I was speaking with someone and they offered that they believe in God and Jesus, but think all religions are right. They went on to talk about people who believe they are better because of their religion, or criticize others for their religion (or lack thereof). Pope Francis has also shared this sentiment, stating that all religions lead to the same god.
Honestly, this is the tree from the seed of tolerance that God commanded the Israelites never to plant. Let's talk about how such a peaceful and inclusive sentiment can be so illogical.
I want to start which the assumption of being better than someone because of their religion. I'm not sure what the person I was speaking with actually meant in terms of actions or mindset. According to the Bible we are all born able to receive Jesus and the kingdom of Heaven. However, in order to receive that salvation we have to accept Christ. Depending on which denomination you speak with will determine if you believe in other requirements (like works), but if you are Christian you believe the Bible which says Jesus is the key to Heaven. It follows that if you don't believe in Jesus (Jews—in religion not the race—Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.) you won't go to Heaven. If this is what the speaker meant, then obviously they do not believe in the Bible as they claim. Now in terms of treatment, I can go with what the speaker said; I don't think you should be treated as a second-class citizen because of your faith (or lack there of) nor do I think you should be harassed (no where in the Bible did Jesus harass people to bring them the message of God, He simply shared the message publicly and people came).
All Religions Are Right?
My comment to the person was the question of, if you believe everyone's religion is right, why do you subscribe to Christianity? Even within the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), there are beliefs that contradict. For instance, neither Muslims or practicing Jews recognize the divinity of Christ, a requirement of Christianly for entry to Heaven. Since practicing Jews don't recognize Christ or the New Testament, they don't believe we go to Heaven at all. Muslims have the 5 pillars, which include the calls to prayer which must be done facing Mecca. The Bible tells us we are to pray in secret and that God is everywhere; from a Biblical perspective praying toward Mecca is akin to praying to Mecca. When you start delving out of the Abrahamic religions, you encounter multiple gods (such as in Hinduism), no god (i.e. atheism, Buddhism), animal worship (animism), wiccans, satanists... How is it that Jains believe it is unacceptable to kill even a mosquito, but Christians think it's ok to eat animals? Sure, from a Christian perspective, the act of not killing animals can be reconciled (we are commanded to care for the Earth, and thus protecting the life of animals as well as vegetarianism/vegan lifestyles are acceptable Christian behaviors). However, from a Jain perspective Christians are wrong for killing animals in sport, for food, and for clothes. Especially when you don't use all of the animal you have killed. Which means if the Jain are right, we as Christians are not. As someone who has actually studied religions other than my own, I can assure you we can't all be right. While many religions agree on certain points (e.g. don't commit murder), there are other points we disagree upon. Logically, the conclusion is either one is right, or none are right.
Honestly, I respect someone who is atheist, devoutly Muslim, devoutly Hindu, etc. over someone who claims one then tries to say all religions are correct, particularly when the one they’re claiming is Christianity. While I don't agree with people of other religions on the basis of religion, I respect that they believe in something (or nothing in the case of atheists). Those who have studied religions and chosen that which they believe, as opposed to blindly doing what their parents/community told them to, I respect even more—even if I don't agree with their ultimate decision. However, wishy washy, illogical attempts to blend everything into one make me doubt you have any idea what you're talking about. I mean, in Christianity, the statement directly contradicts what you claim to believe in and implies that both Jesus and God are liars (They can't be right if They are liars). In most religions this principle of conflict holds.
I think it's important to study everything and to come to terms with what you believe. Which likely means speaking with people from outside of your viewpoint. Even within Christianity, you can find a high amount of variance amongst denominations. However, you should not expect someone to compromise their belief simply because you disagree. I expect that an atheist will disagree with many of the things I believe. I know that a Baptist person will say its ok to eat whatever you want, while I believe the dietary laws still hold. I know that a Jain would not be happy that I just killed a spider with extreme aggression, and a Buddhist might tell me I'm going to be a spider in my next life.
People today use the word criticism to be negative, because it means disapproval, but it can be useful or baseless depending on the situation and execution. I'm not sure if the person actually meant criticism or harassment. I definitely don't think you should harass someone. However, I'm not going to lie to you and say I approve or agree with behaviors that I don't. If you ask for my advice on something, it's going to have Christian roots because I am a Christian. This goes back to the essence of why the assumption that all religions are correct is illogical. We're not going to approve of the same things, which makes us critical of each other. Now, am I going to walk up to someone who is praying to statue and go on a rant about how its wrong to pray to idols (that to me would be harassment, not criticism), no. However, if you ask me to come with you to pray to an idol or ask my opinion of it, I'm going to tell you I think it's a violation of the 2nd commandment (if you're Christian) or that I'm a Christian and God would find it offensive (if you are a non-Christian). If you are confident in your belief, you will go on without feeling slighted, simply accepting that we believe different things.
The truth of the matter is, no one who actually studies their religion would believe in their religion if they thought other religions were right too. You deceive yourself if you declare that the God of the Bible is the God you follow, then claim everyone who follows other gods or no god is also right. If you believe in the God of the Bible, you believe He doesn't lie and He said that He is the only God to be worshiped. He said you cannot follow other gods if you follow Him. He sent His is son to die for our sins and only by believing in Him can you go to Heaven. He said we die once, therefore we cannot be reincarnated. These statements all conflict with the beliefs of other religions; if you believe them, then you don't believe the other religions are right.
This person's comment made me sad for them; they obviously claim Christianity out of habit and tradition, but not out of actual faith.
Articles of Interest
- Lodge, Carey. "Pope Francis Releases Emotional New Video: Regardless of Religion We are All Children of God". Christian Today. January 2016
- Strohl, G. Ralph. "Jainism". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2016
- "Ahimsa". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2016
- Snellgrove, David Llewelyn. "Buddhism". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2016
- Rahman, Fazlur. "Islam". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2016
- Dimock, Edward C. "Hinduism". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2016