Thursday, May 31, 2007

Christ is Everything: The "Door" that No One Can Close

Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. This is often understood very exclusively.
The message of “Christ is all” reconciling Jews, and Gentiles, and all things, into the one body of Christ back to the Father transforms the seemingly “exclusive” words, “I am the way”, into an absolutely inclusive and liberating message. [Colossians 3:11]. Through this One Body, through the Christ who is all, we all [Jews, Gentiles and all things] have access to the Father by one Spirit. [Ephesians 2:14,18].
“I am the way” is no longer seen as a narrow door excluding entrance to the Father now that we have the Pauline revelation that “Christ is all, and in all”. If Christ is everything, then everything is the Door. [John 10:9] Everything leads to God. Truth and Life are in everything. All things work together for the good bringing us to God.
Since there are no exceptions, this is absolutely inclusive.
Christ is all in all. All things are united in this one body, bringing us to God.
Yes, this Christ is revealed as the only way to God.
However, everything is included in Christ, who returns to the Father.
All is reconciled in this one body, bringing all back to God in Christ?
Given this revelation of the “Christ as all”, as the body who is filled with all things, who fills all things, and who is all things,… Given this revelation of Christ who is the only way,… now everything and anything is the path to God.
This is the one body [Ephesians 4:6].
Christ is all, and in all, and God is all in all, that we may be all… one.
Magnifying the Christ,
URfriend,
Dean Johnson


To see the whole discussion

11 comments:

Mike Messerli said...

Dean,

As a Quaker pastor, I understand the inner light, but you have really missed it on this passage. Jesus did intend to communicate that this is a narrow way- Christ is the only way- i.e. faith in Christ alone. Your attempt to make salvation universal is not what Jesus said, nor what Paul taught. I encourage you to study this further, and not come to it subjectively.

URfriend, Dean Johnson said...

Mike,

I am glad to hear from a Friend.

You say, “Jesus did intend to communicate that this is a narrow way”. I can agree with you to a point. I agree with you “Christ is the only way.” As I said, “this Christ is revealed as the only way to God. That was the main point of my post.

The other point was that Christ brings everyone and everything back to the Father. There is a restoration of all things. “Everything is included in Christ, who returns to the Father.” [Ephesians 1:10, 2:14,18, 4:6, John 14:2].

How narrow the way is depends on how big the Christ is. How big is the door?

“I am the way” to the Father, is explained by Jesus with the words, “in my Fathers house are many mansions” that I am preparing. [John 14:2]. This temple that we are brought into “is the way” we are brought to the Father.

Paul refers to this house that is being built as the “household of God”, and explains that it is the body of Christ that grows and matures. [Ephesians 2:19, 1:23]. Through this body and in this temple we have access to the Father, and are brought to the Father.

When Paul speaks of the one body that we all have access to the Father through, he is speaking of the “Cosmic” Christ, the Christ who is all, not just the man who walked in Galilee. Christ is so much more. [Colossians 3:11, 1 Corinthians 15:28]

Paul explains, the Jewish and Gentile peoples are all united together into this one body, this house with many mansions. [Ephesians 2:14, 18]. In this passage it is explained that together we all have access to God in/by/through/within this One Body. [Ephesians 1:10, 4:6]. The middle wall of partition is removed. God and all humankind are gathered together into this one body… the body of Christ… the new creation, the new man, the Christ.

And so Christ is the way God restores humankind [Jews and Gentiles] to the Father. When Christ died, humankind died with him. When Christ rose, we all rose to newness of life. In Adam all die, even so in Christ all are made alive. [1 Corinthians 15:22]. When Christ ascended, we all ascended with him, in this one body. And so Christ is the way to the Father.

The point of the posting was to explain that given the explanation of Paul, no one is left behind, and nothing is left out. All is restored. There is a restoration of all things to the Father [Acts 3:21]

Indeed, all things are gathered together into this one body. The scope is more than just humanity. It is declared that Christ fills all things, and all things are in Christ. [Ephesians 4:10, 1:10]. Nothing is left out. Christ is all and in all [Colossians 1:16-20, 3:11]. All things are made new, translated into the kingdom of God’s dear son… into the body of Christ …members one of another.

