Do All Religions Lead to the Same God?

by David A. Horner

watch video by philosopher Michael Horner

There is a popular analogy used to show that all religions are valid ways to describe God. Religion professors especially love this analogy, because it equalizes all religions, making all religions equally “true” in their description of God.

The analogy is this: there are four blind men who discover an elephant. Since the men have never encountered an elephant, they grope about, seeking to understand and describe this new phenomenon.

One grasps the trunk and concludes it is a snake. Another explores one of the elephant’s legs and describes it as a tree. A third finds the elephant’s tail and announces that it is a rope. And the fourth blind man, after discovering the elephant’s side, concludes that it is, after all, a wall.

Each in his blindness is describing the same thing: an elephant. Yet each describes the same thing in a radically different way.

According to many, this is analogous to the different religions of the world–they are describing the same thing in radically different ways. Thus one should conclude that no individual religion has a corner on truth, but that all should be viewed as essentially equally valid.

If God is infinite and we are finite, it is reasonable to believe that none of us can fully capture His nature.

But does this elephant analogy demonstrate the truth that all religions lead to God? To conclude that it does would ignore several points:

  1. First, there is a fact of the matter: the elephant. What the blind men are attempting to describe is in fact an elephant, not something else. Just so, there are factual questions regarding God. “Does God even exist?” is a question of fact, much like, “Was Abraham Lincoln ever President of the United States?” If so, it would be true whether anyone believes it or not, and to deny it, one would be mistaken. Thus, not all opinions, whether concerning elephants or the nature of God, are equally true.
  2. Second, all four blind men are, in fact, mistaken. It is an elephant and not a wall or a rope or a tree or a snake. Their opinions are not equally true–they are equally, and actually false. At best, such an analogy of religious pluralism would show that all religions are false, not true.
  3. Third, and most important, the analogy does not take into account any kind of special revelation. If a fifth man were to arrive on the scene, one who could see (and who was able to demonstrate his credentials of having sight), and he were to describe the elephant as an elephant, then it would change the analogy entirely.

Jesus Christ, unique among all religious leaders of history, claimed to be such a “fifth man,” a definitive revelation of God. Many of the people who watched Jesus’ miracles and heard him speak were offended by his clear statements about his deity. “This was why [they] sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”1

Jesus however, invited us to believe in him if we want our search for God satisfied… “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”2

Copyright 2000 EveryStudent.com. Used with permission.

Notes:

  1. John 5:18
  2. John 6:35
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13 thoughts on “Do All Religions Lead to the Same God?

  1. Krishna

    So do all religions of the world lead to the God? I am Hindu and I am proud to be one but some people say that whatever religion you choose, it will lead to the God.

  2. Sai

    So do all religions lead to the same God because I am Hindu and sone people say they all lead to te same God…is that true?

  3. Doris BeckDoris

    Thank you for coming to visit our site Krishna and Sai. Did you take the time to watch the video mentioned in the article above? May I suggest that you do? Although many people would say that indeed all religions lead to the same God, Jesus Christ made it clear that He was indeed the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.(John 14:6) If you would like to ask more questions, we do have online mentors that would love to interact more with you. Just fill in the form on this page and an online mentor will email you. http://powertochange.com/discover/talk-to-a-mentor/

  4. Jaime

    I believe in 1 True God. All religions follow the same God. We just have different views on how He is followed.

  5. JamieJamie

    Hi Jaime, on what do you base that opinion that all religions follow the same God? How do you know that is true? It seems to me that there are more than just differences between how each religion follows God but also on who they say He is. Buddhism says there is no God but rather an impersonal force to which we are connected and as we reach enlightenment that we are joined once again to that impersonal force. That is a completely different picture of God than what Islam identifies or Christianity follows. They identify God as the Supreme being who has personality and is able to interact with His creation. How can they be following the same God when they have such different views on who or what He is?

