All Roads Lead to Heaven?

“We’re right and we’re the only ones!” shout the Pope, the Baptist preacher, and the cult leader in unison across the trenches.

Then, at Starbucks, in the classroom, in the locker room I hear, “All religions are equal.” Equally right, which means equally wrong, so live it up.

What if there is a third option? What if all of us are wrong, but some of us are less wrong than others?

What if only one person has ever had it 100% right: Jesus. The only human who has ever had a true understanding of reality, of God, or of anything else. Hold on, He was God. The rest of us are finite and screwed-up. But Jesus offered to bring to God any who would follow Him.

Christ saves, not any church, Roman Catholic or otherwise. For some of us, like my best philosopher friends, following Christ means becoming Roman Catholic. For others of us, it means becoming irreverent renegades. Or Baptists.

Different Christian groups, with their different emphases, offer different aspects of the truth about Christ and His teaching: love, grace, the awesomeness of God, the importance of His Word, loving the poor and the oppressed, community, tradition and history, and the reality of how messed-up we are all in this life, etc. If we only turn to our traditions, and not also to their Source, we’ll leave out important aspects of the Truth.

I see in other religions aspects of the truth about God also: the peacefulness of Buddhism; the discipline of Islam; the wild diversity of Hinduism; the restful rituals of Judaism. But I see also important differences. In every case, God is either less of a Person (Buddhism and Hinduism), or less personal (Judaism without Christ; Islam). But do other religions lead to heaven? That is the difficult question facing all Christians today.

I offer a strange possibility which should offend people on both sides of the debate. I think that we’re asking the wrong question. Does any religion lead to heaven? No.

No religion leads to heaven. God leads to heaven. He does so through Christ, but many times the -ianity (or the -ians) gets in the way. Religion — our beliefs, our practices — these are all means to an end: Him. There are many false ways, some in and some outside of Christianity, but only one Shepherd. Many who have correct beliefs, but who did not trust Christ, will be in hell (James 2:19). Is it possible that many who have incorrect beliefs, but who trust Christ, will end up in heaven? I think so, for who among us can claim a 100% understanding of God? I am saved by Who I know, not by what I know. But is it possible to trust Christ without knowing that it’s Christ? I don’t know. But I need to love, listen, speak, and pray as if every moment counts toward that end.

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19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Well said. It’s too bad there’s so much confusion out there about this.

  2. Thank you. The confusion, on both sides, is well intended, but it is exactly that: confusion.

  3. It is true that only Christ leads to heaven. And this is exactly why He created His Church. To proclaim the good news of the kingdom, from generation to generation. All the great theologians and laymen evangelist and the like have died, and yet the Church lives on. “The gates of hell will not prevail against it”. Why can’t we see the promises of God in the miracle that is the Church, the one that Christ Himself founded? We are so quick to give God the glory and praise for the miracles in our own individual lives (and rightly so) yet so quick to doubt the continued work of the Holy Spirit through His Church.
    We must understand it is not a “one against the other” situation, Jesus left the Church here as “a city on a hill” for the world to see, to come to, and to hear the message of salvation, and as a source of strength and refreshment for His children.
    My 2 cents. Thanks, Tim

  4. You’re welcome. The Church Invisible, often at odds with the churches, which are ever at odds with each other, is a miracle. God, help us to love each other, that the world might know us by our love!

  5. The Church visible, too.

  6. True, but not as often as I’d like. “Not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Romans 9:6). Not all who bear the name of Christ are Christ’s. The Church is a miracle. The churches are a mixed bag. I’m a theologian and an optimist, but I’m a historian first.

  7. Hi, browsing through your blog for the second time and thought I would drop a line. I really enjoy the way you write, and this post especially — beautifully said!

    Interesting I used similar thoughts (though not quite so well worded) with a couple of Mormon evangelists who arrived on my doorstep a few days ago. “I won’t join any church that says it’s the only one. If I were going to do that I might as well join the Catholic church. I follow Jesus, that’s all, nothing else.” The three of us ended up having a very interesting conversation! Rest assured I’m still following Jesus and thinking free… and maybe (I pray) gave the two fresh-faced youngsters something to think about. 😉

    Off to do a trackback…

  8. Thursday Night Blogsurfing Find

    Wanted to share this article from the Faithfool blog.  Beautifully written and I agree 110%.
    Soli Deo Gloria
    All Roads Lead to Heaven?
    “We’re right and we’re the only ones!” shout the Pope, the Baptist preacher, and the cult leader in unison …

  9. Peg: Thanks for sharing and for being true to your Savior. “Mormon evangelists” makes my brain run in a million directions and demands a seperate post at some point. If all you do in life is give people “something to think about,” and that something is following Jesus, God be praised!