Some may say, show us the Father. However, no man can see this kingdom of God unless they are born again. Therefore, God makes all things new, and the blinders are being removed. He who has seen the Christ has seen the Father, and henceforth they know Him. [John 14:7, 9]. Some may still seem alienated in their minds. [Ephesians 4:18] However, alienation does not change what God has accomplished or revealed in/by/through Christ. He fills all things, and makes all things new. The Christ reveals the Father. All creation declares the glory of God. Now and not yet, in the sense that some still do not see.

You state that “Christ is the only way- i.e. faith in Christ alone.” I appreciate your perspective, for our faith does have a role to play, but depending on how you emphasize “faith in Christ”, it may place too much importance on us, and our faith, rather than on the Savior’s. This can lead to exclusivity, because it excludes those who do not have faith in Christ. Jesus is the Saviour of all humankind, even of those who do not yet believe, [1 Timothy 4:10]. So salvation is understood more inclusively when relying on the work and revelation of Christ, rather than focusing upon our response of faith.

For me, salvation is though Christ and his faith. The life I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God. [Galatians 2:20]

By grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. It is of Christ, the gift of God, and his faith, … it is not of ourselves. It is through the faith of the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us. In this way, all are included, and no one is left out through a lack of faith on their part.

While we were yet sinners without faith Christ died for us, and rose, and ascended that he might fill all things, and bring us to God. Yes, Christ is the only way back to the Father. But really, what does this mean when it is revealed that Christ is everything?

All blessing to you,
URfriend,
Dean Johnson

Mike Messerli said...

Dean, I think the area I would really want to sit down and talk about is this statement- "Christ is everything". Christ is God in flesh who came to reveal the Father to us...to say that Christ is everything is really more pantheistic than Christian... I am not clear about what you mean by this, sorry, but I'm not tracking with you on this...would you explain further?

URfriend, Dean Johnson said...

Mike,

God is all, and God is IN all. (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Pan-EN-theism is the theological system sometimes used to explain the biblical idea that “God is all in all."

This differs from the Pantheism that you mention. Pantheism maintains that God and the world are identical. Pantheism declares that “All is God.” In contrast, Pan-EN-theism does not declare that we are God, but rather that we are all included in God.

You suggest that “to say that ‘Christ is everything’ is really more pantheistic than Christian”. I would suggest that such phrasing is not pantheist, but rather panentheist, and is based on the biblical passage “Christ is all” (Colossians 3:11).

Three succinct biblical quotes summarize the underlying perspective of my post.
Christ is all, and in all, (Colossians 3:11).
That God may be All in All, (1 Corinthians 15:28).
He that is joined unto the Lord is One Spirit, (1 Corinthians 6:17).
Together these verses say to me that the Christ is all, and that God is all, and that We are all… One.

Many Christians have incorporated such panENtheism into their worldview.

It effectively provides a framework for understanding the "all in all" and Oneness passages by combining the strengths of theism and pantheism into one theology.

On the scale that slides between transcendence and immanence there are varieties and shades of panentheism. For some Creation is not "part of" God, and the Godhead is still distinct from creation. For others there is a joining together, a consummation of creation with the Godhead. In my viewpoint, the scriptures portray the growth of the church as paralleling an increase of understanding, moving from transcendence and separation, toward immanence and oneness, as we move from the fall toward the consummation.

Both the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches espouse a more transcendent variety of Panentheism, in which God is "within" all creation, but ontologically or essentially separate from it. Thus the Orthodox parsing of the word is "pan-entheism" (God – in - all).

This is distinguished from "panen-theism" (All – in - God). In this variety, if God were the ocean then we are the fish, or even the waves of the sea. In this view, all things are part of God, but God is still more than the sum of all things. This is closer to the thought of my posting. The biblical analogy is of the body of Christ. We are all members one of another within this universal and cosmic body. And so we partake of the divine nature. Christ is all, and in all, that God may be all, and in all. He that is joined to the Lord is ONE spirit. He is the vine and we are the branches. One tree. As God is, Jesus said, I am. And so also are we. You are complete in Christ, that in you might dwell all the fullness of God.

