[John_Lit] No one comes to the Father...
- I wonder how the list members see the relationship between the universal and
the exclusive in John: I am referring here to the fact that the one who says
"No one comes to the Father..." is the incarnation of the Logos who gives
light to every human being.
Looking forward to your thoughts!
- Steve Black wrote:
> >In a message dated 1/10/2002 9:17:24 AM Eastern Standard Time,John wrote in a context of religious pluralism, not particularly different than
> >sblack@... writes:
> ><< In the light of what is happening in the world it is more timely now
> > than ever to revisit these assumptions.
now. In his day CHristianity had no real political power and it does not have any
today. ALl the power structures in government are allied against CHristians, from
the Senate to the NY TImes. I don't see how this is different than John's
context, except that more people know (some form of ) Christianity exists. IN
spite of the pressure to be politically correct, we should not try to dissolve
JOhn's exclusivism. We should instead be ready to ask if the assertions we hear,
that all roads lead to God and that we are all worshipping the same GOd are true
or not, in the light of JOhn's statements. It's plainly obvious to anyone who
studies the facts that Muslims do not believe in the same GOd that Christians
believe in. JOhn would not have been ashamed of or bothered by that fact were he
here today,. I don't know why so many people in power are rushing to minimize or
eliminate obvious differences between CHristianity and anything else. It's
plainly obvious in any other realm of life that two opposing viewpoints cannot
both be right, . Why doesn't that hold here? One does not have to accept JOhn's
assertion about what is true, but it is not appropriate to claim he has no right
> >Ramsey MichaelsThat's a completely nonsequitor argument. YOu seem to be taking two things you do
> >Exactly *how* do recent events in the world make exclusivity a less viable
> >option than before? There are those who would be willing to argue just the
> >opposite. I've been reading Robert Gundry's "Jesus the Word According to John
> >the Sectarian," and he suggests that we ought to not only recognize John's
> >sectarian dualism, but actually follow it (which not even fundamentalists
> >do). I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it's worth discussing.
> I suspect that exclusivity will always be an option for people, much
> like the subordination of women will always remain as an option.
not like and putting them together because since one is vilified, the other is
tarred with it. JOhn seemed to believe in such a thing as sin, a particularly
unpopular notion in U.S. society, and I suppose some of us will continue to
believe in that. SOme of us will continue to believe in gravity. It's not
reasonable to offer a blanket category "the oppression of women," which you have
not defined, and assert that anyone who believes in that would of course accept
exclusivity as well. I've never understood this problem with exclusivity. In
physics, no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. THat's pretty
limiting and exclusive. If simple facts of physics represent exclusivity, why is
it so unthinkable that the same principles might hold true in the spiritual realm?
> TheNO, actually this is not the right question to ask. If you believe in gravity,
> question is, of course, is it the best available option? We'll have
> to look beyond John's gospel to answer this.
you don't open up for the debate the existence of gravity because someone dislikes
the idea. The question to ask is, of course, is JOhn's statement true? YOu are
free to disagree with his view, but that does not mean the issue has changed. I
wish that instead of people trying to morph CHristian theology so that it agrees
with that of other religions, which is simply not sustainable logically, they
would simply say "I don't accept the biblical position"' and go find another
position I don't mean that as a personal attack. I mean it as a simple,
>Do you really, honestly believe that adherents of other religions in John's day,
> >I suspect the world John lived in was just as "pluralistic" as our world.
> >Isn't that in fact why he represented Jesus as pointing out "the way" among
> >the maze of options people faced?
> There is a difference between "plurality" and "pluralism". Plurality
> simply realizes the fact that there is more than one way being
> presented to God. It does not say anything about the truthfulness, or
> the effectiveness, or what have you, of any of the given ways -
> merely that they exist. Pluralism, on the other hand, makes an
> affirmative statement about paths other then one's own. This latter
> phenomenon did not readily occur in Judaism or in Christianity, until
> In other words, John, by having Jesus proclaim himself as the only
> way to the Father, was acknowledging that the world of his day
> included plurality while he denied pluralism.
or adherents of non-Christian faiths now, actually don't care about truth
questions? OF course they did and do. IF that were not the case, Muslims in
north SUdan would not have murdered two million CHristians and animists in south
>It probably was not, and once again seems to promote what I think is logically a
> This is true, unless you envision 14:6 as being spoken by the Logos.
