Wednesday, February 24, 2010

They Knew Not Jesus in This Life

I have heard various people of other denominations and religions say they have a problem with the belief that Jesus is the “only way” to achieve happiness in this life and exaltation in the life to come. I believe this is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of what the verses that teach this mean.

I always have interpreted that teaching to mean that the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ is the only way - which I take to mean the principles He taught and the end result of those principles, spelled out in the Sermon on the Mount and encapsulated in Matthew 5:48, Romans 8:17 and other passages in the Bible. That's the only interpretation that makes sense to me in light of perhaps the most fundamental reason for the Restoration - the need to re-establish the universal power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that Paul taught so clearly in 1 Corinthians 15 - especially verses 21-22.

I believe that is why we can say that those of other religions who live according to those principles can be saved and exalted just as Christians in this life can be - that they lived according to the principles of the Gospel and the light of Christ they brought with them to this earth, even though they "knew not Christ in this life".


Ryan said...

While I agree with you in principle -- that it will be well for those who live according to the truths Christ taught even if they didn't know Him in this life -- in practice I'm not sure there's much difference between saying that and saying that Jesus is the only way because only Christians claim to believe everything he taught (and not always even then).

Most people who argue that Christ is not the "only way" don't [want to] believe that they are bound by the things Christ taught. They believe that His teachings are sufficient to bring salvation but not necessary (e.g. Hinduism), that they are neither necessary nor sufficient (Islam), or even that they are nonsensical/bad (e.g. secularism/atheism).

That said, most of the time folks simply reject words which never touched their hearts (!= The Gospel) because we can only come to know God if He reveals himself to us. At some point everyone will hear and truly understand Christ's invitation to follow him, and all will eventually be left without excuse. Until then, though, I believe God "takes all comers" in a sense, judging people according to how well they live what they believe (even mistaken beliefs), and condemning only those who act against personal revelation.

Jeff Day said...

And what if Paul was wrong? After all, he also knew not Jesus in his life.

Andrew S said...

Ryan, I don't think most people are disagreeing with the content of the Sermon on the Mount. I don't think people are saying that is "nonsensical/bad" (at least, I can only speak from the secularist/atheist side).

Rather, what I think people believe are nonsencial/bad (or neither necessary nor sufficient, or sufficient but not necessary) are things wrapped around and peripheral to these things. You don't need mysticism and magic for the sermon of the mount. You don't need the divine for the sermon on the mount. The deeper principles, I believe, are really more relational and something people can seek as people.