The critical question for our generation — and for every generation — is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties your ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?
This is over a year old, but Time magazine interviewed New Age guru Deepak Chopra about a novel he wrote on Jesus’ life. It’s tremendously sad and misinformed (that is, the interview, but I’m sure the novel takes the cake). Here’s a few of the more interesting questions and answers:
You write “making [Jesus] the one and only son of God leaves the rest of humankind stranded.”
Because we end up worshipping the messenger instead of the message and excluding all the theologies that existed before Jesus was born.
But it’s also the one thing that inspires Christ’s most fervent followers: that Jesus was God’s only son, who died for them and so took away sin. Isn’t your premise of an acquired godhood heretical to orthodox Christians?
It may be. Fundamentalist Christians always quote Jesus in the Gospel of John saying “I am the way. I am the life. Nobody comes into the kingdom of heaven except through me.” But what does Jesus mean by “I”?” In his language, Aramaic, the word is translated as “the I within the I.” So he may be speaking about himself as a universal spirit. In that case he can’t be squeezed into a body or the span of a lifetime.
God’s manner is not to bring comfortable texts of Scripture to give men assurance of his love and of future happiness, before they have had a faith of dependence. And if the Scripture which comes to a person’s mind be not so properly a promise as an invitation; yet if he makes the sudden or unusual manner of the invitation’s coming to his mind the ground on which he believers that he is invited, it is not true faith; because it is built on that which is not the true ground of faith (emphasis added).
This means that some people feel assured of God’s saving love for them before they have faith and thereby think that God is securing salvation for them. This is impossible, because if someone does not have faith in God, they cannot please him (Heb. 11:6) and therefore cannot be justified before him (Rom. 3:28; 5:1).
It is not enough to know facts about God. The Bible is not about information; it is about transformation. If the words of God do not, by his miraculous grace, transform someone from death to life and move them past knowing facts to true, believing faith, there will be no salvation. Edwards puts it this way: “The external idea a man has now of Christ hanging on the cross, and shedding his blood, is no better in itself than the external idea that the Jews His enemies had, who stood round His cross, and saw this with their bodily eyes.”
What we need is a new set of spiritual eyes. The eyes we are born with are blinded. Only God can give these new eyes. And when these new eyes are received, full assurance of love and future happiness will most certainly come.