“Pluralism is denied logically; inclusivism is denied scripturally, and that leaves us with exclusivism…you have to know that Jesus died and believe in it in order to be saved.”
Perhaps you’ve heard the statement, “Getting to heaven is like climbing a mountain. Both have many paths, but they all lead to the top.” While that may be true for climbing a mountain, it’s not true for getting to heaven. Heaven’s architect, Jesus Christ, clearly stated, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus’s claim runs counter to the pluralistic contention that all roads lead to heaven. He said, “I am the way to heaven.” If there were another way to heaven, Jesus would’ve been a fool to die on the cross. The cross shouts out, “Pluralism is false.”
If you read Scripture, you will quickly see that God’s never been a pluralist. He’s never said, “Just pick a god and head my direction.” In the Old Testament the Israelites got themselves into trouble when they started collecting the gods of the nations surrounding them. As a result, they were sent into captivity. That’s because God’s not a fan of pluralism. He knows that no other gods exist—that He alone is God.
The belief that pluralism is true crumbles once you juxtapose the other faiths against Christianity. Hindus and Buddhists believe in samsara, a continuous cycle of life, death, and reincarnation whereby they hope to one day be set free. Muslims believe that Allah will weigh our works, and if our righteous acts outweigh our unrighteous acts, we may have a shot at getting into heaven. Atheists believe that death is the end. It’s lights out and there is no heaven.
This mere sampling reveals the contradictions. Not all of these beliefs can be true. They may all be wrong, but they can’t all be true. When Jesus was asked about truth, He claimed, “I am…the truth.” On the cross Jesus became heaven’s visible GPS. It turns out that He’s our true north after all. He is the only way to heaven.
Now, this may produce a secondary question for you. If religious pluralism is false and Jesus is the only way to heaven, then what’s the fate of those who’ve never heard about Jesus? This is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, questions for me personally. And there’s no easy emotional answer. Nevertheless, no worldview comes without its hard questions. This happens to be one of our hard questions as Christians. And I think we need to admit it. It’s hard. Nevertheless, here are some principles that I’ve tried to remember when I find myself struggling to cope with the fate of those who’ve never heard:
While these principles don’t eliminate my angst in full, they at least cultivate a biblical view of God’s character and remind me that I can trust Him to do what is right.
Thought to Ponder
Just because there are many paths to the top of a mountain doesn’t mean there are many paths to God.
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Question to Consider
If there are other ways to heaven, then why did Jesus die so we could get there?