ALL paths lead to God!


#1

I’d guess that we’ve all heard this claim; all paths lead to God. For we Universalists (I realize not all that partake here claim that moniker) how can we really disagree? If all will eventually be won over to freely worship and love God, isn’t it logical to say then that all paths do, (eventually anyway) lead to God? :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Usually the ones who protest this statement loudest are conservative Christians who see in it a moral equivocation; a “truth-is-personal; so-all-truth-is-relative” dynamic; or maybe, see in this claim a diminution of the importance and identity of the Christ. :imp: :imp:

At the same time, often the ones who embrace this phrase do so in reaction to what they see as Christians “exclusivism”; or they really don’t see Jesus as such a big deal; or they don’t agree with the notion that there is but “one name given among men… whereby we must be saved…” and so on. :imp: :imp:

So, what about it?? Is this phrase defensible or is it corrupt and deeply flawed? If ever there was an expression that needed explanation and fleshing out before we answer, this one might be it.

Clearly, a distinction needs to be made between the logical destination of the path itself (ie there really ARE paths that lead to destruction – and not just destruction of the sinful self) and the reality that no matter WHERE we go, there God is also. Further, it seems entirely in the very nature of God to come and seek and search US out – in which case He will come to the path WE are on to be with us. (Immanuel!!) For example, if I were a Hindu or something and had never even heard the name of Jesus, it should not surprise one who knows God that He might speak in terms familiar to me as Hindu. God’s presence on my path need not necessarily mean that path logically leads to Him (does it??) (ie – God doesn’t magically just show up because I’m on the “right path” does He?)

The flip side might be that, while most of us here I suspect do believe that the “truest path” to God is told via the person of the Christ, we all surely know those who claim Christ’s name, yet appear on a path directly in opposition to God. So we find ourselves in the position of admitting that God is not the path itself, but that God is on the path of every sentient being. Maybe better then to say that while not all paths lead to God per se, all paths find God upon them. It’s not about the path, it’s about the God.

How do you all see this phrase??

TotalVictory
Bobx3


#2

I keep in mind that all paths lead to Jerusalem, but also that all paths lead away from Jerusalem. It depends on which direction the person is walking. (Edited to add: appropos of James’ comment about RevJohn’s final chapter.)

But it also depends, and far more importantly, on the Good Shepherd, Who goes out after the 100th sheep (over whom the angels in heaven celebrate moreso than over the 99 who never got lost in the first place): Who is, Himself, the Way, the Truth and the Life. (ETA: ditto. :sunglasses: )

Christianity, of this or that sort, like any other belief system, makes at least some distinctively exclusive truth claims (though of course also some truth claims shared by various other systems of belief). And I believe the claims of one particular type of Christianity are true. As a logical consequence, where those claims are mutually exclusive to other truth claims, I have to consider those other claims to be false. (Though of course I might be mistaken, through faulty data or invalid logic, about whether a particular claim is in fact mutually exclusive to another one; or even more fundamentally, about whether a particular truth claim is in fact true!)

But I don’t believe that Christianity (not even that particular type I believe to be true) is the Way or the Truth; much less the Life.

That position, is already taken. :sunglasses:


#3

Victory: I’d guess that we’ve all heard this claim; all paths lead to God. For we Universalists (I realize not all that partake here claim that moniker) how can we really disagree? If all will eventually be won over to freely worship and love God, isn’t it logical to say then that all paths do, (eventually anyway) lead to God?

Tom: It doesn’t follow that since all will eventually be reconciled that all possible belief-systems eventuate in one’s being reconciled. It may just as well be the case that only ONE path leads to God and that all will eventually TAKE THIS PATH (which is what I believe).

Tom


#4

All men universally share in varying degrees of sight and blindness Only agape love emerging from within the spirit of man allows man to experience any unity/peace with God. AISI Christ is not a belief system but a person and that person may very well be the atheist next door.

