All Religions Are the Same

January 28, 2011

Some people would say so, anyway.

Well, make that most people.  I can’t begin to estimate the number of people outside of religion that lump all religions into one category.  Not to mention, there’s a good chunk of people inside religion who have convinced themselves that all religions are equally valid paths to God, and they are much more enlightened for thinking so.  When it comes to everything from politics to parenting, we’re not afraid to be the only ones who are right, and damn everyone else to hell.  But when it comes to religion, well you just can’t insult something as personal as someone’s faith. You can’t presume to have all the answers, to be the only one who’s right, lest you look like a crazy person, and probably a racist or a bigot.

But I started thinking about it.  Maybe all that political correctness really has enlightened us.  Maybe we’re past the point where I’m right and you’re wrong, and we can all just hold hands because all our beliefs are equal.

I suggest you keep reading.

Self Improvement

Lots of people get into religion or “spirituality” to improve themselves.  I can’t think of any faith that says you don’t need to shape up, get down with your bad self…and pray.  Virtually every faith will tell you that you should be a better person, be more loving, stop doing bad things.  Sure, there’s differences in what each faith is going to tell you to do.  But if you pick any faith out of a hat and commit yourself to following its teachings, I can’t see how you won’t end up a better person.

Ethics

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this.  Young adults leave church.  But as soon as they start popping kids out, some of them think, “I’d better get back to church, so my precious little demon crumb-cruncher can learn some morals.”  I guess that’s a good motivation.  Of course, God forbid the parents actually be the one to teach their kids morals.  I was a bad seed as a kid, but church turned me around.  I was doing things like punting baby kittens off of rooftops, until one day, I heard a sermon that sounded like it was just for me.  It was about how Jesus doesn’t want us punting kittens off of rooftops.

Long story short, you can drop your kid off at virtually any church, mosque, or synagogue, and the kid will come out ethical.  Sure, there may be differences in the details, and everyone knows that’s where the devil is, but unless you go to a snake handing / kitty kicking church, your kid at least won’t be scoring field goals with felines.

Afterlife

If there’s a religion that doesn’t have some kind of a mega reward at the end, does it still have any members?  I wouldn’t think so.  Everyone’s got a different idea of what heaven, or nirvana, or whatever is like.  But we all agree that it’s a place where the people who picked on us in high school won’t be.

The Good Books

If there’s a faith that has a clear, concise, bullet-pointed scripture that clearly tells everyone what they’re supposed to do at all times, with no interpretation necessary, I have yet to find it.  Whether your scriptures were written over thousands of years, or by an overweight science fiction author in 1950, or by a guy looking into a hat, none of them give us many clean, clear answers to life, at least not without a lot of work.

The Ritual

If you aren’t a creature of habit, I suggest you don’t get into religion…any of them.  Sure, every faith has a different set of rituals and habits, some different combination of standing and sitting and singing and moving your hands.  But once you settle into one, be prepared to do the same thing over and over again for a long time, possibly until it has lost all meaning.

Money

A lot of people never get into religion because they say that “they” are “only after my money.”  Maybe they’re just cheap, but it’s true.  Religion, like every human endeavor that has ever been attempted in the history of the world, requires money.  Unless your religion is sitting in the dirt, doing nothing at all, I do not know of a “free” religion.

The One Thing

You didn’t really think I was going to say that all religions are really equal, and everyone’s just as right as I am, did you?  How silly.

No, for all the things that make all religions “equal” paths to wherever, I am convinced that I follow the only one that has something unique.  Something that humanity simply would not have thought of if it had not been given to us by God…

…the Republican party.

Just kidding.  It’s grace.  For all the crap that pastors (self included) talk about and distract themselves with, the stuff that people could get in virtually any religion, grace is the one thing that matters, the one thing that differentiates us, the one thing we would not have thought of if it weren’t true.  Without grace, your religion is just a self-improvement plan, or a money pit, or a harmless habit.

That’s it for me for the week.  What do you think?  Is there really anything else that (apart from God himself) that makes us really different from everyone else, and not just cosmetically?  What are you looking forward to experiencing in church this weekend?

31 responses to All Religions Are the Same

  1. Our savior lives. Budda, Mohammed, Joseph Smiith, Mary Baker-Eddy et. al. …all dead. If you want to add a little credibility to the religion your founding, raise yourself from the dead. Christ did. Therefore, I’m inclined to believe Him when He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.”
    Paul recently posted..You’re Not As Dumb As I Look

  2. i think the ‘good books’ are, when shopping for a religion, a deal clincher. Heaven/nirvana/reincarnation forbid that you would want a religion without a 7 point system to get to heaven/nirvana/wall mart/mars when you expire on this earth/matrix/some-outer-space-planet-clone-where-all-the-bad-guys-look-like-John-Travolta. The bible is too radical and open-ended.

