Last year, The Passion For Christ Movement (P4CM) asked me to do a 3 part live video Bible study on tackling tough questions. You can find the first 2 video Bible studies here and here. I wasn’t able to do the last study. But I figured, it would still be good to share it at least as a blog.
The tough question I was tasked with answering was “aren’t all religions the same? or don’t all religions point to the same God?”. If you’ve talked to many people about your faith, then you’ve probably run across folk who have said or asked you this before.
I’m going to explore and answer that question concisely from the Christian perspective and hopefully in a manner that you can use with others.
Who’s Playing the Game
The first thing we have to do is define “religion”, since the question is regarding religions. According to several dictionaries, “New Oxford American Dictionary”, “Dictionary.com”, “Merriam-Webster.com”, and “Encyclopaedia Britannica” (britannica.com),
Religion is a system or set of beliefs centered around a supreme being(s) or centered around some central belief.
This definition captures every belief for every person, from theism to atheism to syncretism. Hence, this is why being able to tackle this tough question is imperative for every Christian, because every person holds to a religion.
Now that we know every set of beliefs centered on a supreme being(s) or centered on some central claim(s) is in the game of religion, we can answer the question.
So, are all religions the same? or don’t all religions point to the same God? For Christians, there are two answers to this question, a logical answer and a biblical answer.
The logical answer to this question = NO. I’ll explain this “no” answer in two ways.
First, not all religions have the same view of God.
Here are some example views of God that all religions stem from…
monotheism—i.e. one God who is personally involved with His Creation
polytheism—i.e. multiple gods, sometimes involved or not involved in the world
pantheism—i.e. God is the universe, and everything that exists is part of His body
deism—i.e. there is a supreme creator but it is not involved in creation
agnosticism—i.e. the uncertainty of if there definitely is or isn’t a God or gods, the uncertainty of if anyone can definitively know what the supernatural is or isn’t like
spiritualism—i.e. the belief that the metaphysical or supernatural world exist and can be contacted, communicated with, and experienced
atheism—i.e. the belief that there is no God or gods or divine beings
syncretism—i.e. the combination of multiple beliefs forming a new belief similar or dissimilar to the beliefs it combined
All religions cannot logically be the same if they do not all agree on a central view of God. Think of any religions you can, look up their central view(s) of God and you’ll see no one is in complete agreement. Go to religionfacts.com and you can see pretty much all of them side-by-side. Not a single one agrees on a central view of God.
Second, every religions’ beliefs contradict one or more or all of the other religions’ fundamental beliefs.
Here are some example…
Some religions believe people are born good but become bad and can return back to being good through doing good things. But then Christianity says people are born dead in sin, no one is born good, and any good a person does apart from Jesus, God doesn’t see as good. And yet, Christian Science teaches that matter and evil do not exist.
Some religions believe in reincarnation. While some believe only in an afterlife, no reincarnation. And some believe there is no reincarnation or afterlife.
Some religions say you can become a god/divine. While others say there is only one God or no god(s) at all.
Some religions believe everyone will be saved. While others teach only people who believe in their religion will be saved.
Some religions don’t believe in any kind of punishment after death. While some believe there is some kind of eternal punishment. Then there are others who believe that once you die you cease to exist.
Some religions claim to be the only true religion and subsequently claim every other religion is wrong. Yet, there are other religions that are nondiscriminatory.
All religions cannot logically be the same if some of their beliefs fundamentally oppose one another. And if we say, “well maybe they just got that belief wrong”, then why should we have confidence in any other belief they hold.
Let’s take it further, if all religions accepted the beliefs of other religions, that’s relativism—the belief that all truth claims are valid even if they appear to contradict/contrast with one another. A relativistic religion is a self-refuting religion. To hold that all truth claims are valid is to cancel out all those truth claims so that none are truly true.
So when asked aren’t all religions the same? or don’t all religions point to the same God?, logically, the answer is NO. It would be logically incompatible for all religions to be the same or pointing to the same God, because not all religions have the same view of God and some religions’ beliefs contradict other religions’ beliefs.
Onto the second answer, the biblical answer.
The biblical answer to this question = NO. And I’ll also explain this “no” answer in two ways.
First, the God of the Bible says there is only God—Himself—and all other gods are idols, all other religions are false. That’s distinction.
"To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One." (Isa. 40:25)
"“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God. Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?”" (Isa. 43:10-13)
"Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god."" (Isa. 44:6)
"18 For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other. 19 I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right. 20 “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. 21 Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. 22 “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’" (Isa. 45:18-23)
The God of the Bible says He stands distinct from everyone and everything. Either this is true or this is false, but it cannot be neutral.
Second, Jesus says He is the way, the truth, and the life, no one can come to God apart from Him. That’s exclusivity.
"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37-40)
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:44-47)
“So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”” (John 8:21-24)
"“1 Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?"“ (John 14:1-9)
Jesus says He is God and is exclusively the only way to God. As a matter of fact, Jesus is the first and only ancient historical person who founded a new religion (Christianity) as the fulfillment of His ethnic-ancestors’ religion (Judaism) on this exclusive claim of being the same God of His ancestors (Yahweh) and the only way of salvation, and then resurrected after His public crucifixion as proof of His claim. Just on this alone Jesus is set-apart from every other religion. And according to Jesus, it’s either Him or it’s nothing.
The Bible stands in direct contrast that all religions are the same or that they all point to the same God. And that means either the Bible is correct, which then means every other religion is wrong, or the Bible is wrong and Christians need to question why they believe what they believe. But our biblical faith has been tested and continues to withstand the centuries of academic and cultural onslaught, because it is in fact the only true religion.
Be encouraged, Christian! Not only can we answer this question with a resounding NO, we can also declare our religion to be the only true one—with reason and evidence to support our case—and we can challenge others to examine what they believe and why.