These metaphors of scripture are worth grappling with, even struggling through. They communicate what is not easily said within logical language.

There is one universal body, and we are members one of another. I am a part of you, and you are a part of me. We are one living organism, even if logically, the hand is not the foot and the heart is not the head. We are one, and members one of another. Seeing Christ as all in all revolutionizes how we see God, ourselves and our place in the universe.

Hid with Christ in God we can’t be blamed if we lose sight of our own identity, absorbed into this mystic and cosmic oneness. It is no longer I who live but Christ, who lives in me. We lose our life for the sake of the gospel, and are translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, into the kingdom of light, which He is and we are. Then we grow up into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. If we corporately grow up into him, then who are we?

He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17). There is one body. (Ephesians 4:6) There is a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:44).
The body of humiliation has been changed. We are made like unto his glorious body. (Philippians 3:21). There is a New Man, Corporate, Resurrected, Ascended, and Complete whom we are. This body is raised up into heavenly places far above all principality and power. This is the Christ.

We are told to put on this new man. (Ephesians 4:24). And those who have been baptized into Christ “have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27-28) Where there is no difference between us, neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female. We are all one in the Christ. “The first man is of the earth: The second man is the Lord from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:47) Behold I show you a mystery. This mortal must put on immortality.

There is a new creation, a new man. In this perfect man all things are made new. We are complete in him, and so Christ in us is the hope of glory.

Enlightenment is seeing from God's perspective.

Panentheism is one picture of the relationship between God and the universe.
The whole created order is contained within God, and yet this does not exhaust the divine being. God is the universe, but is also greater than the universe. From God's point of view, from the divine perspective, even the consummation is complete, and God is all in all.

The alienation and separation people experience in a darkened mind are just temporal lies, deceptions, and misperceptions, (Ephesians 4:18).

Why would I espouse such a strongly imminent panENtheist position? This is a revelation found within scripture, that I believe people are ready to hear. I see peoples’ understanding and worldview growing, and developing toward an ever more immanent view of God as “all in all”. With the mind of the Christ we can see beyond a limited individual human viewpoint, with the experience of alienation and separation, to the divine perspective revealed at the consummation, to Eternity where "God is all". As the body of Christ grows, and moves toward the consummation, both in time and within our understanding, we will better comprehend our eternal relationship with God.

I wrote another post to explain the reason for this advocacy:

The Resurrection of All in All

The Raising Up of the Spiritual Body of Christ To See From The Eternal Vantage Point.

Check it out if you like.
http://www.angelfire.com/dc/universalism/Resurrection.html

Sitting down and sharing a coffee sounds like a great idea.
Till then, we are together in Spirit,

URfriend,
Dean Johnson

PS I was also thinking about the "I am the way" passage. Jesus is telling Peter that he will deny Christ three times. No doubt this is very troubling to Peter, but Jesus assures him not to worry: "let not your heart be troubled... in my Father's house are many mansions.... I am the way". Access to the Father is provided by the Christ. Even if we deny him, and even "If we believe not, [yet] he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself." (2 Timothy 2:13)

URfriend, Dean Johnson said...

There are not two bodies. There is one body. The old has passed away. He makes all things new. Christ is all in all. (Ephesians 4:6, Colossians 3:11, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

URfriend,
Dean Johnson

Mike Messerli said...

Dean,

this will sound sarcastic, sorry for that, but did I mention that I am a Quaker pastor?

I know and understand all that you shared, I really don't need a theology lesson, I was simply trying to understand what you were trying to say.

You say you are a universalist, you hint at inclusion theology and your post really does smack of pantheism, you also took a verse out of context to explain what you were trying to say (subjective bible study methods)....so I'm just trying to understand where you are coming from, and what you are trying to say....that's all. No agenda, just curious....

Sorry for the blunt note, but I really am interested in your view, my questions were just to try to understand it better.

Mike Messerli said...

