Is There Only One Way To God?
'Tis the season - for a question:
The Christmas Season.
It is also the Hanukkah season.
Every ten or so years, at this time of year, it is also either the season for Ramadan or the Hajj.
With all the religions in the world, is there really only one way to God?
All the major faiths recognize the existence of God, the supreme being. All define him as all-powerful, all-knowing, and, most importantly, just. Religions vary on what God requires for a person to have a relationship with him. Religions vary on what happens to a person when they die and whether or not what happens to them at that point depends on the religion they chose in life.
What are the odds that out of all the millions of people who have lived on this earth since its creation (however you believe that happened) and out of all the forms of religion that have been practiced over those thousands, if not millions, of years that only one faith actually allows a person to know God and spend eternity with him? Why would an all-knowing, all-powerful, and most significantly, a just God set up the world that way? Inherently, that seems unfair.
There are so many devout, sincere, hard-working practitioners of every religion on earth. How can a just God reward only one faith with eternal life, paradise, whatever you want to call the ultimate reward in a religion?
What if? What if God decided to recognize all attempts to reach him in whatever form they might take? He could do that. In fact, isn't that what constitutes the definition of justice? Giving everyone a fair chance?
So how would that work? Let's say you have chosen Hinduism to be your religion. There are requirements in that faith for what you must do to meet their standards to be a good Hindu. Why couldn't a just God simply judge Hindus by the standards they believe are required to reach him? Why couldn't God do the same for any religion? Why wouldn't he be willing to judge people by whatever standards they think are right?
Let's say, for the purpose of argument, God does exactly that. He judges each person by the rules of the religion each person chooses. Here's the problem for us. Who can meet those standards? Who can keep every rule all the time? Have you ever known anyone who could? Perfectly? Never failing once? All the religions of the world call for a person to be good enough - in the terms the individual faiths define - to reach God. And as far as I know, no one has ever been good enough. No one has ever met the standards of their own faith. Some are very good. But has anyone ever been good enough?
Christianity is not the only the way to reach God. But, as far as I can tell, it is the only religion that doesn't require its followers to be good enough to reach God. It offers grace - not a set of standards. Grace - the ultimate get out of jail free card. Belief is the only requirement. You just believe that God has made a way for you to reach him even though you are not good enough. And the way he made is why Christians celebrate Christmas.
Tis the season. And my wish for all the religions of the world is simply this. Please don't think - that Christians think - there is only one way to God. There are many. We have simply come to understand that there is a way we can all reach Him - even though we will never be good enough.
Merry Christmas to those who practice all faiths.