Some people believe that, even though people all around the world have a different source or deity as their higher power, all roads lead to the same God. Is this concept compatible with Christianity?
A popular notion is that human beings, despite what name we may give to our higher power, essentially all believe in the same God.
To this end, there is a cooperative effort between many religions to seek common ground when it comes to spiritual beliefs through interfaith dialogue. Because Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions are all part of the “Abrahamic Faiths,” these religions, in particular, have done much work to appreciate each other’s shared common ground.
Broadening further on this idea, there is the “interfaith movement,” which is reaching out beyond Abrahamic faiths to include beliefs from diverse cultures, countries, and continents. This would also include Hindus, Buddhists, traditional Chinese religions, traditional African religions, Sikhism, Baha’i, and many more.
The “interfaith movement” is also sometimes called “inter-religious,” and it works on the idea of people or groups from different religious or spiritual worldviews and traditions coming together.
A guiding principle in this movement is the so-called “golden rule” of treating others as you would like others to treat you. In this way, religions tolerate one another with respect, believing that all roads ultimately lead to God and that no one faith is “right.”
First, we must draw a clear distinction between “interfaith dialogue” and the “interfaith movement.” The idea of “dialogue” between Abrahamic religions speaks only to the acknowledgment of shared beliefs.
However, the “interfaith movement,” is distinctly different in that it goes against a core tenant of Abrahamic religions. All of these religions are based on the idea that there is only one true God and those who do not worship him will not see heaven.
Further, the interfaith movement believes that all faiths are essentially right, whereas Abrahamic religions believe that all other religions are wrong and only the divine revelations in their holy Scriptures are true and correct.
Differing from Judaism and Islam, Christianity believes that in addition to there only being one true God, he has a son named Jesus Christ, who is also God.
“I and the Father are one.”
– John 10:30
Christianity teaches that God the Father has appointed Jesus as the judge, and it is through his sacrifice and faith in Christ that humans become worthy of salvation. In the Christian viewpoint, humans are pardoned from sin through faith in God’s grace alone, not of their own works or doings.
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.'”
– John 14:6-7
Therefore, in Christianity, Jesus is the only road to heaven.
Jesus renounced the idea of all roads leading to heaven in a profound statement. His comments came immediately following his statement about the so-called “golden rule.”
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
– Matthew 7:12
It seems to be quite prophetic that Jesus’ next statement, immediately following his mentioning of the golden rule, the guiding principle of the interfaith movement today, He gives a warning. Jesus disclaimed the idea that we can simply all be nice to each other and then we’ll all go to heaven.
In one of Jesus’ most famous parables, he used an analogy of a road and a gate when it comes to going to heaven or hell.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
– Matthew 7:13-15
Here, Jesus implies that all roads do not lead to God. There is only a narrow gate by which to enter heaven and most people aren’t going to find it. Further, he warns about people giving false teachings that will lead people astray and away from the one true God.
“Interfaith” and its concept that all roads lead to God is diametrically opposed to Christianity. While Christianity teaches tolerance of all people and all faiths, the final word on belief is plain: there is only one God and one path to heaven.