Is Jesus the only way to God? The only way to salvation? To heaven? I’ve been studying answers to these questions for over a decade now! Partially because these questions are endlessly fascinating to me.
As you might know by now, I was raised in a family of pastors, then I hit rock bottom when I was 23. I lost everything, and didn’t like who I’d become, or the results I was producing. So I rededicated my life to Christ. And I dedicated my life to learning wisdom. Because I needed it, really badly.
But almost immediately after I rededicated my life to Christ, I started to question what that meant. What does it mean to be saved? How does that math work exactly? The orthodox theology just didn’t make logical sense to me.
So God in His infinite wisdom created humans, knowing full well ahead of time that they would “sin”, but then still was so wrathful with our sin that He would send anyone to hell who committed said sin that he knew we’d commit? Seems like we were set up for failure.
But then He sent His son Jesus to die on a cross, as a blood sacrifice for our sins, and now we have a relationship with God? So before Jesus or without Jesus, it was impossible to have a relationship with God? How did Jesus’ sacrifice accomplish that exactly?
Sin apparently is this invisible cosmic force that separated us from God, and only the blood sacrifice of the perfect Son of God was able to destroy this cosmic barrier? How does that work? How do we know that is true, just because some flawed humans wrote it in the Bible?
So you’d think that since this cosmic force of sin is vanquished (“it is finished”), a couple other things would be true:
- It would be obvious that Christians are more loving, kinder, more compassionate, and wiser than their non-believing counterparts (since the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, etc, and that “God is love”). If Christians are the only ones that can experience God, wouldn’t they be more fruitful in love?
- It would be fairly easy to prove that the New Testament gospels and letters were the innerant, reliable Word of God
- It would be impossible for those who have never heard the name of Jesus to experience God (who could be defined in its simplest form as infinite love)
But the evidence is strong that none of these statements are true. I’ll explain.
Christians Are Not More Godly Than Non-Christians
If you’d ask Americans what they thought about Christians, what would you guess many of them would say? Probably that Christians are:
- And more
One study shows that Christians are more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty merely on lack of effort. Christians also used scripture to defend slavery and are usually the ones rejecting (and often traumatizing) the LGBTQ community. And The Crusades, anyone?
To be fair, there are also a LOT of amazing, kind, gracious, patient, humble Christians. I don’t want to reduce this into another form of bigotry, where most Christians are terrible humans. That’s not what I’m saying. But I am saying that it is common for Christians to behave much worse than non-Christians, and for non-Christians to be more loving than Christians.
Wouldn’t you think that if Christianity had the only way to God, Christian behavior might be significantly better? But it’s not. In fact, it’s often worse.
I’m really not trying to be overly critical here, but I do feel all of this is worth pointing out.
Interpreting the New Testament
Even though the Bible isn’t completely reliable in the first place, I still value a lot of what the Bible says. It points us to God (or higher consciousness), just not in a perfect way.
First I want to tackle the main scripture that orthodox Christians use to defend the argument that Jesus is the only way: John 14:6.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Let’s dissect that.
First, I would argue that John’s gospel is the most unreliable gospel.
- It was written around 95 AD, around 60 years after Jesus (which calls to question the reliability of this “eyewitness” testimony, and whether Jesus even said that He is the only way in the first place). If an “eyewitness” testimony came out 60+ years after a major recent event (let’s say the 9/11 attacks), most people would call the accuracy of the testimony into question.
- John may not have even been written by John. Most scholars agree that all gospels were written anonymously.
- The end of the gospel itself seems to confirm that it may not have been written by John: “This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.” Since the writer doesn’t say “my testimony is true”, it seems pretty clear that this gospel was based on the testimony of John, and wasn’t written by John directly. It is possible that John was merely writing in the 3rd person, but it is also possible that it wasn’t written by John at all.
All of this calls into question whether Jesus actually said that he is the only way to the Father.
Even if those were his exact words, how we interpret that verse still needs critical thinking. Why do we assume that the only possible interpretation of that verse is that we must confess Jesus as the Son of God, or we’re going to hell? That is only one possibility.
Yes, that theological possibility is confirmed by other verses (Romans 10:9, etc), but these other sections of scripture were still written by humans, which means that it is still possible or likely that they misinterpreted what Jesus said. It wouldn’t be the first time that the disciples misunderstood something Jesus said, right?
His disciples were also still biased to believe the righteousness was only possible through living sacrifice. Animal sacrifice was the Jewish way, and they thought that Jesus was the “new and better sacrifice”, making animal sacrifice unnecessary. This was all revolutionary at the time. But again, they were biased to believe that a living sacrifice was still necessary for atonement.
