A pastor of a local church has recently caused quite a stir with public proclamations of his relativism. I discovered this when I stumbled upon the blog of another local church planter who quit writing about his mission work in favor of being a full-time watch blogger.
One the one hand, the first pastor argues since all religions are human articulations of a (potentially) universal "God experience," to say that explicit faith in Jesus is the only way to "God" is to deny the validity of someone else's "God experience."
On the other, we have an "inerrant" Bible insisting that Jesus is the only way to God.
I think, generally speaking, that folks who hold the first position consider themselves faithful interpreters of that bit in John because they will maintain that Jesus is indeed the only way to God, but explicit faith in Jesus is not the only way to access the benefits of what God has done through Jesus. And, after all, isn't Christian exclusivism just a way of arguing that my own personal "God experience" is legitimate, and that someone else's "God experience" is not?
Ah, the wonders of foundationalism.
Both sides of the argument are based on two imaginary concepts that I don't think are real: a universal "God experience," and an inerrant Bible. But you knew that, right?
That doesn't mean that I don't think I've had some experience of the Christian god, but I don't go about constantly seeking to consider and judge the tradition in terms of whether it matches up with "my experience." I also have no problem questioning, doubting or outright disregarding someone else's experience or their interpretation thereof. I know it sounds a bit rude, but I think my experiences and my own interpretation of them are quite suspect, so it would be silly to insist on granting some kind of epistemological priority to somebody else's, just to be polite.
And the other thing... I think it's pretty amazing. See, when I have been asked, "do you believe the Bible is inerrant," I actually hear, "Do you believe that the Bible is [contrived post-Enlightenment foundationalist concept]?" And I think, no, I don't believe the Bible can be understood and entirely encapsulated in terms of some contrived invention of modernity. "Oh, then do you believe that the Bible [insert opposite of contrived post-Enlightenment foundationalist concept]?" And I think, well of course, not. I just happen to think that it's the wrong question to be asking.
N.B.: I'm thinking out loud here. This is not a formal essay. If you want me to take any of this further, or some bit of it just don't make no earthly sense, do let me know. But do be polite...