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Q & R: John 14:6 and more ...

In the Q & R times on the book tour, in about 14 out of 18 cities someone asked about John 14:6. I've written about this at some length in Secret Message of Jesus and A New Kind of Christianity ... and also addressed it in the new book.

In short, I tell people that John 14:6 has nothing to do with the uses to which it is normally put (asserting exclusivity of the Christian religion). John 14:5 does not say, "Thomas asked, 'Lord, what about people of other religions, or people who have never heard of you?'" To pretend it does is to ignore the larger context (which I explore in some detail in A New Kind of Christianity).

As I explain in the book, we have been taught to quote and misapply that verse because our teachers had imperial-colonial interests (consciously or not), and that verse served those interests (just as Colossians 3:22 served the interests of slaveowners and racists, and Colossians 3:18 served the interests of chauvinists, etc).

That's why I believe it's time for us now to teach people other verses to quote when questions of the claims of Christ and Christian identity in a multi-faith world come up. Imagine, for example, if we quoted 1 John 4:7-8 whenever the question came up. Or even John 14:9 - followed by the question, How many people did Jesus torture, imprison, burn, or kill? (Truth be told, though, I'm not a fan of "versification" - proof-texting with verses, which too often involves taking them out of their full context).

At any rate, here's a good question that came in related to John 14:6:

I attended your book tour stop here in Dallas and was the person who asked the question about John 14:6. Ironically enough, now just the day after your presentation I have run into a Christian Pastor who quoted another hostile verse, (Matthew 10:34-36). He used this verse to not only justify pitting different religions against each other but also different denominations of the Christian Faith against each other, who don't believe the way he says they should. Any further advice, other than just pointing out verses such as 1 John 4:7-8?
I think the best interpretation of Matthew 10:34-36 is Luke 4:14-30, especially 25-27. If you dare to voice God's concern for "the other," then "us" - members of your own family and town and people and religion may well become your critics and enemies. I talk about this in some detail in my new book, Chapter 6.