Just because all of the world’s religions express important elements of spiritual truth doesn’t mean that they all represent enough truth to lead to God.
The history of religion shows how immoral and violent religion can be. Most modern people would look upon the actual practice of many extinct religions with horror. The Canaanites, for instance, practiced human sacrifice, bestiality, and ritual prostitution. The Phoenicians practiced a similar, horrible religion. In the New World, the Aztec Indians practiced ritual human sacrifice on a scale that is almost beyond modern imagination.
Even our relativistic, “Postmodern” culture would find it difficult to defend religions that encourage impersonal ritual sex, human sacrifice, and cannibalism. It’s just too obvious that such religions don’t bring out the best in people. Neither do they produce healthy civilizations.
History also shows us that some civilizations that were founded on evil religion were ripe for destruction. The Canaanites were conquered by Israel. Carthage was utterly destroyed by Rome. The Aztecs were conquered by a few hundred Spaniards and a vast army of Amerindian allies from surrounding tribes who longed for deliverance from Aztec terror.
The major religions that still survive today have lasted a long time, gained many followers, and produced complex and highly developed cultures. Those that have survived into the 20th century generally uphold a moral law similar to the biblical 10 Commandments. But the world’s major religions do not share a consensus about how to come to terms with our failure to live up to the moral standards of our faith.
While all major contemporary religions have a fairly close general consensus regarding the moral law—the kind of behavior that deserves to be classified as virtuous or sinful—they fall far short of showing us how to come to terms with our own failure to live up to the moral standards of our faith.
According to the New Testament gospel of Christ, knowledge of the moral law brings awareness of sin and guilt (Romans 3:19,20; Romans 7:7-13; 1 Timothy 1:7-11), but is in itself not a means of salvation. Knowledge of the moral law only brings condemnation, and with condemnation comes guilt and the many destructive ways people try to suppress it (legalism, self-righteousness, scapegoating). (See the ATQ article, Can Assurance of Salvation Be Found in Obeying the Old Testament Law?) Only reliance upon Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection in our behalf provides a solution to the awareness of moral condemnation and agony of guilt that rises out of knowledge of the moral law. Only Christianity offers access to God because it answers the problem of evil and guilt.
Jesus Christ fulfilled the moral law both in His life and in His death. He obeyed it perfectly. Of the entire human race, only He never sinned (see John 5:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22). He also laid down His life to pay the penalty for sin demanded by the law (see John 3:16; John 10:11-l8; John 11:50-52; Romans. 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians. 5:21). Because Jesus Christ fulfilled the requirements of the moral law, believers in him are restored to relationship with God through grace and no longer alienated and tormented by guilt. Only with Jesus Christ as both master and example can people manifest God’s love and exhibit a righteousness that fulfills the law without being shackled by it (Romans 13:8-10).