Are All Religions the Same?
These days it is politically correct to view all religions as more or less the same. The popular fad is that all religions lead to Elohim (God) and that it really doesn't matter which religion you adhere to.
Not that this is a new idea. A little over two thousand years ago, this was the prevailing religious sentiment in Europe and the Middle East. A ruler called Antiochus Epiphanes, who thought that the Greek philosophical system was so superior that it could embrace all and any religious thought, began by being very tolerant-minded of all religions. When one irritating religion called Judaism claimed that it alone was the only true faith, the bounds of his tolerance were so stretched that he decided to force these people to conform to his all-inclusive philosophy. When they refused, he began persecuting them and finally torturing and murdering them until they revolted and won their freedom by means of revolution.
To begin with, if you believe that all religions are much the same, you have nothing to lose by ignoring them and concentrating only on one of them. Indeed, if all religions are basically the same, you have nothing to lose by concentrating on Yah'shua (Jesus) who declared that if you don't surrender to Him, you have everything to lose (Jn.14:6; Ac.4:10-12). You and I are not in a position to claim to know more about spiritual reality than the greatest religious teacher (in our view) earth has ever seen - Yah'shua [Yah'shua is the Hebraic name of Jesus].
Other religions make claims to exclusive truth too, of course, and some are prepared to kill to preserve it. Others are prepared to live in peace with those who do not believe, as we do. One can make a convincing case against the advocates of violence. The Biblical Christianity we believe in makes no such claim. Indeed, the kind of Christianity we believe in isn't interested in political rule or military conquest at all.
To ignore glaring differences between religions might seem broad-minded but in reality it is about as conceited and narrow as a person could get. To assert that all religions are essentially the same would be to claim you are smarter than each of the billions of people who see the distinctive features of their religion as critical. You would be asserting, in fact, that even though you are not an expert in their religion you know they are wrong - you 'know' their religion is really no different. Now whilst Yah'shua made Yahwehlike claims of this magnitude, we believe that He backed them up by living a perfect life, walking on water, calming a storm, multiplying bread and fish, healing people born blind or deaf or crippled, rising bodily from the dead, transforming believers for 2,000 years, and much more.
Your decision about religion is as serious as a starving person deciding whether to risk eating something which might be deadly. To the casual observer, wild mushrooms are all much the same, and who cares anyhow? But when there is nothing else to eat, it becomes rather important whether the variety you choose is poisonous. And if you eat nothing for weeks, indecision becomes as deadly as the worst decision.
These days there are many people mutilating all the unique features of Yah'shua's teaching, distorting Christianity into a form of eastern religion and surprise, surprise, when comparing this with other religions, it begins to look as if 'all religions are much the same.' Some people are even rewriting the Bible to promote this illusion. They're free to do that, of course, but not free to insist that we agree with what they are doing because they are following some political or spiritual agenda. We do insist on historicity. They may not like the historical truth of our religion but that's their problem.
What does it matter whether it's Yah'shua you worship, or some other religion? It's all religion. That's, in our view, equivalent to asking a wife, deeply in love with her husband, 'What does it matter if it's you that your husband has sex with, or a prostitute? It's all sex.' That's the very analogy Scripture employs over and over, using such expressions as 'playing the harlot' for mixing true worship with another religion. To make the analogy even closer, involvement with another religion is like prostituting yourself to a carrier of the lethal AIDS virus. You may not like the fact we believe that but I cannot help that. There are people who believe in left wing socialism who believe that right-wing fascism is hideous, or vice versa - I can understand and accept that (N.B. I am neither a fascist nor a socialist - I am really not interested in politics). But if I were to come and tell a communist or fascist that what they believed in was 'much the same', they would be rightly upset. It's none of my business to dictate what they should believe in or to redefine their politics for them.
One of the Bible's most basic teachings is that followers of other religions have been enticed by deceptive spirits who are utterly opposed to the Elohim (God) who created us and loves us. (Rom.1:18-23; 1 Cor.10:20; 2 Thess.2:9-12; 1 Tim.4:1) Even the first two of the ten commandments - have no other Gods, make no idols - show that Yahweh regards it as a grave offence to become involved in other religions. (Ex.20:3-4) No matter how similar non-Christian religions are, their truths are laced with errors that entice their devout followers away from the true Elohim (God), Yahweh. We despise this biblical revelation because it forces us to make a decision about religion. And it sounds narrow-minded, but Yah'shua affirmed that the way to Yahweh is narrow, and that few people go that way. (Matthew 7:14) Anyone really sincere, however, will seek truth no matter how unpalatable it seems. And yet if you don't want to believe this, that's fine with me, so long as we can live peacefully alongside each other. I am certainly not going to impose it, but I expect to have my right to believe this respected and upheld, however unpalitable it may be to others.
To sit on the fence is a marvellous position. From the top of the fence you can look in any direction and watch life pass you by.