  6. Shepherd

    I believe that through translation and time, stories and truths are altered naturally. We can never fully understand the exact truths of any religion. All religious books were written and translated by man and humanity is imperfect. So religion, this day and age is also imperfect. I believe throughout history most religion is a broke off piece, and explanation to some truth. And were formed to help those in need of spirituality, by providing some type of explanation. Than, POW! U have a religion. God is God and in the end he will not damn you because u had his name wrong, or the exact history of his existence. He will weigh you heart and read your soul. So Live for what you believe and stay true to you.

  7. Doris BeckDoris Beck

    Interesting perspective Shepherd, and in many cases what you said is true. That is often what happens with man-made religions of which there are many out there. That’s what makes Christianity unique! Even the Bible itself isn’t one book written by one man but 66 books different books written over a period of time. And they all say the same thing!

    Also God has provided a way for us to be in right relationship with Him through the person of His son, Jesus Christ, thus giving us a way to have that relationship. He is the only person that was ever raised from the dead and promised to offer forgiveness of our sins through his death on the cross.

  8. Kenneth Mattay

    . God is the object of worship. No matter what religion you follow and who ever they call God, is their object of worship. Like give devotion to God, make prayer to God and pay charity in the name of “God”. So had Jesus been God? He would have been told people to worship him. But in fact in Matthew 15:9 he did the exact opposite. “But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” also another translation “Their worship of me is empty since they teach instructions that are human rules”. So Jesus said don’t worship me in the Bible.

  9. AldoAldo

    Kenneth, what Jesus meant by saying, “But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” is that it was (of) no use for them. Their worship (was) a waste of time. Because they (taught) man-made commandments. They substituted their tradition for the rules of God. Many “standard practices” in churches today cannot be found in God’s rules.

    What that means is that we cannot worship God, nor His Son, for they are one (John 10:30), by substituting our traditions rather than according to God’s Word. John 4:23, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.”

  10. AldoAldo

    Shepherd, you can truly believe something and be true to what you believe, but that does not necessarily make it a good thing for you. That’s because believing in something does not make it true. You must be certain that what you believe in is the truth.

    Someone tells of an Indiana cemetery that has a tombstone over one hundred yrs. old with this epitaph:
    “Pause stranger, when you pass on by, as you are now, so once was I,
    As I am now, soon you will be, so prepare yourself to soon join me.”
    Someone scribbled on the bottom of the tombstone:
    “To follow you I’m not content, until I know which way you went.”
    That is some real good advice. We want to be sure that the example we’re following is the right one.

    You’re right Shepherd, in your statement that all religious books were written by man, but the Holy Bible, God’s Word, was God inspired (2 Timothy 3:16), therefore you can believe its truth. Why? Because God can and has preserved His Word throughout all the ages, even though many attempts have been made to destroy it.

    You are also right in saying that God will not damn you because you had His Name wrong, but He will condemn you because you did not accept His Son Jesus Christ. John 3:18 says, “He who believes in Him (Jesus) is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

    I pray Shepherd, that you would take the time to truly search out the scriptures with the intent of finding the true God, because he who does so will find Him- Jeremiah 29:13: “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

  11. AldoAldo

    Krishna and Sai, allow me to come right to the point: all religions of the world do not lead to the one true God.

    The Holy Bible, which is the inspired Word of God, says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

    What that means, is that if anyone is looking for the truth with a sincere and diligent heart, the God of the Holy Bible- the one true God- will cause him or her to find it.

    Jesus, God’s “only begotten son” is the truth. Jesus, said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) He also said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

    John 3:16-18 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

    The Holy Bible tells us in Romans 10:9-11 “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.” For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

    There you have it Krishna and Sai. Salvation comes by believing that Jesus Christ is the “only begotten son of God;” that he gave his life on the cross of Calvary to pay the price for your sins and the sins of all mankind; and that if you believe and confess that you will be saved.

    If you would like to confess Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord right now, please repeat this prayer sincerely.

    I pray that the Holy Spirit of God will touch both your hearts and lead you to accept Christ as your Savior.

