Why All Roads Do Lead to God

By Robin Schumacher

Critics of Christianity are almost universal in their complaint of Christians being narrow-minded, arrogant, and intolerant where other beliefs are concerned. How can Christians think their way is the only way, and their road is the only one that leads to God?

It's far more politically correct today to either denounce religion in total or espouse the famous lines spoken by Gandhi years ago: "One may drink out of the same great rivers with others, but one need not use the same cup" and "the soul of religion is one, but it is encased in a multitude of forms."[1]

It's no secret that I'm a Christian, but I will say this: I believe it's absolutely true that all roads lead to God. How can that be? Let me explain.

Why It Matters What You Believe

Let's all agree about one thing: thinking rationally, logically, and having an exclusive mindset where truth is concerned is important. It really matters what you believe.

While Christians are consistently criticized for holding an exclusive stance in regards to spiritual truth, it's actually the only way any belief or system can be intelligently followed. If you believe this to be untrue, just think about how we practice exclusivity in other areas of our lives.

We practice exclusivity in:
  • Marriage: Saying "yes" to your spouse means saying "no" to everyone else (unless you're a polygamist).
  • Government: Anyone want to try to run Democracy and Communism simultaneously in the same country?
  • Economic policy: Capitalism and Marxism don't make good bedfellows when tried together.
  • Mathematics: 2+2 will forevermore equal 4 and nothing else.
Trying to mix and match any competing belief system—spiritual or otherwise—simply results in chaos and incoherent thinking. The truth is, no matter what they say from a surface level perspective, all worldviews champion an exclusive set of teachings in one way or another; Christianity is not alone in that regard. Why might that be?

While the idea of pluralism [2] may be acceptable in areas of taste, it isn't in the area of truth. This is why the noted philosopher Mortimer Adler said, "In history, mathematics, science, and philosophy there is room for competing and conflicting theories, hypotheses, doctrines, or propositions, only as long as no one of them is, at a given time, established as true." [3]

The practical reason of why Adler is correct comes down to the fact that every worldview teaches that consequences exist for being wrong. All believe that the right answer to any question or situation being must be given. Without a right answer, an undesirable outcome will likely result.

This is valid not only in the spiritual realm, but in the natural world also. For example, a person having a stomachache has a wide variety of choices to cure their ailment—everything from antacids to chemotherapy—but what they need to take all depends on the correct answer to the question, "What's wrong with my stomach?"

An almost always overlooked fact is that every religion and belief system in the world gives different answers to three critical questions in life:
  1. What is the most basic metaphysical reality?
  2. What is the most fundamental human problem that we face?
  3. What is the solution to that problem?
Trying to reconcile the answers provided by all worldviews is impossible. There may be some similarities and overlaps, but in the end, there will be major differences. This fact was summed up nicely in a stanza of Steve Turner's poem "Creed":
We believe that all religions are basically the same,
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of
creation sin heaven hell God and salvation.
Because consequences exist in this life for being wrong and making incorrect choices, why think anything will be different in the next life (assuming one exists)? This is why it matters what you believe about God and truth in general.

It goes without saying that eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong.

Why It Doesn't Matter What You Believe

Believing the right things certainly matters. But what this equates to is an understanding that is likely to go against the politically correct thinking in vogue today, which is that just believing something doesn't make that particular something true. (e.g. "Christianity might be true for you, but not for me...")

Put another way (and in a very real twist), while we've just discussed why what you believe matters, it also doesn't matter what you believe. Truth is truth whether you believe it or not.

Today, so much emphasis is put on sincerity. What matters, we're told, is that you sincerely believe what you do. No, it doesn't. You could be sincerely wrong.

Another line of thinking is that as long as you have a strong desire and/or motivation for your worldview that's what will eventually carry the day. No, it won't. You can have a strong desire that the yellow liquid you just drank was lemonade and not poison, but if it's poison, you'll still end up in the ER or morgue.

This is the danger of pluralism that nobody talks about. While we can treat other people with dignity and respect where their beliefs are concerned, we should also understand that having a sincere faith and strong desire that a belief system is true—even when it isn't—can backfire in a terrible way.

Why All Roads Lead to God

The understanding of why it matters and doesn't matter what a person believes leads us to the conclusion that—contrary to what many Christians say—all roads do indeed lead to God. How?

Because if God exists, when you die, you will meet Him. Regardless of the "road" you're on. It doesn't matter if you're an atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic, or evangelical Christian. When you leave this life, the road you're on leads straight to Him.

But what happens then?

While what you believe about God right now doesn't matter one bit regarding whether you'll eventually meet Him or not, when you do come face to face with your Creator, what you believe about Him and what you have done with His truth will matter greatly one nanosecond afterwards.

You see, while all roads lead to God, only one road leads to His forgiveness, mercy, grace, and eternal life. All other roads lead to His judgment.

This is by His design. If there was any other way or road that led to God's place of forgiveness, then Jesus wouldn't have gone to the cross. In the garden, the Son said, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me" (Matthew 26:39; emphasis mine). If any other road was viable, Jesus would have been given it.

Instead, Jesus went to the cross, took upon Himself the sins of those who put their trust in Him, and delivered us from the wrath of God that should rightly fall on those who ignore His gift. This is why He calls Himself the way (John 14:6) and not a way; why He describes Himself as the door (John 7) and not just one door of many.

When we say it's only through Jesus that eternal life with God is possible, we're not being arrogant, intolerant, or narrow-minded. To speak the truth is the most loving thing a person can do.

When the only Man ever to die, go into the grave, walk back out, and stay that way, says He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life were God is concerned, we should listen.

If you haven't done so yet, so should you.

[2] The process by which the number of options in the private sphere of modern society rapidly multiplies at all levels, especially at the level of worldview, faiths, and ideologies. D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), pg 18.

Image Credit: Collin Votrobeck; "pluralism"; Creative Commons

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Published 1-9-13