In examining planet Earth and parsing through biblical teaching and theological belief, three facts become quite evident:
1. There are many different religions
2. There are many different sects and creeds in Christianity
3. The Bible teaches that at the end of time there will be a remnant
First things first. Let us examine all religion. There is the belief out there that all religion is good and is a pathway to the Almighty God. In this perspective, often times all the religions are likened to spokes in a wheel where God is the hub of the wheel and humanity is at the perimeter. Humanity then establishes a connection with God through the use of one of the many spokes (or religious options) available, and that it matters not which one since God is all loving and each religion contains some truth.
“Universalism in its primary meaning refers to religious, theological, and philosophical concepts with universal (‘applying to all’) application or applicability. Religion meaning a lifestyle that is a set of rules that requires sacrifice and worship, that gives a sense of purpose with a deity. It is a term used to identify particular doctrines considering all people in their formation. Universalism in the religious context claims that religion or religious man (sic) is a universal quality.
“In its secondary sense, a church or community that calls itself Universalist may emphasize the universal principles of most religions and accept other religions in an inclusive manner, believing in a universal reconciliation between humanity and the divine. …
“A belief in one common truth is also another important tenet. The living truth is seen as more far-reaching than national, cultural, or religious boundaries.” – Wikipedia entry “Universalism” (January 15, 2011)
“There is no Hindu, there is no Musalman (Muslim).” – Guru Nanak, The First Sikh Guru
“If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.” – Sri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan [credited with bringing Sikhism to the West]
“After long study and experience, I have come to the conclusion that  all religions are true;  all religions have some error in them;  all religions are almost as dear to me as my own Hinduism, in as much as all human beings should be as dear to one as one's own close relatives. My own veneration for other faiths is the same as that for my own faith; therefore no thought of conversion is possible.” – M. K. Gandhi, All Men Are Brothers: Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as told in his own words, Paris, UNESCO 1958, p 60.
“I believe in the fundamental Truth of all great religions of the world. I believe they are all God given and I believe they were necessary for the people to whom these religions were revealed. And I believe that if only we could all of us read the scriptures of the different faiths from the standpoint of the followers of these faiths, we should find that they were at the bottom all one and were all helpful to one another.” – M. K. Gandhi
But let us examine this postulate more closely to see if it even makes sense and if it is consistent with the teaching of Scripture.
QUESTIONS: Do all religions lead to God? Are they just a diverse assortment of equal pathways to the Almighty?
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6
Here in the first two commandments, we see that God is to be the object of our worship and no other gods. Also, we are not to worship God through vicarious means such as idols. So we can see that any religion that is not focused on Jehovah and any religion that employs the use of idols is in opposition to God and is not therefore a pathway to Him. Can you name some religions that might fit into these categories?
God takes the matter of idolatry so seriously, that He divorced the 10 Northern Tribes of Israel over their continual backsliding into idolatry
The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josi’ah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery, I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD. Jeremiah 3:6-10
We even see that God is disappointed that Judah only turns to Him feignedly and not with the whole heart
Further, God points out that a religion that is the construct of man is not a true religion that worships Him
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Isaiah 29:13-14
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Mark 7:7
Which all begs the question, how can man establish his own wisdom in the place of God’s wisdom and believe it to be a true religion?
Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. Matthew 22:29
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Isaiah 8:20
Here we can see that religion that is not based in the truth of Scripture is in error. Thus, it would not be religion based in God’s doctrine, but rather it is based in doctrine that is the commandments of men – which is the worship of God in vain.
It seems very forthright that any religion that is polytheistic, not following the Bible, engaged in idolatry, and reliant on the wisdom of men for truth is not, in fact, a true religion. Following such a religion is to worship God in vain.
Now, let us take another step and examine religions that believe in One God Almighty – indeed, such religions proclaim that that God is Jehovah, the God of Abraham. These three religions are sometimes called the Three Abrahamic Religions. Can you name them?
So this begs the questions: Are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam compatible? Can they be together three spokes in a great wheel that are three separate and distinct pathways to God?
If such were the case, it would seem logical that the three religions would agree with such a premise. So let us examine certain fundamental beliefs of these religions.
And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.
And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire.
And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.
For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying,
We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.
But neither so did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands. Mark 14:53-65
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:51-60
From these two passages of Scripture, we can see that Judaism perceives that Jesus is a blasphemer and a false Messiah. Also, the followers of Christ are as worthy of death as He is. It follows that Judaism perceives Christianity to be in error and the religion of a blasphemer – thus, a religion of blasphemy. Not necessarily the picture of being compatible pathways to the Almighty God.
About Christianity, the Qur’an says the following:
They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah, Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy) [sic], verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them. Qur’an 5:72-73
About Judaism and Christianity, the Qur’an says the following
Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [i.e. Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [i.e. a special tax imposed on conquered non-Muslims] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. – Qur’an 9:29 – [parentheses in original, brackets added for clarification]
Jesus Christ says the following:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. John 14:6-7
Thus, we can see that the Messiah, the Saviour, the head of the Christian Church, has plainly stated that no one comes to the Father except by Him. Thus, Christianity is certainly a religion – according to its founder, the Son of God – that excludes other religions, broaching no equals, and allowing for no other pathway to God.
So how can the Three Abrahamic faiths be compatible when Judaism considers Christianity to be blasphemy; Islam considers Christianity to be blasphemy; Islam considers that Jews and Christians are to be fought and subdued; and Jesus plainly stated that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him?
Quite frankly, it defies logic to believe that these three religions are compatible and are all three pathways to God. For if they were, then God would essentially be a liar in that incompatible revelations are given even though there is no incompatibility. Such confusion could only come from a source other than God.
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 1 Corinthians 14: 33
Next week we will study the following:
§ What is the point of an ecumenical movement in Christendom if the Revelation of Jesus Christ describes a remnant at the end of time?
§ Is it really possible for a universal church following truth to exist in the presence of a remnant that is following truth? Does this make any sense?
§ Why are there so many denominations in Christianity?
§ Why are there so many doctrinal schisms in Christianity?
§ Are they important? If not, then what is truth? And what is error?
§ What really is the Body of Christ?
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