It’s too easy in this PC world to just nod and accept your agnostic or easy-believe friend’s flippant statements like “All roads lead to Heaven!” or “There’s some truth in every religion,” or “I think God is actually us,” which I’m embarrassed to admit were all statements that I made at one time in my pre-salvation state, before that fateful train ride across the western Nevada desert. If you want to keep your life free of conflict, if you want to smooth relations between yourself and the hell-doomed people you consider your friends here in this life, then the best thing to do is to keep your mouth shut.
If, on the other hand, you’re actually Christian, and thus obey the Great Commission – if you actually CARE about your friend’s well-being – then you should find some way of at least addressing this misconception with them. I would tend to shy away from the blatantly confrontational (“You’re WRONG, hellspawn!”) as much as I would prefer to leave them to wallow in their falsehoods. But there are other ways to address the issue.
First of all, if you’re at a dinner party or something, you might politely say something about, “Well, I’d love to discuss that with you some other time,” rather than create a scene in front of a crowd – but if you ARE in front of a crowd, DON’T let the statement go completely unchallenged, or you’re tacitly telling however many people who may be on the fence there that you must agree with your friend’s erroneous claim. You certainly don’t need to pound your fist and go all Charles Spurgeony on them – but politely make a point of letting them know that you want to return to that topic in a more private setting, if you’re not comfortable making a Gospel defense in front of a large number of skeptics.
(Surveys consistently show that the number one fear of adult human beings is public speaking. Number two… is death. So as Jerry Seinfeld once pointed out, if you go to a funeral, most people would rather be in the casket than at the pulpit.)
Whenever the time comes, though, what will you say?
The first question I would ask of my friend is this: Do you believe the Bible is True?
Because that will change the argument completely depending on their answer. If they don’t, then you must start by pointing out the many proofs of its veracity. There are by my reckoning four avenues to drive in this argument, and I’d at least touch on all four:
- There are many, many scientific facts written in Scripture that people at the time those particular books were being written either didn’t know yet or believed the exact opposite. The easiest book to point to for this argument is Ecclesiastes, the book written by King Solomon (“the teacher”) in his search for a meaning to life. Here’s Ecclesiastes 1:6-7⇒
6 The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
7 All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
These two verses casually explain the water cycle and the air circulation patterns that you and I all know…except that Solomon wrote this three thousand years ago, and science didn’t track down how this worked until the last five hundred years or so. How did he know? God knows. In the interest of space, I’m going to keep moving, but there are similar places where the Lord anticipated what science wouldn’t discover for centuries.
- Archaeological evidence continues to pile up that corroborates the Biblical accounts in an astonishing number of cases – far too many to list here. Google it. Nebuchadnezzar, Jerusalem’s long and varied history, even Noah’s ark. All of it is being backed up by archaeological evidence. All of this is demonstrating that the Bible is not just a spiritual text; it has value as a historical document as well.
- Not only is it spiritual, not only is it historical, but it is a prophetic text. More than anything, THIS is what justifies trusting the Bible, in my opinion. Most estimations say that as much as one-fourth of the Bible is prophecy of one type or another, and with one glaring exception, every single prediction in the Scriptures has come true in a literal fashion. That exception? Anything and everything that will (presumably) come true in the Great Tribulation, the Rapture, the End Times, which haven’t happened quite yet…
- Most importantly, the Old Testament is filled with prophecies about who the Messiah would be, where He would be born (Bethlehem Epaphthrah, Micah 5), when He would be born (the famous “seventy weeks” prophecy in Daniel 9), what He would look like and what He would suffer through (Isaiah 53), and so on and so forth. The Book of Matthew takes great pains to lay out all of the different prophecies which Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled. (And statisticians have often relayed that the odds of some random person satisfying even eight of these prophecies was many billions to one. The odds of satisfying all 300 or so OT prophecies, as Jesus Christ did, are literally inconceivable.)
So, that would be the bare bones of my argument in favor of the veracity of the Bible. For now, let’s continue with the other prong of the flow chart: Let’s assume you DO believe the Bible is the Truth.
(Which it is.)
Then, the refutation of their dinner party statement is pretty quick and clean. If you believe the Bible, then you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that He is telling the Truth when He said (in John 14:6) that “I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Which pretty clearly contradicts your friend’s belief that there are multiple ways to get to Heaven. If we know that the only way to the Father is through Jesus…how could you justify saying that there are many ways to Heaven?
It’s like arguing that “there are many roads to San Francisco”, and then getting on one that goes north from Idaho because you claim that it also goes to San Francisco. Um….no it doesn’t. It goes away from San Francisco.
“Pardon me, this train goes to San Francisco, doesn’t it?”
“AH, no, no, it goes to Canada. Edmonton, specifically.”
“Well, I believe that it goes to San Francisco.”
“Ma’am, you can believe whatever you want to. But when the train stops, we’re going be in Canada, not San Francisco.”
“Are you disrespecting my beliefs?”
“Ma’am, your beliefs don’t alter reality. We’re going the opposite direction.”
And if you continue believing whatever you want to believe about how to get to Heaven, you too will be going in the opposite direction…
One final thought: your friend is almost correct. All roads lead to GOD, but only through Jesus Christ as Lord can you make it to Heaven. We will ALL meet God one day, when we come to the Great White Throne judgment. But only through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice will we be allowed into Heaven. The rest will be cast out “into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. (Matthew 25:30)