I. JESUS AS THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE
JESUS AS THE WAY
JESUS AS THE TRUTH
JESUS AS THE LIFE
Old Testament perspective of life
New Testament perspective of life
JESUS AS THE ONLY WAY
SIGNIFICANCE FOR US TODAY
II. SIGNS AND SYMBOLS: THE RELEVANCE OF THE CROSS TO AND AFRICA
1) General Introduction
THE UNDERSTANDING AND USAGE OF THE CROSS IN THE PCC
The Doctrinal understanding of the Cross in the PCC
The Liturgical Understanding of the Cross in the PCC
The Daily Usage of the Cross in the PCC
III. A SOCIAL SCIENTIFIC READING OF MARK 1 : 21-28 FROM AND AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE
MARK 1:21-28, a Social Scientific Reading
THEOLOGICAL ISSUES RAISED IN THE TEXT Mark 1:21-28
Authority versus Authoritarianism
Jesus and the Unclean Spirit
What is this? (Manna) A new teaching?
DEFINITION AND EXPLANATION OF AFRICAN SOLIDARITY
IDENTIFICATION OF ISSUES RELATED TO THE MODEL OF AFRICAN SOLIDARITY IN THE TEXT
CONTEXTUALISING THE TEXT MARK 1:21-28 AS A SINE QUA NON FOR CAMEROON DEVELOPMENT
IV. AN EXEGESIS OF GENESIS 2:1-4a
JUSTIFICATION OF THE PERICOPE AND THE STUDY OF THE CONTEXT
GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF GENESIS
THE THELOGY OF THE TEXT
The Inauguration of the Theology of Work and Rest- Sabbath
The Power of Setting Aside (consecrating, blessing etc)
The Infinite Wisdom of God in His Creative Work
The Theology of the Beginning of the Fall of Man
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TEXT TO THE OT CONTEXT
CONTEXTUALISING GEN 2:1-4a: A conclusion for us today
I. JESUS AS THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE
The text John 14:6 has been considered today as one of the most discussed texts in the debates of religious superiority. Most other religions have often seen Christianity as claiming to have the superior or sometime the only way to God. How true this claim is has led to various arguments over time and space. Terminologies such as the ‘finality’ of Christ, the ‘only way concept’ etc have occupied the minds of theologians over the century with some on the apologetic position for the fact that Christianity is the true way or the fulfillment to all other faiths. It should not be surprising to know that even among the Christian scholars there are those who are of the opinion that Christianity’s claim of the only way is arrogance to a certain extent. The battle seems to take place on the battle field whereby all other religions are opposing Christianity alone. Hardly have we heard that Islam and Hinduism have been on the tables of debate over superiority. The greatest worry now is the fact that why is it Christianity against all other faiths? Just from this worry, there seem to be the evidence of Christianity’s rightful claim.
This paper seeks to look into this worry at its conclusion. But firstly, from the above look of things, we shall discuss this topic in three phases so as to understand what Christ said. The following outline will be the guide to this paper: Jesus as the way, Jesus as the truth and Jesus as the life, summary of the only way debate, some contextual implications and conclusion. The focus here will be to show what Jesus meant when he said He is the way to God, the truth from God and the life for man. The question as to whether Jesus is the only way will be discussed here in the sense that the continuing verses of John 14:6 “no one comes to the father except by me” will be considered as part of the concluding wordings of this verse. But as noted above, only a summary of the only way concept will be handled while the details of such will be reserve for a study in contemporary religions. We will discuss this part by considering the opinions of three scholars; Daniel L Migloire, Martin Goldsmith and Epiemembong L Ebong.
However, in all this paper, we will highlight the opinion that Jesus is the way the truth and the life from a strictly Christian perspective, bearing in mind the orthodox protestant stand point. It will be for the sake of an academic proposition and not as an attempt to down play the dogmatic stand of the Christian faith that we will try to make sense of the opinions of the scholars mentioned above. Other religions hold to other ways, other truths and life for them has a totally different meaning all together.
