If you were to ask Americans, “Don’t all religions lead to God?” fully two-thirds would say yes, based on the responses to the Ligonier State of Theology survey. If you were to ask American evangelicals, a majority, 56 percent, would say yes (see thestateoftheology.com). But the correct answer does not depend on polls. The correct answer depends on what God’s Word says on the matter.
For pluralism to be true, these different religions need to have similarities and commonalities. They need to be teaching the same things. Do Christianity, Judaism, and Islam teach the same thing on the doctrines of God, Christ, and salvation? Judaism rejects the Trinity, as does Islam. Christianity is at its very core Trinitarian. Judaism rejects Jesus as a false messiah. Islam accepts Jesus as a prophet. Christianity bows before Jesus as the God-man. Judaism believes in a works-righteousness by requiring and following the Mosaic law. Islam defines salvation as submission. Christianity believes in salvation by grace through faith in the work of Jesus Christ alone.
The picture gets even more dissimilar when you compare Christianity with Eastern religious traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Hinduism is pluralistic, but the gods in Hinduism are not actually perceived as the ultimate reality. Ultimate reality is transcendent of all experience and is reached through the reincarnation cycle, moving beyond the realm of the gods. Buddhism has no concept whatsoever of a personal God. Neither Hinduism nor Buddhism teaches that we need an incarnate substitute. In Eastern religions the goal is not salvation but liberation, freedom from reality, or, in the case of Buddhism, freedom from even the distinction between reality and nonreality. Liberation is getting beyond the binary distinction of the real and nonreal. That view is not in any way similar to the view of Judaism or Islam. It is also an absolute contradiction to Christianity.
Pluralism runs contrary to the law of noncontradiction. God cannot be the Trinitarian God and Allah at the same time. The religions of the world do not teach the same thing. They say contradictory things on minor and major points that are essential to each respective religion. We can turn the argument for tolerance on its head. It is very intolerant and disrespectful to these religions to say that they all teach the same thing. It disrespects these religions and their religious texts, doctrines, and adherents.
Pluralism also runs contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture. The Old Testament lays the foundation for our understanding by teaching that God does desire to bring the nations to Himself, but that comes through the witness of His chosen nation, Israel, as seen in the call of Abraham (Gen. 12–18) and in electing Israel (Deut. 7; 10). Moving to the New Testament, Peter declares the exclusivity of Christ in his sermon in Acts 4 (note v. 12) and in the opening chapters of each of his epistles (1 Peter 1:3–12; 2 Peter 1:4, 16–21). Paul is very clear on this issue in Romans 10. Finally, the gospel of John is replete with teaching the exclusivity of Christ (e.g., ch. 1; 3:16; 6:22–71; 20:31). That brings us to the declaration of Jesus in John 14:6. He is the way, the truth, and the life—all in the singular and all with the definite article.
No, all religions do not lead to God. But there is one way that does. The kindest thing we can do for our neighbors is not to offer the false assurance that whatever they believe about God, Christ, and salvation is acceptable. We must tell them that the only way that anyone ever gets into heaven is by Christ alone.