How Many Roads to God?
“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
The idea of only one way to God is very offensive to many people. The more popular and inclusive ideas are these:
“All paths eventually lead to the same God.”
“All religions teach the same basic principles so it really does not matter which religion you follow.”
“It does not matter what you believe as long as you are a good person and are sincere.”
“We are all God’s children and it is not important what we believe.”
“There is no one ultimate truth. Everyone is entitled to believe whatever they want.”
While Christians would agree that there are probably elements of truth in every religion, traditional Christianity would take exception to the idea that all paths will eventually lead to God. I realize this is not popular and leaves Christians looking intolerant. At the same time, however, this has been what Christians have believed for around 2000 years.
Why is it that traditional Christianity sees itself as the only true way to God? After all, Islam says the same thing. Judaism also believes that they have the eternal truth and the promises of God. What is it about Christianity that might elevate their claim to providing the only way to God?
First of all, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father (God) except through me.” This is a pretty bold claim and the religious leaders of Jesus’ day took offense at statements like this just as people do today. Just because Jesus made this claim does not automatically make it so. Anyone can say that they are the only way to God. Is there any way to substantiate this claim?
The New Testament teaches that Jesus was eventually put to death by the Romans at the instigation of the Jewish religious leaders. A dead messiah equals no messiah. Jesus was not the first Jewish rabbi to attract a following and be thought of as the messiah. He was not the first one that the Romans had executed.
What sets Jesus apart, however, is the resurrection. The New Testament teaches that Jesus physically rose from the dead. This is what the Easter Holiday is all about. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me – that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve apostles. After that, he was seen by more than five hundred of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died by now. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.”
If Jesus rose from the dead, never to die again, this seems to be a pretty clear substantiation of His claim to be the only way to God. Obviously, everyone will not agree on this and many adherents to other faiths would argue that Jesus was not raised from the dead. This question of the resurrection has been argued and debated since the days of the early Church. That debate will likely not be resolved anytime soon. For those who argue against the resurrection, however, I would merely encourage them to examine the evidence. It is pretty overwhelming!
Another reason that Christians do not believe that all paths lead to God has to do with Jesus’ crucifixion. If Jesus was merely crucified as a failed revolutionary, there is little significance in His death. Christians believe, however, there was an atoning work that took place through His death. Paul said that, “Christ died for our sins…”
Jesus said that He had come to “give his life as a ransom for many.” If all religions are true but just different paths to God, why did Jesus have to die? If God’s plan all along was that every religion would lead people to Him, did Jesus die in vain?
A last question that is worth considering is this, “Why would God only make one way to get to Him?” This is a legitimate question. If God is love and wants to save the world, why would He make it so hard for people to find Him? One answer to this is that if Jesus was who He said He was, there is at least a way to God.
This Way might not be the way that everyone chooses or wants but at least God created a way to approach Him. Of course, many will say, “It is not fair that Jesus is the only way to God.” While the Bible teaches that God is love, God is just, etc., there is nothing in the Scriptures to demonstrate that God is concerned about fitting our definition of “fair.” His ways are not our ways.
In essence, this entire discussion takes us back to the very beginning and the idea of free will. If God has created us with a free will, we can go down whatever path we choose. We can believe whatever we want to believe. That is the nature of choice. If every path really does lead to God, though, is our will really free? It sounds like we are being forced to go somewhere we might not really want to go.
David and Annie are serving the Lord in the US and Brazil. They are training leaders and helping build great local churches. Would you consider becoming a part of their ministry? Just click here to get involved!