Marcus800 says “What feels offensive today is saying that there’s only one way to God, and one religion to show us the way.” But he argues that what’s actually insulting is claiming that all religions are the same. When Lucia texts to ask him if it’s necessary to choose one religion rather than just “taking the best of multiple traditions,” Marcus8000 answers back, “Yes.”
While–as Lucia notes–people who profess faiths other than Christianity may behave in ways similar to Christians and appear to be “good people,” all religions are not the same. Distinct and vital differences exist between major religious philosophies and worldviews. Not only are these “roads” all different, they claim different destinations.
For example, Christianity claims that we can only be reconciled to God by Christ’s atoning death on the cross, and through that reconciliation we experience delight in his presence for eternity. 1
Islam, on the other hand, disagrees with every word of that claim. Islam teaches that if our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds and Allah chooses to have mercy on us based on the “good” we do, we will enter into his paradise. But Allah himself won’t be there–because he does not condescend to dwell among humans. That’s a different road and a different destination!
In Hinduism, one is not trying to reach God, but to become God. Hinduism teaches that every person’s soul- their Atman–is one with the divine, eternal absolute, the Brahman. Buddhism, on the other hand, was founded on the rejection of the Hindu belief that we have a divine self. Classical Buddhism recognizes no self at all, and no divine being. Atman doesn’t become Brahman, because to the Buddhist, neither exists. The end is simply the Void, and the goal at death is to become extinguished into the Void. And Confucianism is utterly uninterested in the afterlife at all–only in this life and the social structures in which we conduct ourselves. While Judaism shares much of the history and teaching of Christianity, Jews do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, nor do they believe his resurrection claims.
Among other world religions only Christianity proclaims that salvation is by grace–a gift of unmerited favor by God–rather than by human striving. 2 Only Christianity proclaims that God is the seeker and man the object of his search, and not the reverse. Only Christianity makes claims that are historically verifiable: that Jesus of Nazareth–the Christ–was born in the flesh, introduced a radical new message of good news for man’s redemption, performed miracles, died a terrible, unjust death, and was raised from the dead three days later, appearing to many for 40 days following his resurrection.
So it is impossible for “all roads” or religions to lead to the same God. (They don’t even claim to!) And it is equally impossible to accept two (or more) conflicting truth claims as being true. While religious pluralism may seem smart, kind and tolerant, if it is untrue, it is none of these.
It may seem hard to believe today that Jesus really is the one, true God–but when you think about it, it’s actually much easier for us to believe it than it was when he first made his claims. His early disciples were a tiny group of only marginally educated Jews with a seemingly impossible task before them: making disciples of all nations. 3 But almost 2000 years later, faith in Jesus Christ has grown to be the most widespread and diverse belief system in the world! Almost a third of all humans today identify as Christians. And they come from all across the world: Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia. Contrary to popular belief, the proportion of Christians in the world isn’t small or shrinking. It’s growing!
Because God has shown us his love by the gift of unmerited grace, we are called to show grace to those around us–even to those who may criticize our faith. Grace is, by definition, undeserved, given to us when the opposite was earned. When we understand the depth of God’s gift of grace to us, we are better able to deal graciously with others, regardless of whether they share our belief that Christ is the only way.
Luke Chapter 6 says, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
1. John 14: 6-9; Psalm 16:11.
2. Ephesians 2: 8-10.
3. Matthew 28: 19-20
John 14: 6-9
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will knowa] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Video Segment: (3:21 – 3:55) “I tried to research a couple of religions because of a paper I had to write for my history class. There were some similarities between a lot of different religions, and a lot of them have some kind of moral teacher saying, you know…Don’t hurt other people, and – like -be kind to others. I often wonder “Are we all worshipping the same God?” because my Hindu, Muslim and Jewish friends, they’re such great people. They’re just really – good – people. And so I often wonder. “How can I be so judgmental by calling someone else’s life experience wrong?”
>>Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion, Chapter 3, “How Can You Say There’s Only One Faith?” by Rebecca McLaughlin, (Crossway, 2019).
>>The Reason for God: Belief in An Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller, Chapter 1, “There Can’t be Just One True Religion,” (Riverhead Books, 2008).