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Do All Paths Lead to God?
Are All gods Equal?
On one of her many appearances on television, the late comedian Joan Rivers, who herself was nominally Jewish, famously quipped:
" Everyone reaches God in any way they want to reach God," And let's not forget, Jesus was Jewish... which made sense because he really loved his mother."
Whether you find this joke funny or offensive, it clearly demonstrates a popular view of religion that many espouse. But is it true? Do all roads lead to God?
I. Differing Views of God
The only person who can agree with Ms. Rivers' statement is one who does not have a fixed view of God. The plain truth is that the various religions of the world teach conflicting views of God, or the gods, and how to get to them. Some don't believe in a god at all.
The Hindu worships one being of ultimate oneness (Brahman). However, it comes through infinite representations of gods and goddesses. So in effect they worship multiple gods and goddesses.
Buddhists say that there is no deity. They rather seek spiritual enlightenment and with it the freedom from the continuous cycle of life and death. They believe in multiple rebirths, and with them suffering and pain. These rebirths are caused by a person's cravings, aversion and delusion. Prayer for the Buddhist is not focusing on a god. It is more along the lines of self-discipline, with the ultimate goal of reaching Nirvana. That is a the transcendent state in which there is neither suffering nor desire. And there is no sense of self. The person who reaches this state is released from the effects of karma and the endless cycle of death and rebirth.
Allah is the god of Islam. The Muslim god is transcendent from humans. He is the creator of the universe and is also the creator of good and evil. No matter what happens, it is Allah's will. Allah is a judge who is both powerful and strict. His strictness or mercy depends on whether or not the Muslim has a sufficiency of good works and religious devotion.
In Islam there are many prophets, but the greatest and last prophet is Muhammad. It is his words and lifestyle that are the authority of the faithful Muslim. A Muslim hopes to enter Paradise when he dies. Entering Paradise is based on a person's faithfulness to certain religious duties. If he isn't faithful, he is punished eternally in Hell. A sure way to make it to Paradise is to give up one's life for Allah.
D. The New Age
The New Age movement teaches that one should develop his or her own power of divinity. God, to the New Age follower, is not a transcendent deity who is apart from His creation. Rather there is a higher god consciousness within each individual. A follower of the New Age Movement would see himself as God, the cosmos and the universe. Indeed, everything that a person can see, hear, feel or imagine is considered divine.
There really isn't anything new about the New Age. It has a whole collection of ancient spiritual traditions.
In Judaism, there is one singular all powerful God. It is this view of God that was different from all the ancient Semitic people of the world. This legacy has been passed down to the entire Western civilization. The sacred name revealed to Moses in the Torah is YHWH, or Yahweh.
The name of Yahweh was so sacred that a good Jew would never pronounce it out loud. Since ancient Hebrew was written without vowels, the exact pronunciation of the name is unknown. However, the common way to say it, Jehovah, is not it. This way of pronouncing God's name is derived by taking the vowels of the word adonai, or Lord and combining them with the consonants YHWH.
An orthodox Jew would never accept the idea of a trinity, nor would they see Jesus as divine.
For the Christian, there is but one God eternally existing in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is the only true God. All other gods are idols. All others are man made substitutes for the real thing.
In Christianity, man is created in the image of God and is of great worth. Sin has marred that image, however, and has separated man from God for eternity. No amount of good works will ever bridge that gap between man and God because the Lord's standard is perfection. By himself a person is headed for eternal separation from God in Hell.
Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, is God, and came down to earth as a man in order to be the perfect sacrifice for sin on the cross. He died but God the Father raised Him up, proving that He accepted Jesus' sacrifice for our sins. He is now in Heaven, at right hand of the Father. Jesus will come again one day as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and every knee will bow and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus Himself said that: "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes unto the Father except through me" (John 14:6). In Acts 4:12 it says that: "Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is none other name under Heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved." In other words, there are not multiple roads to God. There is only one road. He is Jesus Christ.
The bottom line is, not all religions are the same, and you cannot claim that they are all a way to God. They cannot agree on who God is, or if there even is a God. You can either say that there is only one right religion, or you can say that none of them are right. But you simply cannot say that they are all alike, and that all equally will lead you to God.
Christianity is unique amongst the world religions in that it's founder is alive and well and living in Heaven. One day Jesus will return and all the false religions of the world will be no more. In the end all men will know Him whom they are now rejecting. Then, for many, it will be too late. Let us all bow before Jesus Christ today and call Him Lord, to the glory of our Heavenly Father.