As good a Christian as I can be, I’ve parsed the Savior's words closely over the years. I’m very aware I’m allowed to do this only thanks to the Protestant heresy now 600 years in assault upon the Petrine church’s “infallible” authority. The Protestant heresy launched by Martin Luther held that those inclined to think for themselves might interpret scripture as they understood it. To date it has resulted in over 20 thousand separate churches in protest. Let it be 20 million, I say, each man and woman a sect of one, ascending each to God through inner light... free of priests and popes... or not at all. Indeed how else!
All of Jesus’ sweet pronouncements ring true. Why then do they bring so much modern pain? I blame the early church’s willful paranoia, not Jesus. Jesus appointed Peter... whom he thought the weakest apostle in spiritual matters (Matthew 14)... to head His church, as if He knew the church would have to deal with metaphorically incapable and literalist congregations in the main. Consider the current mischief done to Jesus’ declaration in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: No man cometh To the Father but by me.” The faulty, literal reading of this now has evangelicals adamant that Jews, Moslems, and all non-Christians are lost to God and doomed to hell fire, as though the God of Love ordained a congregation of bigots and haters... surely not Jesus’ intent.
Early church fathers at the Council of Nicea (325 AD) were most concerned to bind believers to the priesthood and the church. Above all they feared two heresies, a stubborn, natural pantheism which held God and His creation to be one, and its corollary in Christian Gnosticism which held that men may meet God without the mediation of the church via God's presence within every man, the inner light of the human soul. The Gnostic gospels, therefore, were brutally excluded from scripture at Nicea... but they have survived. In the Gnostic Gospel of Saint Thomas, for example, Jesus says, “He who drinks from my mouth shall be as I am, And I shall be he.” This notion that deity is part of every man and woman, indeed that the whole of Nature is sacred, made God much too accessible and, they feared, the church superfluous. God must not be identified with his creation or his creatures (pantheism). The Gnostic sons of light had to be purged and were. And to make God absolutely OTHER than Man, the Nicene Creed (church dogma, not scripture) insists Christ be, “the ONLY begotten Son of God.” But of course men cannot long worship a God wholly OTHER, and even in the accepted biblical texts, hints of pantheism abound, as when Paul assures the Corinthians (3:16) that God does not dwell in churches of brick and mortar: “God dwelleth in you,” a frightening idea to Papal authority. The church solution for 1100 years was simply to ignore the Bible and rely on utterances of church doctrine. Above all do NOT translate the Latin Bible for congregants to read for themselves. Luther’s great heresy was to translate scripture into popular vernaculars, where men could learn of the divine aspect to their own being, the deity within.
The pronoun “Thou,” names the sacred “you.” To the Amish every soul is reverenced and the deity within acknowledged with “Thou, Thee, and Thine.” The Hindu who greets his neighbor with a bow, hands pressed in prayer, does the same. Think of it... every man and woman a sacred being. Such a being would have to be honored and would inspire reverence, respect, and love, not abuse. But the Western church frowns upon meeting, greeting, or acknowledging the God of Love within our neighbors or ourselves. This would be Gnostic, pantheistic, and heretical.
To tap the divine in our natures, requires an inward journey that cannot begin without first setting aside the egotistic in our natures. The threshold guardians that bar the way on this journey are dragons of duality that must be defeated, SELF and OTHER being the most fearsome. The subject (SELF) and the object (OTHER) are not two, but one, an identity, in oriental religions and much western philosophy. You may find these dual dragons, beasts, and gargoyles flanking entrances to many houses of worship, museums, and public places if you look. They are to warn us away if we cannot leave the egotistic self behind as we enter the sanctuary. Some hear the God within and identify Him early on, some late, some never. Jesus made this journey most perfectly in His youth, and spoke with the universal “I am” throughout His ministry, One with God.
All spiritual souls must make the inward journey to God. This clarifies what Jesus meant when He said, “No man cometh to the Father but by me.” He was pointing the path all must travel, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, any man, to truly encounter the God who dwells within.
If we correctly hear the universal “I am” in Jesus’ utterance, we need no longer anticipate His long delayed second coming. Each of us is a potential second coming of God’s child in our own birth and baptism. We have all come to judge the living and the dead, which, of course, is what we do naturally as sentient beings every day. Though we may not be of the same magnitude as Jesus, we are surely of the same spiritual order, in His image. Nor need we fear the End Days, the Apocalypse, or the Rapture. The End Days and the Rapture are near for every mortal, but not all of us at once. Our own children and the children of all future generations have as much right to a full life of divine questing as we. It is egotistic to believe we alone live in the End Times. All glory to Luther for setting aside the “infallible” authority of a corrupt church and opening to every man the possibility of salvation “Sola Fide,” by faith alone and the inward journey.