Are All Religions Essentially the Same?

A few weeks ago, I was confronted in a conversation with the idea that all religions are essentially the same. The person who shared this with me believed that all religions pointed to basically the same goal: try to be a good person and treat everyone with respect. This person also shared the thought that, “Religion goes wrong when someone tries to say that their religion is better than someone else’s.” I understand where this person was coming from, but I have to say that I disagree. I have been thinking a lot about this conversation over the past few weeks and I’d like to share my thoughts.

First of all, I use the term religion here to help people who are unfamiliar with Christianity to understand where I am going and to keep from having to explain myself constantly. I do not believe in having a religion from the standpoint of adhering to a specific set of rules and traditions, rather I believe in having a relationship with a holy God. With that being said, I will use the term “my religion” in this blog to refer to my beliefs and my standards.

Second, while I do respect all other human beings and their desire for a religion that differs from my own, I do not respect all other religions. The term respect means to hold something in high regard, and to see it as having importance or high value. I do understand a lot about other religions. I understand the desire and the need for a human being to have a religion, and I understand that it might be different from my own. I will not devalue another person based on their religion. But I cannot, and I will not hold differing beliefs in the same regard as my own.

Third, I do not believe that all religions are essentially the same. Consider this: I believe my actions do not determine whether or not I go to heaven or hell. I base this belief off of Ephesians 2:8-9 which says,”For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” The term works in this verse simply means an act or a thing being done. In contrast to this idea, Hindus believe in karma, the law of cause and effect by which each individual creates his own destiny by his thoughts, words and deeds. This is from the 9 basic beliefs of Hinduism. These two beliefs are in opposition with one another. One says that there is nothing that I can do change my eternity, another belief says that it is entirely up to me and my decisions. In other words… both beliefs are not the same, in fact they are in exact opposition with one another.

Fourth, I would like to address the idea that it is wrong for a person to say that their religion is better than someone else’s. My religion states that believing in Jesus is the only way to attain eternal life. If I choose not to believe this, I choose not to believe in Jesus. If I say that you can get to God by believing in yourself, or that you can get to God by worshiping nature, or even that you can get to God by being a good person, I can no longer call myself a follower of Christ.

Essentially, by saying that all religions and paths to God are the same I disown my own religious beliefs.

I do not write this because I believe that I am better than someone else. On the contrary, I am no different from any other person on this planet. The only thing that sets me apart is the grace of God. This grace is his gift to me, and I did nothing to deserve it.

I encourage you to comment or email me if you have questions/disagreements/comments about what I have written or about my beliefs.

A God Who Answers Prayer

Although Christianity is widely accepted, Buddhism is still the predominant faith in South Korea. I have seen little pieces of it everywhere we travel – evidence that there is still a great need here for the Spirit of God. 

In the Garden of the Morning Calm, which I posted about earlier, we noted that everywhere there were stones balanced on top of one another. Each stone represents a prayer or a wish for luck and good fortune to be bestowed upon the person who stacks the stones.

At Nami Island, we noticed a feast laid out as a sacrifice to General Nami. The feast is laid out for him in hopes that he will send rain and protection to the island. 

And finally, this past weekend we noticed several people lighting candles underneath rocks at the beach. These candles are lit for a few different reasons. One is to meditate on the light in order to be enlightened. Another reason is to remember deceased ancestors. 

1 Timothy 2:5-6 says that, “There is one God, and one mediator between God and man.” I wish that I had the words to share this with so many people along our various journeys. The prayers of these people are misdirected. The peace and comfort that they search for in these rituals can be found in Christ alone.

I serve a God that does not require a sacrifice of food, or daily rituals. He requires only surrender. Perhaps this idea of surrender scares many people because of what is going on around them in neighboring countries. Perhaps they do not wish to give up their lifestyle (more on that later). Or perhaps they don’t see their need for God. 

I cannot communicate with them, but I can pray. Not to my ancestors  and not to Buddha, but to my God who hears me. . You can pray as well that God would open the eyes of these people to their need for a living God who answer their prayers. They desperately need to see that God is Jehovah Jirah, the God who Provides. They need to know that God is El Tephillah, the God who Hears Prayer. They need to know that he is El Shaddai, the All Sufficient God and that they do not need to rely on any other god but Him. He is the only one who will hear their prayer, and the only one who will answer.