Since religious truth claims are objective, then the belief all roads lead to heaven is contradictory. Here is why. If all roads lead to heaven then all belief systems are true. This has three major problems:
- If all views are true then Christianity is true. The Christian belief Jesus is the only way to heaven and all other religions are false is therefore true. This contradicts the belief all roads lead to heaven. On the other hand if the statement Jesus is the only way is false, then Christianity doesn’t lead to heaven, contradicting all roads lead to heaven.
- All roads cannot lead to heaven because the core beliefs or the central doctrines of all worldviews contradict each other. Let’s look at a few examples.
- Christianity teaches you cannot get to heaven by doing good. Islam teaches you must do good to get to heaven. These views are contradictory and both cannot be true at the same time.
- God is personal or God is impersonal. Christianity and Hinduism cannot both be true
- Christianity says Jesus bodily rose from the dead. All other religions deny this event. Both cannot be true.
- The “all roads lead to heaven” mantra is an exclusive belief system. It says if you believe your religion is the only way to heaven then you are wrong. That means exclusive religions like Christianity, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormonism are wrong. In fact all worldviews (belief systems) think they are right and everyone else is wrong. Therefore, all roads don’t lead to heaven.
A story is told of an east coast pastor who began his sermon with all religious beliefs are true. During the sermon a college student near the front squirmed in his seat as he listened to the pastor preach. At the end, as the congregation was filing out the back, the pastor greeted them. The student tried to sneak out but the pastor stopped him, and asked him where he was from? He said I am on break from a seminary in Bowling Green. The pastor asked what religious belief he was and the student said he’d rather not say. The pastor asked why not? The student replied I don’t want to offend you. “Oh son,” the pastor replied, “it doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, they are all true. So what do you believe?” The student said okay and whispered in the pastor’s ear, “I believe you are going to hell.” The pastor got red faced and said I guess I made a mistake! All religious beliefs cannot be true, because yours certainly isn’t true!
Summary: All roads do not lead to heaven. Contradictory teachings cannot be true. Either the Christian who says you must place your faith in the saving work of Jesus to get to heaven or other religions are right who teach your good must outweigh your bad to qualify for heaven. Both cannot be true at the same time and in the same way.
The saying “all roads lead to heaven” is one type of religious pluralism. It is a popular view but one that is intellectually lazy. It is a self-defeating belief. There are other versions of religious pluralism that are more defensible. However, I will not analyze those ideas and move forward examining how to choose a worldview. If all roads don’t lead to heaven, then how do we figure out which belief system is the best? Which one is objectively right?