In this post we continue from the last one pushing aside some common roadblocks to faith. We pick up with …
Roadblock #3 = The Dismissive Factor
TYPICAL WORDING: “All faiths are basically the same, so don’t bother trying to persuade me of yours; any faith will do.”
PROBLEM: It is clear that many don’t want to think carefully about religion, because they don’t see the point. In their minds one belief system is as good as any other. Plus they honestly are wearied by the arguments and disharmony associated with religious debate. So to them the question of faith is “six in one, half dozen in the other.” Take your pick. This view effectively dismisses the whole issue of faith. There is no reason to take it seriously. It is, thus, a roadblock to evaluating each faith, learning their clear differences, and intelligently choosing one.
SOLUTION: While acknowledging that religious debate often produces more heat than light, and also acknowledging that some people desire harmony more than they do “being right”, still those who take this position can’t defend it intelligently. The simple fact is that the religions of the world are not at all the same. They differ from one another rather sharply in almost every meaningful category. A study of each one will reveal only a few superficial similarities with gaping chasms between them.
EXPLANATION: Many wrongly conclude that all religions boil down to the same basic principles: Believe in God sincerely, and do good to others. They note a few bland similarities between them and reduce them to “faith in the divine, and love for mankind.” All religions, they say, may be cased in different shells, but the inside is the same core of faith, hope, and love. Of course, if that were true, we could grab any faith off the rack we prefer and take it home with us. Choosing a faith would be the same as choosing a favorite outfit to wear or a favorite brand of ice cream to lick. Choose whatever suits you. There is no valuable difference.
This view is grossly uninformed and does not square with the facts. No one who actually takes the time to evaluate the different faiths and philosophies in the world honestly can conclude they are anywhere near the same. Their core is as different as their shells. The closer you look, the more you see the differences.
The world’s religions and faiths are extremely different at every level. Their concept of truth is different. Their concept of God is different. Their concept of right and wrong is different. How truth can be determined differs. What love for mankind even means is variable. They worship entirely different gods with different attributes. They worship them in entirely different and sometimes contradictory ways. They have widely divergent values. There is a reason people debate religion.
The most important questions of life are answered differently by world religions and major philosophies:
- Can we know truth?
- How can one know truth?
- Where did humans come from?
- What is man’s purpose?
- Is humanity good or bad?
- Is there a god?
- Is God a He, She, or an It or all the above?
- Is the universe itself alive and divine?
- Should nature be worshipped?
- If God is there, does God punish humans? Is He angry with the human race?
- Is there such a thing as karma or is that make-believe?
- Does anyone need to get saved from God’s judgment?
- If so, what must a person do to get saved?
- Is Jesus God Almightily or only a prophet or even a deceiver?
- Is the truth to be searched for in one’s own heart, in nature, or in ancient Scriptures?
- How should I live to please God?
- How can a person find true happiness and peace?
- What should people do with a guilty conscience?
- What happens after death?
- Is there a future resurrection of the body? Does it matter?
- Are we reincarnated and come back to this planet?
- Does God speak to us infallibly in Scripture? If so, which Scripture?
- Is the world heading to a final climax or does history go on endlessly repeating itself?
These are only some of the fundamental questions of life and religion. They are answered by religions, not only differently, but in direct opposition to one another.
Just to elaborate a little bit …
- Hinduism believes in the actual existence of thousands, if not millions, of gods to whom they pray and are devoted. Judaism believes in only one God who has ever existed who does not allow any images of him to be worshipped by any human being. The Jewish God is a jealous God who does not sanction the worship of any images and promises to destroy all idol worshippers. Obviously, they can’t both be right.
- Christianity believes Jesus is the eternal God come down as a true human being – fully God and fully man in one person. We Christians say He is to be worshipped and feared as the eternal Judge. Islam vehemently denies Jesus is the eternal God or that he rose from the dead. They can’t both be right. Someone is giving a false message.
- Jews and Christians believe Mohammed was a false prophet who attempted to change God’s message and thus deceived millions. We believe his message misleads people about who God is and what God wants from humanity. No Muslim would consider a person a true Muslim who clings to the cross and worships the resurrected Jesus.
- No true Mormon would chant “Hare Krishna.” No Hare Krishna adherent would follow Joseph Smith.
- No one in Jehovah’s Witnesses would say Jesus is equal with God. They would not call God Allah. They would think both to be in grave error.
- No Buddhist would deny Buddha was enlightened, but Islam denies this and demands Buddhists submit to Islam for enlightenment.
The list of contradictory beliefs could go on especially as other faiths, like Unitarianism, Zoroastrianism, and Shamanism are added to the discussion.
Because religions do not even define God, truth, love, or worship the same, a stronger argument could be made that religions are all basically very different and only have superficial similarities. Why else do those who understand their faith best, study it the closest, and who strongly adhere to their faith, try so ardently to persuade others about the correctness of their faith? They know the other faiths are in error (from their perspective) and need to be corrected.
So for someone to see these differences and conclude they don’t matter much, their eyes must be closed shut. Closing the eyes is not an intelligent or helpful position to take. If you open your eyes to the facts, this roadblock is instantly removed. Sweep it aside! It’s just not true!
If you claim to embrace all the world’s faiths, you have in essence embraced none of them. A faith like that becomes undefinable, unworkable, and meaningless. It ends up being some nebulous concept of faith in faith – or “let’s just all get along because none of us really knows the truth.” This view functions as a red-herring – an unhelpful distraction. It does not advance humanity.