> This might create some room to think that this same Logos that
> enlightens every person who comes into the world may be present in
> other world religions. This I would mean not as Christ, but as Logos.
> Before the incarnation there was no Christ (the human Jesus) - only
> Logos. This maneuver would keep us from moving towards the idea of an
> anonymous Christian popular in the 70's. This would also not
> privilege Christianity, yet would leave enough room for
> Christological development. This, I think, is theologically sound,
> but probably not what was on the mind of the fourth evangelist.
nonsequitor. Two totally different views of God and our relationship to him
cannot both reflect what is true, any more than two radically different views of
any empirical phenomenon. I also don't understand why one would want to maintain
the presence of the Logos everywhere, unless you simply reject JOhn's message,
which you are of course free to do.
>I think it likely that "the Jews" were in fact in the mind of John as
>And if it is intended as a simple statement of fact, it is not being used
>"against" anyone. If John was using it against anyone, it was surely against
>Jews, not Muslims or Hindus (obviously).
he wrote this.
>I was speaking specifically of those in the first world who, although
>And besides, if we look at the whole world, are not Christians again a
>marginalized minority in much of the world, even today? Surely they are in
>Europe, in the Far East, and in the Muslim world.
maybe a minority now, still have the heritage of power. Within the
western and American "myth" of identity I think it likely this
exclusivism has moved out of the church into the national
consciousness making a full appreciation of other cultures and
religions difficult. This is an important issue now!
> If, say, Muslims, affirmBecause, I think, they are both here not only inaccurate, but also
>that their religion is the only way, why shouldn't Christians?
harmful and patronizing.
> Do you reallyJohn's situation is so distant and foreign to ours that it seems
>think John's viewpoint would have changed with the passage of centuries?
futile to me to attempt to guess what he would say now.
Vancouver School of Theology
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>Steve Black wrote:mind of John, to those that follow Christ.
>> Christians have mostly till late (of course - many still do) believed
>> it was the only "true" way to God on the basis of John 14:6.
>> In the light of what is happening in the world it is more timely now
>> than ever to revisit these assumptions.
>> So what do we do with texts like this in the pluralistic world which
>> we inhabit?
>I continue to be amazed at how people respond to this gospel. It was several
>years ago that I originally started this ListServ, and usually remained quiet
>and simply observed. But I feel that I must speak out at this point, with
>some observations of over 40 years in studying this gospel, looking at its
>position with regard to the Tanak, or Old Testament. John's strong belief in
>the importance of Jesus is founded on the premise that God was in Christ, as
>Paul thought, attempting to reconcile the world to Himself. It was a love
>(agape) that sought only man's return to his Creator. The gospel does not
>seek to overcome the world through brutality, war or forcing people to become
>believers in Christ. It simply seeks (John 20:31) to make people respond to a
>Loving God who personally intervened in this world. Whether the world at the
>time of John had large religions, or small ones, the gospel sought in John's
>thought to show God's involvement, and to seek men and women to respond to
>the message of Christ as John saw it. Yes, to John there was an exclusivity
>to the Gospel, and that was found in Christ. That message must never be
>enclosed with the fundamentalism of any group, but it is exclusive, in the
There is an interesting combination of love and "hate" in John's
message. We must not blind ourselves to one because of the beauty of
the other. (I think of passages like John 8:44) No, john was not
encouraging violence, but as history reflects in Christian treatment
of the Jews, he did in fact inspire it.
More to the point for me is not what the gospel meant to John
(although, obviously that is important) but what do we now do with it
in the world as we now have it (being so "other" and different to the
world in which it was written)...
Vancouver School of Theology
>I wonder how the list members see the relationship between the universal andIt seems to me that John plants seeds of thought that he does not
>the exclusive in John: I am referring here to the fact that the one who says
>"No one comes to the Father..." is the incarnation of the Logos who gives
>light to every human being.
>Looking forward to your thoughts!
harvest. I think it is possible to overcome his exclusivism using his
own thought world and language-games.
Vancouver School of Theology