4. Only One Way to God

Among modern society there is a rather nice concept that the many different religions around the world may all be just different ways of getting to the same end. The fundamental idea here is that God can be approached and worshipped in different ways, and has revealed himself in these different ways among different cultures. This idea is “nice” because it promotes a harmony and happy acceptance of the ways of cultures that are different to one's own. It means that everyone can be right, and there's no need to criticise other peoples' beliefs.

This idea of religious acceptance and tolerance arose out the movements to promote multi-culturalism during the 20th century. These, in turn, were a reaction to prior injustices and discrimination. However, there can be a big difference between culture and religion, because culture is all about how societies live here and now, but religion can speak of the future, of the unseen and of a God that rules the whole of the world.

When it comes to a faith in the God of the Bible (ie, the God of Israel), and Jesus, one must consider what the foundation of that faith is. The foundation from our perspective is a belief in what is said in the Bible is the true word of a living God. Without that belief, Christianity is little more than a historical curiosity and maybe a guide to better living.

The Bible has to stand or fall as a unit. It stands if there is good evidence for it's truth, through it's heritage and prophecy. It falls if what it says is wrong. In the light of that, it is worth considering a number of passages from the Bible,

John 3:36: "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." NKJV

This passage is quite clear that there are two options available: seeing life, and having the wrath of God. The distinction between the two is entirely based on believing in the Son, who is Jesus. Similarly, Jesus said,

John 14:6: Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. NKJV

Here the outcome is expressed differently, in terms of coming to the Father. The implication is that the Father is God, and so Jesus claimed that he was the only way to God. A little further on in the same book, he stated that his father was the only true God, and that furthermore, knowing him could lead to eternal life.

John 17:3: "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. NKJV

When Jesus was sending out disciples to teach his message to other people, he told them to teach it to everyone, and this was not going to be restricted to any particular class of people or culture, but the whole world,

Mark 16:15: And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. NKJV

In other words, he was saying that the religions that other people stood for were wrong, and they would be condemned for following them. He was saying that people would have to believe in Jesus and the God of Israel, and furthermore be baptised into that faith, in order to be saved. Otherwise, a failure to believe in that particular religion would leave them condemned.

The disciples of Jesus took on the work of teaching this Gospel, and had no compunction about telling people that other beliefs were wrong. Many were imprisoned for the offence that people took to their words.

One incident of conflict is recorded in Acts 4. Here the disciples Peter and John were speaking this message to the people, and the authorities didn't like it.

Acts 4:1: Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2. being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. NKJV

So they were taken off, and put in prison for the night to keep them from speaking to the public. The following day they were then called to defend their actions before the rulers,

Acts 4:10: "let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11. "This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' 12. "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." NKJV

In this statement, they were quite clear in saying that there was no other way to salvation apart from though Jesus. That was even under the whole of heaven. According to their claim, it didn't matter if you were Jewish, Christian, Roman or an Eskimo, but there was only one way to be saved.

This statement is backed up in the first letter of John. It even goes further to say that not believing in God as the unique true God was in effect making him a liar. It does so because God claims to be the only true God, and if he isn't then he is a liar,

1 John 5:10: He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. NKJV

So according to this passage, there is the offer of eternal life, but there is only one way of achieving it, and that is through a belief in Jesus as being the Son of God.

The message here perfectly is clear: The Bible says that there is a God, and that that God has an offer of eternal life. Furthermore, there is no other similar hope or any other way of achieving it. So in that case, it is pointless to consider that the Bible just shows one of many “right” ways.

If you believe the Bible, there is only one way, and if you don't believe the Bible, you don't believe the Bible, so there's no point considering the message it contains as being a way to anything. This feature is not unique to Christianity, as most other religions have beliefs that are sufficient to claim others to be wrong. So in short, there's no logical reason to consider the prospect of a nice happy family of different religions -- they're just not compatible.