Do Differences Matter?

I came across this picture not long ago and I think this exemplifies the attitude most people hold about religion, even many believers of the particular religions.  I am surprised at how many Christians have abandoned the exclusivity claims traditional Christianity teaches.  Emphasis on a generality such as ‘do unto others…’ loses sight on the big picture. Except their ideas about sin, the nature of God, heaven, hell, means of salvation, and the condition of man, all religions are basically the same some boast.

The real differences are glaring between the world’s religions and their claims, and finding one seeming similarity in their midst does not make the point valid.  I would venture to say that people who truly believe the world’s religions are basically the same has done no serious study into the claims the religions  make for themselves.  The only way to come to this conclusion of fundamental similarity is two fold.  The first is to ignore, misrepresent, or fail to investigate what each system claims. Second is to assume that no religion can lay claim to the truth. In other words, religion is not something real or verifiable so in one sense religious beliefs are like ice cream flavor preferences, no one is right no one is wrong its all just make believe. 

An example which I believe makes clear the point, comes from STR founder Greg Koukl.  Imagine on a table are two tablets (pills) that in every way appear indistinguishable.  Are these tablets basically the same?  Sure I suppose they are basically the same.  What if you then were to find out that one tablet is arsenic and one is aspirin?  Would you still think they are basically the same?  I would hope not, its the differences that matter.

Let’s go over just a few of the religions cited above to make my point, starting with Judiasm, Christianity, and Islam.  All three are monotheistic, affirming the existence of only one God.  However Christianity is Trinitarian in it’s understanding of the one God, a co-eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate persons but are only one God.  Both Judaism and Islam deny the Trinity as understood by Christianity.  Christianity believes the Son, Jesus of Nazareth is God who took a human nature, another detail the other two deny.  While Judaism holds Jesus was a man who claimed falsely to be the Son of God which equates to being God, had Jesus crucified for blasphemy.  Islam teaches that Jesus was a great prophet, but not God, and not crucified.  Hinduism is polytheistic and teaches literally millions of gods where Buddhism is atheistic in nature and their teachings on heaven, hell, and sin are very different and mutually exclusive to the above three.  Ask the next Muslim if Islam is basically the same as Judaism, or the next Christian if Christianity is basically the same as Hinduism.  You are not likely to get the response the above picture attempts to represent.

With respect to most religious system’s teachings, the golden rule is not its main teaching.  There is much more to Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism than the golden rule.  Their differences are vast, distinguishable, and definite, and all claim they hold the truth, and in so far as other religions differ they are false, and they mean it.  One of these religions could be true, or they could all be false, but it is impossible that all could be true.

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