Reynold Ruslan Feldman, Ph.D. - Author, Editor, Nonprofit Consultant, Wisdom Coach
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Thoughts on the Way

The Way you can talk about, the TAO TE CHING counsels, is not the real Way. Nevertheless, in one of the most famous proof texts in the New Testament, John 14:6, Jesus tells Doubting Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NRSV: Catholic Edition) Literal-minded Christians take this statement to mean only Christians will get to heaven. On the surface, it does look like they have a point. But other interpretations require an understanding of metaphor. Let’s unpack the meaning a bit. Take the two words “I am.” When God commissions Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand the release of the Children of Israel, the poor tongue-tied prophet remonstrates, in effect, that his people will not believe him when he announces his mission. At the very least God needs to provide him with the power of the divine name. In Exodus 3:14b the Almighty obliges: “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” So when John has Jesus say “I am the way, etc.,” another meaning is God, or I AM, [is] the way. Standard Christian theology moreover equates Jesus with God. So the text can also mean, “The only way to God is through God.” God must invite us to the Party. There is yet another non-literal approach to these words. The lifestyle he both exemplified and taught coupled with how he related to the one he regularly called Papa (abba in Aramaic) is the exclusive path to God. In short, getting to heaven requires living the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount and the Parables and putting oneself into a filial relationship with the Creator. Given the difficulty of doing these things, no wonder most of us prefer the belief that Christ’s sacrificial death is our ticket to ride.    

1 Comment to Thoughts on the Way:

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