All paths lead to God—or so I’ve been told. Through the eyes of our culture, it is both arrogant and narrow-minded to contend that any one belief system is superior to all others. If those who are Christians are going to proclaim salvation through Christ alone, they should have very good reasons to justify such a claim.
Biblical Christianity does indeed share some common ground with other religions but it remains unique in one critical facet: Christianity stands alone as the religion of grace. Apart from biblical Christianity, every system of belief is law-based at its core. That means that every other religious belief system involves living up to some type of standard(s) by which we can either become acceptable to God or achieve a higher order of existence.
The problem with law-based religion is that it fails to defeat pride. But that’s not the worst of it! Law-based living actually fuels the power of sin.
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 (see also Romans 7:5)
Those who live by law—rules, standards, etc.—will remain under the dominion of sin in its many forms. Even those who manage to live morally will find their hearts filled with pride and judgmental attitudes. Religious doctrine may be useful in modifying human behavior to a certain extent, but a lack of grace will perpetuate problems such as hatred, violence and injustice.
Jesus is the only tree of life. Every other system of belief proceeds from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They may look appealing, and they may promise life and wisdom. They may even emphasize that which is good to the exclusion of evil, but law-based religions cannot impart life to those who are spiritually dead.
Any attempt to live independent of God will ultimately lead to a self-centered chaos devoid of His grace-filled presence. This, I believe, is the ultimate essence of hell—an existence separated from God, filled with regrets, and characterized by the fruit of the forbidden tree for all eternity. Hell is the full expression of the human condition having run its course apart from the redemptive influence of heaven.
Truth need not be arrogant. Furthermore, we can have wrong beliefs and still be “good” people in the human sense of the word. No one, however, can measure up to the standards of perfection that would be necessary for a perfectly loving society such as heaven. The call of a Christian, then, is not to condemn others, but to expend our energies and efforts to prevent others from being condemned.
Note: This post is based on Bob’s book, The Divine Progression of Grace.