To engage in this post, read the cited Holy Scripture (bold emphasis by me):
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Let’s point out a few things.
When I read this part of 1 John, I thought it spoke in polar extremes.
One side (If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God) can almost suggest a form of exclusivity for who “knows” God.
The other path (Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God, God is love…Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them) can promote an open and free way for those outside the Protestant Christian fold to seek God.
A few other thoughts. Most likely Jesus’ followers attributed to him the title “Way, Truth, and Life”. Yes, Jesus said this in the Gospel of John. However, John’s Gospel, mind you, is filled with plethora metaphorical terminologies. Jesus said, for instances, that he is the bread of life and the word made flesh. Was he literally a loaf of bread or a letter on a page? Obviously not. Many Christians will agree on this: Jesus was the only way made flesh, in that no other religion had their God in the flesh live a way or follow a path. Other religions have a prophet or mouthpiece for their God but were not their actual God in the flesh. That doesn’t diminish other religions or smugishly elevate Christianity but separates the latter from the former in content. For more on this specific topic, read some of Marcus Borg’s books.
In the end, I come away with a more ambiguous understanding of what John means about who can know God than before. Then again, are we meant to come away from reading The Bible with more answers than questions or vice versa? Your thoughts are always welcome – vgiordano at gmail dot com.