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q&r: “no one comes to the father but through me” in john 14:6?

G’day Matt

I am enjoying reading your blogs on life remixed, especially the most recent on non violence and the debate that it is raising, brilliant, well done.

As you are one of the few who like to challenge the orthodox and traditional Christian beliefs there are a couple of bible verses that Christian Fundamentalists quote incessantly to justify that Christianity is the only way to salvation and therefor all other faiths / religions are false. One of these verses is John 14:6 which seems extremely exclusive and supports the Fundamentalists teachings. This teaching is to the detriment of billions of people all over the world who are not Christians due to the simple fact of where they were born and the culture and beliefs of their parents.

Your thoughts?

Cheers

A popular understanding of John 14:6

Thanks so much for the great question. I think it is a really important issue in the context of our pluralistic culture. In regards to John 14:6: there is perhaps no verse that has been interpreted with greater arrogance. 99% of the time I have, like you, heard it used as proof that other religions are false and that to enter heaven one must believe in Jesus. It has been used for so long by some groups for the purpose of asserting faith in Jesus as the sole way of salvation that we have stopped asking what the verse might actually mean in its context! Read the rest of this entry

the deradicalisation of christianity?

A conversation with a friend today led to us asking the question – how did Christianity become so de-radicalised?

After all the story of the early Church, both in Acts and as implied in the Epistles and Revelation, seems to reflect a community that was at odds in almost every way with the surrounding culture.

(By being at odds with the dominant culture I do not mean abusing gays, doing apologetics or marginalising sex…)

How did we become so at home in the dominant culture? When did “taking up our crosses” come to refer to something other than directly confronting the dominant culture of idolatry and systems of injustice?[1]

Can we really say we are Christians, meaning “little Christs” or “followers of Christ”, when Jesus posed a real threat to the way of life represented by the dominant culture (enough to be liquidated) but most of us revel in it? Read the rest of this entry

mark, the cross & the spiral of violence

Occasionally a quote is worth posting. This is one of those times.

In reference to Mark’s Gospel and its rhetoric toward contemporaneous rebels who violently faced off against Rome in the Jewish-Roman war of 66-70CE, Ched Myers writes:

Yes, says Mark to the rebels, our movement stands with you in your resistance to Rome; after all, our leader was crucified between two of your compatriots (15:27). Our nonviolent resistance demands no less of us than does your guerilla war ask of you – to reckon with death. But we ask something more: a heroism of the cross, not the sword. We cannot beat the strong man at his own game. We must attack his very foundations: we must render his presumed lordship over our lives impotent. You consider the cross a sign of defeat. We take it up “as a witness against them,” a witness to the revolutionary power of nonviolent resistance (13:9b). Join us therefore in our struggle to put an end to the spiral of violence and oppression, that Yahweh’s reign may truly dawn (9:1). (Binding the Strong Man, 2008: 431)

Indeed, if “Satan cannot cast out Satan,” and darkness cannot cast out darkness, how can violence cast out violence? Read the rest of this entry

lest we forget, best we regret

As we remember the sacrifice of fallen soldiers past, let us also remember that their deaths should not have been.

This year Anzac Day falls almost exactly on Easter. Both celebrations, in their own way, have attained an iconic status. However the buying of chocolate eggs, going on a long weekend holiday, playing two-up, buying a badge and getting drunk seem to be inadequate ways of remembering and reflecting on both events… Read the rest of this entry

the crucified (nonviolent) God

As Easter comes upon us for another year, and we think about the death and resurrection of Jesus, we must ask, what does this event mean for us here, today?

Atemporal “answers” aside, 2011 has been a year, among other things, of great political turbulence across the globe.

War, uprisings, rebellion, and violence have been a hallmark of human history, but seem to be especially concentrated at this stage of the historical drama (at least as far as we know).

Without naming specific conflicts, what does the death and resurrection of Jesus mean for a world seemingly overflowing with violence? Read the rest of this entry

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