Falwell's column is heavy on Bible quotations, each of which neatly fits his premise that all who believe that America is not a Christian nation will be denied entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Falwell is "troubled" that many in America believe there may be more than one path to Heaven.
Falwell's column is actually a reaction to a Newsweek column in which the author, Lisa Miller, proclaims that statistically, Americans are no longer buying the Christian edict that there is but one path and it is very narrowly mapped in John 14:6: I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me. Falwell actually quotes the NKJV, which is similar to the NIV (Nearly Inspired Version).
Falwell continues: "Consider this: If Jesus stated that He is the only way to eternal life, we have either of two choices in how we respond to this claim.
- We accept it as truth and embrace Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God.
- We reject this claim and assert that Jesus was a liar.
Everyone needs to understand that they stand at this crossroads"My point is, and I'm looking for discussion here, nobody knows exactly what Jesus said, do we? The reference to "I am the way" does not appear in The Gospel According to Matthew, The Gospel According to Mark or The Gospel According to Luke (that I can find in the King James Version anyway).
The Gospels of course have been written, rewritten, filtered, edited, and basically changed and changed again according to the whims of King James and a couple dozen popes, and even the mindless folks who wrote the Good News Version in the 1960s.
Nobody really knows exactly what Jesus said, do we? Even those who produced the King James Version of the Gospels couldn't agree on exactly what, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John said Jesus said:
Matthew 26:75: Before the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice.
Mark 14:30: Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Luke 22:31: I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
John 13:38: Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
So in which of the above is Christ accurately quoted? Does that mean the others were liars? Must we believe exactly as Mr. Falwell declares we must, or risk calling Jesus a liar?
In the end, I think the question is this: Did the founders in that really subversive document, The Bill of Rights, really believe the America they were envisioning was to be a Christian nation? Or did they believe it was important to keep religion completely out of the nation building they were doing in the 1770s and 1780s?
If we are not a Christian nation, does it matter? And if we do not believe America is a Christian nation, are we doomed to burn in Hell? Is it possible to be a Christian living in a nation that is not? Must we, if we are Christians, force upon others, by legislation (or sword) if necessary, our belief that there is but one path to Heaven?