Dean,

I found your site- http://www.angelfire.com/dc/universalism/home.html

thanks...I get it. That helped to know where you are coming from.

Ignore my earlier post.

URfriend, Dean Johnson said...

Mike,

It is a pleasure getting to know you.

Let not your heart be troubled. Sometimes our written responses sound less seasoned with grace than we intend, especially when we cannot hear the soft answer of an honest tone of voice. I am sure we have much in common.

I wrote about the difference between All is God” and “God is all” not primarily for your sake, but mainly for the sake of all those who might be reading. Personally, I too would much rather meditate on Christ and the gospel than talk theology.

One thought, I hoped to convey is that we can respect the work of God within each other’s journey. On the scale that slides between transcendence and immanence each of us has our own understanding depending on our own experience and insight. In my mind, that is acceptable.

The role of the ministry (including pastors) helps to bring us further along on our journey toward an intimate knowledge of the Son of God. There are two primary messages about Christ the ministry presents: First, the incarnation of Christ to “fill all things”, and second, the completion or gathering together of all things revealing “the fullness of Christ” or the consummation. (Ephesians 4:10-13).

1. Christ came to “fill all things”. (Ephesians 4:10)

The Christ “FILLS ALL IN ALL [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and WHO FILLS EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE WITH HIMSELF]." (Ephesians 1:23 Amplified).
"He …ascended high above all the heavens, that He [HIS PRESENCE] MIGHT FILL ALL THINGS (the WHOLE UNIVERSE, from the lowest to the highest)." (Ephesians 4:10 Amplified).

This is not just in the future. “Christ is all and IN ALL.” (Colossian 3:11)

God makes all things new and puts new wine in new wine skins, filling all things and making all things one. This oneness of all things is the logical extension of the prayer of Jesus for his disciples, “That they may be one [even] as We are one: I IN THEM and You in Me, in order THAT THEY MAY BECOME ONE.” (John 17:20-24 Amplified)

This oneness is the goal not only of the infilling of all things, but also of the consummation of all things in the “fullness of Christ”.

2. “The Fullness of Christ” is All Things gathered together into the body of Christ. (Ephesians 1:10,20, 4:13)

There is only one body, into which all things are gathered: the body of Christ. (Ephesians 1:10). This new humanity leaves nothing unconsumed. When we become a part of the body of Christ, it is no longer we who live, but Christ. We are consumed, incorporated, and changed, becoming part of the one body. In a similar way, when we consume a hamburger, that hamburger is no longer a hamburger, but rather a part of us. Though many do not consider the Gospel of Thomas authoritative, it illustrates this perspective for the purposes of our discussion. Jesus said, "Lucky is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becomes human.” (Verse 7). The lower kingdom is destroyed and transformed when it is consumed. In a similar way, we read in the scriptures, all things are made new. All things are from him, through him, and to him. (Romans 11:33). Again, in harmony with this assertion, in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, “I am All: from me all came forth. And to me the All has come.” (verse 77). Indeed, Christ is both all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11)


The consummation of all things in God, described in the scriptures, can be thought of as a transformation of all into one. All creation is liberated through the manifestation of the sons of God. This is the work of the Christ, who in the final consummation delivers the kingdom up to the Father, who is a consuming fire. We are the salt of the earth, and ministering and consuming flames of this fire. Everyone and everything shall be salted with this fire, and brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. (Mark 10:48-49, Revelation 20:15, 1 Corinthians 15:28, Romans 8:20-21).

The consummation and the incarnation walk together hand in hand. The fulfillment of the ultimate intention of God is accomplished. (Ephesians 1:9-10) There is one universe. There is one body. All is one. Christ, humanity, and all creation are all filled and completed, just as we are consummated and filled by each other.

In my viewpoint, the scriptures portray the growth of the church as paralleling an increase of this knowledge and understanding of “Christ as all in all”, moving from a sense of separation in the fall, toward a revelation of immanence and oneness demonstrated in the reconciliation of all things in the body of Christ, unto a complete and accurate knowledge of the son of God, specifically unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and the completeness found in him, and then unto the consummation of all things in God. (Colossians 1:16,20, Ephesians 2:15, 1 Corinthians 15:28).