JESUS AS THE WAY
Carson, D. A: (2000) shows the usage of the word ‘Way’ in both Testaments when he says that in the Old Testament, the usage of the word ‘way’ in the first case depicts the sense of God’s purpose and will as can be seen in Exodus 33:13, Job 21:14 etc. It closely followed that the ‘way’ was associated with the commandments of God. In the second sense, it depicted man’s conduct or style of life which was either good or bad and the choice to be good or bad was left for man to determine.
In the New Testament, it could easily at certain times be understood as the extension of the Old Testament usage of the word as referring to the purpose and will of God or his commandments. It was later understood as one of the oldest designation of the Christian church itself at its early start. Matthew 7:14 mentions the way to salvation while John 14:6 sums it up with the claim of Christ to be or to represent that way in relation to God.
The word way is in the Greek language reads as όδος. In John 14:6, the Greek that reads Εγώ εμί ό όδος (I am the way) sometimes renders a translated meaning similar to the door, gate or entrance. But όδος in a general sense renders a meaning deeper than the others. This announcement by Christ is provoked by Thomas’ question in John 14:5; “…so how can we know the way?” “I am the way…” is also one of the “I am” sayings of Christ noted in John’s gospel as belonging to a wisdom tradition which uses the first person singular ‘I’ as metaphorical symbol to render a message. (Leander E: nd). By using the Greek όδος John shows that Christ points to himself metaphorically as being the way, the door or the entrance point through which man has access to God.
The primary meaning of όδος, from a Christian perspective, would mean the way of life as demanded by God. According to this, Christ’s teachings are the true way that leads to life or the most excellent way of conducting one’s life. John 14:6 therefore is a self-designation address by Christ of himself. If at this point we try to merge the three terms way, truth and life, it can mean in a flow as having been intended to read thus: “there is only a one time approach to the father that leads to life” (Balz and Schieder: 1979)
In its physical meaning it’s suggest a path, a route or journey to be followed. A pointed direction with the emphasis on ‘following’ and this maybe a kind of another last call by Christ to “follow me” similar to the one at the start of the ministry (McLaren, B: 2006). Other meanings say the word ‘way’ refers to Christ Teaching while McLaren, (2006) further holds that the fact that Jesus made this statement on the last meal with his apostles before his betrayal could be a signal to suggest that “whenever you seem to lose your way remember that I am the way you must go by”. In 1st Peter 4:12ff there is a situation of labeling in which the followers of Christ were stigmatized as ‘Christianos’ (followers of Christ) who were also said to be those who claimed to be the followers of a “way”. The interpretation of this would mean that Christianity was already nicknamed ‘the way’ or ‘people of the way’ as reflected in Acts 9:2. Scott, (1992: 126) quoting Serdmann, (1196) says the usage of the word “way” in this statement by Christ is to be considered as the focus of the Christian faith. Because Jesus is the life and the truth, he is therefore the way to the father. To understand the way properly and according to Goldsmith, the word must be placed in a transpositional context in which it becomes the third in the verse and no longer the first. I.e. “Jesus is the life to live and the truth to accept so as to get the way to God’. He is the truth, the life and thus the way. ‘I am the way’ therefore can be interpreted to mean a summary saying of Christ after he had taught the people of the truth and Life. But then, McLaren, (2006) again raises a disturbing question when he seeks to pose the worry as to whether if Christ is the way, is it to life after death or of life here on earth? For him it is not about going to heaven after history but about a compliment way of life for all before death. Jesus is the way to life both here and after.
