The Exclusive Way

Jesus said … “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

This afternoon I read a comment on a “newspaper” website in which Jesus’s words above were snidely and crudely ridiculed. It was clear that the writer of the comment didn’t like the idea of being told that there is an exclusive “truth” and an exclusive “way” that might be contrary to his own preferences.

There was more than a hint of “how dare Jesus insist that He is the only way”.
And “what right does He have to say those who don’t want to follow Him are wrong?”

After reading the comment a common traffic sign came to my mind. I think it partly illustrates the relevance of what Jesus said.

Signs like this have probably stopped many drivers from making a very dangerous mistake when they were about to put their own life and the lives of others at risk.

But it’s a sign that could easily be ignored and ridiculed by those who know their own opinion is more reliable and authoritative than the qualified authorities who built the road.

16 thoughts on “The Exclusive Way

  1. Amen.

    (Of course, that’s different from religious organizations
    or individuals or coalitions claiming power
    [as if, manifestly, rightfully].)

  2. (For instance, a coalition of fundamentalists, neo-cons, certain Catholics, etc., and Russian Orthodox, et al., isn’t the manifest authority of the earth or of the “West” or of some rightful Christianity.)

  3. In simple logic, it seems, truth can only be one thing (or better, Person). The poor analogy in which I think of it is that 12:00 is “midnight:” neither 11:59 nor 12:01 is.

  4. Hi Steve, the common thinking these days seems to be that we don’t have the right to believe we can know definitive truth.
    We are considered arrogant if we claim that we do. Therefore everyone is entitled to their own truth – as long as we don’t try to impose “our” truth onto others.
    Effectively, definitive truth can be dismissed in a confusion of philosophical rhetoric.

    But what if that definitive truth DOES exist – and what if that definitive truth IS a person and wants to make Himself known to whoever is willing to know Him?

    Then the choice is ours – do we believe Him or not?
    Sadly most choose the arrogance of their own subjective truth – which in the immediate short term can seem to cost less than the alternative.
    No denial of self needed.

  5. Steve, your “poor analogy” is also helpful — in its “simple logic.”

    Interesting, Onesimus, that both atheists (as an example of a pole, while there aren’t only poles) and religionists are doing this — denying perception of reality/truth — in different ways.

  6. Hi Marleen,
    There is a degree of “truth” in those ideas about the perception of truth, because we all process information differently according to things like knowledge, prior experience, culture and even the practical functioning of our senses ( a sighted person will experience and interpret things differently to a blind person).
    The four gospels are an example of human perception and reporting of truth, an example that to me gives the gospels a greater stamp of authenticity due to the wider perspective they give when seen as individual witness accounts of the life of Jesus.

    However – all of the above do not relate to a variety of different equally valid “truths”, they all have their source in actual, definitive, objective truth; in REALITY, in what actually IS.

    We have the responsibility for the sake of ourselves as well as others, to desire and seek the truth (If we seek, we shall find).

  7. Yes, I agree, Onesimus. And that gets back, I think, to something we here have talked about before — honesty. So, a person who is being honest with himself (or herself) and others (and all Reality) will most likely (in my opinion) eventually come to the knowledge of the Truth. I think there is a tad more than honesty in “seeking” (due to the fact I’ve come to perceive some people are “honest” about their selfishness or even satisfaction with evil). In the meantime, while honestly seeking people are processing what they understand, they are free to be wrong or mistaken. Dishonesty (in contrast to being mistaken) would make itself known in stubborn inconsistency or preferring oneself when pretending to be about justice or fairness (that kind of thing); in time, they can make progress (in a manner of speaking, while some people might dramatically put elements together before your very eyes). They can only find the truth when they actually find it. I’ll use a math illustration (sort of like Steve did). Someone can present you with a trigonometric formula at the beginning of a high school course. But you might be frustrated until you have a little more understanding. From experience, I can tell you, you (as in I) might even question whether the formula was presented to you properly (yes, I’ve done this both in math and in faith). [Side story: my youngest son just came home and told me he gots the highest score on his recent test (college-level). He was very happy because this comes to him easily. He recounted a story of us (he and his four brothers and I), when he was under five, driving around in our van and conversing about numbers… oh, and he recalled, also about not participating in magic… as we came across a sign for a Harry Potter movie. (Yeah, I haven’t impressed upon him yet that there is such thing as witches and magic. I chuckled and reminded him I’m the same person who taught his brothers to talk anout math and who wants him to be aware not to take part in magic. I chuckled, and so did he, but he knows I mean it. He said, “You’re a good mom; you just have your quirks.”)]

  8. Someone can present you with a trigonometric formula at the beginning of a high school course. But you might be frustrated until you have a little more understanding.

    I see understanding of scripture to be similar to understanding math.
    We need to develop the basics before we can tackle the more complex.

