The Way, the Truth and the Life

In light of my last post I came up with the following way to express the point I was making.

Jesus said he was "the way, the truth and the life."

For many Christians, where faith has been reduced to propositional assent ("I believe x to be true"), Jesus' claim moves through the following sequence:


That is, we have the following order:
  1. Truth: I believe in Jesus
  2. Life: Because of this belief I get to go to heaven
  3. Way: And maybe, but this doesn't always happen, I'll begin to live more like Jesus
What I was arguing for in the last post was this kind of sequence. A reversal of the traditional order:


Things go in this order:
  1. Way: I begin to follow the path of Jesus
  2. Life: I discover that in losing my life I find it
  3. Truth: And maybe, but this doesn't always happen, I'll begin to believe the claims about Jesus to be true

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9 thoughts on “The Way, the Truth and the Life”

  1. If I'd have to catch faith in a flowchart, it would be more something like:

    Truth Truth Truth (born & raised an orthodox calvinist) Way Life Life Way Way Life Truth Lifetruth Waylife Wife Wuth Trife Way Life...truth

    But I'm happy to consider variations on the theme

    -bad calvinist!

  2. The latter is most probably what transpired in the lives of those who followed Jesus from the beginning (if one believes there was a historical figure). This is why they propitiated the belief and divinized his the 'Church became institutionalized.

    It might be a correct analysis that the West has lost interest in the Church because of liberty and prosperity. Those in the West are more interested in "belief", because humans were meant to be free and will rationalize anything that takes away freedom of choice in the way they live their life.

    The Church, on the other hand, has a vested interest in protecting their positio (authority) over individuals because of their need to fill their pews and continue the "faith'.

  3. I am with you but I'll keep the order in which Jesus made the statemen...way, truth, and life

    Way: I begin following the path of Jesus.
    Truth: I begin to see and believe that this way is really the true way to life.
    Life: I thus begin dying to myself so that I can truly live.

    I certainly believe that Jesus' words were meant to be functional rather than propositional.

    Grace and peace,

    K. Rex Butts

  4. Enjoyed the post and comments above.

    I find language to be the ultimate failing point of the law. The Israelites over-spelled it out with good intention that led to burdensome, pointless yokes, etc.

    And then you get Jesus reiterating that it's really two laws "love God" and "love your neighbor"... in some ways the less said the better. The more we concentrate on the bare spirit, the better it starts flowing out in situations where the long-winded law might let you off the hook from being the way we should.

    Jesus declaring himself the way, the truth, and the life... it both connects to the unspoken, unwritten purity of justice that always fails in written laws. We can always squirrel around them. We can always find counter cases that leave the short term of justice beaten down by too much literalness.

    The way to the father had been the law and sacrifice. Now he's basically telling his disciples that it's him and his way. (Which really just echoes his Father's way.) The love and service. The care of children and friendliness to those most outcast. The high priest servant leader.

    Less talk, more rock.

  5. I encountered a similar reversal that was used to describe a change in how people enter into faith communities. It used to be assumed that the sequence was "Believe, Behave, Belong." But now it seems that people first gain a sense of belonging, which then begins to reshape their behavior, and still later takes rot in their stated beliefs as well.

    But what's really striking to me is that, regardless of the ordering, people seem to miss the most stunning part of what Jesus says here, contained in the words "I am..."

    It's one thing to say "I can tell you what is true and describe the right way to live." It's something very, very different to claim to *be* truth, to *be* life to *be* the "way."

    Those are not claims of special knowledge or insight. They are declarations of an ontology.

    Te result is a shift in focus from intellectual knowing to *relational* knowing. From "Let me tell you about Jesus" to "Let me introduce you."

    Which brings us back to belonging as the entry point. And after all, what has ever changed any of our lives or behaviors more than a new relationship?

    A new friend, a new wife, a new child, a new...Lord?

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