On Friday (29 August 2003) night the Mandarin Bible Fellowship has its evangelistic meeting. It has to be our 5th evangelistic meeting in this session so far, and we had nearly one every week! The talk was on 'do all religions lead to the same god?', and it has been something discussed very often in this secularistic world.
Well. I happened to give the talk on that day. At beginning I got people to run down 16 multiple-choices quiz. The main point I was trying to draw out from the quiz is that all religions are different and they don't agree with one another on certain core doctrines. I then talked about the worldly view of religious tolerance, the biblical view of 'Jesus the only way', and then finally how everything applies to us. The talk went for around 45-50 minutes (excluding the quiz but including a short QA at the end), which I think was dragging for too long, as I originally thought I could finish the talk in 30 minutes.
Throughout the talk, I was trying to establish the fact that Christianity is an objective truth, however people sometimes mixed up opinions with facts. It is more than just an opinion on certain things, as the whole history is involved. Did Jesus die on the cross and raise to life in 3 days? It is an historical fact. As we acknowledge historical events as facts, like did Pete Sampras won the 2002 US Open or not, we too need to treat Christianity as facts. People today love to use illustrations of blind men touching the elephant to describe how all religions are just different faces of the same thing. But in the parable of the blind men, the fact that they are all touching the same elephant is an "assumption" - in fact they might not be touching an elephant at all! This "assumption" has distorted their thinking right from the beginning of the story, so they failed to see the possibility that religions are actually not same. Moreover, by claiming all religions are teaching the same thing, they declared that they actually know better than the genuine followers of those religions - which is quite an arrogant act.
However, from the Bible we see that Jesus fully represents God and has exclusively revealed the Father to us. A 100% God willingly lowered himself to become 100% man (yet still retaining his divinity), to die on the cross as propitiation for our sins against God. He not only is the one who brings salvation, but he is also the only one that brings salvation.
In the conclusion, I was actually making a bold claim. I said, "Yes, all religions lead to the same God. However, none of the religions lead to God's mercy, except what Jesus Christ has done alone". After the talk, I heard that for some of the Christians there, it was a shock when I said that "all religions actually lead to the same God", as all along they thought they know the conclusion. I think controversial claims do grab people's attention, but I certainly need to be careful on how I phrase it so people won't get the wrong message. I think I was trying to bring out more than just the idea of "secularistic religious tolerance is actually wrong, and all religions are different". I want people to see that, even though religions are fundamentally different in their core doctrine, everyone from all religions will still face the same God on the judgement day - everyone will be forced to bow down before God. Their sincerity and faith of their false believes cannot bring them salvation. I should have tried to use Colossians 1:20 and explained it, but I forgot.
So at the end it is more than just knowing that all religions are different. We need to know that everyone will come to the same God, regardless which religion you practice. So we need to focus on preaching the gospel, so that other people will know that this only way to God. It is a challenge to the Christians at the end, and I hope some people do pick it up...
During supper time on Friday night, I saw Joshua finishing the Bible study and was about to go home. I chatted with him about the topic for the evangelistic talk, and he said, "so you are trying to disapprove that all religions lead to the same god, right?" Then I replied him, "well, I actually concluded that all religions actually lead to the same God!"
Joshua laughed, and left. He thought I was joking...