The other day I posted a piece called Jesus the Decider: Who Gets Into Heaven?, in which I recounted a conversation I’d overheard between a proselytizing Christian and “a guy who Wasn’t Having Any,” whom I referred to as WHA.
WHA’s Big Point was that there is no logical basis for Christians to so heavily rely upon John 14:6 (“No one comes to the Father except through me”) as proof that only Christians can get into heaven or reside with God in the afterlife. His contention was/is that the words of Christ right there don’t actually say that. “[John 14:6] doesn’t say you have to be a Christian in order to get into heaven,” said WHA. “All it says is that Jesus decides who does and doesn’t get into heaven. ‘You have to go through me to get into heaven’ isn’t the same as, “You have to be a Christian to get into heaven.'”
Anyway, read the whole piece if you’re interested. If you do, and are, you might then be interested to know that this morning WHA responded to the many responses left to him in the comments section of “Jesus the Decider.” WHA (whose real name is Ken H.) asked me to post the below, which is from him. (Warning: It’s a little rough. “Do you mind if I say what I really think?” Ken asked me. I answered him no, of course I don’t — and below is what I got. I figured I’d post it as is. Why not? We Christians can take it, yes? And should, maybe, even, a little.)
Hello, all. I want to thank you for your thoughtful input to my question about John 14:6. To be honest, I didn’t read much in what you wrote that directly dealt with my contention that Christians need to stop relying on John 14:6 as proof that heaven (assuming there is such a place) is the exclusive domain of Christians. That’s really all I was saying. I’ve had that quote thrown at me by Christians quite a lot, and I always think, “Yeah, but that quote doesn’t say that.” That can be a little frustrating. I do appreciate everyone who took the time to answer me, though.
As to the larger and I guess more basic question of why I and others like me find it so challenging to believe in your Christ, I’m sure I have nothing to say beyond anything I’m sure you’ve heard before. (In fact, what the non-Christians say in John’s excellent blog piece, “What Non-Christians Want Christians to Hear” pretty fully covers it. I think that post should be required reading for all Christians.) Personally — and in a nutshell — it’s the cosmic arrogance of Christians that turns me off. I have a natural resistance to any faith system that insists all other faiths are flat-out wrong: that’s such a crude position. It’s so brutally condescending, so terribly unhelpful in this time of societal strife and the terror born of fundamentalists’ passions. To insist that your religion is the only true religion is so profoundly disrespectful that it can’t smack of anything but an almost absurd immaturity.
You can’t say all concepts of God, and all systems of faith, and all personal encounters with the universal divine that aren’t grounded in the truth of Christianity are invalid, or inadequate, or sadly delusional, and expect anyone outside of your faith to take you seriously. On the face of it, such an attitude is just so … repellingly smug, for one. What child doesn’t think he’s the center of the world, and that his thoughts are the only thoughts that matter? It’s such an undeveloped attitude to take.
Also, this business with gays and lesbians being automatically condemned to hell? It’s like a joke from medieval times — only it’s not funny at all. The texts that Christians rely upon to condemn homosexuality can be legitimately understood as not condemning gays and lesbians at all. That the vast majority of Christians ignore that scholarship, ignore that understanding, ignore that fact, can’t help but serve as further proof that what so many Christians really want isn’t to spread the love and compassion of which Christ himself was such a champion, but to instead continue to use their “faith” for no purpose more uplifting or wholesome than to fuel the judgemental, self-righteous, mean-spirited ego trip they’re on.
A lot of Christians are nothing more than spiritual bullies who go around using the Bible as a club. (And a lot aren’t, too, I know.) It’s weak. It’s embarassing. Finally, and mostly, it’s boring.
I know I’m sounding mean here, but I’m just trying to be succinct. My humble opinion, overall, is that Christians need to wake up, and start realizing how much of what they say and do has no more to do with the true spirit of Christ than Osama Bin Laden has to do with the true spirit of Islam.
Thanks for listening. I really, really appreciate it. One so often gets the very distinct feeling that Christians can only talk, and can never listen. I hope this time proves the exception. Thanks again.