It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere ... ??? What if you believe . . .
In the physical world, what you believe is critical. And the same Elohim (God) made the spiritual realm.
all you need for sky diving is a good umbrella
- plumbers have better cures for constipation than doctors
- red traffic lights mean 'go'.
Try telling a victim of one of the world's oriental religions that it doesn't matter what you believe. Especially before Christian influence gained momentum in India, millions of these people sincerely believed that:
'It doesn't matter what you believe,' is the despairing cry of people whose beliefs have never brought them to spiritual reality. They are like people who have never won in their life, consoling themselves with the platitude that it doesn't matter whether you win or lose. They are like people so out of touch that they answer multiple choice exams by guesswork and assume everyone else must do the same.
- baby girls should be drowned in the Ganges so they can be reincarnated as boys
- surviving widows should be cremated alive with their deceased husbands
- the gross discrimination and prejudice of their caste system should be enforced
- it is better not to relieve human suffering because that would be interfering with people's karma.
Find people who claim that sincerity is all that matters and try applying that logic to something they are passionate about, such as racism, rape, cruelty to animals, environmental vandalism, nuclear warfare, or abortion. Suddenly they get hot under the collar. Suddenly it matters very much what you believe.
People apply this lack of logic only to things they could hardly care less about. Those who say all that matters is sincerity would like to include themselves among the sincere. Instead, they prove they have no sincere religious conviction. They are simply mouthing a lazy, potentially fatal excuse for avoiding life's most important decision.
The genuinely sincere would make seeking Yahweh their top priority. Instead, we bury our head in a thousand other activities and lame excuses for not confronting life's most critical issue. We are like little children who have run away from home - hungry, tired and in danger, yet still hiding for fear of what mummy might do if she found us. The reality is that Yahweh longs to take us up in his arms, forgive us, and give us a life of fulfilment and challenge beyond our wildest hopes.
There are so many religions: how could anyone know which is right?
Most religions say Yah'shua was a great teacher or prophet. So focus on that great teacher. Until you do, Yahweh will remain a blur.
Suppose I was off-colour and two eminent doctors examined me. Dr. A's diagnosis was that I had a life-threatening illness, but treatment X would cure me. Dr. B said it was only a cold and treatment Y would cure me. Dr. A's more drastic diagnosis doesn't in itself mean he is right, but it means I'd be a fool not to give higher priority to checking out his claims.
Consider a worst-case scenario. Suppose another religion were right and instead of following that religion, I became a Christian. Many religions would say the Christian life is reasonably moral. So, according to them, although I would miss top spot, my life after death would be fairly comfortable. A few claim that if I ignored their religion, after death I'll cease to exist. I can handle that. Some say I'd get another chance through reincarnation. That's not too bad. But, relative to almost all religions, Yah'shua increased the stakes enormously. If He is right and I ignore him, the consequences are unthinkable. This man, renowned for his love, humility and honesty, warned that only by committing myself to Him can I avoid an aeon of torment in hell. (Mt.20:28, 25:32-34,41,46; Jn.3:16; 14:6) In addition, unlike most other religions, Yah'shua leaves his believers certain that they will enter heaven. Other religions typically place so many requirements on their adherents before they could be considered worthy of heaven that their followers endure a lifetime of uncertainty as to whether they have met those requirements.
You're gambling with eternity. Yah'shua alone is the sinless Son of Elohim (God) who suffered an agonising death so that you and I could escape torment in hell and enjoy heaven. Improve your odds on life's most serious gamble by giving priority to weighing Yah'shua's claims.
To determine if Yah'shua's teaching is from Yahweh requires divine insight. Whether Yahweh grants a person this spiritual understanding hinges on a single factor. That critical factor, said Yah'shua, is your willingness to obey Yahweh. (Jn.7:17) Why should Yahweh bother to open your eyes to spiritual truth if you are unwilling to respond to that truth? Yet few of us are prepared to pay that price. It involves a willingness to relinquish our hopes and dreams for the future, to forego our pet sins and anything else Yahweh may ask. Such abandonment seems crazy until we consider who Yahweh is. The Elohim (God) who made and sustains the entire universe is the source of all knowledge, moral goodness and love. That means He is good, He is trustworthy, He has our best interest at heart, He is wiser than us and He loves us more than we love ourselves. Obeying Yahweh is the smartest thing anyone could ever do. Until we acknowledge this and are willing to obey Yahweh, we obviously don't want Yahweh in our lives. (We might want him as our slave, or as a curiosity, but not as Elohim (God).) If so, why should Yahweh waste time giving us the spiritual discernment to know whether Yah'shua is the only way to Elohim (God)? Until we rectify this we can expect Yahweh to let us remain spiritually confused, subject to the deceptive powers of anti-Elohim (God) influences, unable to determine which religion is right. (Adapted, with thanks, from net-burst/hot/same.htm)