All the teachings of Christ in the New Testament are considered as having been meant to point to the ‘way’ to God. Christ is the “way” because he is the representation of how the way of God is or what God wants from men. This way is personalized in Christ and it is the way of suffering and triumph through humiliation (Carson, D. 2000: 1055). This statement also suggests that the disciples did not know who Christ was and the definite article in ‘the way’ suggests that Christ is not one way among many but a unique way. Thus, the text might have intended no direct comparism to other religions but an emphasis on the faith revealed in Christ. Christ is the way because he has to be followed. (Charles Swindoll, Logos bible software) Jesus is the unique way who must be understood from that point of ‘only’ as uniqueness and not of superiority. John R, Franke. (2009: 2) says Jesus is the way in that “we should look to Jesus to discover how God acts in the world”
Therefore, a sub conclusion on the concept of the way will follow the argument of Rundolf Schnackenburg thus: The saying, I am the way, the truth and the life is a summary culminative height of John’s Gospel where Christ wraps up all his teaching in three simply words: “The way which is the true one that gives life” It is this claim of the way that has put Christianity on the table of debate and criticism from other faiths. They hold then that Christianity claims are exclusionist and superior positions. But if Christ is the way, he is the unique way known to the Christians through faith in him. (Leander E. Keck, 1995 quoting Rudolf)
JESUS AS THE TRUTH
Martin Goldsmith has posed another disturbing question when he asked; “is there revelation outside Jesus Christ and the bible?” In other words we can ask if there are truths in the teachings of other religions. The disturbing response would be to determine what truth is first before attempting to see if there are reflected in other faith. The clear difference seen already is that in other faiths truths are seen as concepts, theories or laws but in Christianity truth is a person. As the truth, Christ meant that He is the self-revelation of God manifested. Truth is in the form of God who is eternal and this form cannot lie and Christ claims to be the embodiment of this Divine nature in a mortal form. Christ as the truth is the fulfillment realized already in concrete terms and no longer prophesies and promises made in the time past. His person and actions make true the Old Testament promises and therefore credits God the truthfulness deserving of Him through Christ. He is the truth which is opposed to falsehood. This truth suggests the presence of falsehood or that there are other claims to truths. Whatever Jesus was reacting to was evident of the presence of this falsehood. So, it doesn’t mean that other faiths do not exist but that they are not truths in themselves but only theories on the truth represented in Christ. Sometimes these theories are not a real picture of the divine truth as shown by Christ. Otherwise, Christ would not have made such a glaring assertion. He himself forewarns the disciples that some will come claiming to have been sent from God. The statement ‘I am the truth’ ascertains the followers of the person and nature of Christ. He is from the father as the revealed nature of God in Christ for man: that nature of God that cannot lie. The truth here refers to not only the spoken truth (the word) but the truth in existing form, the truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to men or straight forwardness (Strong’s concordance, 225 online). In ancient Greek, αληθεια was synonymous to reality opposite to illusion. It meant concrete issues free from myths I. e. more than facts. Literary, this word meant something not hidden [anymore], attested because it has been tested etc.
From the above lexical meaning of the word truth, it is obvious to hold strongly that Christ revealed himself to his disciples as real concrete, tested and proven. He is the truth that points to the way of the life to live and life eternal in God. He is the truth because he is the revealed word of God. He is in the form of God who hates the presence of faultiness. Randy Alcorn holds that it is not just the type of truth we can act upon but that which acts upon us, the truth we cannot change but which changes us. For the written word to be the truth, the living word (Christ) must first be seen as truth. Note that Jesus is not telling anyone that he will teach the truth but he is truth, way and life personified. Thus, truth here becomes a person and not a principle or a religion or regulations to follow. Jesus therefore does not present himself as a prophet who hears the truth and relays it but as that truth in plain form. (Rick Warren, 2014)
If this stands to hold, then the question of “who has ever seen God?” takes a new dimension with an answer as if from Christ thus, “the one who sees me has seen God so, if you know me, you have known the way, the truth and the life.” (Warren, 2014). Christ’s way has been that of compassion, love, healing etc and also of suffering, persecution, death and then victory which confirms the truth about him.
