I have a friend who believes all religions lead to God
We live in a world in which it is cool to be broadminded and politically correct to be broad-minded and tolerant. The implication behind such an assertion “all religions lead to God” is that either God must be rather arbitrary if He insists on only one way to Himself, or second, that you are being dogmatic and bigoted to believe it. Today's thinking emphasizes that uncertainty and agnosticism are more valuable than conviction and commitment. People can make their own way to God if they are sincere and determined. And that everyone should find their own way to God. So my way is just as good as yours.
begin with a little consumer research. Facts and figures tell their own story.
Here are the main religions in the world:
Christianity 2 billion
Islam 1.2 billion
Hindus 786 million
Buddhist 362 million
Tribal religions 225 million
Sikhism 23 million
Judaism 14 million
is the largest and fastest growing faith in the world.
33% of the world claim to follow Jesus.
In the UK 80% of people identify with the Christian faith.
Only 2.5% of people in the UK belong to one of the other faiths. It is therefore hardly true to describe Britain as multi-faith.
Sincere but Wrong
Many people think all religions lead to God because they assume that all religions are essentially the same when you reduce them to their core beliefs. But this just isn't true and only shows they have not looked deeply enough.
You only have to scratch the surface of what other religions teach to see this. If you let each religion speak for itself, you find they differ greatly on the basic concepts-God, truth, reality, the basic human dilemma and the solution to that dilemma. They differ so much that many of their statements contradict one another.
For example, God cannot be both personal, as Christians, Jews and Muslims believe, and impersonal, as Buddhists and Hindus believe. Jesus cannot be a false Messiah as Judaism teaches, a prophets as Islam teaches and the Son of God as Christians believe. Those are contradictory statements. According to the rules of logic, contradictory statements cannot all be true. Therefore, all religions cannot possibly be true. It is a logical impossibility. And if they are not all true, and if they lead us in different directions, then not all of them can lead to God.
Assertive yet Tolerant
Some people make this assertion for another reason. They think wrongly that it is intolerant to believe only one religion has things right. But this response shows a misunderstanding of what intolerance really is. Intolerance comes from the word "tolerate." To tolerate means to allow something, such as a belief, to exist even though we don't like it or agree with it. Tolerance does not mean never disagreeing with anybody. The word implies disagreement. True tolerance means allowing differing views to coexist without necessarily agreeing with them or claiming that all views are true. Therefore, we can hold that one view is true or better than other views without being intolerant. If we were truly intolerant, we would silence other points of view. But merely engaging in persuasive conversation with someone you disagree with is not intolerance. We show more respect for each other when we take our religious claims seriously than when we clothe them in a patronizing cloak of relativism.
What does the Bible say about other Religions?
Lets have a brief look at Isaiah 44. The Bible is emphatic:
"This is what the Lord says… the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44:6)
The Bible insists there is only one God. All other gods are substitutes - indeed they are:
Self worship (44:13)
Other religions are therefore worthless, man-made, lead people to self worship and are detestable because they delude, they lead people away from the one true God. The one true God who has revealed himself in Scripture, through history, through the prophets and supremely in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Should we Respond?
How should we respond to people when they say, “surely all religions lead to God”? How did Paul respond in Athens when he saw the city swamped by idols and false gods? “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.” (Acts 17:16).
Paul wasn’t into winning arguments. He was passionate about saving people who had gone astray and were confused and lost in their fears and delusions. How should we respond?
1. We need to be humble
We were in just as much need of a saviour as they are so there is no room for arrogance. We are like beggars who have found food, sharing it with those who have none.
2. We need to be positive
Peter and Paul took the opportunities God gave them to share about Jesus and not tear down what other people believed.
3. We need to be respectful
The people we are speaking with were created in the image of God. God loved them also so much that he sent his son to die for them.
4. We need to be courageous
The first Christians were not ashamed to talk about Jesus. Their message was unpopular and it got them into trouble on many occasions. But they wouldn’t keep quiet.
One way to take the conversation further is to ask questions because it helps you find out where people are at: “In what way would you say they all religions lead to God?" Wait for their answer which will probably point to the common emphasis on sincerity and moral conduct. You might respond "I myself would like to think that there are many ways to God. But the facts of the matter compel me to believe that the Christian way is different from all the rest."
Michael Green put it this way “Far from closing our options, pluralism allows us to proclaim an undiluted gospel in the public square and in the supermarket of faiths, allowing others the same right. Let the truth prevail and let craven silence be banished.” Get to know more about Jesus and your courage and confidence will grow.
Uniqueness of Christianity
All religions agree that mankind is in a mess. The Bible puts it this way: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6). Each religion sets out its own way of rescuing us from this desperate situation. Let us think of the problem as that of a man who has fallen down a deep well. The question is how to get him out.
First comes Mohammed who
looks over the top of the well and says; "if you will only keep the five
rules of Islam then you will be able to escape from the well. You must pray
five times a day, eat no pork, drink no alcohol, keep the feast of Ramadan and
make the pilgrimage to Mecca".
