If one believes in reincarnation, it is very probable that he also
believes that there are many ways to God. This is a typical belief in the New
Age movement, seeing God on a high mountain to which many ways lead.
Many people have thought that various ways and religions
can be different, but in the end they all lead to the same God. And when people
finally reach the top of the mountain, they will realize that they have arrived
in the same place and on the peak even though they used different roads to get
The next example describes this common idea:
Socrates, do you not think
that religion is like a mountain, and that there are several roads that lead to
the top? That is why it is so difficult to define it – who could define a
mountain? The inside of it is dark, mysterious, and heavy. The surface you can
see, and on it can be seen several roads which all lead to the top from
different sides and starting points. How foolish it is to fight about which
road is the best, or which side is true! It is the same as arguing whether the
mountain is in the sun or the shade, hot or cold. It is both. It is everything.
It would be so narrow-minded to say that only our road is the right one! Do you
understand what I am trying to prove, Socrates? It is not pride but humility.
It would be pride to deny this, and regard your own way as the absolute truth.
PROBLEM WITH THE ABOVE-MENTIONED WAY OF THINKING?
Even though the thought of there being many ways to God can seem to be a
tempting alternative, there are contradictions and impossibilities that we should
observe. We can mention at least the next points, which we are going to study
- We have to be sure that all ways really lead to God
- It is in conflict with most religions
- It is Hinduism
- This view is in conflict with words of Jesus
- This view does not give assurance of salvation
We have to be sure that all ways really lead to God. Firstly, we
should note that if we think that the previous view of all roads leading to God
is true, one important thing is required. It is required that we are sure that
all roads really lead to God. We have to know that they are all equal and lead
to the same destination.
A good question is how can
anyone know that? How can we be sure that all roads finally end in the same
place if we have not yet reached the top and do not know what the situation is
there. Is this understanding therefore not founded only on a philosophical
preconception, which is difficult to prove true because there is no certain
information about it?
The next example refers to this: how impossible it is to be
sure if we have not been at the top:
Socrates: How can you know
that they all go to the top?
Sanna: How can you know
that they do not?
Socrates: I do not know. And
I do not claim that I do. But you claim that you know that they do end up
there. How can you know this if you are not standing at the top?
Sanna: No, I am not at
the top. I do not assume that.
Socrates: Obviously, you
are assuming something else – you assume that you know that all religions are
of human origin, that they are rather our ways to God than God's ways to us.
This is what you think of religion, is it not?
Socrates: How can you know
that? How can you know that it is not the opposite, as your own religion – the
Bible – claims: that God searches for people more than people search for God?
Sanna: I do not know.
But does it make any difference?
Socrates: If it is the
invention of God and not ours – note that I do not know if it is or not – it
would make sense that there would only be one way made by God. If, on the other
hand, religion comes from man, it would make sense that there are many ways,
because there are many people, nations, and cultures. And if religion comes
from man, it would make sense that all religions are equal in principle,
because they are human, limited combinations of good and bad. If religion comes
from God, it would make sense that other religions, human religions, would be
of lower rank than the religion of God, because human things are of lower rank
than divine ones. (2)
It is in conflict with most religions. The second observation about
the idea described above is how it agrees with other religions. If we think
that all religions are the same and represent the same thing, why do they
differ so much from each other? Why do they teach differently about basic
issues, such as the number of gods and the way of salvation, if they really
come from the same source?
Opposites or differences can be seen at least in the
following points. These also exclude each other, and no way can they all be
valid at the same time, even if it is claimed so – or then we could also see
round squares and triangles and other peculiarities. Trying to fit all of these
together is impossible and illogical:
- Salvation comes either
through mercy (the work of Jesus for us) or through our actions (the most
typical understanding in religions), but not through both at the same time.
- Buddhism and Confucianism say
that there is no God (later on, Buddhism consideredBuddha to be divine), but for example Islam, Judaism and
Christianity teach that there is one God. These views cannot be valid at the
same time. On the other hand, if there is no God – as, for example, the
Buddhists believe – how can it be taught that all roads lead to the same God?
- The understanding of life
after death varies. Buddhism and other religions believe in heaven and hell,
while the Hindus do not believe in them. These are opposites, and it is
impossible that they both exist and do not exist at the same time.
- Reincarnation (Hinduism,
Buddhism) and non-reincarnation (Islam, Judaism, Christianity, etc.) cannot
both be true.
It is part of Hinduism. Even though this is clearly in conflict with
most of the religions because they teach differently on the basic issues there
is, however, one religion suited by this view: Hinduism.