Even if Jesus did say He is the only way, there isn’t only one way to interpret this verse. He starts out saying “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Could he not have been saying that the only way to God is by his Way? And what was his way? One of union with God, love for others, and a life lived with peace, joy, kindness, and goodness (again the fruits of the spirit). That seems to be a more reasonable interpretation.
So, What is the Way of Jesus?
I would say His Way was one of love, joy, peace, kindness, wisdom, and silent contemplation of God (“He often withdrew to the mountains to pray”, “God is love”, “the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace…”, “I and the Father are one”, “the Kingdom of Heaven is among you”, etc ). His Way was one of pursuing oneness with God and the Infinite (more on that later).
His Way included more people in the Kingdom of God than the religious thought was acceptable. Ever-expanding grace and love is God’s pattern. It’s all throughout the Old and New Testament.
- The Good Samaritan (it wasn’t the religious who were accepted by Jesus)
- The Canaanite Woman (accepted by Jesus, though her “kind” was hated by the Jews)
- The first shall be last (people we least expect will reach the Kingdom of God)
- Salvation for the Greeks, as well as the Jews (a radical concept at the time)
Isn’t it possible that God’s infinite grace is STILL expanding beyond what religious Christians think is acceptable?
Did Jesus Believe He Was the Only Way to God?
Another dimension to this verse: Even if Jesus did say he’s the only way, and actually meant that we needed to believe He’s the Son of God to be saved, we still don’t know with 100% certainty that He was right.
In this argument, Jesus really believed he was the only Son of God. But that doesn’t mean He actually was. We presume he was because he performed miracles, was born of a virgin, was resurrected from the dead, and we experience the infinite love of Jesus and God. Which are all valid reasons for belief.
But miracles (particularly healing miracles) are possible even outside of Christianity (through Reiki, qigong, and more). For sources, check out research by Heartmath Institute, Dr. Joe Dispenza (his research is actually pretty sound scientifically), and especially Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis, by Dr. James L. Oschman.
In fact, one study showed that 57% of trials testing the effectiveness of reiki, qigong, prayer, and yes, Christian prayer, produced a positive healing result. Reiki is often used in hospitals nowadays, because it has been shown to be effective in producing healing in patients. You would think that if Christianity was the only way, no one outside of Christianity would be able to heal others.
One might say that even scripture says that people can heal others, but still not be of God. But Christians also argue that Jesus was the Son of God because of the miracles he performed. But if scripture is to be taken literally, and everyone can perform miracles, then Jesus’ miracles aren’t a valid argument for his absolute divinity.
Jesus’ Virgin Birth & Resurrection
There are also arguments that cast doubt on whether Jesus was born of a virgin, and was resurrected, which I won’t go into here.
But I actually believe that the virgin birth and Jesus’ resurrection did actually happen (or at least could’ve happened). That is because I look at those events through the lens of consciousness, energy, and quantum mechanics.
We now know through the quantum observer effect, heart coherence, and even the Law of Attraction (which is the same principle as God’s providence in Christianity), that consciousness has a direct, measurable impact on the physical universe.
- The quantum observer effect shows us that conscious intention affects whether an electron is a particle or wave (whether we look at a particle or not affects what form it takes).
- Heartmath’s research on heart coherence, and the Maharishi Effect, shows us that the body emits an electromagnetic signature that communicates our intentions to others, can heal others, and has a measurably positive effect on outcomes in the world (such as more love between humans, and measurably less crime). In other words, prayer actually does work. But there is a science to it, and its principles are built into the fabric of our physical world.
- We know through concepts like God’s providence in Christianity (“all things work together for good for those who believe”), and the Law of Attraction, that our intentions have a direct effect on our results in life. Dr. Joe Dispenza posits that this is because of an intelligent quantum field, but I have found little evidence for this (but makes sense as a theory).
Coupled with the reality of evolution (that the universe, under the right conditions, tends toward higher forms of consciousness), and Dr. Andrew Newberg’s research on neurotheology, we can confidently argue that our spiritual experiences of God, are actually just us accessing our highest available consciousness, which is made available to us by the energy and structure of the universe.
In other words, universal energy created our consciousness, so when we experience God, we are experiencing our own higher consciousness.
I believe that this universal energy is what we call God, and we are merely antennas of that universal consciousness:
“God is energy.”Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Teacher
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”Nikola Tesla
For this reason, I believe that Jesus could have been born of a virgin, and likely resurrected (partially because I actually believe the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ resurrection!).