    Getting Started: Thanks for the shout-out!

  10. […] All Roads Lead to Heaven? […]

  11. Whats with you guys? Let jesus lead you “believers” to your heaven, while moses or mohammed or buddha or confucious lead to their heavens.. “What if only one person has ever had it 100% right: Jesus????” What if NOTTT? Morons…

  12. What’s with us is this: there are a finite number of possibilities. Either one religious group is right or none of them is right. One could make a case that all of them are partially right, either to equal or to varying degrees. It is impossible that all of them are 100% right. Such is the stuff of post-modern fantasy. That is my primary point here.

  13. At hindsight, I am very sorry for (only) the harsh language. But your argument is specious, how did you come to conclusion that jesus is ultimately right – was my question. I am not saying he is not right, all i am asking is how do YOU know that? i wouldnt be so compelled to ask you this except, in the guise of questioning the denominations/churches of christianity, and saying “no religion but God leads to heaven”, you really meant “your” God the Son alone leads to heaven!

  14. Avant Garde,
    These questions are significant enough to require a new, separate post as a response. In fact, I may need at least two, along the lines of “Faith vs. Knowledge” and “My God and No One Else’s?” (overstated, perhaps, but this is the internet…). I will post soon. Thank you for your understanding, your apology for your strong language, and your openness to dialog. Without dialog, blogging just becomes rehashed monologue, so thank you for freeing me from that, too.

  15. Looking forward to your posts and since you’ve agreed that your statement(s) are as of now just claims/beliefs and are not already vindicated in this post or elsewhere in your posts – the current dialog is settled in favor of Avant Garde.

  16. […] Faith vs. “Knowledge” Post #1 in response to Avant Garde’s comments on All Roads Lead to Heaven? […]

  17. […] Problem Is… Jesus Post #2 in direct response to Avant Garde’s comments on All Roads Lead to Heaven? (Newcomers, please join the […]

  18. Hey there. Just wanted to toss a few words in. I’ll try to get it brief. Nice collection of ideas you got.

    Jesus says “No one gets to the Father except through me”, right? That doesn’t mean if you don’t believe in him you aren’t getting to heaven. It just means that if one believes in him, then he/she will have a little better chance. There’s also a chance that one won’t believe but still be accepted. Remember the seperating the sheep from the goats, some being accepted, some not, and then others that say “when did we do these things unto you?” and yet are accepted. Everyone will have to go through Jesus to get to the Father – not everyone who believes will be accepte nor will everyone not Christian not be accepted. Strive for Christ is usually the optimal decision.

    To Avant-Guarde: I choose to believe that Jesus did have it right 100% – he did afterall get everything placed beneath him. Yet, there is still 2000 years of translation and displacement from him. Even then, remember the disciples that he continually had to talk to as though they were children? As well as (possibly) his earthly family. It’s probably safe to say (and unfortunately so) that we don’t know 100% Jesus. If we can’t understand what the forefathers intended when the constitution was made 200 years ago, how can we do so with someone 10x that and not even from the same cultural environment? But we believe in what we have and belief is all we have. Religion is important – it draws people together and strengthens the whole with love (usually) through faith. However, it should be understood that religion is an application of faith. Remember the rant of Paul about Noah, Abraham, etc that they were rewarded upon their faith? Where was religion? The Law wasn’t until Moses yet these were rewarded for what? Please consider it.

    Since this is off the top of my head, I haven’t the verses available on hand. If you would like, I can search them out for you in the case you wish to research them yourself. I suggest the New American Bible (the “Catholic Bible”) which usually has a lot of footnotes. A web link is : http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/
    If you prefer to compare with more mainstream literature available, the King James Version is also really reliable once you get used to the word usage. If you are very new to the ideas and words (I was at one point) New International Version is good to start with. Keep in minds that its translations are good but because of the simplification you may read misunderstand some things (in that the word might give you the idea of an aspect of something but not the actual thing intended).

    Ooops… Ok. I’m done. *Steps of soapbox before the bricks start flying*

    BTW: http://www.e-sword.net = Awesome free Bible software!

  19. Erik,
    When you say “…if one believes in him, then he/she will have a little better chance [of getting in to heaven,” what do you mean by “believes in”? How would you define faith?

    Side-note: I heard from Avant Garde since the latest post addressing his concerns.


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