Today on my Facebook wall I saw a quote from Mahatma Gandhi where he was being asked if he was a Hindu and he replied, “Yes I am. I am also a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist, and a Jew. “ Now before I get into this idea I want to say that I support the reasoning behind the post as it is my belief that this was an attempt by the poster to encourage being respectful to people of other beliefs. Being respectful is a concept we see in Christianity, although admittedly it has often been wrongly pushed to the side.
In the book of Titus chapter 3 verses 1-2 Paul is telling Titus how to instruct the Church on how to live properly, particularly in regards to outsiders; as you will see it is a call to be respectful and kind.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
So please, if you decide to read on and perhaps comment, remember as Christians we are supposed to be respectful. But to be respectful does not mean we have to agree.
So the question that seemed most obvious to me is if Gandhi is all those religions which version of Heaven or hell did he arrive in?
Buddhism’s heaven and hell are neither eternal nor are they even particular places, but rather levels you arrive at that are not eternal in nature. You may descend or ascend according to your good works.
Islam’s concept of hell is that it is eternal and unbelievers will reside there forever; however sinful believers of the Muslim god will eventually come out. Muslim heaven is called Jannahand has multiple levels. Muslim men are given 72 perpetual virgins and according to the Tafsir ibn Kathir will have eternal erections.
Hindus believe that their concept of heaven and hell exists as simply different worlds bound to time, space, and casualty. There are 7 upper “heavens” and 7 lower “hells” at which you arrive in different carnations, based on your works in the former life.
Christians believe that not only are Heaven and hell eternal but our residence there is also eternal. Hell consists of eternal torment and Heaven is eternal life with God. Matthew 25:41-46 for example says:
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
We also believe you arrive in Heaven by the grace (unmerited favor) of God through faith in Jesus Christ. While we may do good works, we see those as something designed not as something we did, but rather something He did through us. See Ephesians 2:8-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So having shown that there simply cannot be many paths (religions) to the same place because by investigation of the beliefs these are not the same places, I would also point out that the teaching of Buddha says it is the true path to be accepted by faith. Islam says, “He, Allah, is one. Allah is He on whom all depend. He begets not, nor is He begotten and none is like Him” (Holy Qur-an 114:1-4). In Christianity, Christ himself says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
In short it is this author’s belief that it is illogical and inconsistent to claim to have faith in all these religions. You cannot through studying them come to a reasonable position that they are talking about the same god, heaven or hell. So the logical conclusion is either one is right and the rest wrong, or they are all wrong; but they cannot be all right.
All Scripture was taken from the ESV translation