JESUS AS THE LIFE
Old Testament perspective of life
According to William, A. et al: (1979), in the Torah, the root [Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] (hyh) in its general term refers to life (in terms of health or staying alive) whose opposite is [Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten](mwt), meaning death. That which is alive has the ability to function and perform, showing the presence of all capabilities. Life in the Hebrew context was seen more in the side of man as a living soul different from that of animals. Just like Adam and Eve would have life by observing the prohibition of the tree of life, so too Christ came as a fulfillment needed by men to restore that long lost life. Once the tree of life was removed by disobedience, life deteriorated until it was restored in Christ. The life lost by disobedience in the garden can now be regained by believe in Christ. Thus, life had its source from YHWH but fulfilled in Christ (William, A. et al: 1979). Life in the OT was seen as a fortune. (Gerhard, K: 1964) and the search of wisdom during its span was the only means of extending it. But its preservation or loss still depended on the will of the giver of life. Christ showed that he was that life giver and the wisdom to be sought throughout one’s life on earth. The summary then is that God’s words are seen as the words of life, the Torah as the tree of life and Christ as the incarnated life now dwelling amongst men for the singular purpose of leading man to God. Thus the Old Testament presents the fact that man had lost his life when he fell out of God’s favor and brought death upon himself. Christ then is the life in view of his purpose of restoring this lost life back to man. Christ becomes that life of joy originally intended at the creation. The creation story again plays in this declaration by Christ. He is thus the Way by which the prodigal man finds back the life he had lost.
New Testament perspective of life
William, A. et al: (1979) put it that the word hyh in it various forms appear in the NT as ζώη (zoe). The meaning in the OT seemed to have flowed with the same force into the NT context. Zoe expresses the presence of mobility and action in men. The word life cannot be put in the plural for it denotes the vitality of existence which is unique and lived just once. Thus, Jesus is the life and not lives. Natural life is fulfilled here on earth in animals and other plants but the life in man transcends the mortal to immortal fulfillment. For humans live the life here and yet aiming for the fulfillment of it. This fulfillment thus is only in God through Christ. This is what Christ meant if we consider his statement from a strictly NT perspective. Since life manifested in Christ in his coming, believers then can enjoy this life through faith by believe. The word is life which became flesh in Christ to offer a chance of a fulfilled life in all believers; a life that transcends that lived now.
JESUS AS THE ONLY WAY
If Jesus then is the way, the truth and the life as seen above, does this make him the only way or the only truth that leads to life? Firstly, Martin Goldsmith: (1999) holds that “God’s truth is reflected in all religions to some extent and it is therefore presumptuous and wrong to make any claims to absolute truth”. For McLaren, B: (2006), if you desire to know about the eight noble truths, Jesus won’t lead you through that way but Buddha would. If you want to learn about submission to Allah, then your way to this would be Mohammed and not Christ….But if you seek to know about the kingdom of God coming to earth, how it can happen and how we can share in it, then Mohammed or Buddha can’t help you. The only way to this help is Christ” This is the quotation that ushers us into the discussion of whether Christ is the only way. Whatever a man is searching for has a way that directs him/her and this is according to Goldsmith. In this section, we will try to show what scholars have said as the Christian defense that Jesus is the only way. We will try to show that scholars have written on the other side of this Christian stand by showing the weakness to assume Christ as the only way.
From the point of view of Martin Goldsmith and from his statement above, we are sure to say that his stand point is that Christ is not the only way. He makes it clear that there have been discussions on the defense that Christ is the ultimate way. But then he tried to show how these views can be misleading. He advances the following positions:
Cosmic Christ theology: For the people of this position, it is held that what is important is the third person of the Trinity which is only identified as the “word” and referring to no specific person. This word became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth as a religious leader of the Christians and that gives it the possibility to also become flesh in another leader in another context just as it did to Jesus for Christianity. Therefore, this word could also become flesh in Mohammed or in Buddha for the solution to Islam and Hinduism respectively. E.g. John’s record of the word becoming flesh is the same as the night of peace for the Muslim during which Mohammed received the revelation of God. They seem to hold that we should rather lay emphasis on the ‘word’ as the second person of the Trinity which could incarnate in to any context or person rather than on religious leaders.