    Remember, God knows your heart and is not as concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart.

    “Dear God, I admit I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness; I believe that Jesus Christ, Your Son, died in my place, paying the penalty for my sins. I am willing right now to turn from my sin and accept Him as my personal Savior and Lord. I commit myself to You, and ask You to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to fill me and take control, and to help me become the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You Father for loving me, forgiving my sins, and for giving me everlasting life, in Jesus name, Amen.”

  12. Tonya

    No matter what your religion Christians will always make you think it is wrong and that the only way is through Jesus, this is incorrect thinking and I will tell you why. Jesus first and foremost makes it clear that he is NOT God and that EVERYTHING he said or did were the direct words or actions of the Creator Himself. “I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will. ” (John 5:30) Jesus had ZERO power or authority, everything he did was by GOD’s mighty hand not on his own. They have glorified, magnified and edified this man and will have to give an account to our Maker. ““I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me…” (Isaiah 44:6) That power, those miracles and undeniable wisdom is God’s alone not the Jews, Christians or Jesus. Remember there is a whole world of people out there If you go and study other religions you will find out what I’m saying rather quickly. Next, God himself rebukes anybody and calls them an idolater who accepts, one who is sent with the Most High’s Word, as being the Most High or equal to the Most High. Quran, Surah 9:27, The Jews say Ezra is the son of God, and the Christians say the Messiah is the son of God. Such are the words they utter with their mouths, by which they emulate the unbelievers of old. God confound them! How perverse they are! They make of their clerics and their monks, and of the Messiah, the son of Mary, Lords besides God; though they were ordered to serve one God only.” Idolatry is the only sin in ALL religions that is unforgivable unless you turn away from it, think about that…Jesus made it clear he was/is NOTHING in comparison to the FATHER, in fact, he said the things he did were by God’s power and that he was only a vessel to be used by God. How wonderful and glorious is that!!!

    Also don’t believe that baloney about Jesus dying for your sins on the cross at Calvary, that’s another lie!! The Bible, in particular, God himself in the old testament says that this is a lie!! Followers of Jesus came up with this blasphemy, who do you believe, the Creator or Jesus followers? The prophets in the Old Testament spoke God’s direct words, all you need to do is read Jeremiah (my favorite), Ezekiel, Isaiah, Malachi, Obidiah, etc, they all spoke God’s direct words which is the same thing Jesus did but somehow Jesus became a God man, God’s son and then God incarnate in the flesh, smh…Most will say they prayed and prayed and that God reveal that Jesus is our Lord and Savior but in Isaiah 43:11 it says “I, even I, am the LORD; and besides me there is no savior.” How then can they claim Jesus is our savior when the Creator says that He alone is the only Savior. In Psalms 81:11 “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsel. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!!” Glory be to the MOST High God for proving every man a liar his heart because he does not believe that the Most High is the One and Only true God!!!!!!

    See what separates me from them is this…I read all religious text, all of them and I believe them all because I believe EVERY WORD that comes from the Creator!!! What is God’s is Universal/Immutable-Consistent and True, the Bible says God never changes and that “he is not a man that he should lie.” Only humans twist things and tells lies. Also, what is Law is for the people protection and harmony and what causes confusion is men doing. If there is confusion it is ALWAYS from humans. I believe in the One True God (Eyeh Asher Eyeh) who is Ever-Present, All-Pervading, All-Knowing, All-Wise, Eternally-Merciful, Universally Gracious, Munificent and Boundless. I will NEVER deny the Most High’s WORD, signs, miracles and wonders, no matter who they come from. Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and the like DO NOT have a monopoly on the Creator’s bounty. They would lead us to believe that the WORD of God only came to the Christians and the Jews but in the Quran, Surah 14:4 states “And We have sent NO Messenger save with the tongue of his people, that he might make all clear to them; then God leads astray whomsoever He will, and He guides whomsoever He will; and He is the All-mighty, the All-wise.” You see each person that God sent was sent to his “own” people to speak to them in a language they understood. What good would a Hebrew speaking Jew do for a Latin speaking Roman? Jesus spoke Aramaic and so did his disciples and the people he taught. He obviously spoke Hebrew as well, otherwise the Sanhedrin, Pharisees and Sadducees wouldn’t have understood him.

