They will appeal to “Spiritual insight” and present a “prophetic” interpretation of what is written OR they claim some kind of special knowledge gained through tradition/education/cultural awareness. Both cases require the average believer to submit to the understanding presented by those with that special knowledge, because we (apparently) haven’t got a hope of understanding scripture for ourselves when we read it.
Recently I’ve seen some imaginative claims about the following statement from Jesus:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
To me that is a straight forward statement about Jesus and His importance.
The latter part makes clear the exclusivity of access to the Father (God) through Jesus. And yet the imagination of man can work overtime to reinterpret such a simple statement to make it fit with their own personal theological agenda.
A few weeks ago I saw video of Oprah Winfrey interviewing Joel Osteen. When Oprah pressed Osteen on the claimed exclusivity of Christianity – Osteen gave a reply something along the lines that Jesus is the only way to God, but there are many ways to Jesus.
In today’s relativist and syncretistic world it’s a popular idea that all religions lead to God, that none has a monopoly on truth (regardless of Jesus’ statement that HE is the Truth).
Osteen tried to put a Christian-friendly spin onto that idea. He made sure he presented Jesus as the sole means of access to God (so he wouldn’t alienate his Christian supporters) but not wanting to distance himself from Oprah, inferred that other religions are merely another way to Jesus.
More recently I’ve seen another approach to Jesus’ claim. Pushing aside what Jesus actually said, a blog commenter (a claimed Messianic Jew) suggested that Jesus REALLY meant that the Torah is the Way the Truth and the Life.
While I find it disturbing that someone would need to make such a claim to support a chosen belief system, (which I don’t think is held by most Messianic Jews), I wasn’t really surprised because I’ve had previous disagreements with him regarding the divinity of Jesus. This example seems to be merely another case of diminishing Jesus’ importance.
There are clearly MULTIPLE ways of changing the clear and simple message of scripture into something more esoteric and each of those ways takes the “average” believer away from the truth, creating a distance between God’s word and the “average” believer that makes it necessary for an intermediary to bridge the gap.
An intermediary between man and God?
Wait a minute – doesn’t scripture tell Jesus is that intermediary? That HE is the only means of access to the Father? At least it does if we are simple enough to accept scripture at face value instead of looking for reasons why the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says.