Yesterday King Charles became defender of the faith. Today’s reading asks us important questions about how we might do that. What does it mean and how do we defend the truth of the bible?
For some these passages we are reading today are seen as akin to theological colonialism, passages that belong to a less enlightened view of the world. One that we have progressed from. The very idea that in a post-modern world there is a truth, a single truth, is anathema. Every truth is up for debate, even science is debated with, and every fact is countered on social media. Post modernism is seen as the new enlightenment.
However , this truth, that Jesus talks about today isn’t a group of truths, he doesn’t say a truth he says the truth.
He didn’t make a mistake when he said that.
To back that assertion up, I will state the case clearly as I can. Everything in the bible points to Jesus, from in the beginning was the word, through all the Old Testament, through to all the gospels that tell his story, through to acts and the letters, which explain more about how the world changed as a result. Jesus never says he is the son of a god, but the god.
So all of us who stand in up the front here on a Sunday, were taught systematic theology. The way that works is if you hold a certain belief about the bible, the next phase is to check what that does to the rest of your theology and what dissonance that causes. What in the bible either reaffirms or contradicts this view that I have. What else do I have to revise or revisit, what else in scripture reinforces my view or makes that perspective more difficult. Not just direct scripture, but the narrative of the story and other stories that may have nothing to do with this one apart from perhaps the underlying narrative of the story.
The bible overlaps, interlocks, repeats itself, characters pop up, they appear in sequence, they repeat things, say things that mean the same, things that happen are explained later etc so when we remove one part or change the meaning of one part , then we have to look to see if that works everywhere.
Think of is like a jenga board.
So let’s work on three things, Jesus is god, Jesus is alive, Jesus is the only path we have been given, the only mediator between us and God.
So let us be plain, Jesus was both fully God and Fully human, he was not a teacher on a par with Bhudda or Confucius, he repeatedly alludes to that fact.
As it says in Romans Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. There’s no a lord, in among other lords implied here as well.
So Jesus knew he was God, and human, he ratified that by what he did on the cross, he ratified that by the hundreds of prophecies his deeds fulfilled.
What do we have to say really didn’t apply to Jesus because if we disagree with that, then all the prophecies aren’t really about him, they were never fulfilled, they were a coincidence and Elijah and Isaiah really get battered.
So if he isn’t God we have to pull out vast tracts of the old testament, which then ruin the narrative of that?
if we accept that idea what does that do to our world view. At the very least it means we have to take the things he said and did seriously and the words of his book seriously, because we just accepted these are the words of God.
So we can say that the new testament confirms jesus is god. There are various passages where is shows that Jesus is alive past his death, there are many, but one of the clearest is Stephen when he saw him just before he was stoned to death. He explained what he saw…
So if Jesus isn’t God and he isn’t alive, Stephen has to go
Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Then we have to answer post modernism.
I don’t think anyone here has a problem with that,
Then we come to the single truth bit
we have todays , where he states he is god, and the single path
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.[d] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
So that’s one tract that says it, but if we disagree with that where else do we have to take the eraser too?
There are numerous places where our god is stated as a sole mediator
1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Peter and John as they stood in front of the Sanhedrin in fear of their lives, where it would have been much easier to cave into well, he wasn’t really the messiah, and not a messiah.
what do you have to do with this scripture when they said ? in acts 4:12
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
And Paul speaking to Corinth when he said.
1 Corinthians 8:6 ESV / 76 helpful votes Helpful Not Helpful
Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
Or Jesus when he calls himself a singular door…
John 10:9 ESV / 223 helpful votes Helpful Not Helpful
- I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
So Everything leads to Jesus, and Jesus and the rest of scripture see’s him as a sole path to redemption. If you have jesus as a river among many rivers to the ocean, then as with all systematic theology, you have then to see what else has to go out the bath with the baby?
We if we aren’t happy with John 14:6 acts and Corinthians we have to deal with Jesus I am statements (not we are)
I am the bread of life. 6:35, 48, 51.
- I am the door of the sheep. 10:7, 9..
- I am the resurrection and the life. 11:25.
- I am the way, the truth, and the life. 14:6.
- I am the true vine
In fact there are at least a 100 verses that say Jesus us god and the sole path to salvation
There are at least a 100 pieces have to come out of your Jenga stack and it still has to stand.
So by deduction and pulling the jenga pieces away we then have to see what we are left with
A clearly mistaken God and Paul, and peter.
There are many places in the bible where he is stated as a sole mediator, path, door, gate, vine, means to the resurrection and the life
To look for the reverse, in no way is he referred in any sense in the plural, in role, in purpose, in how we should view him.
In our culture that is uncomfortable.
Lets do one very important thing to this view, it is not unmerciful, its not judgmental, its not unkind,
its not saying everyone who doesn’t go this path is damned.
Jesus showed love to everyone, the woman at the well, people of other religions were held up as examples in the good Samaritan.
the centurion, the thief on the cross all ascended into heaven.
There is a difference
But us, us Christians we know differently so we have a different standard
Luke 23 answers us these questions
47 That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. 48 But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
we get away with that much less lightly because we know, we know who he is.
Lastly I will let an Islamic scholar answer my final position, when asked by an audience member what do we do about the unbelievers?
His answer and mine is that its not mine to judge?
because as the bishop said if I get to heaven three things will surprise me
1/ I am there
2/ The people I expected to be that aren’t
3/ The people I never expected to see that I have.
lastly Charles didn’t do defender of the faiths , Charles is odefender of the faith and supreme governor of the Church of England.
That is right , its every Christians job to defend our faith, but we must also remember
This isn’t the same as not defending the rights of all faiths, their disciples have the same rights that our lord gave all of us to be loved by him, to flourish without harm.
Our lord defended the rights of all faiths and so must we,
Justin welby is going prefaced this vow with
making clear that “the church will seek to foster an environment in which people of all faiths and beliefs may live freely”.
That’s the goal, for us, to liberate as many people from financial and spiritual poverty as possible, and let the lord do the rest.
Because , as Father Joe said, when I get to face our lords judgment, all I want him is to look at me and say “nice try”.