    But I love the bible for just that: God gave us his word and He would like to discuss it a bit more with us. I don’t think we are supposed to interpret it without Him. So no, my religion is not the same as the others as my God is involved.

    This weekend is going to be awesome and I can’t wait for God to teach me new things about how we should live in love with each other and Him. Enjoy guys (its T-shirt weather where I am from) !!
    kleinfrans recently posted..thought c- say no to religion for a full and happy life

  3. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me”.

    Was he telling a lie, or speaking the truth?

  4. Well put! In Christianity, it’s our faith in what God has done for us that gets us to heaven, not what we do for God or even how we live our lives. Romans 5:8 says “But God commendeth his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (KJV) It is all about grace!
    Karen and Gerard recently posted..The Power Of Half by Kevin and Hannah Salwen

  5. People who say “all relgions are the same” fall largely into one of four categories: lazy Christians, or ex-Christians, who are seeking to justify not sharing Jesus with others or why they don’t go too church any more; members of the Ba’hai religion, for whom this view is a basic tenet of faith; lazy agnostics who can’t be bothered to research the differences between the faiths; and lazy atheists, for whom it is convenient to lump us all together in order to dismiss us all together. Adherents of other faiths are well aware of the differences between their own and other faiths, and wish to maintain their own (and others’) integrity.
    Revsimmy recently posted..And did God really mean this

  6. We believe that all religions are basically the same, they all believe in love and goodness, they only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, god, and salvation…oh wait…I guess they’re not all the same after all.

    Grace, so refreshing. Thanks Matt.

    nicodemusatnite.com
    Charlie Chang recently posted..258 Digging our wells

  7. Grace is the reason. Saying any more would be redundant on what has already been said by those before me. Since I am a pastor I am going to say we are going to have an awesome day of worship. :)

  8. It seems that many religions tell people how much they need to do in order to get to God. Christianity tells that God came to us so that we could know Him. This seems to be one of the major differences.
    seekingpastor recently posted..Death of a Woman

  9. This is an age old date. Paul wrote about a number of groups who opposed the true Gospel, and then there were the Sadducees and Pharisees too.

    It might shake up some pet Christian theology, but all men will be judged by what is written in their hearts, not by any other criteria. Not by the Sinner’s Prayer, or Romans Road or the 4 Spiritual Laws; not by denominations, or baptism, or prayers, or good works, or Bible knowledge. (Romans 12-16) Of course those that have heard the Gospel and responded have a much higher chance to meet the only true God: Jesus Christ. (John 14:6)

    The evidence of this heart transformation is not only the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), but it is a display of godly power.

    1 Corinthians 2:4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power

    1 Corinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

    The benefits of being connected to a living God, as opposed to a dead one, is that in this relationship we can be empowered.

    The problem here is that Jesus did not come to make bad people good, He came ot make dead people live.

    And yes, I think I am right. I’ll be my eternity on it.
    David recently posted..Can God Do it Thats a Yes or No Question!

    • “Jesus did not come to make bad people good, He came ot make dead people live.”

      Holy crap, that’s awesome.

      Romans 2:12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

      • In truth, for me, I cried out to God in 1978, and I was transformed – my life changed drastically. I didn’t have any religion, no sinners prayer, no Christian friends, nothing. It was until 1982 that someone sat down to explain what had actually happened. When I read that verse in Romans 2 for the first time, I was absolutely blown away. And when I read chapter 8, I was convinced of my conversion.
        David recently posted..God is Good! Really I Hope So!

        • On Sunday, January 9, 2000, at 6:47 pm, at the age of 16, I said the sinner’s prayer in a church sanctuary. Everyone told me that I was now a Christian and my life would change. It did, but only slightly.

          On Wednesday, July 26, 2000, at 6:42 pm, and still 16, I was at a Christian summer camp. There was an altar call for those who wished to receive Jesus Christ as their savior and for those who had already done so to come and pray for the new ones. I thought, “Hey, that means I should pray with someone, I guess.”

          That was the night I learned the truth of these passages. As I knelt down next to someone to pray for them, I was heavily convicted of how little my life had changed. This moment taught me the importance of prayer, reading the Bible, loving God and others, and “submit[ting my]self, then, to God” (James 4:7) and all that goes with it.

          It was not some great teaching, reciting a specific prayer, doing so many steps to make myself better that saved me. It was realizing that the Creator of Everything loved me so much that He died to save me, rose to justify me and give me hope, and sent His Spirit to guide me to becoming more like His Son. His love and grace is what saved me. All I “had to do” was say in response is “Do what You will. I am here.”
          Daniel M. Klem recently posted..I doubt that is true I can’t believe it I SHANT believe it!

    • “Jesus did not come to make bad people good, He came ot make dead people live.”

      One of the best things I’ve read all day.

