Cheta Nwanze: Many Christians are wrong (Y! FrontPage)

Chxta back

A lot of people of other faiths may not accept that Jesus is the Son of God, but they do not argue with the basic message that Jesus gave, love God with all your heart, and love your neighbour as yourself.

I am a Christian, so I believe that Jesus is The Way. The trouble is that too many Christians have not interpreted the phrase in John 14:6 correctly.

What happened before the missionaries came and converted our fathers to Christianity? Were people shipped off to hell as soon as they died, seeing as they were neither Christians at the time nor born-again – which we are told is the ONLY way to enter heaven?

This is a question that has torn at my conscience for a very long time, and to be honest, the answers I have gotten have not been good enough.

You see, a lot of Christians tend to point to where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, except through me.” I think that this particular statement is in a way contradicted by St. Paul in many subsequent texts, but most especially, in his letter to the Romans. In Romans 2:11-12 where he clearly states, “There is no favouritism with God, whoever sins without the law, will perish with the law, and whoever sins in the law, will be judged by the law.” What this tells me is that God has no favourites, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jew, Animist or Atheist.

In reading through the Bible, and through some historical and linguistic texts, I have come across what may just point to the answer.

Many Christians sadly, tend to take their Bible readings in an almost stand alone manner. Most of the statements uttered either by Jesus Christ or by any of the prophets or apostles are just taken for their face value by most without any deeper thought given to what might be a hidden meaning, or more importantly, the context of the language in which the statements were originally uttered.

Being that my audience is mostly Nigerian, I will urge you to try this experiment. The phrase “I am coming”, when uttered by an Englishman, tends to imply that the speaker is moving towards you. That same phrase, translated into any of the three so-called main Nigerian languages, mean something different. Thus, when a Nigerian says either of “m na bia”, “inna zuwa” or “mo ‘nbo”, his mind actually interprets it as he is walking away from you. The same mentality applies in our own Pidgin English. When a Nigerian tells you “I dey come”, he is more often than not, walking in the opposite direction. This mentality is transplanted to our interpretation of the proper English language where “I am coming” to a Nigerian tends to mean he is doing anything but coming towards you.

Same thing can be taken with most statements made in the Bible. For the records, Yeshua, transliterated as Jesus, spoke Aramaic. While I will not claim to be a linguistic expert, I have done a lot of studying about the structure of many languages, and I can say with confidence that the grammatic structure in a language such as Aramaic is very different from what obtains in English, or in many other European languages. What this means is that actual words cannot be taken at face value.

In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”. His actual words were most probably the Aramaic words, “Anokhi ha’derekh, v’ha’e-met v’ha-chai-yim”. Our word of interest here, is the Aramaic word, “derekh”. That word, could in English mean any one of the following: distance, journey, MANNER, road or way, and it is in the interpretation of this that I believe a lot of Christians have erred.

Jesus being The Way means that the way to salvation is by behaving in a manner like Christ. A lot of people think it is about being a ‘Christian’ – as understood by humanity, ergo going to church in some cases six times a week and giving me a headache with those megaphones. Actually, being like Christ is to walk in his footsteps, follow his message of love, behave in a manner that emulates his life. This is the essence of the Good Samaritan parable – those seen by men as righteous (Priests, Levites, etc.) did not live their lives in the MANNER that God wanted them to live them, but the Samaritan who was neither a Jew nor a Christian did.

A lot of people of other faiths may not accept that Jesus is the Son of God, but they do not argue with the basic message that Jesus gave, love God with all your heart, and love your neighbour as yourself.

Gandhi once said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” A lot of so-called Christians are giving followers of Christ a bad name by being ‘so unlike’ Christ. Consider this, while before the advent of Christianity, my forefathers would not have accepted Jesus as the Son of God, there would have been a few who ‘accepted Christ’ by being like the Christ, by being a ‘neighbour’ to their fellow humans. I do not believe that those people would rot in hell. Truth is that before such people heard about Christ, God had already written the ‘requirements of the law on their hearts’. Their consciences told them what was right and what was wrong.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (13)

  1. It is your belief in Jesus as the son of God and as your Lord and Saviour that gets you to heaven. Nothing else and that is what other faiths are lacking

    John 3:16-18
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

    1. @Kurinko I do not agree with you, all John 3:16 does is gives you a passport/greencard, or assurance to enter heaven which is not bad in itself, but I also believe the gatekeeper can let anyone he wants in. read Romans 2:14-16. Note that I believe there will be stricter judgement for those that have heard and rejected than for those that have not heard at all, but my point is if the gatekeeper decides to let Mr XY in no one can complain.
      ..and for the records I think the author of this post is wrong on many counts, he is probably not a “Jesus is the Christ” or “Son of GOD and God” believing Christian

  2. While I agree that a Christ-like life is key to salvation, it means nothing without first believing in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as payment for our sins before God. See John 3:16, Romans 10:19, Rev 5:9, Heb 10:19-20, Col. 1:19-23 and 1 John 1:7. For those who have not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they will be judged based on the law of their Conscience. But those who have heard and yet refused to believe shall be damned (John 3:18, Rev 13:8, 20:12-15. Jesus IS the ONLY way to escape the damnation of an eternal sojourn in hell for all who have heard the Gospel. But God, unlike the Islamic Jihadists, will not force any man. This day He sets before you life and death (Deut. 30:19). The Choice is absolutely yours.