Ministries were given until the perfect or complete is come. This maturity is achieved when we understand and see the fullness, or the completion, or the filling up of the Christ with all things. The “fullness of Christ” is revealed. We see the Christ “fill all things” and complete all creation. (Ephesians 4:10-13). The Filler is filled. The Completer is completed. Marriage, or the completion of two individuals, is a beautiful illustration of this greater mystery, and of the consummation in which all things become one body. (Ephesians 5:32, 4:6).

The Implications of this Revelation.

When we see such inclusion we grow in our love for Christ in all things, and our love of all things in Christ. We come to understand our own completion, being filled with the Christ within us, who is himself filled with all things. Our view of ourselves, and one another is revolutionized. We are complete in Christ. Just as Christ is filled with all the fullness of the godhead bodily, so also we are filled with all the fullness of God. (Colossians 2:9-10, 3:11, Ephesians 3:19). And so we complete one another, and all things… members one of another. (Ephesians 1:10, 23, 1 Corinthians 12:6,12). How could our lives, and interaction with others not be radically affected by such an insight? “Take, eat: this is my body” takes on multiple new meanings. Mark 14:22.

Sometimes, we have to see by faith before we can experience the reality.

After we see with spiritual understanding then we can be strengthened with all might that we might walk worthy of the Lord. This role of revelation seems to be suggested by Paul.

He has made “known unto us the mystery of his will”…”all things in Christ”. (Ephesians 1;9-10)

“For this cause …we… do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power” Colossians 1:9-11


The oneness of all things consummated within the body of Christ may not sound like what is usually presented. But Christ is not bound or limited by any one theology. God is bigger than the box. Dogmatic, exclusive, and fundamentalist portrayals of Christ may not do him justice. Harsh manmade religion can leave a bad taste in the mouth. Accepting Christ is made palatable when we see him as he is. Christ is all, and in all. For many, the unconditionally loving, all inclusive, and universally incarnate Christ is a welcome guest.

Whatever worldview people embrace, my own hearts desire is to expound on the scriptures that we might know Christ and come to maturity. May God enlarge our heart, and our message.

Proclaiming the all-inclusive, Christ centered, universalist message of ultimate reconciliation. Studying God, Meditating on the Christ,
URfriend,
Dean Johnson

quakerboy said...

Wonderful dialogue, Dean! Thanks for making clear that Jesus will not leave anyone out of His Kingdom. All shall be reconciled! Now that is good news!

I will never understand those who believe that God will torment some of God's creation for all eternity. My goodness, who would want this god as a neighbor, much less an object of worship?

The Bible teaches the reconciliation of all things. The early Christians taught the reconciliation of all things. I would encourage Friend Mike to do what he asks you to do...study this issue further and pray. Don't believe something just because it is the "safe" thing to do in Christian circles. A good starting point is www.tentmaker.org.

In the Peace of Jesus,
Craig

Kevin Beck said...

Thanks for the post.

Funny how Jesus said that he is the way, yet so many of his "followers" act as if he is in the way. That's a big difference.

Anyway...Jesus simple statement about being the way has gotten filled with all sorts of meaning that just do not exist in the text. Like: Jesus is the way only for those who hold the "right" doctrines, etc. He just says that he's the way. Period.

That's an unconditional, inclusive statement. And one that I find very reassuring.

Thanks.

Kevin

Ross said...

In terms of universalism… All will be saved ultimately a glorious truth, for years I have struggled with this eternal damnation thing however I am now at the place where some men are brought into faith in this life and others will in future time be brought through judgment as the time or Jacobs trouble show that great multitude are thus saved from the tribulation. While in this administration grace and other before it Pentecost and the Pedagogue and it seem few enter his gate seldom opened.
The phrase all in Adam die and All in Christ are made alive must be historical and actual however by uncertainty lies in the phrase “the rest of the dead lived not again” and it seems to indicate these are cast out not eternal to burn but to be for ever dead n annihilation. Not because of their sin but because they seek death rather than life… some discussion would b helpful
Warm regards in Him
RJ