Is Jesus the Way, the Truth, and the Life?

Not according to Fr. Reginaldus (Fr. Ryan Erlenbush) of the New Theological Movement blog. In yet another serious doctrinal error, Fr. Ryan teaches that Jesus is only the Way in His human nature, and is only the Truth and the Life in His Divine Nature. This claim openly and directly contracts the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in Sacred Scripture.

{14:6} Jesus said to him: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.
{14:7} If you had known me, certainly you would also have known my Father. And from now on, you shall know him, and you have seen him.”

Jesus plainly teaches that He Himself, the Incarnate Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, is the Way AND is the Truth AND is the Life. For Jesus is one Person, with two natures (His human nature and the Divine Nature). His words offer no distinction between those three things (way, truth, life), that would allow a restriction of one or another to only His human nature, or to only His Divine Nature. The Person of Jesus Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life. That is why He says “I am….” Not His human nature alone, not His Divine Nature alone, but the one Person with two Natures.

To the contrary, Fr. Ryan teaches the following claims:

“It would be misleading and would probably draw us into heresy to claim that Jesus is the Way in his divinity. As God, the Son is not the Way to the eternal Father; for the Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son…. No, indeed, Jesus is not the Way according to his divinity – at least, it would be misleading to speak of him as the Way to the Father in his divinity. Rather, our Savior is the Way in his human nature – he is the Way as man, not as God…. Though his humanity is not our salvation in and of itself, it is nevertheless the instrument of our salvation and through it we come into a real and living communion with God.”

“But the Lord does not merely tell us I am the way, he adds further and the truth, and the life. The Savior is not only our Way to salvation, but he is that salvation. However, in his humanity, Christ is not our salvation; for human nature cannot be the end toward which all come, since human nature cannot be infinite goodness. Nevertheless, he who is perfect man is also perfect God and, in his divinity, he is the Truth and the Life.”

There is a grave theological error in the above claims. Fr. Ryan is separating the human nature and the Divine Nature of the ONE PERSON Jesus Christ and making us choose one or the other. But when Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”, He indicated that He Himself, as the one Person named Jesus, is our salvation, our Way to salvation, our Way to the Father, our Truth, our Life, etc. Fr. Ryan does not even consider the ‘possibility’ that when Jesus said “I”, He was referring to Himself as the one Person with two natures. As a result, Fr. Ryan sets up a false dichotomy, so that we seemingly have to choose whether each term (way, truth, life) applies to His human nature or to His Divine Nature. And this error leads Fr. Ryan to make absurd false claims, such as:

“Jesus is not the Way according to his divinity”

“in his humanity, Christ is not our salvation”

To the contrary, Jesus Christ, the one Person with two natures, is our Way and our Truth and our Life, just as He plainly taught. When we arrive at everlasting happiness, is our happiness only in His Divine Nature, and not in His whole Person? Of course not. When the plan of God is completed, and all the faithful are happy forever, does the human nature of Christ become useless? Of course not. So the human nature of Christ is not merely the means to our salvation, it is part of our eternal happiness (just as the company of Mary and all the Saints and Angels is part of our eternal happiness). So the human nature Christ is not merely a means to salvation and happiness, but also a part of the end of salvation and happiness. And the human nature of Christ by itself could not save (could not really exist, since without the Divine Nature united to the human nature, it would not be of Christ). Christ saves as God Incarnate, so that the Divine Nature is both the means and the end, just as the human nature of Christ is both means and end. The fact that the human nature of Christ is finite does not prevent it from being, with the Divine Nature, in the One Person, a part of the means and a part of the end.

And therefore, when Jesus says “I am the Way….” He is referring to His whole Self, the one Person with two Nature. These two Natures are thoroughly united, but without detriment to either nature, in one Person. To separate them such that the Jesus would be said to be not the Way in His Divine Nature, or not our salvation in His human nature, is false, absurd, and a grave error.

So how does Fr. Ryan arrive at such a foolish error, one that directly contracts the plain teaching of Jesus in Sacred Scripture? In the usual way that he arrives at his errors, by treating the useful theological opinions of St. Thomas as if they were infallible Divine Revelation, by subjugating Sacred Scripture to the opinion of St. Thomas, and by misinterpreting what St. Thomas wrote.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator

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