“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also.” - John 14:6-7
Is Jesus the way to God? Is he the only way to God? Or can people find their way to God in other religions?
Christians believe that Jesus is:
God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried,
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again,
he ascended into heaven,
[and] is seated at the right hand of the Father.
By that we mean that Jesus is more than just a good person. Jesus is the way that we relate to God, or whatever you call the divine, and Jesus himself is this same divine God. According to scripture, the way of Jesus is a way of conflict, suffering, and death, but also surprising and glorious resurrection and new life.
We believe that Jesus is how God chose to break into the world, how God gave us a glimpse of his nature and kingdom, and how God gave us a way to conquer sin and death so that we may be in eternal relationship with God. And above all, we believe that Jesus’ way is the one worth following.
But this foundational Christian belief doesn’t depend on other religious beliefs being proven as wrong. Sometimes people ask me if I think this saying means that Jesus is the only way to be in relationship with God. Is Christianity the only true religion, or can people of other faiths get to God too?
My answer is always the same: I don’t know. I simply don’t know if Jesus is the only way. While Jesus does claim to be the way to the Father, or God, he does not say, “I am the only way.” In John 10, Jesus claims that there are other sheep that are not of this fold. Does that mean there are other people who belong to God in ways not understood by us as Christians? Does God connect to other religious communities in ways we don’t know or can’t see?
When it comes down to it, I have a hard time limiting God’s ability to save a person to only the way I understand, or only in the specifically Christian way of describing it. And I don’t think there’s any real way of knowing for sure whether Jesus is the only way to God.
But I will say that Jesus is the only way I know. I know of no other way that God reconciles Godself to us than by Jesus. However, there may indeed be other ways, other rooms in heaven, other sheep not in this fold. My belief in Christ doesn’t depend on discrediting other religions or belief systems. It’s just that if I want to connect to the divine being who created us all, then Jesus is the only way I know, and it’s the one I will always recommend. This way of Jesus, truth of Jesus, and life of Jesus is the way I’ve chosen, and I want you to choose it too.
Affirming faith in Jesus doesn’t require denying the validity of other beliefs. But it does require making a choice. To choose the path of Jesus is to believe that he lived for us, died for us, and rose again for us. For us and for our salvation, he did these things. And in so doing, he embodies the way, the truth, and the life that we are asked to follow each day of our lives, all the way until we rest eternally with God the Creator.
It will always be the way I choose, and the way I encourage others to choose. But I also believe that God is good, God is love, and God is holy. So whatever paths lead you to goodness, love, and holiness, they are leading you to what I call God: the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. And if you want to know more about the path we call the way of Jesus, just ask someone on that path! They’ll be glad to share with you what it’s like for them, and invite you to join them on their journey. Blessings to you - whatever good and loving path you’re on.