“If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view. But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic – there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong; but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.”
– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, “Rival Conceptions of God”
Lewis is correct. Most religions, in some way, attempt to contemplate the divine; and some of them get closer than others. In this sense we can say that all religions lead to God. Yet, as Pastor Marc pointed out on Sunday, only Jesus leads us through to God in a way that brings us into right-standing with him so that we can fellowship with him (John 14:6).
Paul confirms this line of reasoning in the first chapter of Romans, where he describes the dismal state of humanity without the gospel:
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:18-23, NIV).
By observing God’s world, we can not only determine he exists, we can also discover what kind of God he is. That is, through philosophical reasoning we can observe God. But this will not take care of our sin. We can only pretend to be godly, engaging in some sort of religion as a way of ignoring the reality that our sin is separating us from God and that no amount of philosophizing or religious do-goodery can change that. This is why Paul prefaces the above statement by proclaiming, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes … For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last…” (Romans 1:16-17, NIV).
In some way, all religions and philosophies lead to God. But only Christ leads us to right-standing with God and a relationship with him. He has done this by taking our sin and punishment upon himself as he hung on the cross, then rising from the dead in order to offer everlasting life to all those who trust in him completely.
Here are a few videos in which C. S. Lewis compares Christianity to other religions. We featured the first video in a previous post. In it Lewis compares the morality of world religions. The second video is good, but a little brainy. Enjoy.