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
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 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.
I pray that you will strengthen me.
Especially when I am faced with,
So that my eyes and my heart will always
be focused on you and my Lord Jesus.