Yes, I know - it’s hard to believe. :wink:


#5

I’m an exclusivist universalist and strongly disagree with the phrase All paths lead to God. For example, Revelation clearly teaches that no rebellious person enters into the open gates of heaven without repentance.

Addition: Jesus is both a personal God and a path. For example, he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the light. Nobody comes to the Father but by me.”


#6

I’ve thought about this question now and then, but didn’t make much progress on it. Last night I read the first two posts, and that started some new thoughts flowing for me. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Do All Paths lead to God?

When that question is asked, what the inquirer generally means by “path” is “systems of belief” or “religions”. Perhaps that is the wrong definition.

Jesus identifies only two paths, one which leads to destruction, and one which leads to life.

Here’s the passage in Matt 7:13ff
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Jesus says nothing about religion, systems of belief, or such; the only qualifier he gives is “he who does the will of my Father in heaven” and “you will know them by their fruits.” That is the narrow way which leads to life.

No doubt following the correct system of belief gives one a distinct advantage–I think Paul says as much in Romans when he writes “What advantage has the Jew? …” It also gives one a greater responsibility: “to whom much is given, much is required.” In fact, Romans 2 is an excellent treatise on this very question.

God judges us according to our deeds. And He judges the hearts and minds of men. There will be heathens who need little “saving” for they are humble and contrite like the tax collector in the parable; likewise there will be christians who need a lot of saving for they are like the Pharasee–proud of their own knowledge and righteousness (which is outward and not of the heart) and ready to condemn their brother.

I remember a missionary story I heard as a young child. The missionary had gone to an isolated group in Canada, if I remember right. He was well received because the people had an ancient legend that God had been angry with them and sent them away, but in time He would send a messenger who would tell them how to come back to Him. After one of the missionary’s speeches, an old woman remained in her seat weeping quietly. When he spoke to her, she looked at him and said, “I have known Jesus for many years, but I didn’t know his name.”

Knowledge is good, but to have all knowledge without love is useless.The path is in the heart, the fruit of the life is the evidence. I believe many will recognize Christ with joy when they see Him, though they don’t ‘know’ him now by name.

Sonia


#7

Firstborn, not sure what your point is. Couldn’t follow ya.

James, right on.

Sonia, let’s go with Jesus’ two paths, the one that leads to destruction and the one that leads to life. Jesus identified himself, and relationship to him and with him, as the later. All other belief systems reduce to the other path essentially.

I do think all truth is God’s truth and I do think that God’s at work in everybody’s life (Buddhist, Muslim, whatever) on some level attempting to guide that persons toward a truer and fuller realization of love and life. And in the afterlife I’m sure we’ll all be in for some surprises. I can get with C. S. Lewis to and extent here–that those who humbly and sincerely worship other gods find out that all the while they were REALLY worshiping Aslan. I think there are limits to that analogy. Like Firstborn said, Jesus is a ‘person’, not a system of belief. I think we need to meet and reconcile ourselves to the PERSON.

Tom


#8

I don’t blame you for that. Sometimes I don’t even follow me! :laughing:

What most Christians miss is that Jesus is symbolic of all humanity.

I can’t resist picking on James G’s response a little (surprise!) :mrgreen:
AISI what it missing in Jame’s understanding is that the repentance (meta/noia) IS the act of entering into heaven. As far as being an “exclusivist universalist” that view fails to perceive the universal aspect of Jesus’ nature. Orthodoxy wants procedure to be followed - God wants the hidden man of the heart to be released from darkness. The darkness is not the absence of some creedal religious truth but the conscious presence of the Creator (AKA God our Father).

I would say ALL belief systems (including orthodox Christianity) reduce to the ‘other’ path essentially. Once Jesus became creedalized a centuries long wide path of destruction emerged.

