All religions are the same?

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Reflection:
Are all religions much the same? Isn't just about finding one that suits you and following what it says?

Recently there has been a resurgence of a movement to disqualify any religion as being exclusive and true. People from all walks of life have entered into the discussion. Most of whom have the opinion that religion these days is more about a life style choice based on a persons cultural paradigm. It might be good to take a look at what some of them say and how they are so wrong.

Bishop John Shelby Spong has been noted for some of his most outlandish and controversial comments. One such comment seems to mark him as anything but a Christian. He seems to believe that God is not a Christian, nor a Jew or a Muslim or even a Buddhist or Hindu. Something that perhaps makes some sense as God would be beyond human mental conceptual restraints. Yet in this statement there is also an error as to equate all concepts of God as being much the same. The vast differences between Christian, Jewish, Buddhists, Hindu and Muslim images of God are to numerous to mention in this short reflection. It is easier to explain the basic differences.

A brief look at each;

  • The Jewish concept of God is one that demands obedience to a long list of strict rules and laws known as the halakhah.
  • The Muslim concept of God is one that demands that adherents and seek to either convert or kill all who refuse to believe.
  • The Hindu believe in a singular god called Brahman, who is present in every person as the eternal spirit or soul, called the atman.
  • The Buddhists don't believe in a god as such but see humans as elevating to such a status as devas. Yet they too suffer.
  • Thee Christian concept of God is founded on the gift of Grace and Forgiveness through the atoning blood of Jesus the Christ.

    There seems to be such a divergent difference as to make it incompatible to imagine they would all lead to the same destination. But what of religious tolerance? How should we think of these differences in a post modern world. Paulo Coelho has been quoted as saying that all religions lead to the same god, and all deserve the same respect. As it was mentioned above each religion points to a different god and none of them are all that compatible. The question can be raised when an intolerant religion such as Islam or Buddhism goes out and persecutes others. Killing those who refuse to change their religion. Should we still show polite indifference towards these groups? It would seem that showing respect for those who are killing is in some way supporting the ritual abuse of others. The simple fact that respect needs to be shown from both sides for it to work is shown to fail in these cases.

    Maybe something is missed in these reflections. Perhaps there is some linear truth that can be found in all these different religions. Leo Tolstoy, of Russian literary fame, suggests that there may be different religions, but all of them teach how to live. That is they teach the law of god. This might not work either. The Buddhist will teach that one must lose oneself until they become nothing. The Hebrew teaching train one to be obedient to the halakhah. The Islamic god teaches adherents to be cruel and ruthless in the pursuit of perfection. None of these teach how to live with others in peace and harmony.

    Pope Leo XIII perhaps had an idea of just how impossible it is to throw all religions into the same group or category. He is quoted as explaining that the equal toleration of all religions ... is the same as atheism. Perhaps in other words, if all religions are much the same, than no religion is actually real. The choice of following any belief system would come back to a life style choice. Right up there with joining a gym or country club. So where does this leave the discussion?

    After perusing and weighing up many religions and beliefs it comes down to some simple questions.
  • Which one is about love and acceptance?
  • Which one is has a gift of Grace and not a reward for actions?
  • Which one is defined by a relationship with the Creator?

    It can become clearer when time is taken to seek the truth from the source. The Bible continues to this day to be the source of understanding and enlightenment. The New Testament stands out as a love letter written by those who had their eyes firmly fixed on God and the future to come.

Prayer:
Abba Father,
I pray that you will strengthen me.
Especially when I am faced with,
Arguments
Sarcasm
Lies
Negativity
So that my eyes and my heart will always
be focused on you and my Lord Jesus.

One God
One Saviour
One Comforter

Amen