Pluralism is probably the dominant spiritual view in todays culture. Essentially, it teaches that any belief system is legitimate. It's the view that all roads lead to God and were free to simply choose whichever belief system we want to follow. In other words, God will accept any sincere attempt to reach him.
It sounds gracious on the surface, but its actually both a false and self-refuting statement. The self-refuting nature of the statement is exposed in the MyPark article entitled Responding to the Pluralists Claim: It's Arrogant to Say Christ is the Only Route to God
In this article we address the false nature of the pluralists worldview by examining the core beliefs of the worlds major religions and demonstrating they cannot possibly be the same, because they teach opposite or irreconcilably contradictory things. Do Various Religions Teach Similar or Contradictory Doctrines?
Are the pluralists right? Do all roads lead to God? Or are there fundamental, irreconcilable differences among religions? To answer that question, lets briefly visit the most common religions to see whether they teach consistent or contradictory things.
As Christians, we believe in one God, manifested in three distinct personalities: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Man was created in God's image and granted free will. With that free will, man broke fellowship with God and brought sin into world.
The Christian God is so holy and righteous that the believers only hope of restoration of fellowship is through a saviour or redeemer: Jesus Christ.
Christians don't earn their way to heaven; they simply accept eternal life with God as a gift of grace from their Saviour.
Muslims believe in a unitarian god named Allah, revealed through their prophet Mohammed. Muslims are taught to earn their way to heaven by following the disciplines taught in their holy book, the Quran.
The God of Islam is impersonal and motivates people by fear rather than grace.
Islam rejects key Christian doctrines, such as salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ. To Muslims, Christ is merely one of several prophets, not our Creator and Saviour.
Hindus take a radically different view of the nature of God. They see existence as an illusion; their supreme being an impersonal Brahman. Hindu salvation comes through works, knowledge and devotion through acts of worship.
Hindus don't believe in one life followed by judgment but instead in several, reincarnation-driven lives directed by karma, where your status in this life is a reward or punishment for your behavior in a previous life.
According to Hinduism, the wealthy and successful, and the poor and crippled, are equally deserving of their fate. The ultimate goal of reincarnation is Nirvana.
To some Hindus, Nirvana is a resting place in God's arms, to others it is the dissolution of the personality into Brahman.
Buddhism arose from atheistic strands of Hinduism, so despite widespread public misconception, there is no absolute God in Buddhism. Buddhists search for enlightenment by relying on their own spiritual paths.
Buddhists also believe in the karma-driven process of reincarnation, although they hold yet a different view on the goal of the reincarnation process.
Since the Buddhist's view of God is that of an impersonal life force, not a self-aware being, the end result of the process of reincarnation, Nirvana, is to fuse into the impersonal life force, losing your own identify and self-awareness.
In fact, the word Nirvana means to be extinguished or blown out like a candle.
Why can't the above views be reconciled?
The above are just a few examples, but they should be enough to illustrate that the world's various religions cant possibly be parallel paths to God.
There might be one unitarian god, or a trinity, or no god, or an impersonal life force, or millions of gods, but you cant have all of the above.
When you die, you might go to heaven or hell, be reincarnated or extinguished but all of those things cant happen to you at once. It's like going straight and turning both left and right all at the same time when you come to an intersection. It's impossible.
So, Now What?
Opposites or contradictory things simply cant be true at the same time. So, logically, youre left with only two possible conclusions: all religions can be wrong, or one can be right and the rest wrong, but there's simply no possible way for them all to be true.
When faced with this dilemma, how do you discern truth from falsehood? You use the basic premises of logic and look for internal coherency and external sources to support or refute your position. Let's start with an example of a major world religion that fails the test of internal coherency or consistency.
Hinduism is a good example of a self-refuting belief system that can quickly be demonstrated to be self-refuting through the use of simple logic. Hinduism teaches that there is no reality that there is only God and we and everything we observe is an illusion, or God's dream. Its called Maya.
But if we're dream characters, how can we know were in a dream? Are your dream characters self aware do they actually know they're in your dreams? As Stand to Reasons Greg Koukl puts it, "does Charlie Brown know he's a cartoon character?"
The answer is "of course not", they're not real so they can't know anything, and if we're not real neither can we know we exist.
That's a great example of why Hinduism should not be the least bit enticing as a valid belief system.
Why Christianity then?
So, if all religions can be false, or one can be true and the rest false, in what then do we ground our faith in Christ?
While personal testimonies can be valuable, we also need to be cautious with them because they're subjective or not easily verifiable, and followers of other belief systems have their own testimonies.
If one belief system truly stands out above the others though, there should be external, objective authorities to which one can look. Such external authorities are important, because it takes personal experiences or subjectivity out of the equation.
For the Christian, there are two great external authorities on which to draw: one is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the other is the Bible.
The Bible's Claim to Divinity and Exclusivity
The Bible certainly makes its own claim for divine origin. Do a concordance search on the phrase "thus saith the lord" and you will get literally hundreds of results.
We also clearly see from the Bible that it's God the Father's claim and Christ the Son's claim that there is only one true religion and one true path to God:
From the Ten Commandments, in Exodus 20:2-5 we read, "I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me, you shall not worship them or serve them."
In Matthew 7:13 we read, "The gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life."
In some of the clearest statements imaginable we have Christ's own words in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me."
In the Book of Acts 4:11 Luke tells us, "There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
And from Paul's first letter to Timothy, 1 Timothy 2:5, "There is one God, one mediator also between God and men, the man Jesus the Messiah.
Just 5 of roughly 100 explicit or implicit statements that illustrate the Bible's claim to the exclusivity of Christ for our salvation.
If the Bible makes these claims, under what evidence or authority then can we take them seriously? How can we know the Bible contains thoughts and ideas given by God to his prophets and apostles to record in the scriptures?
The answer is that if the Bible is truly a book from God to men then it ought to have evidence of that; it should have God's authority or fingerprints all over it. And it does.
To help you know and remember those evidences, please go to the article FAITH: The Evidence for the Bibles Divine Origin Christ's Claim to Divinity
The second great external authority on the Christian faith is Christ himself. He lived a flawless life, endured more suffering than any being in history to redeem us with God, and demonstrated his divinity by self-consciously raising himself from the dead.
To know Christ's death and resurrection were historically verifiable, please see the MyPark article entitled Did the Cross and Resurrection Really Happen.
In that article, we summarize the Christian Research Institutes acronym FEAT, which provides the historical evidence that Christ was Fatally Tormented, his tomb was Empty on Easter morning, he Appeared alive to literally hundreds of eye witnesses after his death and resurrection, and his resurrection Transformed the lives of apostles who took actions they couldn't conceivably have taken unless they knew for a fact Christ had risen from the dead.
By Doug Walker
Doug is a passionate apologist who loves helping people engage their minds with the truths and reasons of the Christian faith.