Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Do all religions lead to God?


Living in Walsall we are very aware of the religious and ethnic diversity of our community. Many of us have friends and neighbours who follow faiths which are different to our own, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. What are we to make of these other faiths?

I have often heard it said that it doesn’t matter what pathway you follow, they all lead to God. But is this correct? Do all religions lead to God?

Such a view has immense attractions. It avoids the black and white choice and sees instead everything as a shade of grey. It is essentially tolerant, and tolerance is seen as a very fashionable virtue. It is also modest, because it doesn’t make strong pretensions for your own particular religion.

Some would also say that it makes sense to say that ultimately all religions are the same. For example Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘The soul of religion is one, but it is encased in a multitude of forms… Truth is the exclusive property of no single scripture… I cannot ascribe exclusive divinity to Jesus. He is as divine as Kirshna or Rama or Mohammed or Zoroaster.’

This may be a very popular view, and some may argue compelling view, but it won’t do for one very good reason.


It is a lovely sentimental idea to suppose all religions are basically one, and that they represent variations on a common theme, but it goes against all the evidence.

How can all religions lead to God when they are so different? The God of Hinduism is plural and impersonal. The God of Islam is singular and personal. The God of Christianity is the creator of the world. Whilst in Buddhism there is no god or saviour.

Christianity teaches that God forgives us, whereas in Buddhism there is no forgiveness. The goal of Buddhism is to achieve nirvana, extinction, whereas the goal in Christianity is to know God and enjoy him for ever.

But the biggest difference of all is that most other faiths assert that by keeping their teachings people can be saved or reborn. Whereas the Bible teaches us that what saves us is not what we do, but what God in Christ has done for us by dying for us on the cross.

This difference is illustrated in the Buddhist story which tells of a boy who comes home and is met by the father, and then has to work off the penalty for his past misdeeds by years of servitude to his father. Compare this story to the story of the prodigal son, who on returning to his father is immediately forgiven, and restored to the place of honour within his father’s household. The Buddhist principle of karma, paying off your guilt is poles apart from the Christian concept of grace, which is the free forgiveness that God offers us, and which none of us deserve.

So to say that all religions point is the same direction is utterly illogical. It is as foolish as saying that all roads from Walsall lead to Nottingham, they clearly don’t, and it is not helpful to pretend they do. Different religions lead to radically different goals, extinction or heaven, salvation by grace or by works, a personal God or an impersonal God.

What makes Christianity unique amongst all other religions is that we believe that God has intervened in history, and made Himself known by becoming one of us. He is not a distant or remote God, who we desperately strive to please. No, he is a personal God, a God of love, a God of compassion and mercy.

The focus of most other religions is on man’s search for God, whereas Christianity is more about a revelation from God. Unlike other holy books, the Bible does not bring us the story of humanities search of God, it tell us about the God who comes in search of humanity, and revealed himself to us through Jesus.

Jesus shows us in terms of a human life what God is like, he shows us that God loves us and cares for each one of us. But Jesus not only reveals God to us, but he also came to rescue us. The name Jesus means ‘God saves’ or ‘God rescues’. So Jesus not only shows us what God was like by his incomparable life, but he also put us right with God by his sacrificial death. Jesus, the God-man, took responsibility for our sins and “suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, so as to bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18).

This is why Jesus himself made it clear that there is only one way to God, and that is through him. Jesus said, ‘I am THE way, THE truth and THE life’. He didn’t say “I am one of the pathways to God”, or “I know the way” he made it absolutely clear that he is THE way, THE truth, THE life. And he goes on to say NO ONE, comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). We come to God the Father only through Jesus the Son.

No other religion speaks of a God who undertakes salvation for his people by personally bearing responsibility for their sins, by being willing to suffer and die for them. Christianity is quite distinct from other religions. It is not a case of man in search of God, but of God in search of man. Rather than calling Christianity a religion, it should be described as a revelation and a rescue.

So to say that all religions are the same is illogical.


This is an important question, because many people believe it is intolerant and narrow minded to claim for people to claim that their beliefs are right or another persons beliefs are wrong.

But how would you respond if you went to the doctor and after examining you he said “You have a malignant tumour spreading through your body. I think I know how to cure it, but it seems so arrogant of me to choose one method over another, so I think it is best for me to say nothing at all.” Or if he said “choose whatever treatment you want, they are all equally valid” how would you respond?

If there is just one way to God is it intolerant & narrow-minded to show everyone that way?

As a Christian, I believe it is always important to respect other peoples beliefs, just as I want them to respect my beliefs, and freedom to choose your believes is absolutely essential, but at the same time I also want to proclaim the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, because that is what we are taught to do in scripture.


The answer is no. The God who made the world, the God who revealed himself in Christ, has not left himself without witness in the world. Every good thought, every gleam of light, every word of truth, is part of God’s self disclosure. All truth is God’s truth. And so that is why when you look at other faiths, we can find a lot which is true and worthy, moral and good. BUT you will not find anything that is good and true which cannot be found in Christ, because he is the full revelation of God. You will not hear in other religions about a God who cares for your enough to die for you, to rise from the grave as a pledge of your future, and to be willing to come and share your life with you. You will not find in any other faith a revelation of God in fully personal terms.

It is not being narrow minded to say this, because the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ reveals that he was and is God. We are not dealing with myth and legend, but with historical fact. Jesus’ resurrection says YES to his claim to be the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Peter in Acts filled with the Holy Spirit declared “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)

It may seem to many people to be an outrageous claim that to say that there is only one way to God. But truth exists, and it matters what you believe. If all roads do not lead to God then it is incredible important for you to choose the right road.

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