Monday, March 2, 2015

Only One Way

I was re-reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis last week and came across the famous “poached egg” passage. If you have never read the book, the specific passage is below:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Lewis wrote this during in the mid-1940s, and what I find troubling is not that people 70 years ago rejected Jesus’ claim to both be God and the only way to salvation (many have rejected that since his days on earth), but that so many today go even further, maintaining that he never really made such claims for himself in the first place. A few years ago, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a major study on religious beliefs in the United States. It found that 70 percent of all Americans believe that many religions can lead to eternal life, including 65 percent of all Christians. Shockingly, 56 percent of people who consider themselves Evangelical Christians said that there are many paths other than faith in Christ that lead to God and eternal life.

I understand that this is a popular and “tolerant” point of view. However, it stands in direct contradiction to the words of Jesus himself. Consider the following passages:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” John 14:6-7

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son…. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:27

“Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this; to believe in the one he has sent.'” John 6:29

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:40

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:28-30

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.'” John 11:25-26

None of these statements of Jesus are in any way vague or ambiguous, and for that very reason many people, even self-professing Evangelicals, simply avoid them altogether. But to call yourself a Christian while rejecting the very words of Christ himself is disingenuous at best and self-delusion at worst. As C.S Lewis said, “He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”

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