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DO ALL ROADS LEAD TO GOD?



Posted: 08/02/07

Do All Roads Lead to God?

Worldview with Sean McDowell

George Lucas, in a magazine interview, made a comment that represents what many people think today about world religions: "I remember when I was 10 years old, I asked my mother, 'If there's only one God, why are there so many religions?' I've been pondering that question ever since, and the conclusion I've come to is that all religions are true.'"1 Madonna concurs: "I do believe that all paths lead to God. It's a shame that we end up having religious wars, because so many of the messages are the same."2 Sixty percent of young people today would agree that all roads equally lead to God.3

The Bible is very clear that Jesus isthe only path that leads to God. Jesus said to Thomas, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14:6). 1 Timothy 2:5 says, "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

Ironically, though, Christianity is not the only religion to claim to be the sole path to God. Most other religions (as you can see in the chart below) teach that their beliefs are true and others' are wrong. According to Islam, the Qur'an is the true word of God and the only avenue to salvation. Mormons believe that ultimate salvation is found only through Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church.  But it seems Christianity takes all the heat for saying this.

Are all religions the same?

When it comes to the fundamental teachings of world faiths they can all be wrong, but they can't all be right. Consider the differences between Hinduism and Islam. Hindus believe in many gods (polytheism) whereas Muslims strictly believe in one God (monotheism). For Hindus Jesus is one of many Gods, but for Muslims he is merely a good prophet. In fact, according to Muslim doctrine, to believe in more than one God is to commit the sin of shirk and to destine one's soul to hell for eternity. The afterlife for Hindus involves a karmic process of paying off debt with the purpose of becoming one with the impersonal Brahman. Muslims believe in Heaven and Hell for people upon death, according to how they lived their earthly lives in relationship to Allah. While there may be surface similarities between these two faiths, there are core disagreements on the fundamentals. They can't both be true.

 

GOD

MEANS OF SALVATION

VIEW OF OTHER RELIGIONS

BUDDHISM

No God

Self-reliance

True Way

HINDUISM

1,000's of Gods
(Impersonal)

Reincarnation

All True

JUDAISM

One God-Yahweh

Works

Just Judaism

ISLAM

One God-Allah

Five Pillars

Just Islam

CHRISTIANITY

One God, Three Persons

Grace

Just Christianity

While Madonna and George Lucas are wrong about the fundamental beliefs of world religions, they are right about secondary issues. For example, most faiths have some form of the "Golden Rule." Jesus said, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31). Buddha said, "Consider others as yourself" (Dhammapada 10:1). Other religions, specifically Islam and Judaism, are monotheistic and affirm there is only one God (of course, they get it wrong when it comes to who that God is and what He is like). So while the core tenets of other religions (particularly when it comes to the nature of God and the nature of salvation) are generally false, we must be careful not to dismiss truth discovered in those religions.

If a religion says to love your neighbor, to serve the poor, or to treat people equally, then we have common ground. This is precisely what Paul did on Mars Hill (Acts 17). He didn't completely dismiss the beliefs of the Athenians; he used truth in their beliefs as common ground to discuss the resurrection of Jesus. Respecting other faiths can go a long way in our witness to non-believers.

The Uniqueness of Christianity

While many religions claim to be able to lead people to truth, Jesus uniquely claimed to be the truth. In other words, Jesus did not merely consider himself a path to God-he considered himself to be God! This is why Thomas fell down when he saw the risen Jesus and proclaimed, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).

Jesus did not merely make grandiose claims about his identity and ask people to blindly accept him; rather, he backed them up with compelling proof such as the working of miracles, the fulfillment of prophecy, and ultimately his own resurrection. Of the major religious figures of the world, for example, Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Krishna, only one-Jesus-is reported to have resurrected from the dead. This report, further, is backed up by a compelling body of historical evidence. Jesus stands out as unique among the religious figures of the world.

The resurrection of Jesus confirms for the whole world that Jesus is Lord. The apostle Paul, who had seen the risen Jesus, writes that Jesus was "declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4). This is why the gospel of Jesus is considered good news. If Jesus truly is God in human flesh, then God is like Jesus. It means that God is not remote, arbitrary or unreal. He is a God who loves us and who came to earth so we could know Him in a personal way.

Isn't it arrogant to claim to have the only truth about God?

On a subway in London I [Sean] met a woman of the Bahai faith. She proceeded to tell me that she embraced all religions, and that as long as people held their beliefs with sincerity their religion was true for them. Despite her attempt to be inclusive, she was just as exclusive as any other religion or belief, for even she excluded the exclusivists! Philosopher Ravi Zacharias notes:

All religions are not the same. All religions do not point to God. All religions do not say that all religions are the same. At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not and accordingly, of defining life's purpose. Anyone who claims that all religions are the same betrays not only an ignorance of all religions but also a caricatured view of even the best-known ones. Every religion at its core is exclusive.4

Jesus did not come down to earth to exclude anyone but to lead as many people as possible to the knowledge of God. Unlike some religions that exclude females, those in poverty, or people of certain races, the message of Jesus is inclusive for all. Colossians 3:11 says, "In this new life, it doesn't matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us." Christ makes no human distinctions-he died and rose again so that all people could have a personal relationship with the living God.

Footnotes

  1. Time, April 26, 1999.
  2. Q Magazine, March 1998 issue.
  3. Christian Smith, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 74.
  4. Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods (Nashville, TN.: Word, 2000), 7.

 

Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com

By Sean McDowell

Click here for bio and archived articles

Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button.

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READER FEEDBACK


Re: Re: Do All Roads Lead to God?
Posted On: 10/31/07 12:27:50 PM Age 12345, NE
Have you ever read Revelation 2-3?



