Tell me if you’ve heard this story before: Six blind men who have never seen an elephant are trying to figure out what one is like. They each walk up to an elephant and grab a different part and describe what they feel. One blind man grabs the tusk and thinks that an elephant is like a spear. Another feels the trunk and concludes that an elephant is like a snake. The guy hugging the leg thinks it’s like a tree. The one holding the tail claims that it’s like a rope. Another feeling the ear believes it’s like a fan. The last one leaning on the elephant’s side thinks that it’s like a wall.
What does that have to do with God and faith? This parable is sometimes (incorrectly) used to describe how different religions approach truth – each of them are only working with what they know, nobody sees the whole picture, and in a sense they are all right – an elephant is like all of those things! Therefore, every religion is accurate in its own way, and they all share in some part of the truth. They should all just get along, since there are many ways to God / enlightenment / nirvana / paradise, and everyone is on their own truth journey. This sums up the idea of religious pluralism.
There’s a big problem here. The idea that “there are many ways to God” is incredibly bad advice! Not every way works, and not every way even claims to work the same. Here are four ways to get to God. Spoiler alert: they are not all good ones.
Bad Way #1: By any religion you choose
Some people choose their faith like they choose a flavor of ice cream. All ice cream is good, and you just go with the one that tastes best to you. “Buddhism tastes good to you? Go for it. Atheism has the best flavor for your palate? Can’t dispute that!” These are decisions of preference.
But is that the best way to make a decision about life, death, and eternity? A better way is to base that decision on truth. What is truth? It’s what most accurately reflects reality and life as it really is.
You might think that religions have different “flavors” but are all basically talking about the same thing, like the blind guys feeling the elephant. But that ignores the contradictory truth claims that are at the foundation of various religions. When we die, we either go to heaven, are reincarnated, are absorbed into the cosmic consciousness, or rot away in the ground. But we can’t do all of that at once. Either Jesus was a prophet but not God (Islam), a wise man (Hinduism), a wrongly misguided man (atheism), or God in the flesh (Christianity). But He can’t be all those things. The logical law of non-contradiction means that different, contradicting things cannot all be true at the same time. This applies to literally everything, including faiths.
Instead of choosing your faith like ice cream – “what tastes best to me?”, choose it more like you’d choose medicine or a doctor – “which one will heal me?” That’s also an imperfect analogy, but it’s closer to the truth.
We believe that there is only one Divine Physician. Do His claims have any merit? Keep reading.
Bad Way #2: By being good enough
Something about being good enough for God resonates with a lot of people. You largely get what you earn in life, so why would the afterlife be any different? We like the idea of getting into heaven based on our own merits. After all, we’re pretty good people, and most of us haven’t killed anyone!
The thing is, “good enough” is impossible when it comes to God and heaven. Romans 3:23 says that everyone’s a sinner. Nobody’s perfect. We can all agree there. But how good is good enough? Romans 3:20 says that it’s impossible to be righteous (“good enough”) in God’s eyes through good works. So there is no such thing as good enough, at least not in a way that you can earn yourself. John 6:28-29 says that God doesn’t even want us to try to be good enough but to believe in Jesus, the One who was good enough on our behalf. Trying to be good enough to be accepted by God is a literal dead end.
We’ve written more extensively about this in another post. Read it if you’re wrestling with wanting to be good enough for God.
Bad Way #3: By standing before Him in judgment
This last way of getting to God works 100% of the time, no matter your religion, but it’s not the way to you want to show up. Hebrews 9:27 says that every person is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment before Him. This means that in an incredibly ironic sense, every religion will get you to God. But not every religion will get you accepted by God. No matter what you believe, you will meet Him when you die. Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-46 that everyone will face Him and be at a crossroads. The righteous will go to eternal life, and the wicked will go away to eternal punishment.
You will eventually get to God, but there’s only one way for you to stay there.
Jesus: THE Way to get to God
Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Sometimes Christians get a bad rap for being close-minded to other religions. People say that Jesus would have let people just believe and do whatever they wanted, because He was so full of love and acceptance. When that happens, you can point to what He actually said: “…no one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s a pretty exclusive statement! Jesus said He was the only way to God.
Why should you believe Him? Jesus backs up His claim with unique credentials. He lived a perfect life, embodied the attributes of God, and fulfilled dozens of prophecies written centuries before He was born. Unlike other religious leaders, Jesus also proved who He was by performing incredible miracles in broad daylight, in front of skeptics. He demonstrated His authority over nature, sickness, and death. In the most incredible example of Him being God, Jesus fulfilled His own prediction by being resurrected from the dead, which is a historical event that was witnessed by more than 500 people and that started a spiritual revolution unlike anything else in the history of the world. No other religious book or leader can claim all of those and validate its truth claims like Jesus and the Bible can.
Jesus is exclusive, yes, but He’s also incredibly inclusive. He invites all people to come to Him (Matthew 11:28-30). No one is excluded from this invitation. Everyone is welcome! But they have to come through Jesus. Don’t buy the bad advice that there are many ways to God.
Do you know Jesus? If not, we’d love to tell you about Him!