A World Full of Religions

Seminary professor Ronald Nash tells a humorous story of a student of his who went home to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for Christmas break a couple of years ago. While on break, this Bible-believing student decided to be adventurous one Sunday and attend a church that he had never attended before. But as soon as the pastor uttered the first sentence of his sermon, the student realized he had made a mistake—the pastor was contradicting the Bible.

“The theme of my sermon this morning,” the pastor began, “is that all religious beliefs are true!” The student squirmed in his seat as the pastor went on to assure each member of the congregation that every religious belief they had was “true!”

When the sermon was over, the student wanted to slip out unnoticed but the heavy-set, robed pastor was waiting at the door bear-hugging each passing congregant.

“Son,” the pastor boomed upon greeting the student, “where are you from?”

“Actually, I’m from Bowling Green, sir. I’m home on break from seminary.”

“Seminary! Good. So what religious beliefs do you have, Son?”

“I’d rather not say, sir.”

“Why not, Son?”

“Because I don’t want to offend you, sir.”

“Oh, Son, you can’t offend me. Besides, it doesn’t matter what your beliefs are—they’re true. So what do you believe?”

“Okay,” the student relented. He leaned toward the pastor, cupped his hand around his mouth and whispered, “Sir, I believe that you are going to hell!”

The pastor’s face turned bright red as he struggled to respond. “I, ah, guess I, ah, made a mistake! All religious beliefs cannot be true because yours certainly aren’t true!”

This is the problem with the religions of the world. In college, I believed that all religions lead to the same God and followers of all the world religions would end up in heaven. That only seemed fair.

I then took a course my junior year on Comparative religions. Halfway through the semester, it dawned on me that my naïve beliefs were illogical. They defied the law of logic.

For instance, consider the Godhead in the four major religions of the world. Hindus believe there are millions of gods in their pantheon. Buddhists do not believe in a god, it is an atheistic religion. Muslims believe there is one God, Allah. Christians believe in the triune God, that is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. How can the religions of the world lead us to the same God in heaven?

And what about heaven? Do all the religions of the world lead us to the same place?

Hindus believe in reincarnation. The individual moves up and down the caste system each time he dies. If you live a good life in each stage, you eventually become a god.

Buddhists also believe in reincarnation, however as you move up the caste system you reach nirvana and you cease to exist. You escape the pain of earthly existence.

Muslims believe if you have lived a good life you go to heaven. In heaven, men are given many women and they will eat, drink, and always be happy.

Christianity contends that death is the natural termination of life. People go to heaven who are forgiven of their sins because they have put their faith in Christ. They spend eternity in God’s kingdom.

I find it interesting that there is such disagreement over which religion leads to heaven, when in fact none of them agree on what death holds for each of us. Therefore, we are faced with the obvious fact that the major religions of the world, which all claim to be “the truth” are contradictory at the most fundamental levels.

Aristotle observed that any statement violating the law of non-contradiction is nonsense. This law says that two statements that contradict each other cannot be true. Either one is true or neither of them are true.

When you compare the world’s religions you cannot argue that there are millions of gods as Hindus state, that there is only one God as Christians contend and there is no god at all as Buddhists proclaim. This is nonsense. So what are we left with?

There is not an easy answer to this question. For that reason I have begun research for a book I have already titled, The Uniqueness of Christ in a World Full of Religions. Stay tuned!

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


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