12th Sunday after Pentecost

MODERN MYTHS  3- “ALL RELIGIONS LEAD TO GOD”

  Modern Myth 2 – “All religions are much the same”.
Myth 3 is really thepastorh2 other side of the coin and follows from Myth 2. “All Religions lead to God”.
We saw that Myth 2 was false and I shall show that Myth 3 is also false. That in fact all religions do not lead to God.

Myth 3 is a result of muddled thinking.
For a start there are quite different religions with very different objectives-goals.

+There are occult religions-such as animism, witchcraft-magic some elements of new Age. These are concerned with spirits, often evil spirits that need to be placated-manipulated. Occult religions are about spirits, not about God.

+Secondly there are “Imperial religions”. They are not about God either. They are about the highest political authority which demands total allegiance. Examples are the divine kings of Egypt-Caesars, Roman Emperors –Shinto Emperors of Japan. In recent times there were Hitler-Stalin-Mao. Stalin and Mao had giant pictures of themselves plastered everywhere.  Hitler used messianic language about himself and predicted a 1,000 year Reich.

+ Thirdly there are the “ascetic religions” such as Buddhism, some strand of Hinduism. They are not about God either but about renunciation. The self is renounced-mortified-disciplined to diminish its grip of being tied to this world. These kinds of religions have nothing to do with God.

+ Fourthly there are the fertility cults-they worship sex.  This is a very ancient as well as modern religion. The fertility cults of the Canaanites in Biblical times-to today’s XXX films and videos and the astronomical sales of pornography.  The most widespread use of the internet is for pornography.

+ There are the prophetic religions which arise from the dynamic leadership and moral challenge of a great leader. Islam which made enormous inroads into the Middle East and North Africa within a few decades of the death of Muhammad is one example. Marxism is another. It influenced many people within a few decades of Marx’s death. Although it was atheistic Marxism had a creed-ideals, it promoted self sacrifice for the cause and clear convictions about the future in common with many religions. Its adherents would gladly die for it as would the devoted followers of Islam. But even Islam despite its high view of God does not offer the worshipper intimacy with God; ”Allah reveals his will, he never reveals himself”. The worshipper prays to Allah but cannot be said in any way to know him or have a relationship with him. Such a claim is blasphemous to a Muslim and you could get yourself killed for making it.

+ Finally there are the revelatory religions. Judaism and Christianity both teach that God can be known by the believer. Judaism tells of God’s revelation of himself through his mighty deeds of deliverance for Israel and through the words of the prophets. But with not temple today, Judaism is reduced to religious law and synagogue worship.

            Christianity teaches that God has given a reliable-personal disclosure of himself to people through his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fulfilment of all God’s promises to Israel and is the final revelation of God. Jesus was “Emmanuel”-“God with us”. Being able to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus is what the Christian faith is all about. That cannot be claimed for any of the other religions.

            So it really is ludicrous to suppose that “all religions lead to God”; when Buddhism does not believe there is any God at all; when Islam makes him a very distant God with whom one cannot have a relationship’ when Hinduism offers extinction  after many reincarnations and encourages idolatry on a massive scale.

            How can all religions lead to God when they have such different beliefs about God- the after life and how one can attain it?

Take for example the two views of history represented by Christianity and Hinduism. This is shown by the difference between the wheel and the road. The great emblem for Hinduism is the wheel embodying the cycle of birth-growth-death-rebirth. And the cycle is repeated endlessly.  You keep going around and around in ceaseless movement.  It’s a bit like a merry go round that never stops. So you can never get off-you just have to keep going around and around-in different forms of reincarnation, getting nowhere. 

The emblem for Christianity is the road.  That is the view of history taken by Christianity. It has a clearly defined beginning in time-(Creation); a midpoint (the coming of Jesus Christ) and a goal-the end of time. The Christian view is that history is going somewhere. It has a conclusion-purpose.

The goal for Christians is to enjoy fellowship with the Lord and his people forever in heaven. For the Christian there is birth-growth-death-heaven

            There are two powerful reasons why all religions do not lead to God.  The first is the nature of God. The prophet Isaiah describes a majestic God: (40:21,22,15)

How can we possibly climb up to him? It cannot be done. Far from all religions leading to God, no religion can lead to God. He is too great. The creature cannot possibly discover the creator unless He chooses to disclose-reveal himself. That is one reason why all religions are bound to disappoint.

Since “religion” is humanity’s search for the Divine, it is bound to fail. We do not need a religion, but a revelation. And that is precisely what Christianity claims to be. Unlike the other “holy Books”, the Bible does not record the story of humans searching for God but of God searching for man- Adam hiding in the garden-Abraham etc.

The second reason why no religion will ever reach through to God is because of the nature of humans. The does not give a very flattering description of humans but one that is uncomfortably close to the mark. It tells us that we are sinners- that the human heart is deceitful and wicked.  It tells us that murders-adulteries-lies-evil actions do not come from our circumstances, but from our hearts. It tells us that there is no room for us to be judgemental because all have sinned and come short of God’s standard.  It tells us that people love the darkness rather than the light. It tells us there is a serious flaw in our nature alongside with much that is good. As a result we do not want God interfering in our lives. We want to paddle our own canoe. We do not want to acknowledge God as our master we want to be our own master.

            No one can find God through their own search because He is too great for us. And also because as humans we are too self centred –too ego centric to really want to get close to God. We want God on our terms not on his and consequently our searching does not discover the true God only our images of what we think God should be like.

So the greatness of God and the sinfulness of human beings are two massive reasons why all religions do not lead to God.

            People all claim that all religions lead to God use the image of a mountain with a number of routes going to the top. It does not matter what route you take because they will all get you to your destination. But as we have seen, that view is untenable- it simply is not true. A more accurate image would be of people trying to find their way through a maze.  There are lots of different paths in a maze but most of them bring you to a dead end.  They fail to get you out of the maze and find the exit. There is only one way through

That is the astounding claim of Christian. As Jesus said, “I am the Way, Truth and the life, No one comes to the Father but by me”.

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