Banned Questions About Jesus, the much awaited follow-up to Banned Questions About the Bible, is now available. It features several brief responses from a variety of experts who address questions that are often deemed taboo in Christian circles. Here’s an example of a contribution I made in response to the following question: “In John, Jesus says, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one gets to the Father but through me.’ Do people have to choose to follow Jesus to go to Heaven? And what does it mean to choose his way?”
A lot of people think this verse means that only those who accept Jesus into their heart as their personal Lord and Savior will go to heaven. But if you read the gospels closely you’ll see that Jesus never mentions this as a requirement for salvation. I tend to think that faith in Jesus should make us more inclusive of others rather than less. While people are quite good at building walls of exclusion, it’s the upside-down kingdom of God announced by Jesus that knocks them down time and again, precisely because Jesus’ way – in stark contrast to our own – is “the truth, and the life.” Accordingly, heaven can be viewed as that place and time (no matter which side of the grave you happen to be on) in which God’s love reigns supreme.
Furthermore, I don’t think that choosing Christ is a one-time affair, but rather a decision I make (or don’t make) every moment of my life. As Peter Rollins suggests, I choose Christ’s way “when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed,” yet I deny Christ every time I don’t. So you might say I’m aspiring to be a Christian, and in the best moments of my life, as few and as far between as they are, I hope to be one.