Summary: Do all religions lead to God? Aren’t they really just different paths to the same place, different perspectives on the same thing, different names for the same “higher power”? Tempting, but then we confront Jesus.
Do All Religions Lead To God?
Do all religions lead to God? Aren’t they really just different paths to the same place, different perspectives on the same thing, different names for the same “higher power”? Isn’t the important thing that we all just be nice to each other, be sincere in what we believe, and then just trust that “god”, whomever or whatever you might believe that to be, will accept us all based on our belief that all of us are pretty good, or at least more good than bad?
Furthermore, aren’t we as Christians pretty ignorant and bigoted and self-important to say that we are the only ones who have the truth, that others are all wrong and destined for hell? Nowadays, shouldn’t we certainly be more enlightened than to presume and suggest that Jesus is the only way – we couldn’t possibly, really believe that everyone else is going to spend eternity separated from God. Could we? That is simply too intolerant, too narrow, too egotistical. Isn’t it? Shouldn’t we just love others, accept them for who they are and what they believe, respect their views of religion, and DEFINITELY not try to impose our views on them?
Isn’t it better to believe that we are all, ultimately, headed in the same direction, and thus it doesn’t really matter if you follow Jesus or Mohammed, if you are into Zen or Hinduism or ancestor worship or Confucianism? Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that we are all fellow travelers on this road of life, headed to the same destination but taking very different routes? Aren’t we all headed to the top of the mountain? - we’ll meet on the peak, but we start at very different places, take very different paths, use many different tools, but ultimately, don’t we end up at the same place?
It’s Not That Easy…
I wish it were that easy. Then we wouldn’t have to worry about sharing Jesus, we wouldn’t have to have unpleasant disagreements, we wouldn’t have to talk to each other at all about important topics like “religion”, we wouldn’t even have to think too deeply about any of this – just leave it alone, and it will all turn out ok. We could maybe even end many of the conflicts in our world that are, at least on the surface, “wars of religion”. And on a more personal level, we wouldn’t have to wrestle with the question of what happens to others we know and love when they die. Wouldn’t all that be great?
But it isn’t that easy. The questions are more complicated, and the stakes are too high to leave eternity to a vague hope that sincerity will triumph over truth, that it doesn’t matter what you believe or practice, God will just work it all out perfectly for everybody in the end.
Besides, many of the claims of the different world religions are just plain contradictory, so how could they possibly all be true?
The Same Root…
I do believe, however, that the search for God in all the cultures and corners of our world arise from the same root – that we are more than the physical, that there is a broader reality with which we can begin to make sense of our lives, that there are universal principles in how we should interact with one another and with our world, physical and spiritual. As Christians in our world, we must listen for those starting points, identify with the need, and then find ways to journey together to truth. But just because we start with the same question does not necessarily mean that all the answers are equally valid, are equally true, or lead to the same conclusion.
Shouldn’t Everyone Be Saved?
A big part of the driver behind the idea, prevalent in our culture, that all religions lead to God, is our sense of fairness. If there is a God, and God is loving, then surely He must save everyone. Shouldn’t He? Let’s see what Jesus says in response to this question:
Luke 13:22-30: “22Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?"
He said to them, 24"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ’Sir, open the door for us.’
"But he will answer, ’I don’t know you or where you come from.’
26"Then you will say, ’We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’