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Questions and Responses

            7. In light of this understanding of salvation, how might we Christians understand John
            14:5 - 6?

                (Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the
            way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father,
            but by me.")

                For us who are Christians, Jesus is the only way into covenant with God the Father. In
            him, we have found the saving knowledge--the Truth--that brings us Life. He is our Way, and
            our only Way. Without Jesus as our Way into covenant with the Father, we would not know
            the true God, and our life would be vulnerable to the service and worship of false gods.

                The Jewish people believe, as Franz Rosenzweig, one of their great
            philosopher-theologians has said, that they are already with the Father. They have come into
            relationship with the Father by the gracious promises God offered to Israel in the covenants
            made with Abraham and Moses. Jews believe that these covenants are still being honored by
            God, and that through them God has provided Jews with a sure way into Truth and Life.

                For Christians who wonder why verse 6 of John 14 is so exclusive, it is good to remember
            that during the time when John's Gospel was reaching its present, final form, both the church
            and the synagogue were young and vulnerable institutions. Each was seeking to clarify its own
            identity and its special way of relating to God; and each, in this formative period, was
            increasingly at odds with the other. Verse 6 of John 14 shows John's community claiming its
            understanding of the distinctive way--through Jesus Christ--that had been provided for it to be
            in covenant with God.

                In this same period, the Temple had been destroyed by the Roman army. The Jewish
            people, therefore, could no longer express their covenant loyalty to God through Temple
            sacrifices. Instead, like the nascent church, Judaism underwent a radical development of its
            special way of relating to God. The ethical reflections of the rabbis on Hebrew Scripture began
            to be recorded (see section 3 above), leading eventually to the formation of the Talmud and to
            the transformed way of being Jewish which today is called rabbinic Judaism

                Finally, the fledgling church and nascent rabbinic Judaism found themselves competing with
            one another for converts from Greco-Roman pagan religions. Whenever such competition
            occurs between young, rival groups, exclusive claims that denigrate the value, and even the
            validity of the rival are likely to slip into argumentation. For John's community to have
            denigrated the emerging rabbinic way of being Jewish is hardly surprising, then, when one
            considers the context of identity-crisis, dispute, and rivalry within which John's Gospel was

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