This really is so, because the Hindus believe that all ways
are equal (even though many Hindus actually see their religion as the only
right one, and do not accept other ways). Therefore, a person believing
this is, in fact, a Hindu, because it is an essential part of this religion.
For example, the Bhagavadagita (IV:11) brings this out well in one passage:
Oh Paartha, no matter how the
people approach me, I will receive them; what ever way they use, it is also my
The view is in conflict with the words of Jesus. The fourth problem
is that this idea is in conflict with what Jesus said about Himself. He said
very clearly that He is the only way to God, which excludes all others. He also
said several other things about Himself. How do these fit together with the
view described above?
In general, people refuse to think that Jesus would have
lied, but if the next words He said are not true, they must be a lie. Then, we
also claim that Jesus is a liar if we do not believe the following statements
to be true:
Jesus said that He is the only way to God:
- (John 14:5-6) Thomas said to him,
Lord, we know not where you go; and how can we know the way?
6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no
man comes to the Father, but by me.
Jesus said that believing in Him is important:
- (John 8:23-25) And he said to them, You
are from beneath; I am from above: you are of this world; I am not of this
24 I said
therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe
not that I am he, you shall die in your sins.
25 Then said they to him, Who are you? And Jesus said to them, Even
the same that I said to you from the beginning.
He said that we will receive life if we turn to Him:
- (John 5:40) And you will not come to me, that you might have life.
He said that He is the road to salvation and the good shepherd:
- (John 10:9-11) I am the door: by
me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief
comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they
might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his
life for the sheep.
He promised to give rest to burdened souls and said that He is gentle
and humble in heart:
- (Matt -30) Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke
on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and
you shall find rest to your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
He said that He had spoken the truth:
- (John 8:45-46) And because I tell
you the truth, you believe me not.
46Which of you convinces me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do you not
The view does not give an assurance of salvation. If we still study
the idea of all roads leading to God and that all of us could achieve His
approval by reaching for the top, there is still one problem with it: we do not
get an assurance of salvation. When we try to reach the top, we do not
experience any assurance of salvation. It cannot be received like that and we
will miss it.
Paul Little refers to this. He describes how the Hindus,
Buddhists, and Muslims do not have an assurance of salvation, but this also
applies to Western people who have grown in a Christian culture:
The Muslims do not have an
assurance of salvation either. I have often asked the Hindus, Muslims and
Buddhists whether they are going to nirvana or heaven after they die. None of
them has been able to give me a definitive answer. They have rather referred to
the incompleteness of their life, which is an impediment in reaching this goal.
But why are people not sure? What is the reason for people still not
being sure even though they were trying to reach the top?
Maybe the reason is very simple. Maybe it is because all of
these roads that may be thought to be equally good and lead to the same place
are in fact the broad road, about which Jesus warned us and which only leads to
destruction. It is good to take this possibility into consideration, because
these people do not have assurance and also because Jesus said that He is the
only way to God (John 14:6). This is what He said about the broad road:
- (Matt 7:13-14) "Enter you in at
the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads
to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to
life, and few there be that find it.
The second important thing is that if we try to build a way to God but
do not experience assurance, so several verses in the New Testament show that
salvation is a gift and comes from mercy and has already been given to us
through Jesus Christ. These verses indicate that salvation does not require any
effort or work; it can be received immediately as a gift from God. It is
actually the only way to be saved:
- (John 1:17) For the law was given by
Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
- (Eph 2:8-9) For by grace
are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is
the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
- (Rom )
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
- (Rev 21:6) And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega,
the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the
fountain of the water of life freely.
- () And the Spirit and the
bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty
come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
The next conversation also refers to this. The conversation refers to
the typical understanding of us having to work hard to receive eternal life.
People may think that this requires perhaps working for centuries – through
reincarnations – instead of eternal life being received immediately as a gift.
Do you think the same as the person in this example, without understanding that
you too can receive eternal life immediately as a gift from God?
When I had finished, the old
monk looked at me, sighed and said, "Yes, that doctrine of yours is great
and lovely to hear, but it cannot be true. It is too easy to be true. Receiving
an everlasting life is not as simple as only having to believe in Jesus,
meaning that eternal life could be obtained over the course of one lifetime. It
requires work over centuries. You must be born and die and be born again to do
good works and then, after centuries, when you have done enough good deeds, you
can have everlasting life. Your doctrine is great and lovely to hear, but it is
too easy to be true.”
If I had told
the monk that he has to pray this and this much, fast, and do good deeds, he
surely would have said, “Quite so, that is just what I am going to do.” But as
the gospel says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved and have
eternal life”, so the answer is: it is just that easy. (4)