No other name? (website only)

Is there only one way to God?

To help a fallen world,
God’s Son a man became.
Nobody else could save –
there is no other name.

“The way, the truth, the life”,
Christ Jesus came to be.
“No one can come to God
unless they come by me.”

Are only Christians saved?
Has no one else a place?
Is God’s love so confined?
Is this restricted grace?

Are those who never heard
the message of God’s love,
and so could not believe,
denied a place above?

Are those of other faiths,
who sacred truths obey,
because they don’t trust Christ,
forever cast away?

God’s love embraces all –
for all our Saviour died.
He reconciled the world;
no one need be denied.

Words: © Harold Stutely

Metre: 66.66

Suggested tunes: The text was written with the tune St Cecelia in mind (Hymns & Psalms 102) and the falling and rising pattern of the tune is appropriate to this text. It also works with the only 66.66 metered tune in Singing the Faith, Paul Wood’s “Higham Lane” (StF 387) – which offers a contrasting melody on verses 3 and 6.

Ideas for use

For an alternative setting of these words, the rhythms of the text are picked up very interestingly if the tune “Sent by the Lord” (StF 239) is used. If using this tune, the text may be divided into two verses made up by running the existing vv 1-4 together, and then repeating vv1&2 followed by 5&6 (see Alternative version below). This has the merit of reiterating the Gospel assertions (see below) against the questions that they raise for some Christians.

More information

Harold Stutely tackles a difficult topic head-on in this hymn. He asks whether God’s love is limited only to those who have come to know God through Jesus Christ. He takes as his starting point words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me” (John 14: 6).

I am the light of the world (detail) Bantry Chuch of St. Brendan The Navigator © Andreas F. Borchert

This is one of seven “I am” sayings in John’s Gospel (others include, “I am the light of the world”, John 8: 12, and “I am the bread of life”, John 6: 35 – the starting point for Brian Hoare’s hymn, I am the bread, the bread of life (StF 587).

These phrases are like seven pillars in the Gospel of John, supporting the writer’s insistence that Jesus is divine, perhaps deliberately echoing the way in which God reveals God’s self to Moses: “I AM” (Exodus 3).

But Harold asks: Is God’s love confined only to Christians? It’s a demanding question and, in the end, the answer is a mystery. But this hymn is clear:

God’s love embraces all -
for all our Saviour died.

Some StF+ readers have found Harold’s approach inappropriate, even bordering on the “heretical” (see comments below). However, as the Faith and Order representative to StF+ points out, the words of verse 6 are closely aligned to Charles Wesley’s conclusions in Father, whose everlasting love (StF 320):

The world he suffered to redeem;
for all he has the atonement made;
For those who will not come to him
The ransom of his life was paid.

The Faith and Order Committee considered whether “universalism” (the belief that all will inevitably be saved) is compatible with Methodist doctrine in its report to the Conference of 1992. The report concluded that:

The attractiveness of the doctrine of universalism is obvious and no doubt some Methodists accept it for reasons of moral concern and Christian compassion. The spirit of Christ leads us to long that, in the end, everyone will be saved…The Methodist Church continues to hold in tension the universality of God’s persistent love and the freedom of human beings to reject that love eternally. Preaching should reflect this and from time to time one or other emphasis held in tension may be stressed. Nevertheless the Methodist Church has been right not to adopt as part of its official teaching the doctrine that “all people will inevitably be saved”.

The Golden Rule - Norman Rockwell's Sunday Post cover emphasises the shared value of this "sacred truth" across different faiths

It is just such a tension that Harold Stutely encourages us to explore. With this in mind, it has also been pointed out that not only are there important elements of Christian faith that are shared with other faith traditions (e.g. the Golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”), but that John Wesley also reflected on this issue in his sermon titled, “On living without God”. In the language of his time, Wesley wrote:

Nor do I conceive that any man living has a right to sentence all the heathen and Mahometan world to damnation. It is far better to leave them to him that made them, and who is “the Father of the spirits of all flesh”; who is the God of the Heathens as well as the Christians, and who hateth nothing that he hath made.

Singing the Faith Plus considers it positive that in Harold Stutely’s hymn we have a text that challenges us to wrestle with a big question in the language of our own day.

The Revd Harold Stutely is a Yorkshire man, born in Leeds in 1947. Currently, he is the superintendent minister of the Sedbergh Circuit in the Cumbria District. He is married, with four grown-up children.

Alternative version

Verse 1

To help a fallen world,
God’s Son a man became.
Nobody else could save –
there is no other name.
“The way, the truth, the life”,
Christ Jesus came to be.
“No one can come to God
unless they come by me.”
Are only Christians saved?
Has no one else a place?
Is God’s love so confined?
Is this restricted grace?
Are those who never heard
the message of God’s love,
and so could not believe,
denied a place above?

Verse 2

To help a fallen world,
God’s Son a man became.
Nobody else could save –
there is no other name.
“The way, the truth, the life”,
Christ Jesus came to be.
“No one can come to God
unless they come by me.”
Are those of other faiths,
who sacred truths obey,
because they don’t trust Christ,
forever cast away?
God’s love embraces all –
for all our Saviour died.
He reconciled the world;
no one need be denied.

Categories: 66.66., Christ the Saviour, Higham Lane, Hymns only online (submit to stfplus@methodistchurch.org.uk), Mission and Evangelism, Nature and Mystery of God, Sent by the Lord, Stutely, Harold.

2 Responses to No other name? (website only)

  1. Nathan Veall says:

    I have to agree with Bill, this is basically heretical. These words aren’t biblical at all. Yes he loves people of all faiths, yes he died for all, but salvation is a gift that must be received. It doesn’t mean men can reocncile themselves to God in any other way than through accepting Jesus, that’s the whole point of our faith. If our faith is one of many ways why bother with ours? You may call that narrow minded, but then you’d also be calling Jesus narrow minded “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.”

  2. Bill Berry says:

    “God loves everybody”. True. “Therefore all are saved”? This is not Biblical, and is therefore not the Methodism I was taught about. What “sacred truths” are other faiths obeying? If they deny Jesus, they cannot be said to be “Obeying sacred truths”. (see the words of Jesus at John 3:18) I view this hymn as expressing views that are bordering on heretical. I cannot use it.

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