Mt. Fuji's Many Paths

In Japan, there is a saying, "There are many paths to the top of Mount Fuji." It means that there are many religions, and they all lead to heaven. One missionary to Japan heard this saying many times, and each time he would reply, "There are many paths to the top of Mount Fuji, but once you get there, there's only one way to heaven." What did he mean by this?

The myth that all religions are the same is very popular, because it seems to be benevolent and judicious. Most adherents to this position (pluralism), however, are not affiliated with any particular religion. This is because even a cursory study of world religions reveals the logical errors of religious pluralism.

Despite the recent prevalence of relativism, most people would not apply the same argument to other matters of life. What professor of history, geography, language, etc. would say that there is no correct answer? Why should religion be any different? We should examine the facts in religion just as we do in everything else.

How reasonable is the statement that all religions lead to God when they are all so incredibly different? Some religions teach monotheism (one God); others teach polytheism (many gods); still others teach pantheism (all is god). The various religions of the world also lead to different ends: non-existence (nirvana) or eternal life; forgiveness or recompense; a personal God or many indifferent gods (or no god at all); salvation by grace or by works. These are irreconcilable differences. According to the most basic laws of logic (e.g., the law of non-contradiction), these different views cannot be true at the same time and in the same respect. Logically, they could all be false, but they could not all be true.

There are many other differences and contradictions as well. In fact, Christianity differs from all other faiths in that it teaches that we can never save ourselves. All other religions teach that man is saved or fulfilled by obeying teachings or living according to laws.

This difference is strikingly illustrated by comparing two similar parables, one Buddhist and one Christian. In these parables, a reckless son returns home and is met by his father. In the Buddhist parable, the son is punished for his transgressions with years of servitude. In the Christian parable, however, the son is met with unwarranted forgiveness and welcome.

It should be noted that all religions do contain some truth. Hinduism teaches respect for animals; Buddhism teaches kindness and humility; Islam teaches total devotion to God. So if the top of Mount Fuji is seen as truth, the analogy works. But heaven is the ultimate truth, and only a religion that is wholly true could lead to it. Many people think that heaven can be reached by following a path, but even if we reach the top of the mountain, heaven is like the cloud that floats above it. We humans cannot reach it by our own strength.

If there is a God, then it is as the Bible says,

...My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8,9)
How could finite creatures ever ascend to heaven to be in the presence of such a Being? How could mere creatures go to be with their Creator without His help? The objective answer is: they could not. We cannot. Finite creatures cannot exist infinitely unless the infinite Creator provides a way. This is the problem with religions that teach salvation based on works.

The Bible teaches that: all humans have sinned (Romans 3:23), the Creator is holy and just, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). A holy and just God has every right to destroy His disobedient creatures, yet the God of the Bible is also merciful. Mercy is "not getting what we deserve." In His infinite love, God has provided a way for His deviant creatures to be cleansed of our unrighteousness. Our holy and just God must deliver punishment for disobedience, but our loving and forgiving God has borne the punishment Himself. John 3:16 reads, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (Read more about God's plan of salvation here)

We have seen that all religions are not the same, and that all of them cannot be true. Jesus Christ made it clear that He is the only way to heaven. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6) If Christianity is true, all other religions are false. If all religions are true, Christianity is false. The exclusive nature of the claims of Christianity makes compromise impossible. Yes, there are many ways to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one way to heaven.