Beware Deceptive Doubletalk
Jews for Jesus deplores a dangerous concept being introduced in some mission circles. It embodies the twisted logic that one can relate to God without relating to him as Father, and Jesus is entirely out of the picture. Such deceptive doubletalk appears in the following excerpt from The Riddle of Religions” by Dr. Colin Chapman (Christianity Today, May 14,1990):
ln Acts 4:12, Peter’swords sound quite exclusive: ‘There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Many attempts have been made to evade the plain meaning of these words.…But a closer study of the words sozo and soteria in the Gospels and Acts against the background of Old Testament texts like Isaiah 45:22 suggests that there is no way of wriggling out of the straightforward interpretation of Peter’s claim. Salvation is to be found in Christ alone. That is a direct and uncompromising statement of the source of all people’s hope.
But [emphasis ours] we also need to consider Jesus’ words, “No one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). I used to think that means that a person who does not believe in Jesus has no knowledge of God.…But my experience of meeting people of other faiths who seem to have a relationship with a personal God (even if it is not a saving relationship) has forced me to look again at the text.
A more exact understanding of the verse shows that Jesus is talking precisely about relating to God as Father, and by implication, he points to himself as the Son. When he says, “I am the way,” he therefore is stressing “I am the way to the Father,” because he goes on to explain, ‘no one comes to the Father but by me [that is, by me, the Son].” We can fill out the other statements of the passage similarly.
The words of Jesus do not therefore mean that people of other faiths can have no relationship with God at all. They mean, rather, that people of other faiths cannot know God as Father and enjoy that kind of intimate relationship with him unless they come through Jesus the Son. This interpretation seems to make sense not only of the text, but also of many people’s experience with people of other faiths. Some devout Muslims I know would never dare to call God Father, but the quality of their lives hardly suggests that they have no relationship with him.