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Pluralism

'No one comes before the Father except through Me' John 14:6-9

This scripture is used to support the pre-Vatican II view that Christianity is the only way to God. Fr. Chuck will be teaching us about many parts of the Old and New Testament that were once thought to have a certain meaning and are now thought to have different origin and meaning. An example is Homosexuality and the Bible by Walter Wink. I'd like to examine John 14:6-9 with the following. Jesus invites us to humility, to kindness, to generousity,.... and even to perfection in our boldness, our restraint, our own capacity for what others might call miracles. We learn about this in a language that nobody in the Bible used, and with centuries of interpretation with as much ethnocentrism and venturesomeness as Walter Wink and others describe. Alan Clapsaddle was reading a book that said that our homophobia lay greatly at St. Paul's feet because of his struggle with his own homosexuality. I'm imagining that there could be someone who did not have the benefit of hearing the Good News but who could grow to the truths and beauty that Jesus invites us to. I would like to think that we could see this person living "through Me" (through Jesus) in the sense that Jesus is the possibility for all of us. I would like to think that that person who never heard of Jesus could have had breathed into his soul a clarity of goodness that would qualify as being "of Jesus" just as much as any good part of me can be said to be Jesus. It is very important for me to get clear on this and to feel that my Beloved Community embraces this or some better stated view of it.

To interpret John 14:6-9 as granting us exclusivity I think is terribly, terribly sinful because it violates the second most important commandment (Mat 22:34-40). I think we should pray mightily to be freed from the temptation to believe that ours is the only way. It does seem to be a universal temptation and it is the root of the worst evil occuring in the world today. “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind” (Deut 6:5). “This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Lev 19:18).” I do not want to be separated from my neighbor. ''If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift'' (Matthew 5:23,24 NIV). I can't imagine that I can be reconciled to someone who I believe has no chance for my possibilities unless he adopts my beliefs and the language I attach to my beliefs.

On the matter of "who is my brother", Yigal says "The Talmud is saying that in order to properly follow the commandment to love the Lord, one must show love to other people, who were made in the Lord's image. (Expressing love to others is seen as the highest level of striving to emulate the Lord's qualities.)"

Another useful reminder is that Christians who deeply believed theirs was the only right way created the Crusades, American/European slavery, and the Spanish Inquisition. Our faith requires a continuing process of discernment that is at odds with any easy, lazy, or arrogant belief that our way is the only right way. (Carl, 1/08/08)


My take on "Jesus is the way, the truth and the life" begins with an understanding that God has spoken and speaks through other religious traditions. I do, humbly I hope, profess that in Christ God's plans and purposes are most fully revealed. At the heart of this revelation, is that the WAY of God revealed in Jesus conveys the promise of the fullness of LIFE for us in our earthly lives and God's promise that this life continues eternally because the source of this life is God's eternal being. We profess this as a TRUTH that is for all people for all time. An essential manifestation of this way is revealed in the demands for justice and concern for the least of these which is part of the both the tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures and certainly Matthew 25. This same way of compassion is part of the Muslim and Buddhist traditions, as well -- an important, telling and Godly overlap. Christians throughout our history have been tempted, sinfully, to use this verse arrogantly in ways that exclude and justify the exclusion of others. I believe this to be something we have to apologize for. However, this does not make me want to overlook this verse, but to understand it in a way that is in keeping with the larger witness of the gospel and the boundless love of God as revealed in Christ. (Andrew Sherman, 1/16/08)

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