  3. Being Christ-like goes way beyond loving your neighbour as yourself but its a starting point tho’.

  4. Nice write-up but you cannot argue spiritual things carnally as you have done. You either believe Jesus is the Son of God and the bible the word or you do not, to ready the bible like a history book is to err. You answer yourself when you quote Jesus is the way, my interpretation is that he is the way this does not imply that only Christians will be allowed in, but who ever he chooses; he could choose Hindus or pagans and who will question? He is the gate keeper.
    Your other “try” at “I dey come” translations is also correct, but I think there is a problem with your interpretation… When a Nigerian says I dey come, though he is working away, he implies that he will come back or he will see you later, not that he will never return. another variation is “we go block later” shortened to “we go block”.
    I believe the only argument between Muslims and Christians (Christ-like ones) is The belief that He is the Christ, the Son of God. Note that naturally everyone born of a Christian home is assumed Christian but that is not the case.

  5. Whilst the writer has good intentions, I will encourage him/her to study a little deeper the ff verses which give context to Jesus’ statement about being the way, the truth and the life… Romans 3:21-25, Acts 13:38, Col 1:20-23, Acts15:1-11, 1Cor3:10-15, in particular v15. The word of God is powerful all by itself so I am confident that as you read, wisdom and truth will attend you.

  6. Nice write up Cheta. Now, as a muslim, I hold similar view which I always believed needs fine tunning. Now, there are certain revelations enshrined in the Holy Quran that was revealed purposely for what transpired at that period of time which might not necessarily be relevant in our modern day, if only fellow muslims can think deeply and be a little bit flexible on some of these things. I wont name examples less I will be called “names”

  7. @ Chukwu Jnr. in defense of Cheta Nwanze….What this reader doesn’t know is that the second coming of Christ is an event in time and God doesn’t live in our chronological time…there is no such thing as religion with God, we invented it and have nearly destroyed all of creation because of it…heaven is not a geographic location and if you purpose for seeking God, truth and the light of life is so that you go to heaven then you have missed the message and you have not begun your life as God intended it. God back and read the words of Jesus, the old teachers; even away from your beloved Christianity. After you have done this, swear that you do not find a resonance in the truth shared between them and very truth in your heart…find the truth or else that day shall escape you like a thief in the night and am not referring to some movie that was used to scare you about the end of the world…Love the Lord your God with all heart and all your mind, love your neighbor as you love yourself. You need the way, the truth and the light to see this sentence clearly. Well done Cheta Nwanze

  8. Wat dis writer dnt knw is dat we live in a period of grace (bcos of Jesus comin 2d world) dis period we liv in is quite difrnt 4rm d tym our forefathers lived. De lived in d tym whr d God’s law (10 comandments and d reign of d prophets) existed. D bible says “whoeva knws wat is ryt n refuses 2do it comits sin” Bcos Jesus has alrdy com, he remains d only way for our generation and those 2com after us. Stp comparin d days of our forefathers wit our own generation. PERIOD!

  9. Good write up. I have been posting stuff on my twitter time line @blackeinstein_
    I often say “if there is heaven; muslims, hindus, Buddhist, traditional worshippers will all make heaven, if they have good conscience”
    I have seen Muslims with better conscience than some Christians. St Paul in Romans 2 summarised it “Those who died without knowing Christ will be judged by their Conscience”
    Thanks for this good piece.

  10. Correct, I have held this belief for long, I don’t believe Jesus ll localize himself by narrowing his impact the way that scripture is incorrectly interpreted.

  11. If you have heard of Christ & do not believe in Him you are destined for hell cos your works alone cannot justify your entry into paradise. If you never heard of Him,then God’s judgement will be based on the love He has planted in your heart & the light He has placed before you – as in “Do unto others,as you will have them do unto you”. By the priest in Jesus’ parable,He never meant a christian priest. A manner like Jesus’,is where the name christian -Christ-like- emanates from.

  12. I like this article very much, I tell some of my ‘born again’ friends that you can’t go around quoting the bible to suit your purpose without knowing the story/history behind the passage. In the samaritan’s story, the levite/priests lived by the law (that is they weren’t to touch an unclean on sabbath day) they were right by law, but they didn’t do the right thing, to say an ‘unbeliever’ did the right thing (he didn’t know about their sabbath laws) . We see these a lot among the ‘my bible says’ ‘the bible didn’t say’ ‘my bible alone’ christians.most christians don’t even know the history behind the bible, and the two testaments. May God help us. Thanks again for these.

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