Summary: One question I’ve wanted to ask God is, "are there many paths to God?"
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved"
(Acts 4:12 NIV)
We often get the impression that Christianity is dying out in Australia. It’s commonly thought that in our multicultural society, other religions are taking over. Statistics from the 2001 census give us an interesting picture.
• 67% Christian
• 1.9% Buddhists
• 0.5% Hindu
• 1.5% Muslim
• 0.4% Jewish
• 15.5% No religion
Also, worldwide Christianity is by far the largest “religion” with 1, 700 million adherents (or 32% of the pop). There are 880 million Muslims, 663 million Hindus, and 311 million Buddhists. Atheists (no God), amount to only 4.5% of the world population.
But even if Christianity is the predominant religion in the world today, we still have to face the question of what Christianity has to say about other religions. We live in a media saturated world that has made us aware of other faiths.
Today I want to clear up some common misconceptions about religion in Australia. And the first myth that people often believe is that all religions are basically the same.
1. The first myth about religion is that all religions are basically the same.
All religions are not basically the same and they do not worship the same god under different names. Buddhists for example, don’t even have a god in their belief system. And among all the world religions, Jesus Christ is unique. Buddhists, Muslims and Mormons may accept Christ as a prophet – but they do not accept him as the one and only Son of God as Christians do.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”
(John 14:6 NIV)
Once, God used the apostles Peter and John to heal a crippled man. They were arrested for it and put on trial. When they were asked by what power they were able to heal this man, Peter said that it was ….
“by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” and that “salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)
Peter is saying plainly that Jesus is the only one who can save. And his answer is consistent with the rest of the Bible.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1:5 NIV)
No other world religion claims to have a Savior. But we’ve seen that the Bible says,
… salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)
We all need a Saviour because we have all sinned. Yet only Christianity offers a Saviour – and that is Jesus Christ. So it doesn’t take too much homework to discover that all religions are not the same.
2. All other religions are completely false.
The second myth about religion is commonly held by Christians and that is that all other religions are completely false.
Jesus said, “I am the Truth” – so Christians will hold Jesus up as the standard by which other truth claims should be measured. But that doesn’t mean we won’t find elements of the truth in other religions. In fact we should expect to find some truth in all religions.
The reason for this is that God has revealed himself in his creation.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands (Psalm 19:1 NIV).
All religions operate within God’s creation – therefore all religions have available to them certain truths about God – that are revealed to all people regardless of the faith, through creation.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1:20 NIV).
Secondly, you and I are made in the image of God. God made you to be like him – and God gave you a conscience so you can determine right from wrong. And most people know right from wrong instinctively – this is because they are like God.
When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong
(Romans 2:14-15 MSG)
So we shouldn’t be surprised when we discover things like “the golden rule” of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – contained in almost every world religion. It’s because God created us all with a conscience.