Are You On the Right Path?

Many folks like to describe spiritual reality with this analogy: God resides on top of a steep mountain. At the base of the mountain are individuals trying to get up to Him by taking different paths. Some paths may be more direct than others, but they eventually all converge at the same location–God. From this perspective, it is a big mistake for travelers to become overly attached to a particular path. As they travel higher up the mountain, many folks start to think their path is the best or only way to the top. Travelers often fail to realize that all paths are equally valid ways to reach God.

Now, the fact the above analogy is popular, does not mean it is an accurate reflection of truth. Indeed, it has a couple of obvious weaknesses. First, the “many mountain paths” analogy contradicts the claims of most major religions. Muslims, for example, clearly reject the idea that Islam is just “one path” leading to God. To even be a Muslim, one must publicly recite “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.” Moses, in many ways the founder of Judaism, made it clear that other religious paths were nothing but dead ends. As far as Christianity is concerned, Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.” (John 14:6)

It is true that some religions, such as Hinduism, are very comfortable with the “many paths” analogy. Most Hindus do not object that Christians worship Jesus, but think we are wrong to not worship other gods as well. Their view seems to be that all religions are true, especially Hinduism. It should be obvious that the “many paths” analogy is not neutral when it comes to religions, but is essentially an expression of Hinduism and other eastern faiths.

A second weakness of the “many paths” analogy is that it ignores clear contradictions between religions. Perhaps that becomes most obvious when we look at how different religions answer this most basic question: Who waits at the top of the mountain? Buddhists claim the answer is “no one.” They do not believe in a personal god. Hindus believe that thousands of gods and goddesses wait for us at the top. Muslims will say, “No, there is only one god at the top, Allah.” Jews will respond, “There is one god at the top, not Allah, but ‘Yahweh.’ And Yahweh is not the same as Allah.” Christians disagree with all these answers. We believe there is but one God at the top of the mountain, but He exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Simple logic tells us that if any one of these religions is correct about who is at the top of the mountain, the others must all be wrong.

Friends, I am convinced a much better analogy of spiritual reality is “The great maze.” There are many paths, and some seem similar or run parallel to others. Yet, in the end only one path leads to the center of the maze. All the other paths are dead-ends. The only way to know whether we are on the right path is to determine whether it will enable us to actually reach our destination. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has convinced me that He can be trusted. When He says He will enable me to spend eternity in God’s presence and that all other religions or philosophies are merely dead-ends, I think it makes sense to believe Him. I am grateful to be a follower of Jesus and urge everyone to choose this path.
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Dan Erickson