“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 spoken this type of sentiment. In fact, I think I have spoken something similar to this at a point in my life. However, upon closer examination does this type of logic hold up? Can we say that all belief systems are created equal and lead to truth, lead to God?
Perhaps an historical anecdote will help make my point. George Washington was a very brave and strong man. It seemed that nothing could kill him. As a boy, fighting small pox (a disease that killed many), and later as a solider fighting in many fierce battles, Washington always seemed to get through unscathed. That is until he met his deadliest foe… his doctors. On December 12th, 1799 Washington spent the day out in the blistering cold working around his plantation. He woke up the next morning with a severe sore throat that became increasingly worse throughout the day. When he began having trouble breathing and speaking the doctors were called.
Upon examination, the doctors agreed that the best treatment would be bloodletting. This common medical practice of the time involved bleeding a patient of “diseased” blood in order that the body would produce fresh blood. Blood was drained from Washington pint after pint. When this didn’t seem to be working the doctors also 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 there? Washington was surrounded by 3 doctors! The problem was that the medical procedure that they chose to employ was not based on fact. The outcome being that the very procedure that was intended to save his life was what took his life. If this is what happens when ideas about our physical needs are false, even when preformed in ignorance and with sincerity, why should we think any less about the importance of our spiritual and eternal needs?
All medical ideas and practices past and present lead to healthy people, right? Wrong! 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” and “loving” 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 and had the belief that a lucky rabbits foot would keep them from getting Tetanus would you encourage them to keep believing in that rabbits 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 that no matter how sincere their belief in the rabbits 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. True followers of Jesus Christ must be bold at pointing out error and pointing to truth as it has been revealed by God His word, the Bible. I recognize that many people believe things with great zeal and sincerity. However, this alone does not make it true. Jesus speaks of people who had all the outward appearances of being His followers and great zeal in doing so and yet, He identifies them as strangers. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Likewise, the doctors who attended to President Washington were sincere in their care for him. However, their sincerity did not equate with truth. In sharing truth and correcting error it is not the goal of the Christian to win an argument or make the other person look stupid, the goal is that people would come to the true knowledge of God and be saved. That is why we are called to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) The desire for truth is a means to knowing God, not to become puffed up with arrogance.
Are you ready and willing to accept bloodletting as a legitimate medical practice today? I don’t think so. So why should you be ready and 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 they lead to eternal death. Now, is that a statement from a mean and arrogant person, or is it words of love and concern? You tell me.
By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