One God, One Way
Part Two: Is There Only One Way to God?
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me” — John 14:6 (KJV)
There’s this intense scene in the Bible where Jesus is brought before Pilate by the Jews. He’s being charged for his illegal claim as “King of the Jews.” The Roman rulers didn’t like people gallivanting around calling themselves kings.
The exchange found in John 18:28-40 always amuses me. Every time, I read like Jesus and Pilate are trading sarcastic riddles and jabs at each other until Pilate is finally left wondering, emphatically, “What is truth!?”
Don’t we all want to know.
In part one, we discussed how postmodernism is the response from an emerging generation this very question. We said that postmodernism seeks to shed traditional constructs and ideals of what truth is by suggesting that, because we don’t know what is absolutely true, we must leave ourselves open to all reasonable possibilities. Further, it suggests that truth can be determined by individual perception of the world, and individual experiences in life.
When I was growing up, my dad used to say, “Everyone’s got to look at life through their own bifocals.” Indeed, postmodernism allows your truths to be determined by what you see out of your own bifocals.
But as we discussed, relativism is not realism. The Truth does not rely on our senses. It doesn’t fade into the land of falsehood because we aren’t aware of its existence. The Truth exists whether we acknowledge it or not. Our awareness has nothing to do with it.
The Truth is.
I’m reminded of the conversation God had with Moses through the bush that wasn’t really burning in Exodus 3. Moses, after catching his breath a little at the idea of confronting the greatest nation of the land, asks “Who should I say sent me?” God answers, “Tell them I AM has sent me to you.”
Let me be clear. When I say “the truth is,” I mean that the Truth is reality. The Truth is what actually exists. I think that’s exactly what God was telling Moses to tell Egypt about Him. “Tell them that I AM (the true God, the real God, the actually existing God) sent you.” In other words, tell them The Truth, sent you. The Reality.
Perhaps that is a stretch.
But when I see the plagues of the Old Testament, I see God systematically attacking all notions of gods in Egypt. Each plague is an affront on one or more of the Egyptian so-called deities.
- Water to Blood — attacks Hapi, Egyptian god of the Nile.
- Frogs — attacks Heqt, the Egyptian goddess of birth (who was characterized as a frog, and a protector of females in birth)
- Lice — attacks Geb, the Egyptian god of Earth (whose priest took care to shave daily to prevent lice as a symbol for their worship)
- Swarms — attacks the Amon-Ra. Swarms of beetles, one of the symbols of Ra himself.
- Livestock — attacked Apis, (whose symbol was a bull) and Hathor the cow-headed god of the desert.
- Boils — attacks Egyptian god Imhotep, the god of medicine.
- Hail — attacks Nut, the Egyptian sky goddess. Also, with crops destroyed, it attacks Isis and Seth — gods of crops.
- Locusts — attacks Nepri, Egyptian goddess of grain, Ermutet, Egyptian goddess of childbirth and crops, and Thermuthis, goddess of fertility and harvest.
- Darkness — attacks Amon-Ra, the Egyptian god of the sun, and the moon (whom Egypt worshipped as a God)
- Death of Firstborn — attacks nearly every God of Egypt, but most notably the “deity” of the Pharoah, and the gods which protected them (Selket, guardian of life and Renenutet, cobra-goddess and guardian of Pharoah).
I AM is staking his claim. There is only one true god, and He is it. In essence, the Yahweh God of Moses is The Truth.
Moses with the Egyptians is just one of many places in scripture where God sets out to make Himself known to the world as The One God. Here again, we find echoes of the exclusivity we mentioned last week.
Like Egypt, we too have set up gods. One of which is the god is ego. And the last of the deities God has attacked, through Jesus, is this god of “self.” Sin leads us to rely on ourselves, convinces us we don’t really need Him, that we can save ourselves through the powerfully positive notions of anthropology and morality. The further down the Ego rabbit hole we go, the more subtly we position ourselves as center of our universe.
God, again, has to battle these idols to reveal to us The Truth, the reality that who and what we are meant to be begins with Jesus.
If Jesus is The Truth, then He is the key to our awareness of The Reality? That is, if Jesus is The Truth, then we don’t know who (and why) we are until we know Him.
Otherwise, we are living our lives in the margins of imagination and creativity, instead of on the solid ground of reality. And what is reality? Simply, that there is one God and He desires relationship with all of us. He created us for that relationship, but sin blocked it. Jesus’ defeat of sin clears the path again to that relationship and thus to knowing who we are and what our purpose is.
This is The Truth to which Jesus speaks. This is the “way” and “life” Jesus embodies. Jesus brings an awareness of The Reality of our purpose and place with the one true God, and at the same time, offers the fix for our very real situation. In Jesus, they are all connected. This makes acceptance of Jesus the exclusive entry point to God, without whom we would remain separated from God forever.
There is a truth, an exclusive Truth. Jesus is that truth. But God seems to have allowed enough holes to appear that we cannot speak with full-on provable certainty. For some reason, faith is important to God. Believing without seeing, trusting without knowing. In the end, this conversation is about faith. Which, of course is another conversation altogether.
So let the conversations continue. What is truth? For me, Jesus is. What about you?
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