The Bible’s Viewpoint
Are All Religions Different Roads Leading to God?
“I FIND it literally incredible that the God of the whole universe has chosen to be known by one religious tradition,” stated author Marcus Borg. Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu said: “No religion can claim to have the whole truth about the mystery” of faith. A popular Hindu view is “Jotto moth, totto poth,” which means when loosely translated that all religions are but different roads leading to the same goal. Buddhists also share this viewpoint. Indeed, millions of people believe that all religions are different roads leading to God.
Historian Geoffrey Parrinder stated: “It is sometimes said that all religions have the same goal, or are equal ways to the truth, or even that all teach the same doctrines.” The teachings, rituals, and deities of religions are indeed similar. Most religions speak about love and teach that murder, stealing, and lying are wrong. In most religious groups, some put forth sincere efforts to help others. So, then, if one is sincere in his beliefs and tries to live a good life, does it matter what religion he belongs to? Or are all religions just different roads leading to God?
Sincerity Alone—Is It Enough?
Consider the case of the first-century Jewish man named Saul, who became the Christian apostle known as Paul. He was a very zealous adherent of Judaism, and this led him to try to stamp out the worship of the followers of Christ, which worship he felt was improper. (Acts 8:1-3; 9:1, 2) But through God’s mercy Saul came to realize that very religious people like himself might have a zeal for God, and yet, because of not having all the facts, they might be wrong. (Romans 10:2) When Saul learned more about God’s will and dealings, he changed and began to worship with the very ones he had been persecuting—the followers of Jesus Christ.—1 Timothy 1:12-16.
Does the Bible say that there are hundreds of faiths to choose from and that whichever one we select will be all right with God? The apostle Paul received instructions from the resurrected Jesus Christ that said quite the contrary. Jesus sent him to people of the nations “to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God.” (Acts 26:17, 18) Clearly, our choice of religion does matter. Many of the people to whom Paul was sent already had a religion. But they were in “darkness.” Indeed, if all religions were simply different roads leading to life everlasting and God’s favor, there would have been no need for Jesus to train his followers for the disciple-making work that he commissioned them to do.—Matthew 28:19, 20.
In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14) The Bible explicitly states that there is “one faith.” (Ephesians 4:5) Clearly, many who are on the “broad” road have a religion. But they do not have the “one faith.” Since there is only one true form of worship, those who desire to find that true faith will have to seek it out.
Search for the True God
From the very beginning of man’s history, God has told humans what he wants them to do. (Genesis 1:28; 2:15-17; 4:3-5) Today his requirements are clearly explained in the Bible. This makes it possible for us to distinguish between acceptable worship and unacceptable worship. (Matthew 15:3-9) Some people have inherited their religion, while others just go along with the majority in the community. For many, religion is simply a matter of when and where they were born. However, should you leave your choice of religion to chance or let others make this decision for you?
Your choice of religion should be an informed one based on a careful examination of the Scriptures. In the first century, certain educated people did more than simply accept the apostle Paul’s words at face value. They ‘carefully examined the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.’ (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1) Why not do the same yourself?
The Bible describes the God of the universe as looking for people to worship him with truth. As recorded at John 4:23, 24, Jesus explained: “Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” Only “worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father” is acceptable to him. (James 1:27) God has blessed the search of millions to find the narrow road that leads to life. He will not give eternal life to the indifferent but rather to those who put forth a real effort to find the narrow way he has set out and then follow it.—Malachi 3:18.