But the main reasons are because of the scientific evidence above. If we can produce miracles merely through focused, loving intention, it is possible that Jesus was born of a virgin. That’s because theoretically, it’s possible that Jesus was the direct result of the focused, feverish intentions and expectations of the Jews. They expected a Messiah. They believed and prayed He would come. His arrival was prophesied. And in the turmoil and conflict of Roman oppression, the Jews were desperate for their Messiah. And their faith made it happen, through quantum mechanics and electromagnetic signalling (via the scientific phenomenon of God’s providence and Law of Attraction).
Of course, the virgin birth could be made up (presumably none of the gospel writers were there to experience it). Maybe the gospel writers interviewed Mary and she told them what happened. We don’t really know how they got their information about Jesus’ birth.
But if the virgin birth did happen, there is a good amount of science to back that up. Not to trivialize the significance of that statement, but this would very much be like how the Force created Anakin Skywalker without the need of a father! (which makes the nerd within me very happy)
And based on all the evidence I’ve presented via evolution, neurotheology, and psychology, we know that Jesus was a very powerful force of consciousness. He was unstoppable. Limitless (if the scriptures are true). So it would not surprise me that he was extremely hard to kill! Which makes his resurrection not too far-fetched, either. Spontaneous resurrections are not unheard of in modern science.
So, How Do We View Jesus (Based On the Science)?
Based on the evidence I’ve presented, I believe that God (or infinite consciousness, or infinite love) is everywhere, all the time, always bursting forth in bigger ways. Jesus was the highest reflection of God energy (or universal consciousness) that was known in ancient times (and maybe still the highest reflection of universal energy humanity has known to this day).
I think that Jesus was a completely human man who wrestled with His divinity. But He also was very divisive and direct about His Messiahship (Matthew 10). He was a seeker, and learned a lot of amazing spiritual things. He was able to do miracles. Based on research by Edward T. Martin, it is possible that Jesus not only had an innately high level of consciousness, but he also trained in India and Nepal during his “missing years” between 12 and 30 (which the gospels do not account for).
I think all of this, combined with the fervent expectation by the Jews of a coming Messiah, Jesus must’ve concluded that He must be this Messiah. He was exactly what the Jews needed at that particular moment in history. He even said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”.
And based on what I’ve presented about energy medicine, we know that we can learn from Jesus how to access the divine presence and abilities within us all – but he is not the only way.
Bottom line: I owe Jesus my life. Believing in Him saved me from myself, and pointed me back to a relationship with the Divine. But based on evidence and science, it seems that popular Christian views about Jesus, God, and the Bible, are incorrect. Jesus pointed us to God in a really powerful way, and he was actually what the Jews needed at the moment in history. But more importantly, He taught us to love God, love others, and that God is infinite love.
Non-Believers Are Able to Experience God
There are multiple pieces of modern evidence which show that Jesus is not the only way to God:
- The science of spirituality (neurotheology, etc) shows that all religions are capable of experiencing an infinite, transcendent state that breaks down our normal sense of self, space, and time
- A study of mystical religion and meditation (or talking to spiritual practitioners outside of Christianity) will show that they all describe their spiritual experiences the same way: Transcendent presence, boundless awareness, infinite love, and oneness with the universe
The basic argument here is:
- If God is infinite love
- And others outside of Christianity are able to experience infinite love directly through their unique spiritual practice (describing a mysterious, infinite, loving presence)
- Then direct experience of God is available to everyone
It’s really that simple.
The problem is that many Christians don’t have a direct experience with God. They have book knowledge of who God is, and do all the required religious tasks (going to group, reading their Bible, not cussing or drinking, etc), but don’t experience the infinite presence of God. If they did, they would be able to see the striking similarities between their experience, and the experiences of non-Christian spiritual people.
“A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about him.”J.I. Packer
And there are a TON of Christians who do actually experience the infinite love of God. But we were taught that only Christians can experience that infinite love. Even those Christians who do experience the infinite presence of God, don’t feel the need to study other spiritual practices, or talk to spiritual people outside of the faith. If they did, they would be much more likely to find a pattern of the Infinite between all religions. God is, and has been, making Himself known outside of Christianity for a long, long time.
So, if you are a Christian who has experienced the infinite presence of God (through contemplative prayer or otherwise), I would encourage you to read 2 books: The Mystic Heart by Wayne Teasdale, and Neurotheology by Andrew Newberg.
You just might see that the Christian way is not the only way to God, but the Way of Jesus is.
“Not all who know Christ, know Him by name”Unknown