"All Religions Lead to God"
We live in a world with many different cultures and many different religions and each should be treated with respect. The word commonly used today for this concept is tolerance. Tolerance (rightly understood), is good. We should be tolerant, but that doesn't mean we agree with everyone who puts forth a religious conviction.
The problem is that when people say, “All religions lead to God.” – They are stating something that goes well beyond tolerance. This is known as religious pluralism. It says that each religion is equally valid or true. The fact is – truth divides. There are many different and opposing beliefs among the competing religions, therefore they can't all be true.
So why is Christianity the right one? There are many reasons I could give in support of my belief that Christianity is true, however the purpose of this blog post is to simply make one point. That point is this – when people say that all religions lead to God, I believe they haven't looked very closely at the various world religions, and/or thought deeply enough about their view.
Before we dive in, please allow me a quick sidebar. Technically speaking, Christianity is a religion. So, I have used the word “religion” in the title of this post, but I'm not a big fan of that word. Religion is humanity's attempt to reach up and become acceptable to God through doing things that appease Him.
The whole concept of Christianity is that we can’t reach up to God, but God has reached down to us. Jesus Christ became a man and condescended down to where we are, and He did that to save us from our sins. Christianity is about what God has done for us in Christ, not about what we do for Him.
The fact is, every other religion teaches some form of works salvation (doing something to get right with God and earn His favor). The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of grace; we receive that which we don’t deserve. That is why it is such good news!
Based upon our own merit and effort, it is impossible for us to earn our way to heaven. God's standard is just too high. He demands total righteousness and perfect obedience. Jesus is the only one who meets those requirements. We can’t do it; none of us have.
Many people’s view of God is far too low, therefore they believe in a god who accepts people into heaven if they have completed certain steps or followed certain rules, at least to the best of their ability.
All people everywhere, including me, are in need of God's grace. And biblical Christianity teaches that is found only in Jesus Christ. Why? The reason is because He's the only one who lived the perfect life and offers us the perfection that we need to be accepted by God. And this comes to us a free gift!
That's why Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6 He is the only one who can say that because He’s the only one who paid the penalty for our sins when He died upon that cross. Therefore, "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12
So, let me ask you this question. If you wanted to drive to the White House, could you get in your car and just go in any direction? No, you would need to follow a particular course, a set of directions, either by way of a map or a GPS app, otherwise you'd get lost. You can’t just get in your car and drive in any old direction and expect to end up at the White House.
If you're in Pennsylvania and you set out going north in an attempt to get to Washington, DC, you wouldn't make it there. If I said to you, "Friend, you're going in the wrong direction."…wouldn't that be a kind thing for me to do? Or should I just let you continue on in the wrong direction? I’m simply trying to help you get to your desired destination. I’m hoping you wouldn’t call me a hater, or say that I’m being intolerant. I’m just trying to be helpful. I want you to get where you’re trying to go!
Now, if Washington, DC is actually north of Pennsylvania, then you'd be right and I'd be wrong. And if you showed me the error of my ways, I wouldn’t get mad at you, I would thank you for it. What I’m advocating for here is that in this scenario, what we can’t say is that we're both right.
This is an issue of truth not preference.
Greg Koukl, an apologist from a ministry that I would highly recommend called Stand to Reason, puts it this way, "Forgive me for stating something so obvious, but there is a difference between choosing an ice cream flavor and choosing a medicine. When choosing ice cream, you choose what you like. When choosing medicine, you have to choose what heals. Many people think of God like they think of ice cream, not like they think of insulin. In other words, they choose religious views according to their tastes, not according to what is true. The question of truth hardly even comes up in the conversation.”
The Blind Men and the Elephant
There is an old tale about a number of blind men who attempt to describe an elephant. It is said that once upon a time a king gathered together a few men who were born blind. They were each asked to describe the elephant, but each one was presented with only a certain part of it.
One man was presented only the trunk of the elephant, and he said the elephant is like a hose. Another man was presented only the elephant’s tusk, and he said the elephant is like a spear. Still another was given only the elephant’s body, and he said he was like a wall. Another the tail, and he said the elephant was like a rope. You get the idea…
Each of these blind men then quarreled among themselves, each thinking that he was the only one who was right, and the others were wrong. The obvious truth is that the elephant is a unity of many parts, a unity that they could not grasp in their ignorance. The king then comes out to reveal to them that it is an elephant and each of them had a piece of the truth.
At first glance this story seems to be a reasonable way to harmonize the various world religions, however let's take a closer look. I will offer three responses.
First, like the king that informs the blind men that it is truly an elephant, what if the elephant speaks? Christianity says that we don't learn about God by groping or feeling, rather through revelation. This is such an important point to understand. What we learn about God (who He is, what He’s like), comes through God's own revelation. He tells us! God is not silent, leaving us to guess about his nature. God tells us what He is like and what He wants. He makes Himself known.
The parable of the blind men does not take this into account. Yet three of the world's largest religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam, all make this claim. They all claim divine revelation. The story fails to take into consideration this critical point.
Second, it could be said that the lesson from the story is that none of the blind men were correct. The blind men are all in fact mistaken. It is an elephant, not a hose, a spear, a wall, or a rope. In the story, they’re all wrong!
At best, this story shows that each of their opinions are not equally true, in fact they are actually equally false! The story backfires, because it actually proves the opposite of the point it is seeking to make.
Lastly, another problem is that the story presumes that Christians reject religious pluralism because they lack exposure to other beliefs. The blind men were mistaken because each had explored only a part of the elephant. The story is seeking to convey that Christians are just simply uninformed and ignorant of the other world religions.
However, Christians reject pluralism not on the basis of ignorance of other religious perspectives, but rather because the competing religions contradict each other. It's not that we haven't discovered the other views; it's the fact that they are incompatible.
Contradictory claims cannot be simultaneously true.
Our job is to find out which religion does the best job of explaining reality as we know it. We do that not on the basis of feeling, taste, or preference, but through a thorough examination of the truth claims that have been revealed to us. Which religion best explains the world around us? How do we account for things like creation, science, nature, morality, logic, etc.? The answer that I will continue to put forth at BringingTRUTH.com is that biblical Christianity is the best explanation.
When Thomas the skeptic questioned Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus didn’t say, “I am one path among many. I can get you there, but you can also get there all sorts of different ways, just pick the one that you prefer, the one that works for you.”
No, Jesus responded, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."
As the bumper sticker reads – Jesus is the answer!