I’ve been hearing this question a lot recently. It’s an old thought, this idea that all roads lead to God, but I suspect that The Shack movie has given it new life recently, with its implicit universalism. (For the record, I’m not an anti-Shackian…it had some excellent insights into God’s nature that are perfectly biblical. But I’m not a pro-Shackian, either…it definitely had some ideas that are NOT biblical and need to be recognized as such. As in all things, we must be charitable but relentlessly discerning.)
You can see the logic in the idea: I can get on just about any road in the U.S. and get to just about any other place in the U.S. So why shouldn’t it be the same way with God? Does it matter where I start?
Well, yes and no. Yes, in theory, all roads can get you to God, but only by virtue of the fact that, if taken in the right direction, they end at other, better roads.
You simply can’t get to Orlando from Denver by heading west on I-70. That’s an indisputable fact. But…if you head east on I-70, you can certainly get closer. However, and this is the key…you’re going to have to get completely off I-70 at some point and take some other roads if you want to make it all the way to Orlando.
The Bible is clear: for there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). You won’t get all the way to God unless you take the Jesus road.
But can you start with Islam…Buddhism…Hinduism? I think so, because there are some truths in each of these religious roads. There is one God (Islam), materialism distracts from the eternally significant (Buddhism), decisions we make in this life impact our experience after death (Hinduism). I think Paul’s ability to affirm truth in the pagan religious philosophies of Greece (Acts 17:16-30) affirms this. But Paul didn’t say those religious beliefs were sufficient to get people all the way to Jesus. Saying there are some common truths is a long, long way from saying that all religions teach the same truths or all the necessary truths. That’s simply false. Hinduism might get you a step or two in the right direction, but its destination is NOT the God of the Bible.
So at some point, to get to God, you’re going to have to get off those other roads and onto the only true Way: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)