    I will never deny that Jesus was sent of God with His Word, signs and miracles, how could I? This is a unequivocal fact… and in order to believe in God you must believe in his Word, signs, miracles and wonders. But I will also never deny Muhammad who came with a book starting off saying “This Revelation is from Your Lord, the One who Created the Heavens and the Earth, the Seen and Unseen.” Nor will I deny the Buddha and the Dharma, Confucius’s Analects, Lao Zi and the Dao De Jing, Arjuna and the Bhagavad-Gita and the others that were sent with a message. People are stiff-neck and arrogant and no matter what God says they will never believe it though they say they do and will. Jesus came and the people flat out denied the miracles, the Word and the teachings. The were so venomous that they crucified him!! They deny, jeer at, mock, ostracize or kill whomever comes with a message that they can’t bear or refuse to hear. This is why the world is in turmoil, men fail to listen to the TRUTH. “You cannot make the dead hear you, nor can you make the deaf hear your call if they turn their backs and pay no heed; nor can you guide the blind out of their error. None shall give ear to you (Muhammad) save those who believe in MY revelations, and are submissive to MY will.” Surah 30:51

    “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ears, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.” Jeremiah 7:21

  13. JamieJamie

    Thanks Tonya for participating in this conversation. I appreciate your passion, your commitment to truth and your faithfulness to God’s revelation of Himself in the world. You refer to Jesus as having been sent by God to speak and act at the direction of God. I love the reference that you give to Jesus’ words “I can do nothing on my own…I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me. If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that He bears about me is true…the works that the Father has given me to accomplish…bear witness that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has Himself borne witness about me.” (John 5:30-32,36-37) So we agree that Jesus was sent by God to speak the words of God. We also agree that God alone is glorified. You didn’t quote this verse from the prophet Isaiah but I am sure you will agree that this is the Word of God, “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8) How then could Jesus say, “I have glorified You on Earth, having accomplished the work that You gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.” (John 17:4-5) If Jesus was sent by God to speak the Word of God how could He claim to have a share in the glory that is God’s alone, unless His words are true and He indeed is one with God.

    That is the unique aspect of Jesus, what sets Him apart from all other humans: He was a man with all the dependence on God which each of us has; but He was, at the same time, God Himself. In coming to Earth He set aside His independent use of His divine abilities and acted completely on the direction of God the Father, through the empowering of God the Spirit. That is exactly what humanity needed. Our self-centred attitudes, words and actions are directed at God Himself, just as David said, “Against You, and You alone, have I sinned.” (Psalm 51:4) We need God Himself to intervene on our behalf. Jesus, as God, came to die and to pay the penalty for our sin against Himself. Because He is of infinite value as God, His sacrifice is sufficient to deal with an infinite penalty of sin. But Jesus could not die for our sin if He himself was not one of us. In order to take our place in receiving our penalty He needed to be human just like us. Because He loved us, He was willing to humble Himself, to take on our nature and die in our place. By this act, justice is served: the penalty has been paid; but also the love of God is manifested: He died so that we could live. Not only that but Jesus then conquered death and rose again so that He could lead us to live out our calling as bearers of God’s image. By following Jesus, we can live like He did: only doing and saying what God the Father has directed.

    Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) That means give up following our own plans and ideas, allowing our sinful, self-centred nature to be crucified, and allow Jesus to direct our lives every moment of every day.

    So how do you deal with the infinitely just penalty for your sin against God? Does God just say, “O forget about it! It was not big deal.”? That is not justice! Do you have to offset it with noble actions that balance it out? How many good actions balance out the infinite offense that your sin is against an infinitely worthy God? Or is God not infinitely worthy and so your offense against Him is not so bad?

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