Often atheists will associate all religions with being cults. In this video Hemant Mehta, an atheist YouTuber and blogger gives what I believe is a fair assessment of the differences between cults and religions.
I think there are many Christians who feel intimidated to talk to Jehovah Witnesses’ and Mormons. Most of the time we realize that the missionaries from those religions have done a lot of studying and preparing to share about their faith and we find that intimidating because we feel like we haven’t done much of that ourselves. But I wanted to challenge you to think of this differently.
This last weekend I was at an open house at the local Mosque here in Fort Collins. I was encouraged to see that there were many visitors who, like myself, clearly weren’t part of the Mosque ourselves. I think it is important that we are able to dialogue, communicate and fellowship with those who don’t believe in the same things that we do.
As the open house winded down I found that I was in a minority even among the visitors that day. They had a panel answering questions and dialoguing about interfaith relations when the Jewish leader that was a part of the panel dropped this bomb: “to say there is only one way to God is limiting to God.”
I was a little surprised by the comment. Not so much by the comment as much as I didn’t expect it to come from the Rabbi in the group. I more expected that the Universalist reverend on the panel to say a statement like that rather than the Rabbi. But it still had me thinking ‘Am I limiting God when I say that there is only one way to God?”
In short my answer to this as I think about is ‘no’. The fundamental thing that I think a statement like this is misunderstanding is that we decide the ways to God. When I say that I believe that there is only one way to God it isn’t because I’ve made it that way, it’s because God made it that way. I don’t say there is only one way to God because I want to limit God or that I believe God could only make one way, I say it because my understanding is that God has only made it that way.
When Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” it seems pretty clear that there is only one way. So am I limiting God? No. I am saying simply what God has said.
Could God have made it another way? My understanding of theology seems to say no, which is another subject entirely, but for the sake of argument let’s just say that God could have allowed more than one way to Him. If God could have made another way and yet as He says in John 14:6, he has only made one way to him, am I limiting God? No, I am not. God is limiting God. There is only one way to God. He has made that clear. It wasn’t my choice. I would even like to say that there is more than one way to God, but if that isn’t true I am not going to say it to make others feel better.
I often think that someone who says ‘we are limiting God by saying there is only one way to him’ are saying it because it doesn’t feel good. And they are right. I wish it was another way. But if a friend of mine wants to cross the highway where it isn’t safe and there is only one safe place to cross the highway do I let him cross where he wants to because he will feel good about it? Absolutely not! I could care less what makes him feel good, I would rather have him alive than happy and then dead, because I didn’t speak the truth because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
When doing Apologetics it can all seem quite overwhelming at times. Frankly, none of us will really every grasp every aspect of apologetics in order to answer every question. In light of this it becomes easy to ask how can we know that Christianity is really the only truth and all of the other religions are wrong.
When I teach apologetics I start by teaching the reasons why we know Christianity is true, because, in the end, if we can show that Christianity is true than we have shown why all of the other religions are wrong.
Just like any part of life we know that two opposite propositions cannot both be true. This still plays out with religion, but for some reason people tend to forget that. If Christianity is true than Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Ba’hai, or anything else is wrong. This isn’t to say that those religions are wrong about everything, but in anything that they disagree with Christianity, they are wrong.
At this point, many of you may be thinking “well most religions basically say the same thing, so they could all really be true”. I’d challenge you to think that through a bit more. When you say all religions teach the same thing what do you mean? They teach the same moral values? Mostly. But even that really isn’t true, not every religion tells you to love your neighbor or care for the needy, Satanism doesn’t, and some groups of Islam don’t.
If we think about it this area of morality is really the only issue that most religions agree on. Outside of that they disagree on heaven, hell, creation, nature of God, nature of Man, Sin, Salvation and many other central truths. Even here some religions don’t just disagree on what these things look like, but disagree on whether these things even exist or not. Hinduism and Buddhism don’t believe in heaven, and Islam and Christianity differ greatly in what heaven is like.
Most importantly these religions vary greatly on how to achieve salvation, though they wouldn’t even all agree to the word salvation, or even the concept itself as well.
Saying that all religions teach the same thing is like saying that Republicans and Democrats are the same because they both believe we should do what is best for the United States, but we all know better than that.
Saying that all religions teach the same thing is like saying that Republicans and Democrats are the same because they both believe we should do what is best for the United States.
So do all religions teach the same thing? No, not even slightly. So how can we know that all the other religions are wrong? Well, if we know Christianity is true than all other religions would have to be false, at least in where they disagree with Christianity. So if you want to know what religions are false, the best place to start is finding what religion is true.
I want you to think of your favorite movie for a moment. Got it?
Now I want you to think of the basic themes of the film. Does it start blissfully? Does it start with a world gone horribly astray? Or perhaps a broken relationship? If it starts on a happy note do things suddenly turn for the worse? Does all hope seem lost or at least horribly unlikely?
What happens next?
I bring this up because I attended a seminar which made me realize something extremely unique about Christianity. The themes of Christianity echo throughout the greatest stories ever told and it is the only religion that can say this.
A few weeks ago I was able to visit the Mormon Temple that has just been finished in Fort Collins. For those of you who don’t know this is actually a pretty big deal. because the temple is usually closed to non-Mormons. Since the temple is new they opened it for a short time to the public before the temple is dedicated and then closed forever to non-Mormon visitors. The temple was extremely beautiful and it was cool to see everything, and a few things caught my attention. The biggest surprise in my experience visiting the temple actually had nothing to do with the actually visiting the temple. The biggest surprise for me was the reaction I received from some of my Christian friends when I invited them to come and join me.