So you DID follow me! (somewhat :wink: )

I am currently purposely pursuing close friendships with atheists. I’m learning so much about God (and humans) in the process and I’m sure I’l come out of it with more of what Jeff likes to call “left field” perspectives. :unamused: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:


#9

I believe our salvation is full and the end of our path is realized when God, in Christ, unveils Himself fully. This is to experience the Father and God as All in All. This is the apocalypse, the unveiling of God, and our death to self. The fallen Adamic soul is the seat of all evil. Therefore the soul must experience a conscious cosmic cataclysm in which God lays to waste the powers of evil. This is the cross and resurrection. The fallen world is man’s cross and Christ the resurrection.

All paths lead to God via cross and resurrection. All men take this same path.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live Jhn 11:25

In His Sweet Lord Jesus,

John


#10

And very welcome they are to me too - long may they continue. :smiley:


#11

Very splendid array of answers here. This seems the sort of question that offers the ideal “onramp” to discuss Universalism with folks; what it is, and isn’t. And I just love the varied nuances of the ways your minds work! So cool…
So many angles and nuances here…

I very much hear Jim’s concern to not mistake God’s presence for His explicit approval of our various flawed understandings; there really is such a thing as the wrong path. But wrong paths neither dissuade nor deter our God from His task of meeting us where we are with intents on saving us.

Getting quite literal for a moment, the purpose of a “path” is to take one someplace; folks talk about their “journey”. In reality however, it seems for many they are less on a “path” and more “camped out”; stagnant, immobile. As if having already arrived at their destination. So while paths imply direction, and one can be headed the wrong direction (as Jason said) but paths also imply movement and seeking and destinations.

It may sound trite, but it’s also true that all roads lead to everywhere; that is, if I take the proper turns at the vast variety of options lying before me, I will eventually get to, say, Boston. Of course if I was intending to get to San Francisco, going via Boston would certainly prolong the trip!

There seems though, a plethora of evidence that even while on wrong paths, and while taking wrong turns, God remains at our side as Guide. (eg reading the book of Numbers now) Ignoring the truths that the Guide knows, and is so eager to impart to us, will of course have consequences. One does not “self guide” to the kingdom.

Along this line of thought, may I share with you these beautiful words by Thomas R Kelly from “A Testament of Devotion”? From the chapter talking about The Light Within

“… we suppose we are the initiator and God is the responder. But the Living Christ within us is the initiator, and we are the responders. God the Lover, the accuser, the revealer of light and darkness presses within us, ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock.’ And ALL our apparent initiative is already as response, a testimonial to His secret presence and working within us.”

Thus, maybe I can say something more along the lines of

— yes, all paths do lead to God but that can not mean all notions of God are equal; many in fact are incoherent with the reality that is the Creating, Saving God. The paths lead to God only because God has joined us on that path to Guide us toward Himself; our task is to follow. —

(Working on a little talk I might give. Thanks for the great input so far!)

TotalVictory
Bobx1


#12

Better yet Bob, if God is “eager to impart”, He imparts, and no ifs, ands or buts on our part will stay His hand!

Better yet still, the self guide is delusional thinking He does anything outside of God’s preordained path for His life.

It’s Sunday, so let’s at least pretend to allow God to have his way … at least for the day … okay guys :mrgreen:

Salvation is by GRACE, not of WORKS, lest any man should boast.


#13

My favorite way to answer this is that no, I don’t believe there are many ways to God, but God does have many ways to you!

“I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me”.
However,
He seeks the lost sheep until he finds it.

But I also appreciated the comments about the wide and narrow paths. I personally believe that many will enter through the path of destruction, whether we’re talking about this side or the other side of physical death, and I’m not talking about whether one is a “Christian” or not.

And FB, I always appreciate your insights.


#14

I enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts on this. I find many of you share the same basic idea that I have come to embrace. I see it this way…

The Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts of all men. It doesn’t matter where you live or in what culture you find yourself, God is there speaking to your heart. Some men willingly submit to this call and reap the reward of life; namely, the fruits of the Spirit; this is the narrow path. Other men harden their hearts to the Spirit’s call and instead choose a life of self-indulgence reaping a hollow reward; this is the road that leads to destruction.

So, I must say that the following statement by TotalVictory is exactly how I see it.

Todd