The teaching of John 14:6 (“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”) has become one of the most controversial declarations of Christianity in our modern world. No one in previous generations would have thought twice that Christianity teaches Christ is necessary for salvation. But today it has become “offensive” if anyone proclaims that their religion is the way to salvation (just look at the reaction to the Brit Hume/Tiger Woods situation), especially Christians. Yet that is what Jesus himself tells us.
It is understandable for non-believers to reject Christ as the only way to salvation. After all, if they believed that, they wouldn’t be “non-believers” anymore, would they? But to see self-identified Christians rejecting the plain words of Christ is troubling. And as Catholics, we cannot look smugly at the Presbyterians, for although our Church has declared definitively time and time again (and most recently in Dominus Iesus) that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, it seems that many self-identified Catholics reject this teaching. This has tragic consequences for evangelization and missionary work, for if Christ is not necessary for salvation, why bother telling others about him?
The unique salvific need for Christ is not something that should make us Christians arrogant or proud. In fact, the very opposite: we should be humbled that we have been given such a gift and should ask the Lord for the means in which to share this Good News with those around us.
St. Paul and St. Francis Xavier, pray for us!