Religious pluralism is rampant in our culture today, and only proceeds to become more popular with each generation. When looking around you can find many examples, such as coexist stickers, theological seminaries accepting other religions in their programs, TV shows talking about it, and even congregations that call themselves a mixture of religions (ex. Buddhist Christian). Even if someone does not follow or believe a certain religion, it seems our culture, because of pluralism, demands that each religion be accepted as equally true. At worst many will say, “All roads lead to Rome.” In other words, all religions lead to the same God, power, or whatever you call it/him/her.
In this post I am not going to argue for the truth of Christianity (there are previous posts that do), rather I want to make an argument that not all religions can be equally true, it is not good to mix Christianity with other religions, and we can “coexist” without having to accept another’s religion as true or one-and-the-same.
All Roads Lead to Rome
Two ways people might voice this idea is: (1) all religious understanding is relative and no one interpretation is absolute, or (2) all religions lead to the same end and are equally true. Those statements sound great, pleasing to the ear, and definitely politically correct, but are extremely illogical and easily refutable through common sense.
The first statement has two faults. First, we can evaluate it by the Law of the Excluded Middle. Either God exists or does not exist. There is nothing relative about that. It is either absolutely true that God exists or absolutely true that He does not exist, and there is no other option. There must be truth and truth cannot be relative or it is not truth. Aristotle put it well: If you say, “It is,” and it is, or “It is not,” and it is not, then that is truth. Second, if there is no spiritual truth, then why search for it through any religious means? All it becomes is an invention by man, and a huge waste of time.
The second statement goes against something called the Law of Non-Contradiction. Again the statement sounds appealing at face value, but if you know anything about even a couple religions you will find that there are many contradictions between them. Here are a few examples:
1. Jews say Jesus is not the Messiah…Christians say He is.
2. Buddhists say we live in an illusion…many other religions say this is reality.
3. Christians believe in the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit all are one)…Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not. Even worse, Muslims consider it blasphamy to equate Jesus with God.
These are only a few out of many opposing views that both cannot be true at the same time. It would be fine to say that two views or religions are equally valid, but definitely not equally true.
Syncretism is defined as “the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.” This is not a new concept, but it is something that needs to be addressed. When religions are considered equally true, then there is no need to exclude one religious belief from another. Then people begin calling themselves Buddhist Christians, or claiming to be a Christian yet practicing witchcraft. The issue with this is that Christianity is exclusive in many of its beliefs, and it must be that way to hold to orthodoxy. To do otherwise contradicts the author and creator of Christianity, which is Jesus Christ. Here are some verses that show the exclusivity of Jesus, specifically as salvation (a center piece to Christianity):
1. Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
2. John 4:25-26 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
3. John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me,he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
4. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
5. Galatians 2:19-22 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
There are many other beliefs in the Christian religion that makes it obvious and wrong to syncretize with other religion. However, the foundation of the Christian religion is the salvation brought through only Jesus, and it must be exclusive or it is no longer Christianity.
Last, many want all religions to “coexist.” However, I think the issue here is in the definition of what it means to coexist. Often a word that goes with this statement is tolerance, because anyone who is unwilling to “coexist” is intolerant. What they mean by that is, “You are intolerant and won’t coexist if you claim your religion is true and someone else’s is false.” However, the true meaning of coexisting and tolerance are to accept, respect, and love one another as human beings deserve, without need to agree on religious beliefs as equally true. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, true tolerance requires disagreement.
In the end, all roads do not lead to Rome and all religions are not equally true. So it might be worthwhile to search out which one is true through thoughtful and reasonable questioning and research.