I am about to offend some people with this post. Sometimes, it just can’t be helped. It isn’t an offense over personal preferences or something mundane. I long ago gave up on trying to quarrel over such things. I recently had a friendly discussion with some folks regarding a TV show that I discovered (well after it was on the air and long gone) and found that I enjoyed. The discussion centered around a message portrayed in the show (and also a movie based on the story line), that basically it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you “believe” it, whatever that is supposed to mean.
This idea appeared recently in an article about an “enlightened” decision for a new way to train people of differing faiths (Muslims, Christians and Jews) at United Methodist Church’s Claremont School of Theology. They claim this is possible because not all adherents of these faiths believe that “their faith is the only way to God.”
The more I think about this; the more I have come to the conclusion that this might be the most clever lie that Satan has ever concocted down through the history of mankind. There is only one Way to God and it isn’t open for discussion or debate. There is One who was bold enough to claim that He personally represented that very Way(John 14:6) and then proceeded to back up His claim by coming back from the grave. Perhaps someone would like to speculate further about why the early believers in Jerusalem were called people of The Way (Acts 9:2). This imagery was prominent in early Christianity and is thoroughly biblical in nature.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body
-Hebrews 10:19-20 (emphasis mine)
Contrast this kind of talk from Scripture with the “enlightened” statements from the Claremont school about their new program:
“There are a variety of beliefs regarding exclusivity in each of the traditions, and not all Christians, Jews and Muslims believe that their way is the only way,” the school said.
. . .
This fits in well with each group’s faith traditions of loving one’s neighbor and practicing the Golden Rule.
I heard a Methodist campus minister deliver a similar platitude about the similarity of various “faith traditions” having a shared belief in the Golden Rule and so forth. It rang terribly hollow then and it rings hollow now. The Golden Rule isn’t the Way of life, even if it might work out as a decent creed to practice day-by-day.
I plan to write more posts about this specifically, but I will provide a teaser here regarding the Way. As I have restudied the book of Hebrews the concept of the Way of the Lord is a running theme. The writer picks an analogy of running life as a race in chapter 12 and says that we should run as Jesus did. We can all see what Jesus did as we look in the Gospels and remember that He lived a blameless life in agreement with God’s instruction (i.e. God’s Torah), which He neither contradicted nor transgressed. A few verses later in Hebrews 12, the writer quotes from Isaiah 35:3 as he writes,
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. – Hebrews 12:12-14
Let me take you back into Isaiah to see some of the larger context of this citation.
And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
This Way of Holiness is exactly what the early believers claimed they had found in the life of Jesus Christ and in His death and resurrection it was confirmed as well. Jeremiah had something to say about this as well.
This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Amazingly, his words are still ringing true today. The ancient paths of God are available for all to know and travel, but so many refuse. Instead they believe that their “own way” is just as good if they just “believe hard enough” in it. This is the lie to beat all lies. There is only one Way. He is the one who said this:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
This is the same rest that was promised in Jeremiah 6. It is rest available to those who chose the Way of the only One who knows how it is supposed to be. The Way of Life that was taken away by disobedience has been restored to us in the obedience of Jesus Christ. Come to Him and learn His Way. It really is the only Way.