Surprisingly, a lot of Christians believe all religions lead to the same place, in that someone can reject Jesus in favor of being a muslim, buddhist, etc…, but still go to heaven because they lead “good” lives. While there is a difference between those who have heard the gospel, and those who have not, it is impossible to say all religions point to the same God given how different they are, and how much they contradict one another–so why is this such a common way of thinking among Christians?
Without Being Intolerant Or Disrespectful, It Is Alright To Say Other Religions Are Wrong, They Say We Are Wrong All The Time, So Yes
First things first, generally speaking, people do not like confrontational situations or ones where they feel uncomfortable due to a difference of opinion, mainly because these conversations often get heated or become unproductive due to the participants having closed minds
However, when it comes to representing the truth behind the gospel, we should feel comfortable honoring it as the life giving message it truly is, without feeling like it needs to be watered down or altered in any way in order to make it more accessible to our audiences when they hear something they do not like
When it comes to comparing religions, regardless of how similar parts of their teachings can appear on the surface, when one looks into them thoroughly, their contradictory differences became very apparent
Just like there is no room in math class for different answers based on subjective interpretations of an equation, world religions contradict each other in terms of how they view God, as well as the path to salvation and/or eternal life–there is no debating this, but most people do not dig into other religions far enough to see this
To look at two common examples, buddhists teach the path to eternal life is to let go of all worldly attachment so that one may reach a state of spiritual enlightenment and wisdom, allowing them to be reincarnated as a being of higher consciousness, while islam says the only way to become saved is to ignore all other religions, reading from the quran alone, and rejecting the idea that Jesus paid for our sins through his blood, labeling him only as a prophet of allah whose teachings were distorted for selfish gain by religious leaders
Um, so let me get this straight, if these religions teach such contradictory things about how to be saved, especially in regards to Jesus’ sacrifice being the only way for us to draw near to God and be seen as righteous in his eyes, how can anyone say these religions lead people to heaven the same way accepting Jesus does?
To take things further, think about the way liberal buddhists regard Christianity, as some concede that if Christianity helps someone attain enlightenment or wisdom, then it is okay, but it is not the final destination of existence, it is only a contributing factor on a much bigger journey through the cosmos
That is like saying:
“Jesus, you are a footnote that may or may not be valuable as people journey towards greater things, you got your own set of holidays though, congratulations on that”
Or what about islam’s take on salvation, they say they believe in the OT, and Jesus, but reject the idea that Jesus was God himself or that the Holy Spirit exists, stating “God is one!”, while mandating the only guaranteed way to enter heaven is to die in battle defending islam
What makes no sense, is this contradicts so much in both the OT and NT as Paul openly said even if we die as martyrs but have not love, it profits us nothing as God cares about the motivations, and condition of our heart, not just what we do from time to time–anyone can do something noble but still be a wicked person who rejects God, and his righteousness, in their heart
1 Corinthians 13:3
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing
Also, just so there is no misunderstanding, islam teaches that dying in battle is the only single act someone can perform that will guarantee their entrance to heaven, though they do have other teachings that involve attaining salvation as the result of leading good lives
Is God Really That Illogical And Confused
Okay, in order to believe that contradicting religions point to the same God, one has to ask:
“Why would God give so much contradicting information to various people instead of just giving the same message all over the world”
I mean really, given the confusion and disagreements about religion, what possible reason would God have for creating separate religions that disagree with one another so thoroughly, this contradicts his character as he is Truth and perfection itself
Some people think God created a variety of religions so he could speak with other cultures, but was he so short-sighted he did not pay attention to how their inherent contradictions would eventually become dividing?
The idea that God would create that kind of discord makes no sense
1 Corinthians 14:33
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace
(The word “peace” in Greek above means “harmony, of one accord”)
Also, when God said not to have any other gods before him, did he forget about all those other religions he made up, there are so many different gods, goddesses, and beings to pray to, it is hard to keep track of which God is the “real” God to put first
You shall have no other gods before me
I mean, if God wanted us to have options, why did he create so few religions then, he should have created even more so an even greater number of people could be saved
Even though other religions deny Jesus was the son of God and that he died for our sins, they are still perfectly acceptable options to secure our place in eternity!
Jesus And The Apostles Never Taught The Pathway Leading To A Relationship With God Was Flexible
Regardless of the surface level teachings in other religions about being nice to people, our relationship with God is an important, but often overlooked, point to be aware of, as this is one of the biggest defining features of Christianity that makes it unique–no other religion says God’s spirit dwells within its followers as a result of people putting their faith in him
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit
During his time on earth, Jesus did not go around teaching he was one of many options for salvation or a relationship with God, he taught the complete opposite, stating there was no other pathway to God other than through him
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned
Even though these statements are beyond clear, in order for people to view other religions as options for salvation, they would have to read the verse above as though Jesus said something like this:
“I am an option, a subjective truth based on personal preference, and the life. People can come to the Father through me if they want, but there are other ways too”
Further to this, Jesus never preached that salvation and forgiveness of sins was possible unless our faith was in him, which also makes Christianity different from other religions, ie: Jesus’ sacrifice paid for our sins as an integral part of the path to salvation, no other religion says this, in fact, they reject this idea altogether
You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins
Also, the Apostles wrote about Jesus being “the author and perfecter of our faith”, as well as the single mediator between God and mankind, which tells us they were not under the impression there were “perfect” faiths apart from Christianity
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God
1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
Apart from not considering other religions to be viable alternatives to Christianity, Paul taught that even minor distortions of the gospel were problematic, which is something we still see today when people believe errant theology because it is more comfortable than accepting what is plainly written in the Bible
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ
(Ironically, islam states the “true” message was given to mohammed by an angel that visited with him)
That is one powerful last line, coming from a guy who regularly got beaten, thrown in jail, and faced all sorts of persecution for the sake of preaching the gospel
Paul endured these things because he only wanted to preach the gospel in its true form, not a watered down version of it for the sake of winning more people over–Paul was not concerned with being politically correct, he only cared about preaching the truth
It is also important to understand that people have always distorted, polluted, and misunderstood the gospel, as Peter himself wrote about how difficult some of Paul’s teachings were to understand
2 Peter 3:16-18
He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen
These points are important, as we see there is no room for loose interpretation of the Bible, let alone the acceptance of other religions as being alternatives to the gospel as the Bible teaches it
1 Timothy 4:16
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers
But What About Little Ndugu Who Never Heard About Jesus, Will He Go To Heaven Too?
This is an interesting question, as some maintain that if someone did not put their faith in Jesus, regardless of whether they heard the gospel or not, they will be denied entrance to heaven
Thankfully, this is not true!
Paul taught that those who were not exposed to the old covenant law or the gospel of Jesus, would be judged according to their consciences, ie: did they follow what they inherently felt was right or wrong in accordance with God’s standard of righteousness
All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares
That is an interesting thought!
Now, at this point, it is important to separate those who have never heard about God from those who have but rejected him in favor of another religion
In the cases where people have never heard about God, if someone had no idea about the law or the gospel, they are still judged according to their consciences and thoughts, but as Paul noted, the standard of righteousness they will be judged against does not change, ie: “even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them”
On the other hand, for the people who reject God in favor of other religions, this is more obvious, as God has always been clear no other gods should be worshiped before him
To whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?
Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips
Peter also made the point that there is no other name than Jesus that can give salvation, so it is not like someone can call on another religion’s god and expect the same results as if they were calling on Jesus out of sincere faith
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved
Pretty straight forward stuff, and I am not sure how Christians can draw the conclusion that all religions point to the same place, unless they do not believe what is written in the Bible
The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death