During a recent discussion with a good friend of mine, the subject came up regarding parents waiting for their kids to grow up to decide for themselves what religion fits them best. This is a matter that I, as a parent of grown children, passionately oppose. Here’s why: As humans, we demand truth in every area of our lives. We demand truth from our doctors, bankers, grocers (in labeling), stock brokers, teachers, medicine bottles, etc.. you name it. We expect truth so that we can make the best decisions possible that will affect our well being, our future and even our lives. Why is it that we care so much about truth when it comes to health, money, relationships, or well-being but when it comes to religion and morals, we just don’t seem to be intentional about finding truth? Could it be that it takes time and energy? Could it be that we don’t really want to know the truth about other religions because it may cost us relationships?
Being intentional about truth is more important when it comes to Religion than anything else. Let’s put it this way; If there is NO God, nothing matters. If there IS a God, nothing else matters. There is nothing more important in life than where one goes when one dies. We need to be more intentional about spiritual matters than we are about anything else.
I’m a Christian because I believe that Christianity is evidentially true. As a student earning a Master’s Degree in Christian Apologetics, I’ve learned some things about other religions. Contrary to political correctness, all religions are not all the same. Yes, there are similarities between them such as being good to your neighbor and following the Golden Rule (which is from the Bible, by the way). But when someone claims that all religions are basically the same, why is it that they focus on only the similarities rather than the differences? There are vast differences between religions in the following areas:
- The person of Jesus Christ
- Their view of sin
- Ways of salvation
- Their view of God
Let’s look at some major religions compared to Christianity:
Judaism: Jews believe that Jesus was a good teacher or prophet, but not the Messiah and not God. Man is not born with original sin from Adam, and not born either good or evil but is free to choose either one. Anyone may attain salvation through the God of the Old Testament and through moral living. God is one. There is no trinity.
Islam: Jesus was only a man, a prophet who did not die for man’s sins. In terms of sin, humans are born with clean slates and sins can be overcome by works. Salvation is earned through works. There is no god but Allah who is not the God of the Bible.
Buddhism: Jesus was a good teacher but not God and less important than Buddah. Sin is the lust that arises in ones life. Sin can be eradicated by self-effort or by calling on savior gods. Buddhists deny the existence of a personal God or say that His existence is irrelevant.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Jesus was one of many gods. He is “a” god. He was raised from the grave only as a spirit (a ghost), not as fully human. He is not the one and only God. Man has no immortal soul. They are polytheistic, believing in many gods.
Mormonism: Contrary to Christianity which believes that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are 3 distinct persons of the Trinity but are all God and are all of one essence, Mormons believe that each of the three are three completely separate gods. They believe that men will be punished for their own sins but not for Adam’s. Salvation comes only through the LDS church. Without Mormon priesthood and continuous revelation, there is no salvation. Mormons are polytheistic.
New Agers: Jesus was just one of many spiritual teachers. Human nature is neither good nor bad, but open to continuous transformation (sounds like relativism to me). Most believe that reincarnation keeps the soul progressing until you “get it right.” God is us and we are God.
Christianity: Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, is the Son of the Living God–God Himself. Christianity teaches in Romans 3:10 that we are all born in sin and fall short of God’s standards. Sin leads to eternal separation from God after only one life, not many. For salvation, all we have to do is believe that Jesus died for our sins, believing in His sacrificial death and resurrection. No works are necessary. No other gods are necessary. God is revealed in Scripture as Father, Son and Holy Spirit–three persons who are eternally God (Matt. 3:13-17 and 28:19, and 2nd Cor: 13:14). God is eternal and personal.
From the above information, you can see there are vital differences between the way different religions see reality. Because of this, it’s important for a parent to educate themselves in this matter and then educate their children. Allowing ones child to pick a religion like one would choose food from a buffet table would be tantamount to that child’s spiritual death. Christianity is the only religion where one is saved by grace, not works. Salvation cannot be earned. It is a gift from God. Eph. 2:8. All other religions are works-based religions. The problem with works-based religions is that one never knows how many works or how good one has to be. Christianity is freedom. Freedom from legalism, works, rituals, traditions..etc. Jesus and only Jesus saves. That’s an exclusive claim. But it’s also inclusive because anyone can come.
In Deuteronomy, Moses last instructions to the Israelites before entering into the promised land, he writes in Deut. 4:9, 6:6-9 and 11:19 to teach these words of instructions to your children and their children. Teach them diligently, not forgetting what your eyes have seen. This is why it is important to teach your children the truths of scripture, not letting them decide for themselves when they become adults. As parents, God commands us to do this. It is our parental duty.
Next time you hear someone say all religions are the same, ask them how they came to that conclusion. Then gently point out that there are vast differences in the way different religions view Jesus, God, sin, and salvation and that these differences in world-view, by the law of non-contradiction, can’t all be true and that ideas have vital outcomes.
As Apologist Greg Koukl would say, “Leave a rock in their shoe.” Give them something to think about.
Source: Fritz Ridenour, So What’s the Difference? (Ventura, Ca., Regal Books, 2001)