Then comes Buddha who looks over the top of the well and says: "I can see You are in a mess; the problem is due to pain and desire. If you follow the noble eightfold path you will escape from these ultimately into Nirvana." The man may find inner peace but he is still down the well.
Jesus comes to the top of the well and looks down and says: "I can see that you are in a mess; you will never get out by means of your own resources. As I said through one of my prophets: "Can the leopard change his spots or the Ethiopian his skin? No more can do good who are accustomed to do evil." Jeremiah 13: 23.
"I will have to let down a rope and come down into the well myself in order to rescue you. I will hold you firmly because you do not even have the strength to hold on to me yourself."
Only Christianity speaks about God becoming a human being to rescue us. In John 10 Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14), the Good shepherd who lay down his life for the sheep (10:15), who draws all true worshippers together into one fold (10:16).
On what evidence do Christians base this claim that Jesus is the only way? Mainly on Jesus' own words. Jesus claimed to be the only Saviour "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). From His own words, both Jesus' followers and his opponents recognized that He claimed to be God, the only one able to save us from sin and death (see also John 20:24-29; John 10:31-33).
What Makes Jesus Unique?
Peter proclaimed him as the “Holy and Righteous one” (Acts 3:14) and the “author of life” (3:15), the one “the prophets foretold.” (3:18). The first Christians worshipped Jesus as God.
Predicted 300 x before he came.
Sinless Holy Life.
Taught with great wisdom.
Miracles of great power over creation, disease and death.
This sets Jesus apart from the other leaders of the worlds religious.
Unique in Achievement
As Peter asserts “salvation s found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given by men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Other religions say that we must work hard to deliver ourselves. They are all effort; Christianity is all grace.
Only Christianity says that the King of the Universe came into this world, became Jesus died horribly to atone for the guilt of his rebel subjects. Such a thought is not even found in the area of fiction and romance. Other religions are about people’s best efforts to reach God, Christianity is God's supreme effort to reach us. The difference between Christianity and other religions can be summed up in one world. It’s the difference between “do” and “done”. Religion - from the Latin word ‘religio’ is all about works - what I must do - present tense. Christianity is all about Grace - what Jesus has done - past tense. The Choice - Do or Done?
Unique in his
Paul asserts “who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:4). The resurrection of Jesus is a unique event in the history of the world. The resurrection of Jesus lies at the heart of the Christian faith. Jesus is alive today. You can know him. We cannot know Buddah or Muhammed. Jesus is the unique Son of God, validated by predictions made hundreds of years before he came, vindicated by a life of profound teaching and incredible miracles, who uniquely died for the sins of the world and in our place and uniquely rose again. Beat that.
This is how C.S. Lewis summarised the case for Christianity:
“What are we to make of Jesus Christ? This is a question which has, in a sense, a frantically comic side. For the real question is not what are we to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us? The picture of a fly sitting deciding what it is going to make of an elephant has comic elements about it. But perhaps the questioner meant what are we to make of Him in the sense of 'How are we to solve the historical problem set us by the recorded sayings and acts of this Man?' This problem is to reconcile two things.
On the one hand you have got the almost generally admitted depth and sanity of His moral teaching, which is not very seriously questioned, even by those who are opposed to Christianity. In fact, I find when I am arguing with very anti-God people that they rather make a point of saying, 'I am entirely in favour of the moral teaching of Christianity'—and there seems to be a general agreement that in the teaching of this Man and of his immediate followers, moral truth is exhibited at its purest and best. It is not sloppy idealism, it is full of wisdom and shrewdness. The whole thing is realistic, fresh to the highest degree, the product of a sane mind. That is one phenomenon.
The other phenomenon is quite the appalling nature of this Man's theological remarks. You all know what I mean, and I want rather to stress the point that the appalling claim which this Man seems to be making is not merely made at one moment of His career. There is, of course, the one moment which led to His execution. The moment at which the High Priest said to Him, 'Who are you?' 'I am the Anointed, the Son of the uncreated God, and you shall see Me appearing at the end of all history as the judge of the Universe.' Well, that is the other side.
On the one side clear, definite moral teaching. On the other, claims which, if not true, are those of a megalomaniac, compared with whom Hitler was the most sane and humble of men. There is no half-way house and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked him 'Are you the son of Bramah?' he would have said, 'My son you are still in the vale of illusion.' If you had gone to Socrates and asked, 'Are you Zeus?' he would have laughed at you. If you would have gone to Mohammed and asked, 'Are you Allah?' he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off. If you had asked Confucius, 'Are you Heaven?', I think he would have probably replied, 'Remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste.' The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question.
In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man. If you think you are a poached egg, when you are looking for a piece of toast to suit you, you may be sane, but if you think you are God, there is no chance for you. We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. He produced mainly three effects—Hatred—Terror—Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval. 'What are we to make of Christ?' There is no question of what we can make of Him, it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us.” C.S. Lewis.
I am grateful to Nicky Gumbel and his book “Searching Issues” and Campus Crusade for Christ and their booklet "Turning the Table in Witnessing" for some of the ideas contained in this talk.