Focus on the Family

Are All Religions and Beliefs Equal?

Are All Religions Equal - Girl standing in car through sun roof and viewing a vast plain
© Tana Teel - Stocksy
How to respond when people say that all roads lead to God, when you know that opposite belief can't all be true

Every morning, my high school observed a moment of silence for students to pray or meditate. After one of them, my Spanish teacher declared, “Isn’t it wonderful to know we’re all communicating with the same Great Truth?” According to her, everyone’s beliefs were equal.

I glanced around the classroom. Though I and several of my classmates were Christian, one classmate was Muslim and followed the teachings in the Quran. And my friend Trey wasn’t religious at all.
I couldn’t help wondering, We can’t all be right . . . can we?

Many people think it doesn’t matter what we believe or who we believe in since all religions are basically the same and it’s really more about being a good person. But do all beliefs—or roads—lead to God?

Only one way to God

When people like my Spanish teacher say, “All roads lead to God,” they usually mean anyone who sincerely follows a belief system worships the same being and agrees on the same basic truths. The implied conclusion is that everyone will be rewarded after death.

While that sounds nice, opposite beliefs can’t be true any more than 2+2 can have 10 different answers. If my neighbor believes there is no God, but I believe there is, we can’t both be right, even if we’re both nice people.

The Bible teaches that anyone can come to God (John 3:16; Acts 2:38). But the only way to a relationship with God is through Jesus, who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And Acts 4:12 tells us, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

These verses make many people uncomfortable. They claim they’re restrictive, even cruel. But imagine being trapped in a hallway filled with closed doors and having a map with labeled rooms. The door at the end of the hall leads to a pizza party. The others lead to traps: a bottomless pit, a pool of hot lava, a hungry bear. No one would talk about the cruelty of telling your friends that the only safe door was at the end of the hall. It’s just the truth.

If we really believe what we claim, then telling others that Jesus is the only way to God is the kindest thing we can do.

How we speak the truth

Just because there’s only one way to God doesn’t mean we act as if we know better than everyone else. Second Timothy 2:24-25 tells us, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone . . . correcting his opponents with gentleness.”

And 1 Peter 3:15 adds that we should be “prepared to make a defense . . . with gentleness and respect” to those who ask questions about our faith. So clearly, God doesn’t tell us to be angry or defensive toward people who disagree with us, as if they were threats, but to care for them through grace-filled honesty.
If you have friends who genuinely believe any moral person will be saved, it can be difficult to know what to say. After all, they’re just trying to be inclusive. They might even believe their view is loving.

How should you respond? Here are some answers I use, full of both truth and love:

  • “We don’t have to believe the same things to be friends, but I wouldn’t be a good friend if I wasn’t honest about what I believe.”
  • “Anytime you want to know more about what I believe, just ask. And I’m always ready to listen too.”
  • “I can see where you’re coming from. Though I’m not trying to argue you into agreeing with me, I also don’t want to say we’re both right and it’s just a matter of opinion because I don’t believe that’s true.”

Don’t forget to listen well, and when you do share, make sure it’s because you care about the person, not just to prove yourself right.

The Good News

Is it tempting to go along with the idea that we all believe basically the same thing? Sure. It can feel safer not to mention that Jesus is the only way to God. It may even seem kinder to ignore the major differences between religions. But no matter how you feel, hiding the truth isn’t showing real love for others.

Loving others might mean learning about a friend’s beliefs so you can talk about differences. Or it could mean offering to pray for someone who’s going through a hard time, even if that person doesn’t believe in prayer.

In the end, none of this needs to be scary. Be a good friend, love others and talk as the Holy Spirit gives you opportunity. You have good news to share—Jesus made a way for us to know God and offers us purpose in life. He also gives us hope for a secure future after death.

While not all roads lead to God, He lovingly shows truth to people who, at this point in their lives, are on different paths. And maybe one of the ways He’ll reveal that truth is through you.

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