God.” Jesus, the Word is God.

    love2008 (1b037c)

  91. #88 EW1(SG)

    Thank you EW, that was quite good. And thank you also for the pointer to “The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism” by Joseph Telushkin and Dennis Prager. I will check it out in the library (casual reader, unfamiliar with Jewish Tradition – yep, that’s me, good call).

    Your explanation was quite illuminating. I find this thinking agreeable and look forwarded to exploring it further.

    Thank you again–

    Pons Asinorum (5fa803)

  92. Thanks for the civil thread and the kind comments.

    If we want salvation, this begs the question – what do we want salvation from? This question must be addressed first, before we discuss how it happens. I have tried to state Christianity’s answer above.

    Our modern world shuns talk of the afterlife. It is relegated to ghost stories at halloween. Discussing it in polite company is like discussing little green men on mars. Then again, any truly big idea – love, justice, etc – that can’t be split into bits and bytes seems to generate little interest today. Until someone close to us dies and we realize why the ancients thought about more than the paths of the stars.

    Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life. He promised eternal life to those who believe in him. Christians claim that he was resurrected.

    If this is true, then everything changes. We need to reboot our entire world view.

    A friend at work once asked me if I really believed in the whale of Jonah. I told him that I believe in a lot more than that – I believe that the God who created and sustains the universe was once a little baby in a manger.

    Merry Christmas.

    Amphipolis (e6b868)

  93. God doesn’t care what you or I believe.

    He just cares about how we are.

    punditius (6d3728)

  94. Comment by punditius — 12/11/2008 @ 6:24 pm
    You are very wrong, punditius. God cares about what we believe. Your eternal destiny is decided by what you believe. John 3:16.”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” verse 18 reads “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” It is about what and who you believe. For we are saved by grace through faith. We are saved by what we believe. Not by works lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8,9. Read also Mark 16:15,16.
    It is what we believe that controls and determines who we are, what we are and “how we are”.

    love2008 (1b037c)

  95. Very interesting comments. Kudos to everyone.

    But….there is a source for the answer to this rather easy question, and that source is the Holy Bible. If you believe the Holy Bible is the word of God, delivered via mortal man, then Christ is the path to salvation.

    They even changed the important parts to red font, so it’d be easier to grasp.

    End.
    Of.
    Story.

    RW (689026)

  96. Actually, no, not end of story. Not until someone explains to me why I should attach any special significance to the red font. On the one hand, if Matthew, Mark, Luke and/or John were infallible, that’s pretty impressive, but in that case, why aren’t their entire gospels written in red? On the other, if they weren’t infallible, and the stuff they wrote that isn’t in red could therefore be wrong, then why should we be any more trusting of the stuff they said Christ said?

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  97. #97 (Sorry, can’t tell if it is Xria or Xriq), I have this quotation from A. W. Tozer written in the front of my worn and tattered Bible. “The Bible will never be a living Book to us until we are convinced that God is articulate in His universe. [snip] It is not only a book which was spoken, but a book which is now speaking. [snip] A word of God once spoken continues to be spoken. [snip] If you would follow on to know the Lord, come at once to the open Bible expecting it to speak to you…it is a voice, a word, the very Word of the living God.”
    I suggest you don’t place any more or less relevance on the red words that the black ones. It is all truth, and to live or die by. Your choice.

    Paul Totten (74de9e)

  98. The red font only means a reference to, or a quote from, the Old Testament.

    nk (094d4d)

  99. […] front page contains a lively religious discussion on the issue of Jesus as the only way to salvation.  One remark in particular caught my eye, […]

    The Jury Talks Back » What does it mean that the Jews are the Chosen People? (e4ab32)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 1.9186 secs.