How can one call themself Christian (literally follower of Christ) and deny Christ's own words?
First, I've been talking about being Christian, not about claiming to be Christian.
Second, I already said that we don't have to swallow hook-line-and-sinker what people say about Christ (or what they claim He said).
Third, I'll repeat what I said before about John 14:5-7, since you seem to have missed the metaphor: Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me." Who is "me"? The way, the truth and the life.
No man cometh unto the Father but by the way. You're confusing the messenger with the message, the map with the territory, the bus with the road.
How can someone be a christian (literally a Christ-follower) what Christ himself proclaimed to be the way?
You can follow the way (the road) even if you don't know the name of the guy who built it. The reason there is a road is so you don't need a personal guide.
If you strip away the historical picture of who Christ was, what is left?
I'll put the verses in the form of an equation so you can't miss it:
I (Jesus) = The Way, The Truth, The Life; No man comes to the Father but by me (Jesus). There is no possible way to deny this straightforward linguistic analysis.
Sure there is. :) Try reading it as literature.
When Jesus said, "I am a shepherd," do you think He was literally picking up some extra cash by tending sheep? Or do you recognize it as a metaphor? (Maybe it would be easier to understand if you read it as a simile: "I am like a shepherd.")
Similarly, when Jesus said, "I am the way," He wasn't saying that He was literally paved with cobblestones. He was saying, "I am like a road. You can follow me to where you want to go."
When a bus says "New Jersey" on it, does that mean that the bus is New Jersey or that it's going to New Jersey? Is that bus the only way to New Jersey? Or is it just a way to New Jersey that's being offered to you?
Please try to set the dogma aside and understand the metaphor.
There's another meaning of the word "way" which is perfectly conducive to the context of the metaphor - namely "a course or direction leading to an objective".
That's exactly the way I meant it. How was I unclear?
Let's suppose Christ wasn't saying the he was the way, but merely that he was like the way; I fail to see any discernable distinction between the two ideas...
That, too, is exactly what I said: the simile and the metaphor mean exactly the same thing.
The problem I have with your interpretation is your insistence on only one way. If He was comparing Himself to a road, that automatically implies more than one road. All roads might lead to Rome, but there's no such thing as "one road", only networks of roads.
You're changing "I am the way" to "I am like the way" to "I am like a way" to "I'll show you the way" to I'll show you any possible way" to "Where did you say you were going?
There's no "change" there at all. That's what the metaphor implies, unless you insist a priori on your interpretation and yours alone. When the driver says, "Yes, this is the bus to New Jersey," you'd be the one who's overreaching if you insisted it was the only bus to New Jersey.
So, you're defining Chirstian as a person who believes and/or follows the message of Christ, regardless of what they believe.
No, not regardless of what they believe - regardless of what else they believe.
But just falling short of you proclamations doesn't mean they were falsly proclaimed.
I didn't say that. (Maybe I'm being too subtle.)
Jesus said, "By their fruits ye shall know them." If a guy in a $3000 suit asks you for money, you might wonder if he has "truly Christian" plans for it. If a girl in a WalMart T-shirt and jeans asks you for money to feed the hungry, you have less reason to be suspicious.
... you could be a Christian and not behave very Christ-like, but that wouldn't make you a non-Christian. It would make you a not-very-good-Christian.
So it's not black and white? There's "good Christians" and "not-quite-so-good-Christians" and maybe even a few "bad Christians"? But they're still Christians?
Being like Christ doesn't make you a Christian if you aren't a follower of Christ and just happen to be on the same path by coincidence.
Why not? Which is more important? Being on the right path? Or some other Guy in a robe and sandals who happens to be on the same path?
It's what Jesus said: I am the way, the truth, the life; "No one comes to the Father except through me". How much more un-ambiguous can the text be? How many roads is Jesus allowing for? And how can one be a Christian who denies the only way (means, path, direction..) according to Christ himself???
I've answered all that. You're just repeating yourself, proving what I said about a priori interpretations.
One more try (before we classify you as "mind-closed-tight-as-a-bear-trap"). :)
Jesus said, "I am the way." I = way. Got that?
Jesus said, "No man cometh unto the father but by me. Me = way. Got that?
Simplifying the equation: No man cometh unto the Father but by the way. Got that?
Now, what is the way? Love thy neighbour as thyself. Got that?
It is unambiguous unless you try to make it exclusive.
Just to clear up a few discrepancies in terminology:
There are two kinds of masons/Masons:
The Mason who is a member of a club, who goes to meetings, performs rituals, etc.
The mason who works with bricks and mortar.
A Mason isn't necessarily a mason and a mason isn't necessarily a Mason.
A Mason has no business telling a mason, "You're No True Mason," and a mason has no business telling a Mason, "You're no true mason."
Similarly, there are Christians who belong to a chapter of the Christian club. One Christian has no business telling another Christian that his chapter is unaccredited.
There are also christians who work with the bricks and mortar of christianity on a daily basis.
Christians have no business telling christians that they're No True Christians, even if they're not official members of the club. And christians have no business telling Christians that they're no true christians even if they don't work with the bricks and mortar of christianity.
(To further confuse the issue, I capitalize both types of Christian out of respect.)
I'd say they are, very simply, believing and following Jesus.
Suppose you're driving down the highway (having missed the bus to New Jersey) and a police officer flags you down and tells you the road is closed ahead. There's a bridge out. You have to take a detour.
You say, "Okay, I believe you," and you continue driving down the road, repeating to yourself, "Yup, I sure do believe that police officer," until you go sailing into the Delaware River.
Following a belief means doing something about it, not just "believing" it.
By believing Jesus I meant believing what he said. As in being the Son of God, etc.
We've been through that. We don't know that He said that. We only know that somebody claimed that He said that.
We can follow His instructions about what to do whether the stories about Him are true or not, because His instructions make sense. Loving thy neighbour just works better than constantly fighting with him.
The stories about Him help to clarify who our neighbour is. (Even the Samaritans? :eek: ) They help us to understand that even if we're prodigal, it isn't the end of the world. They show us a way that we know intuitively is "the way" to live.
The stories about Jesus make sense in the same way that Aesop's fables make sense. They don't have to be "true" to be valuable. You don't have to believe that animals can talk to believe what they say.