Christian Presence: This position holds that if God could have revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush, it becomes a clear indication that he can also reveal himself to others in the lowliest of the burning bushes in other contexts. Therefore, it is the duty of every true Christian to be present to listen to the problems of others and to also try to see Christ in their activities. The problem posed here then becomes how to see the place of this same Christ as savior from sin caused by man and also how to understand Christ as the reconciler of men to God. I.e. did God come to earth for the purpose of identifying with various contexts (burning bushes) or to reconcile men to God? The pitfall to this proposition is that it presence the coming of Christ only in revelatory form without considering the intention for which he came. The salvation purpose of the incarnation is belittled to mean that Christ is seen only as a religious leader with some moral virtues to teach.
Perennial Philosophy: This position holds that in all religions, there are a certain level of truths and guides to the way but all these truths reflect or are only a copy of the ultimate truth which is God. Each is shining like the color of the rain bow in a kaleidoscope but it is the same rain bow but none can possess the fullness of the absolute truth. This view then presents God as the focus we should look to and no other religion as the superior end of all faiths here on earth. How true this is can be a debatable concept.
Fulfillment Theology: The scholars here are of the opinion that there are also some levels of truths in other religions but there can only find fulfillment in Christ. It sounds as the clear postulation of Epiemembong in his reflection on African Christology that even the African life forces such as mediums or medicine men are only on a journey to finding fulfillment in Christ. For him, these life force agencies can only gain some relevance when interpreted from the perspective of Christ. This was done in his attempt to suggest a naming of Christ in Africa. On the contrary to the view of the theologians who hold to the fulfillment theology, Smith says that every father is the best to the son and in this same way every religion has relevance to its adherents and none should be down played as moving towards the other. Epiemembong seems to agree somehow with the fact that it should be about God and not some religion but extends further to show that since Christ and God are one in essence, any journey to God is the same as one to Christ. Thus the life forces can find fulfillment in Christ. It should also be noted that there is theology called Godianism which seeks to eliminate all forms of religious figures so that foci will now be only to God. (Confer class lecture notes by Dr Epiemembong L Ebong, September 2015, PTS Kumba)
At this point, it is clear that the position of Daniel L Migliore will prove similar to all that Smith and Epiemembong have just said and we will only talk about it because there is a little bit of extension to Smith’s position that is worth considering. Migliore gives a clearer view on the on-going debate when he discussed on the finality of Christ. According to him, there are various positions of debate that have been held by scholars over the years:
The Exclusivist: This position holds that other religions and faiths are simply false and that Christianity alone is true. Here, all avenues for dialogue are closed and there is nothing that Christianity can benefit from these other faiths. But Migliore on the contrary still believes that this approach is wanting because the concept of Christ is bigger than the way we claim to understand it. All we can struggle to do, boil down that it is only an interpretation of who Christ really is. Secondly this view seem to also support the fact that just as the word of God was revealed in Nazareth is can also be revealed elsewhere and there is thus no reason why Christianity can claim value more than the other.
Developmentalists: Just like the fulfillment theology position, all other faiths are aiming for a fulfillment in Christ. It seems that John 10:16 gives this view some grounds when it says that there are other flocks of which nothing is known yet. For them other faiths only have partial revelations until they find fulfillment in Christ. But this position fails to notice that each faith is better considered as an entity and not as a preparatory ground.
Transcendentalist: For them, other faiths that know nothing of Christ also have direct access to God’s grace. Religions of today transcend the physical implications. Thus these others are what they called the “anonymous Christians” as those who not heard about Christ but are benefiting from his love. But if we agree with this, then it will become possible to also say that all others who have never heard anything about Buddha are “anonymous Buddhist” The battle will then continue on harder platforms.