      Thanks for sharing that!
      Alise recently posted..Twenty-two-hundred pounds of death

  10. Well said. I remember back in HS or College, thinking about all of these different religions, each one convinced that their’s was correct. The one common thread that I noticed was that, no matter the religion, all stood condemned by their creed; the only details left to sort out were how to get back on good terms with God/gods/Goddess/Earth/etc. The Good News of Christianity all of a sudden seemed very good news, indeed.

    • For me, religion boils down to loving God, loving our neighbors(which includes everyone) and taking care of widows, orphans and the poor. Most of the rest of what we do as church is just stuff. We spend millions or billions on music, buildings, programs and people to take care of all that stuff. I’m still working on learning how to live my religion, as Christ modeled it for us.

  11. One of the differences between Christianity and other religions would be our sense of the afterlife. Christians get a bad rap for being accused of “only focusing on eternity” Compared with some other world religions our eternity doesn’t really hold a candle. We (Christians look forward to eternity praising God and being in His presence) Other Religions look forward to BEING gods, having a plethora of virgins, being reincarnated into a better life, earning their own heavenly realm……If you think about it. Christians really look forward to being “doulos” slaves in the afterlife……
    Andy recently posted..Daily Bread

  12. I used to get stern looks and serious talking-to’s as a young believer when I would say “It is expensive to have a faith.” I was so shocked to discover that to properly follow most faith systems required buying this book, that book, several books to learn how to read those books, let’s not forget bumper stickers and t-shirts and posters, there are videos to help you learn how to read and practice what is in the books, buying more salvation or help out of despair through more books or just giving to your particular local branch of your faith institution, and helping others who can not afford to buy all of this stuff for themselves (or getting them food and clothing). All I had to ask them was “Am I wrong?”

    I wish someone had something like, “Well, yes. We do not need to buy all of that other stuff as followers of the One True God who sacrificed Himself to save us. We just need to read the Bible (which can be found in many places for free, including online nowadays) and share the Truth with others.”

    I still would have protested (and I have) “But it still is not free! You just told me an immeasurable price was paid! It cost the life of our God! Fortunately for all of us, He is God and was able to rise again!”

    His love and grace sure is exciting. I love knowing the Truth.
    Daniel M. Klem recently posted..I doubt that is true I can’t believe it I SHANT believe it!

  13. Grace is definitely the trump card, but Muslims also believe that grace can offer a condemned man paradise.

    I’ve studied a little on different religions and the one difference I notice is Emmanuel – God with us. No other religion portrays God as being with his people. I don’t have religion, I have relationship and my reward will be to finally [physically] dwell in the same place as God.

    Muslims will go to paradise but Allah is still somewhere else; Mormons will rule their own planet but God is still distant; Hindu and Buddhists are reincarnated until they finally reach nirvana but God dwell among them either.

    It’s all about the presence. Moses didn’t want to go into the promised land without it, and I’m convinced that I don’t want to go anywhere with it either.

  14. Great post, Matt. I think you’re exactly right. Grace is the thing that sets us apart from other faiths and belief systems. I’m so thankful for it.
    Captain Quaker recently posted..Legitimate

  15. I won’t lie… I’m a Republican. Oh, and I loved this post.

    Favorite line: “I can’t think of any faith that says you don’t need to shape up, get down with your bad self…and pray.”
    I laughed. very loudly. very much. :)

    ~ h
    heather joy recently posted..What Christianity is NOT

  16. The funny thing is how the people who say all religions are the same are saying they are the one person who has the completely right answer while the rest of the majority of the world has it wrong. Sounds a bit arrogant to me.

    Another thing — For all eternity, God knew of our sin. Every disgusting bit of it. Instead of pondering on the best ways to punish us, he figured out and prepared the way for the best, most undeserved reward he could give us. Humans can now have a relationship with a God who closed the gap all at the cost of himself. I’ve never met any other person with that kind of religion that’s not a Christian, and I don’t know of any man or group of people who would come up with a story like that, only to be left in the anonymous dark in the pages of history.

    Our Redeemer lives!
    Brooklyn Cravens recently posted..Treasure

  17. …the Republican party.

    This made me laugh so hard I about cried. What a witty post overall. Good points too.
    Jason recently posted..Interesting View Of NAFTA

  18. AAAAAAAAAAhahahahahahahahahaha.
    Just reading this today (busy weekend).
    One of the funniest you’ve written.
    Thanks for the laugh out loud.

  19. The question of which religion, if any, is the “right” one is a question that constantly haunts me. I agree with all the similarities you pointed out in your post. Taken at the surface level, all religions seem to be similar enough that it could be tempting to simply go apple bobbing for one and run with the result, fingers crossed. But, quite honestly, if religion is the ticket to a pleasant afterlife, I don’t want to leave my eternal future up to chance.

    Currently I consider myself an agnostic. I’ve been told this means I’m a lazy atheist. I reply that I’m just being honest. I don’t know which religion is right so I don’t claim to know. But I intend to spend a consider amount of time trying to find out.
    L.K. recently posted..First Church of Christ- Scientist – Bernardsville- NJ

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