    When learning math we start with simple arithmetic, without that foundation we’ll never grasp more complex aspects of mathematics. And yet when tackling scripture so many try to delve into “deep spiritual things” before they even have a basic knowledge of the overall content of the Bible and how it all fits together.

    For example – the prophets can make much more sense when we see how they fit into the time line of the histories. That is, what was happening at the time when their prophecies were given.

    Also we need to understand that the NT isn’t some kind of add-on to the OT, or worse – a REPLACEMENT or nullification of the OT. It flows on from the OT as a continuing fulfilment of God’s ongoing plan for mankind and the rest of His creation. There is a lot of the NT writings that we won’t understand until we have at least a basic knowledge (understanding) of the OT writings.

  9. I was beginning to take Greek at a church back in the eighties (one of more than one time starting this at more than one place), and the person teaching (the main preacher there) started with some letters on a blackboard. I was discouraged right away when two of the characters were called different things but looked the same (as each other), and were the same. But I asked why this was the case. And the teacher looked at me like he didn’t understand the problem — while he extended the length of part of the letter (because he had been sloppy in writing it). I think sometimes teachers are used to people pretending everything is clear, for the benefit of both the teacher and student… who maybe hope that if they keep playing along they will “get it” finally. It might have been a useful tactic.

  10. I always have to smile at the philosophic quandry of atheists, who have to posit a “God” in order to deny He exists. Atheists NEED God as much (often more) than fervent believers.

    Something of the same situation exists with “Truth.” Our current president and the (too often self-proclaimed) “Christian” Right particularly love to lambaste the “lying” media: indicating they recognize a benchmark “Truth” from which (to their perception) their perceived enemies deviate. Their own promotion of “alternative facts” effectually denies Truth is a benchmark for them.

    American politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan had wisdom on this score: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.”

    The way I’d put it, in recognition that Jesus identified Himself as “The Truth,” is that Truth is sovereign, in all human affairs.

  11. I don’t remember how many times I continued, maybe once there. There was no book, and I don’t think this was going to get anywhere. (That same son I mentioned earlier had a high school math course he normally slept through because the teacher would regularly teach things incorrectly and then try again. So, he just planned on reading his book and doing the online work.) I have since learned that years and years of memorizing pronunciations and (Christian) dictionary definitions has a potential itself not to be helpful in studying truth. If the dictionary or tradition you are told to look into has entered wrong meanings… wow, that was a lot of work for nothing.

  12. The most important understanding or function of Greek is to compare across time, using the Septuagint, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc. and the contexts across the timeline; such as how Greek was used differently by the larger culture, historical Semitic language, power structures and the experiences of various people.

  13. Steve, I’ve been reading [not writing] at Unitarian Universalist sites for a few days. Apparently, they used to be more Christian. Now, they are more atheist and agnostic. It is some curious, sometimes informative, philosophical, emotional, cultural, and at times historical reading (in articles and comments). One of the weirdest comments was from one who almost insisted that someone referring to herself as “theist” (or a believer in God) had to mean the Christian god (with some assortment of what that has to mean according to that insistent atheistic person). {On then other hand, the leadership seems to be trying to get the general membership to be more welcoming of people who do believe there is a God (and even a specific God, like he who brought Israel out of Egypt)}. Another weird comment was after an announcement that a beloved organizational leader had died. The lone comment was along the lines of “proof there is no God.”

    On the Christian right, I believe they’ve had a systemic agenda of projection (psychological dysfunction either on purpose or pathologically, or both) for decades. It’s gotten worse. I agree with your characterization that “[t]heir own promotion of ‘alternative facts’ effectively denies Truth is a benchmark for them.”

  14. Another weird comment was after an announcement that a beloved organizational leader had died. The lone comment was along the lines of “proof there is no God.”

    That comment seems to express a common type of thought: that if bad things happen it’s proof God doesn’t exist. It’s the same kind of warped thinking I commented on in a couple of posts about things Stephen Fry had said.

    It seems that people expect God put a stop to everything that they personally don’t like – and if He doesn’t act according to their expectations then it proves He doesn’t exist. They put everything in God’s court – essentially abdicating all human responsibility. And yet – if they thought their personal choices and freedoms were somehow being restricted they would be the first and loudest to object and denounce God as an unreasonable dictator.

    I refer you to a statement from the Jeff Weddle article I’ve just reblogged:

    –The two main arguments atheists use against God are:
    1) How can a good God allow so much evil? Why doesn’t God do anything to restrain evil?
    2) How come the God of the Old Testament is so angry about evil and judging evil people all the time?
    They see no contradiction in these criticisms of God.

  15. Yes… what is that stubbornness? I pray for any of them who could possibly be pulled out of that hypocrisy (within their own willingness, long-term). By the way, I’ve heard a surprising number of Christians bitter in the same contradictory way.

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