Dialogical: The position holds that there should be some sort of a religious table where all religions can dialogue together in other to understand the weaknesses and strengths of both. But I think there will still be a problem because the concept of the capsule knowledge will still down play such a dialogue. Capsule knowledge refers to a situation where by we come to a dialogue table with pre-conceived ideas about the other which may be false but we insist to see it as what or how the other things. Dialogue can never be possible if we do not do first allow the open man to be in dialogue. The weakness of this position is that it is very difficult to accept one’s religious fault publicly without a fight. If we consider that ecumenism among the very Christian churches faces this same problem of letting go some doctrinal positions, then we can conclude that dialogue position still has a lot of work to do.
Realized: According to this view, there should be a complete shift from religious leaders to a direct concern with God. They call it the theocentric view. Religion should be focus on God so that the problem of Jesus or Mohammed should leave the scene.
The sub conclusion to all these views are all three scholars above seem to be writing from the same perspectives and have only applied different words and interpretations. The logical deduction is that all faiths are only in a process of understanding God’s purpose and so none can claim superiority over the other while they are still on the way or journey to fulfillment. Smith and Migliore seem to uphold to this last view. But also no one dares to deny or challenge the claims of Christianity or call it arrogance. But as a protestant Christian, we will agree with Epiemembong L that we may experience in other faiths or means to faiths (life forces) the closeness of God but the culmination of all these faiths and experiences will be better understood when they are interpreted with respect the Christ’s purpose and will. I.e, they will be better than if they are not understood in the light of Christ. We will see here that we have interpreted it strictly as Christians and based on the tenets of the Bible. Another student from another faith will give a completely different conclusion. The debate remains an unsolved problem for modern theologians. But if we dare to defend a Christian position, these words by Hank Hanegraaff can start making sense when he said; “Through the Resurrection, Jesus demonstrated that He does not stand in a line of peers with Buddha, Muhammad, or any other founder of a world religion. They died and are still dead, but Christ is risen and alive and active. (Since Christ is the culmination of the Old Testament as well as the center of the New Testament), it is not surprising that predictions regarding His birth, life, death, and resurrection outnumber all others.” As should be obvious, Christ could not have conspired to fulfill such incredible prophecies as His descent from David (Isa. 11:1; 2 Sam. 7:12-16), His birth in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), His crucifixion with criminals (Isa. 53:12), the gambling for His garments (Ps. 22:18), and the burial of His remains among the rich (Isa. 53:9). It is also instructive to note that Jesus predicted both His death and resurrection.
In our shrinking, pluralistic world, the belief that Jesus is the only way of salvation is increasingly called arrogant and even hateful. In the face of this criticism, many shrink back from affirming the global necessity of knowing and believing in Jesus (John Piper, 1990). And this has led to the weak apologetics we have today caused by the desire to be liberal. One of the main reasons for the proliferation of churches has also been caused by the inability to regulate the Christian stand from within it. Again, let us consider the example from Slick, M: (2013) when he says thus:
“Now, if Joe Schmoe on the street said that he was the only way to God, we'd look at him and say, "Yeah, right." But, if Joe calmed a storm with a command, raised someone from the dead, walked on water, etc., that would add a lot of credibility to his claim. After all, he is demonstrating extraordinary abilities consistent with his claim.
This is the case with Jesus. He made extraordinary claims and performed extraordinary deeds. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that what Jesus said was true, especially since He claimed to be God (John 8:24, 58, 10:30-33, 5:18).
Also, consider that no one else has done what Jesus has done. No one else has risen from the dead, calmed storms, raised others from the dead, and fulfilled numerous prophecies, etc. Though some may have claimed to be able to do one or two of these things, none have done all the things Christ has done as well as claim divinity. Since Christ has done all of these things and since He claims to be God in flesh, then it is logical to believe what He has said . . . that He is the only way.”
