“My premise is that the popular aphorism that ‘all religions are fundamentally the same and only superficially different’ simply is not true. It is more correct to say that all religions are, at best, superficially similar but fundamentally different.”
It’s no secret that many people believe that all paths lead to God. We live in a world that lives in fear of offending people. But the dilemma with this idea is that these people aren’t taking the time to figure out if the statement is true. People who think this way also think that if they believe in God or some sort of higher power, then that is all that is needed and that it doesn’t matter which path you take because you end up in the same place as everyone else. There is a lot of conflicting information among religions that needs to be addressed so we need to look at the facts. We have to look at what these religions believe and how they view God.
Further, is it reasonable to think that all religions lead us to the same God and to the same heaven? After all, if we are calling the creator, God, then we can’t assume there are different Gods or multiple heavens. At times I have had conversations with people who think they can choose their own personal heaven. It is easy for me as a Christian to believe that it is false to claim that all paths or religions lead to God but let’s look at why this is so. Below is a brief list of religions and their beliefs about God and the afterlife.
- There is only one God.
- God has revealed himself as one God in three persons to his creation through the Trinity: God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son (Jesus Christ).
- He is the creator of all things.
- He is righteous, holy, and without sin.
- He is just and will carry out any punishment of wrongdoing.
- God is all powerful, uncaused, unlimited, timeless, spaceless, and immaterial.
- God is love and because he loves us he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to be crucified in order for our sins to be forgiven.
- By accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior you become a born-again Christian. Only Christians are guaranteed to go to heaven.
- Christians will live with God in heaven and people who choose not to believe in him go to hell.
Now when we look at the Bible we see a loving and personal God. God hates sin but he still loves people. Something entirely different can be said of the Muslim God, Allah. In fact, Allah’s love is for Muslims only and it’s a conditional love based on works.
- There is only one God, Allah. He has no equal or partner. He is the sole creator.
- Muslims believe he is a transcendent, all powerful creator who created everything with perfect order.
- Muhammad was the messenger of Allah.
- The Quran is clear to reject any ideas of polytheism and Christian doctrine, especially the Trinity.
- Jesus was just a prophet and they believe that he delivered messages from God.
- Muslims don’t believe Jesus died on the cross or was resurrected on the third day as historical records show.
- Muhammad taught that Jews and Christians will be punished for the sins committed by Muslims (Sahih Muslim 6665).
- Muslims believe that if they are good enough (doing more good deeds than bad) then they have a better chance to get into heaven but it’s not a guarantee. The only guarantee that they will enter heaven is if they die in Jihad. If they fail to do these things then they are sent to hell.
The Quran states that you must submit to Allah before he will love you (Surah 3:31). Theistic religions state that there is one God and lately there has been a lot of talk on whether or not Christians and Muslims worship the same God. This is due to a Professor at Wheaton College who claimed that both Christians and Muslims worship the same God because they are both “of the book”. This assertion was quickly refuted due to what the Christian Bible and the Holy Quran have to say about God. As you look at the passages from these books it is clear that they are not talking about the same God. In fact, it is clear they are describing two different Gods.
- God came from another planet.
- God is a man with a body of flesh and bones.
- There is a mother goddess.
- God and his goddess wife are married.
- You can become gods.
- The Mormon belief on heaven is quite extensive. According to their religion there are three heavens.
- They don’t believe in an actual physical hell.
Additionally, Mormons demand to be called Christians even though they reject much of the major Christian doctrine. They do not use the word grace in their practice.
New Age Beliefs
- There are no moral absolutes.
- God will never condemn others.
- God is an impersonal God, in other words he will never reveal himself to others on a personal level.
- A new age believer seeks to elevate him or herself to being a god so they don’t agree with any theistic views of who God is.
- New Age beliefs like to use other religions ideas that focus on self.
- They believe that they were created with divine characteristics so it is possible to spiritually ascend and posses the same power as God. These beliefs also focus on their hope of world wide unity and harmony. They believe and talk about a second coming happening but they believe it is a euphoria that will sweep across the world resulting in peace and harmony.
- They believe Jesus was a good teacher but that everyone has more power than he does. This power comes from your higher self because you are God.
- They believe in an afterlife but it centers around reincarnation.
- Hell is not a real place but a state of mind.
People of the New Age belief include the word God in their vocabulary but it is not in the same sense as theists believe. When we hear others using the name God we must seek to understand in what context they are using the word. With that said we still need to critically look at a few items as we talk about which truth is the right path to follow. They don’t compliment one another as some claim instead they are in conflict with one another and it is easy to see how you can only choose one of them as the truth.
Ravi Zacharias states that a worldview must answer the following:
A majority of religions do attempt to answer these issues because they know it establishes a fundamental groundwork for what they believe and why they believe. When a religion does not talk about all of these basic issues about life then it makes little sense why they are following a religion that can’t answer these questions.
Further, religions are obviously fundamentally different. They all claim to be exclusive so you cannot pick just any religion and believe that you will go to heaven. There is a reason why people are so persuasive in how they talk about their religion. For me as a Christian I attempt to persuade others to know about Jesus and I pray that God appears to them because he is a personal God. Also, I have some family members that are New Agers and they also try to convince me as to why Christianity is wrong and the New Age beliefs are right. If all paths lead to God they would not feel the need to persuade anyone.
It is clear we know that multiple ways to God is not possible. If there were multiple paths to God then we wouldn’t have the laws of logic, reasoning, or the need for persuasion. Again, all of these religions are mutually exclusive so it becomes impossible for all paths to lead to God. We can’t all be right but we can encourage one another in our quest for the truth. We need to keep asking questions while exposing our fear and doubts. The fact is that we can’t all be right but that doesn’t mean we need to reject others who don’t agree with us.
Not every religion can be right and since they all conflict with one another only one can be true. Seek to know the truth because there can only be one path to God.