Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also… – John 14:6
I’ve heard many a pastor/ Christian speaker make an argument for why Christianity is NOT just one of many world religions. They equally denounce the idea of religious inclusivism, which can be interpreted in two ways;
- Traditional Inclusivism: believer’s own views are absolutely true, and believers of other religions are correct insofar as they agree with that believer.
- Relativistic Inclusivism: an unknown set of assertions are Absolutely True, that no human being currently living has yet ascertained Absolute Truth, but that all human beings have partially ascertained Absolute Truth.
There are many ways that Christians directly and indirectly discount inclusivism. (Side note: I am not agreeing with inclusivism but am “testing everything that is said and holding on to what is good” 1Thessalonians 5:21)
Over and over, I have heard John 14:6 used to assert that Christianity is the ONE true way. “The Bible says Jesus is THE WAY AND THE TRUTH,” one pastor recently preached, “if Jesus is THE WAY, there is no other way”.
But Christians aren’t the only ones who believe in Jesus. Muslims believe him to be a great messenger. Muslims don’t, however, believe in Christ’s deity or crucifixtion. I am only addressing John 14:6 here and pointing to the fact that the Muslim view of Christ does not preclude them believing that Christ is “the way and the truth”. So the argument that we believe in Jesus does not make us the “right religion”.
That same preacher used “no one comes through the Father except through me” as reasoning that people who do not believe in Jesus are not going to heaven. This is a problem. God is all powerful. Does God have the power to be with someone who has not completed the prerequisite of believing in him or believing correctly in him? Yes, he has that power. But wait, can he do that while we maintain our free will? If we truly believe he is all powerful then yes, he can do that too.
Despite other feelings you may have about whether or not Christianity is the “right religion” and how our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors during our time on earth effect our eternity, I simply postulate that John 14:6 is not adequate justification to discredit any other religion or support the sole rightness of Christianity.
Further, far be it for us to use this Bible verse to assert the eternal fate of those whose view of Christ is not the same as our own. For all I know, someone whose never believed in Jesus may die, meet Christ, have a chat with him, and then be green lighted to meet the father regardless of anything that happened in that person’s human life.