Exclusivity: Can All Religions Lead to the Same God?

by Brodie Cooper

Can All Religions Lead to the Same God?

The idea that all religions lead to the same God is popular in today’s society.

It sounds good. It feels inclusive. It doesn’t offend anyone. Best of all, it requires nothing from me. As long as I’m a generally good person, all is well with God and I can go about my life. And, since all of the religions disagree about what exactly constitutes a generally good person, I’m free to make my own interpretation of the requirements to be a generally good person. Essentially, I can invent my own religion that is custom designed to ensure that it meets my personal needs, is adaptable enough that I do not need to address my personal shortcomings, and mostly allows me to do whatever I’d like to do whenever I’d like to do it. And, since all religions point to the same God, God must be okay with whatever religion I happen to invent and adapt to suit my fancy and make me happy, right?

Unfortunately, as with all things that are easy and popular in life, there’s a crucial flaw to the claim that all religions point to the same God. It’s a flaw that explains the hatred and vitriol that is often expressed toward Christianity in today’s society, and it’s a flaw that every Christian needs to understand thoroughly. Christianity is centered on Jesus, and Jesus claimed to be the exclusive pathway to God.

 

The Only Way to God

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV)

While this claim seems to be clear, there are some who say this is simply an interpretation problem and that Jesus never actually claimed to be the exclusive pathway to God. But, both the disciples who were present when this statement was made and the early church clearly understood Jesus’ claim to exclusivity.

From the Apostle Peter:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12, ESV)

Here, Peter essentially relays what he personally heard Jesus say…that Jesus is the only way to God.

From the Apostle Paul:

No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. (1 Cor. 10:20-21, ESV)

In 1 Corinthians, Paul was addressing one of the early churches that had a tendency to fall into attempting to follow another religion while still being Christians. The message here is clear: Other religions don’t point you toward God. Other religions point you toward substitutes that fall far short of God.

 

A Trustworthy Source

Other critics claim that statements such as these were not originally made by Jesus, Peter, and Paul and were later added to biblical texts in order to manipulate the masses. However, we are talking here about the most heavily researched text in the history of all mankind. If such an addition were made, there would be concrete evidence supporting the conspiracy. Some claim that Emperor Constantine had these modifications made, but in the case of the book of John we have original manuscripts dating back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries (predating Constantine by at least 100 years) to use for interpretation and comparison. With over 25,000 early manuscripts of New Testament books to rely on, the historical proof of the accuracy of text we see in the Bible today is overwhelming. Conspiracy theories abound, but the hard historical evidence suggests that we can be very certain that these statements by Jesus, Peter, and Paul are indeed accurate.

Further, since we can both prove historically that the text is accurate and prove biblically that Jesus did claim to be the exclusive pathway to God, we must take Jesus at His word. Either what He claims is true, or what He claims is false. There are no other options.

If what Jesus claims is true, then He is the Son of God and the only path that brings a person to God. If what Jesus claims is not true, then He is either a liar or completely out of His mind.[1] (Being simply mistaken is not an option. Have you ever known someone that believed they were God and were simply mistaken? Of course not…because they’re either crazy or flat out lying! It’s not possible for someone to believe that they are God and simply be making an honest mistake!)

If what Jesus claims is true, then it’s impossible for all religions to lead to the same God because Jesus specifically told us that they do not. If what Jesus claims is false and He is indeed a liar or a lunatic, how could He possibly be trusted as a valid pathway to God?

 

Take Jesus at His Word

Here’s the deal: the idea that every religion points to the same God sounds nice, but it doesn’t make any sense once you actually take a closer look. It simply isn’t rational to claim that all religions point to the same God when Jesus clearly claims that He’s the exclusive pathway to that God.

The “all religions point to the same God” belief is like that last half gallon of milk sitting in your fridge a few weeks past the expiration date. It looks nice in the fridge. It makes you think, “I have a half gallon of milk left so I don’t need to go to the trouble and expense of going to the store to buy another gallon of milk.” But, when it comes to the time that you actually need milk, you end up with a glass full of lumpy spoiled milk that is gag-inducing and unfit for consumption.

If you buy into the notion that you can be a generally good person, observe the general do’s and don’ts of most religions, and find yourself in good standing with God, you’re going to end up with a glass of lumpy milk when you most need nourishment. Jesus is telling you that the milk in your fridge is spoiled, and He’s offering you the cool, refreshing, nourishment you need. It takes some effort to go out and find Him, and there is a cost to choosing to follow Him (Luke 9:23). But, He’s the real deal. He’s worth the effort, and He’s worth the cost. He unlocks the door to God and offers more nourishment than you could ever imagine.

Take Jesus at His word. Study His words so that you know what He actually said. Test His words in order to know that they are true. Stand on His words because you know that they are true. Rely on His words in both the good times and bad times because they are never dependent on circumstance and will never let you down.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matt. 7:24-27, ESV)

[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 1952), 52.

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2017-07-31T03:20:14+00:00