Do All Roads Lead to Heaven? Part 1

Why do you believe what you believe?   Why am I a Christian, an atheist, a Buddhist, a Mormon, a Hindu, or whatever?  What would you say?

There are many reasons why people hold beliefs.  Some are emotional.  Some are solid rational reasons.  A person may say I believe in Mormonism because God gave me a burning in my heart it was true.  Others may say I am Catholic because I was raised that way.  Or I am a Muslim because of where I was born and it’s all I know.  Another could say I am new age because it resonates with the way I think the world is.

I have a friend who is a strong advocate of the “all roads lead to heaven” mantra.  All religions are true.  He believes his thinking reflects a new way of looking at belief and is specifically designed to replace outmoded religions like Christianity.

One morning we were talking about Christianity being exclusive.  He said saying Jesus was the only way to heaven was a primitive belief.  In fact it is not only offensive but closed minded and hostile to all other beliefs.  He saw his beliefs as superior and in harmony with all religions.  He finished by saying Christianity is archaic.

A writer in the Los Angeles Times responded to a letter by a Muslim theologian about the relative nature of religious belief.

“It was refreshing to see your article on the religious relativism of Abdul Kareem Surash in which this Iranian theologian is quoted as saying that all religious understanding is relative and that no one interpretation is absolute. Such a lesson in religious tolerance and pluralism is not just needed in Iran. In the United States, people like Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan and Jerry Falwell need to comprehend that they do not possess a monopoly in understanding God's will. Additionally, of course, it would be a great day for the world if the Pope would also adopt Surash's admonition to abandon religious absolutism.”[1]

In this response there is a sense the original writer was promoting a “live and let live” philosophy of which I find commendable.  Especially, since the writer was quoting a Muslim whose religion has many extremely violent followers.

Both the original writer and the responder believe in religious relativism; basically, that all roads lead to heaven.  However, there is a problem with this letter.  The statement “…all religious understanding is relative and that no one interpretation is absolute,” is itself a religious statement.  Therefore, there is at least one interpretation that is absolute.  It is the statement “no one interpretation is absolute.”  The statement itself is self-refuting; it is contradictory and obviously false.  It cannot be true.  I would like to ask the author are you absolutely sure there are no absolutes?

This letter sounds so good.  And yet the basic premise “all religions are relative and no one has the truth,” is a truth statement.  Therefore, according to his letter, he doesn’t have the truth.  His letter self-destructs!

We can be easily be fooled by fine sounding letters like this.  How nice it would be if all roads led to heaven.  However, I am going to show you how it is a false statement.  I would like to help you become more discerning when it comes to religious beliefs.

I have 2 objectives for this series.  You will be able to…

  1. Explain why all roads lead to heaven is false.

Describe the differences between subjective and objective truth


[1] Tabash, Edward, Letter to the Editor, LA Times February 10, 2005

Go to part 2 here

[1] Tabash, Edward, Letter to the Editor, LA Times February 10, 2005

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