“It’s all the same in the end… Just be a good person, help others, and we’ll all have one big party when we get to heaven. I mean, do you really believe in a god that would send people to hell for believing in a wrong religion?” Ever hear this type of sentiment? Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. In fact, even I used to think this at one point in my life. However, upon closer examination does this logic hold up? Can we say all belief systems are created equal and lead to truth?
Perhaps a historical anecdote will help. George Washington was a brave, strong man. It seemed nothing could kill him. As a boy, fighting small pox and later as a soldier, Washington always seemed to come out unscathed. That is, until he met his deadliest foe… his doctors. On December 13th 1799 Washington woke up with a severe sore throat that became increasingly worse throughout the day. When he began having trouble breathing and speaking the doctors were called. They agreed the best treatment would be bloodletting, a common practice of the time involving bleeding a patient of “diseased” blood so that the body would produce fresh blood. Blood was drained from Washington pint after pint. When this didn’t seem to work, the doctors gave him laxatives to drain his bowels and vomit-inducing drugs to drain his stomach. At the same time the doctors were draining the life out of Washington. On the morning of December 14th, George Washington breathed his last.
What happened? Washington was surrounded by 3 doctors! The problem was that the medical procedure they used was not based on fact. The very procedure used to save his life was actually what ended it. Do all medical practices lead to health? No!
In the same way, it is a lie to say that all religious systems or spiritual ideas lead to God. The popular culture espouses such thinking in order to be kind, loving, and “tolerant” to all people. I understand the desire to be kind, but is encouraging belief in a false god really loving? If someone stepped on a rusty nail while believing that a lucky rabbit’s foot would keep them from getting tetanus would you encourage them to keep believing in that rabbit’s foot? Would that be a loving thing to do? No, it would be foolish, especially since we have reliable treatments for tetanus. The loving thing to do would be to tell the person the truth; no matter how sincere their belief in the rabbit’s foot is, they are wrong and should go to the hospital for a tetanus shot.
Similarly, it is not loving to encourage false beliefs about God. As followers of Jesus Christ we must be bold at pointing out error and pointing to truth as it has been revealed by God. Many people believe things with great zeal and sincerity. However, this alone does not make it true. The doctors who attended to President Washington were sincere in their care for him. In sharing truth and correcting error, it is not the goal of the Christian to win the argument or make the other person look stupid, the goal is that people would come to the knowledge of God and be saved. That is why we are called to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) The acquiring of truth is a means to knowing God. (John 17:3)
Are you ready and willing to accept bloodletting as a legitimate medical practice today? I don’t think so. So why should you be willing to accept any old idea about the truth of God? Not all religions are created equal and many may claim to be the way to eternal life but in the end, lead to eternal death. In reality the only way is through Jesus Christ. (John 14:6) Is that a statement from a mean and arrogant person, or words of love and concern? You tell me.
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