- Out Beyond Ideas… (Rumi)
- All My Love Towards You Alone (Tagore)
- Like Two Birds (Upanishads)
- Arriving Here & Now (Thich Naht Hahn)
- The Power of the Hidden Name (Nachmanides)
- Gnostic Accents (Selected Texts)
Two of the primary and explicit aims of Getting to Know Jesus in the 21st Century are
- To distinguish between the Reality which IS the living Christ and the mere concepts that people are asked to accept or believe in (e.g. beliefs about the historical Jesus or the Bible).
- To distinguish between the written word and the living Word (so as to realize that it is the function of the former to point us to the latter).
In short, we need to distinguish between “the map” and “the territory” (Alfred Korzybski) and we need to stop mistaking “the finger” for “the moon” (a Buddhist metaphor).
A third (somewhat implicit) aim of Getting to Know Jesus in the 21st Century is to articulate a more universal and inclusive vision of Christian faith. In this Interfaith Accents section of the Yeshua21 Blog, that aim will be more explicitly addressed.
Traditionally, most Christians have been taught that (in the wake of Adam’s sin) the light of nature is enough to justify the condemnation of those outside of Christendom, but that those same peoples would need to hear and believe an explicitly Christian gospel to be saved. But think about it… Is it really possible that a just and loving God would provide all peoples with enough light to condemn them, but deny many of them– possibly most of them –enough light to be saved!? To say that this seems unlikely is an understatement. Just think of all those, past and present, who have never been exposed to the New Testament gospel, but who have been truly devoted to God according to the light that has been given to them… Is not God able to bring whosoever will to a saving knowledge of his truth!? If not, why not? Is the Word of God not universal–is He not the light that lights everyone who comes into the world!?
In one of the Additional Articles published here, a persuasive argument has already been made for the universality of the truth of Christ in a way that is inclusive of other faiths–not exclusive. That argument (which first appeared in The Beginning Is Near) has now been published as a stand-alone article in this section (see The Universality of Christ). In this article, it is clearly shown how the truth of Christ can at once be both universal and inclusive (i.e. whosoever will may come, whatever their faith and circumstances), but also how it is nevertheless correct to say that there is only One Way (i.e there is a sense, indeed, in which no one comes to the Father but through Jesus–i.e. through the Divine presence which IS the living Christ).
In light of these insights, we are now in a position to consider some elements of non-Christian traditions with a more open mind — elements that seem to contain or point toward that which has been revealed to us in the Old and New Testament scriptures of the Christian tradition.
Obviously there are significant differences between religions and we have no need of non-Christian literature in order to know Christ. But given our natural uneasiness with the idea that the majority of human beings may die and go to hell having (allegedly) “never heard of Christ”, it should ultimately strengthen our faith to learn that they have not been left without any revelation of the truth and that, in fact, their scriptures and their traditions also point, more or less adequately, to the same truth that we find revealed in Christ.
As such, material from various religious traditions will be added to this section from time to time. These materials will provide evidence for the claim that there is no people and no culture without the light of truth–both the light shining on the inside (i.e. the Divine “I Am” presence which IS the living Christ) AND the light provided by various scriptures and other traditional teachings that point seekers (more or less effectively) to the inner light (which is the Way, the Truth, and the Life). One can acknowledge this without imagining that all religions are the same or of equal validity OR that Christians must abandoned their missionary activities in foreign lands.
Without a doubt, the advent of Christ in Jesus of Nazareth (as proclaimed in the New Testament teachings and as revealed in some aspects of the uniquely Christian culture that grew out of them) is a clear and world-historic revelation which will continue to offer a unique contribution to the symphony of wisdom traditions that have come down to us from antiquity. Nevertheless, most Christians who truly expose themselves to the teachings of other cultures and other traditions find that they are also truly enriched by them; they find that far from being without God and without hope (as is sometimes said), non-Christian peoples, too, have access to the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and that their cultures, too, offer unique contributions to the symphony of traditions–traditions that, thanks to the Internet, we can all begin to enjoy (at least to some extent–if and insofar as we are inclined to).
So, as indicated above, additional examples of scriptures and teachings from other religious traditions which dovetail with our Christian tradition will be shared here from time to time. Readers are encouraged to submit their ideas for possible inclusion (and/or to share them in the comments section). The following submenus may eventually be added:
Buddhism & Taoism
- The Gospel of Thomas (selections)
- The Gospel of Truth (selections)
- The Hymn of the Pearl (selections)