Slick, M. 2013
SIGNIFICANCE FOR US TODAY
In our today’s context, we have a serious problem with the interpretation of John 14:6. In Cameroon, there are three main religions identified; African traditional or tribal religions, Christianity and Islam. How can we come to terms with the fact that some liturgies for example that of the PCC, often prays for the Muslims or Jew to become followers of Jesus Christ? The interpretation of this text had led to the exclusivists’ position of Christianity. The missionaries constructed these liturgies with the only way concept in mind. By the way, the birth of faiths like Islam 632 years after the existence of Christ who came as the last and final means of the salvation of man to God had made these missionaries not comprehend why another faith could dare to challenge Christianity as Islam did. The disturbing questions then become what happened to our forefathers who died before the coming of the Missionaries to Africa. Are they lost out of heaven and away from God? This will be chaotic to suggest today. They consoling answer as to the fate of our death ancestors is given by the concept of the pre-existent Christ; the very core of the beginning of the gospel of John. There might not have experienced the incarnated Christ but they lived and died under the care of this same Christ unincarnated or the pre-existent Christ.
If Christ is the way, the truth and the life, then a good contemporary interpretation will make sense more to the Christians than other faiths. A young scholar rather suggested that Christ is the way in the sense that all other ways are means of reaching Christ with the end purpose of meeting God. Thus, as Christ is the way to the father so too are the other prophets or faiths just pointers to the Christ as the way. But then a new dilemma probes up in which among the very Christian folk, there are sub ways or corners to the way. I am talking about denominational expressions of faith. We agree today to seek the way (Christ) in our own way, Style or method. Denominationalisation becomes a possible threat to Christianity. Other religions reject Christianity’s claim of the only way, yet Christian churches also refuse the claims of the others as doing it rightly. What is truth today has been more subjective and left to the individual or to the denomination. Christ’s claim to be the truth looks stupid to an African man who believes in the medium of his ancestors as access to God. The advent of the ‘cogito’ denied the existence of objective truth and this rendered religions powerless. Is Christ still the truth or the life (as a fulfillment of all promised) to one suffering under terrorism, war hunger, Ebola or HIV AID? If he is the truth, then the promises he made “I will be with you always” seem to be interpreted by those in suffering as abandonment even though they may be considered as wrong.
If he is the life, is it to the life of one after death or one who is still alive? Most of our communities today do not desire to live the life of Christ as he taught for His ways are harder to go by considering human desires. The teaching in John 14:6 is anthropocentric in that the benefit is to be for man. A Christ-less life then becomes a problem to a community. A clear example can be seen with the case of Cameroon. It is until now that seminars are beginning to hold on the place of religion in the political or economic development of a nation; (PHS Kumba, 24-26th Nov. 2015) as a reaction to the constitutional statement ‘Le Cameoun est Laic’ or Cameroon is a secular state in neutrality. (Constitution of Cameroon, 1996, preamble, ‘we, the Cameroon people’, page 3of 71). Religious activities in Cameroon are a mere formality and has nothing to do with the daily functioning of the state, parliaments, or even policy. After all, this is the type governance handed down to us by the colonialist who never saw anything good in the religious norms of our peoples but rather desecrated the shrines and sanctuaries of worship. Again, how can we in the face of terrorism affirm the fact that the Muslim brothers live on the tenets of the revealed truth from God? We yearn for the preservation of life on a daily basis yet there is a group that seeks to destroy it in the name of the same God whom we consider the giver of life.
Among the Christians are doctrinal positions as well as non-doctrinal or loose positions whereby everyone does anything and call it Christ’s. Others hold to some stringent ideological tyranny that seems to make Christians more like slaves in terms of dressing or interaction. What can we say then? Are these bearers of the truth as revealed in Christ or are their ideologies now transformed in to truths. Can Christianity still objectively define the truth as revealed in Christ and attested in scripture?