Re: Re: Do All Roads Lead to God?
Posted On: 08/06/07 09:30:24 PM Age 60, KS
I asked this question in my earlier post. Obviously, you know the truth so I'll ask you and I'm serious.... What religion is God? Better yet, what religion is Jesus? Thanks

Not quite. . .
Posted On: 08/03/07 01:53:28 PM Age 39, MO
Um. . . religion was a limited commodity in Jesus' day? Hardly. Aside from Hinduism and Judaism, a PARTIAL list would include Buddhism, Astrozorianism, the hundred gods of Egypt, a hodgepodge of cults and mystery religions in the Greek and Roman world, and countless other tribal and/or ancestral-based religions all over the world. About the only religion that DIDN'T exist then is Islam. And since religion, however it's defined, is oriented toward a supreme being, how should God, who IS the supreme being, be a follower of any religion? That's kind of like asking how many corners a circle has. But just as the fact the a circle is round tells you nothing about squares and rectangles, the fact that God is not religions doesn't say anything about man and religion, or the question of whether one religion among them all is the truth. . . .



Respect. . .
Posted On: 08/03/07 01:28:03 PM Age 39, MO
Perhaps you should consider what it means to respect something. It does NOT mean to promote, approve of, ally with, etc. It means to treat with dignity. In the specific case of other religions, it means to do exactly what Paul did, as the author pointed out. What he did was treat non-believers with respect, regardless of their religious affiliation; he spoke to them like people, not objects of scorn. He didn't say they were right; he specifically told them they were wrong, but he did it with respect. And that's all it means. . .

Re: Do All Roads Lead to God?
Posted On: 08/03/07 10:11:15 AM Age 39, CANADA
ALL ROADS DO LEAD TO GOD!!! It really makes no difference what religion you are part of. Buddist, Islam, Mormon belivers will all have their time with God. As a Christian you must believe this. It is 100% biblical. However, there is a slight difference with Christianity. Jesus will lead you to the Father; all others will lead you to the Judge.



Re: Do All Roads Lead to God?
Posted On: 08/03/07 07:44:43 AM Age 28, TX
Mr. McDowell, this is a necessary topic of discussion--although I suspect that most of it will completely escape a population which is proving impervious to reason or logic. However, I did want to ask for a quick clarification: When you say that there are "truths" in other religions, you're not proposing that "we can learn from [unbelievers, just insert the flavor here]", I trust? Usually, the two notions walk hand-in-hand anymore. Just trying to head off unnecessary dispute here...Do I detect a reference to Romans 2:13-15?--Mrs. Pilgrim

Re: Do All Roads Lead to God?
Posted On: 08/02/07 08:08:20 PM Age 60, KS
Your last paragraph says all that needs to be said. Jesus came to Earth and died for all of us...all religions. Of course, religion was a limited commodity in His time wasn't it? Jew's and Hindu's as I recall. Maybe someone out there could answer a question for me. What religion is God?



Re: Do All Roads Lead to God?
Posted On: 08/02/07 07:56:16 PM Age 65, FL
I disagree with the author of this article and all others who misinterpret John 14;6 and 1 Tim.2:5. These verses simply say humans have to be chosen by Jesus to receive salvation. For instance Jesus would know if a person would choose Jesus Christ as his saviour, if he knew about Jesus. There are good and righteous people of other religions whose hearts are known to God. After all what is the definition of religion? Religion is man's search for God. If all you have ever known is Hinduism and you are searching for the God of the Universe; God knows that truth because Jesus (who is our mediator) will tell the Father. Jesus is our lawyer our mediator; the one who explains us to God the Father. We do not know whether or not Jesus seeks out people of many different religions or not. We do know he chose Samaritans, Greeks, practicing Jews and gentiles to get the chance for eternal life.

Re: Do All Roads Lead to God?
Posted On: 08/02/07 05:24:28 PM Age 39, MO
Where to start? The statement that all roads lead to God is probably one of the defining characteristics of post-modern ecumenical watered-down religion, "christian" or otherwise. And it's even true, in a sense. All will one day stand in the presence of God, but I don't really think judgment is what George, Madonna, and company have in mind. You hit the nail on the head by noting the superficial similarities that do exist. A big reason why the exclusive claims of true Christianity offend even some nominal Christians is that the only understanding they have of the creed they claim to follow is entirely superficial - do unto others, God loves everybody, won't heaven be wonderful. And on that basis, you can agree with Muslims, Buddhists, or whoever, as long as they are equally shallow, and don't hold to what their belief system really teaches. If you do hold to the exclusive claims of passages like "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me," you're labeled arrogant, as you noted. But exclusivity is only arrogant if it deals with a matter of opinion. Telling you your car is worthless, and mine is the only one worth having is arrogant. . . telling someone who wants to go to Albuquerque that the bus they're getting on is going to Miami is kindness. Again, though, the shallow and superficial nature of most religious belief today lends itself to being held as an opinion, rather than a statement of reality. Sadly, lack of belief in the Bible as God's inspired word, with all that entails, is a major contributor to this phenomenon. If you can't trust the whole thing, how do you choose what you can trust? How do you respond to someone who tells you it only your opinion? You don't. If I don't take Genesis seriously, what's my justification for taking John 14:6 seriously?



Re: Do All Roads Lead to God?
Posted On: 08/02/07 04:12:03 PM Age 63, MN
All roads, except one, lead to destruction just like the Interstate 35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis. The only road that leads to God is the highway of holiness and nobody can climb onto that highway by their own strength. We all need Jesus to give us the grace to walk upon that highway for he is the only source of that grace and forgiveness.

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