“No one comes to the father except by me” announces the confusion over this Christological assertion by Christ himself. But if we look carefully and objectively Christ never said “no one comes to God except by me but that no one come to the father” A father known only to the believers in Christ. A unique father in their expression of faith: Christ was speaking in context where he addresses a particular people and not the whole humanity as at that time even though it could later be universal. “No one comes to the father” meant none of you here can come to this specific father except by me. This is not about exclusivity but of particularism in the Christian faith. It is the same as saying we are a people who believe in God who has being revealed to us decisively in Jesus Christ. This is who we are and to remain in this circle of Jesus’ “own”, one must recognize the true teaching of Christ. John 14:6 is not too much concerned with the fate of other religions or with the superiority of Christianity or the inferiority of Judaism. To quote John 14:6 in any such way will be anachronism. (Keck, L. 1995 quoting Schnackenburg 743). Thus, even though this paper seeks to uphold the tenets of the Christian faith, we have only tried to show the different views opposed to the Christian stand point. For academic reason, this paper prefers to assert the above mentioned conclusion of the particularity of Christianity which must not be seen as exclusivist tendencies. Christ is the way, the truth and the life and whether Christians use this to down play others or the others hate to hear such words or uses it to fight Christians, the truth remains better if we hold to the view that we do not grasp the concept of Christ fully yet. We are still in the process of understanding. It is possible to also say then that Christology even from the western perspective has not yet been fully understood just like the case of African Christology. The hope and search for the full understanding is still on the way.
1. Goldsmith, M. (1999) What about other faiths? London: Hodder and Stoughton.
2. McLaren, B. (2006) A reading of John 14:6 in the secret message of Jesus. W publishing group.
3. Migliore, L. D. (1991) Faith seeking understanding. An introduction to Christian theology. Grand Rapid Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Dictionaries and Commentaries
1. Brown, C. (ed.) (1986) The new international dictionary of the NT theology. Vol 2, 279-81 Michigan. USA: Zondervan publishing house
2. Carson, D. A. et al. (2000) The new Bible Commentary. 21st edition England: Intervarsity press. (1055). Gerhard, K and Geoffery, W. B. (eds.) (1964) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Vol. 2. Grand Rapid Michigan: WMB Eerdmans publishing company. Pg 832
3. Keck, L. E. (1995) The new interpreters Bible: A commentary in twelve volumes. Vol ix, 743 Newville.
4. William, A. et al. (1997) The International Dictionary of the Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. Vol. 2. UK: Paternoster press. 108-110
1. Fensham, F.C. (1968) Jesus the way, the truth and the life [online] . Available from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43047707 [Access Nov. 2015]
2. Franked, J. R. (2009) Manifold Witness: pluralism of truth. [Online] Available from: http://www.christianBook.com [Access Oct. 2015]
3. Hanegraaf, H. (1995).[online] Available from: http://www.equip.org/article/is-jesus-the-only-way. Christian institute research, Vol. 18
4. Piper, J. (2010) The only way to God. 1st Edition.[Online] Available from: www.desiringgod.org. Grand Rapid Michigan: Barker Books.[Access 16th December 2015]
5. Randy, A. (n.d). How is Jesus the truth? [Online] Available from: www.jesus.org/html [Access 19/11/2015]
6. Ravi, Z. (n.d) Jesus among other gods. Available from: Logos Bible software [Accessed, Oct. 2015]
7. Slick, M. (2013) Why is Jesus the only way to heaven/God? [online] Available from: http://carm.org
8. Strong’s concordance, 225 [online]. www.bibleub.com/Greekk/225/h/m [access 15/11/2015]
9. Warren R. (2014) (Jesus the truth).[online] Available from: http://wwwrickwarren.org/devotionaal/English. [Access 19/11/2015]
10. Warren, R. 2014 Jesus is the truth (http:// www.Nckwarren.org /devotionals/English. Online [access 19/11/2015]