Why Don’t All Religions Just Get Along?

coexistAn inmate at the jail recently asked this question while we were in a Bible study.  He wanted to know why there was so much conflict between religions that claim to teach love and patience.  “Why can’t they get along?” he asked.  “After all,” he added, “don’t they all teach the same thing?”

On one level, I would have to agree with a point he made.  As a Christian, I am called to be guided by love for others – even my enemy.  Therefore, shouldn’t I at least get along with them?

Actually, I can’t think of anyone with whom I would purposely choose not attempting to get along with – especially over theological matters.  But, getting along with someone is a far cry from his second question, ‘don’t they all teach the same thing?’  This is where things change up a little.

It’s pretty clear that various religions do not teach the same thing.  For example, Buddhists hold that there is no god, while Hindu’s teach there are thousands upon thousands of gods.  Obviously, both of these philosophies cannot be equally true. It cannot be true that there is no god in the universe, while at the same time there exists thousands of gods in the same universe.  Either one or the other is right, or they are both wrong.  However, they cannot both be right.  We simply do not live in a universe which allows competing truth statements to be equally true.

For some reason, this makes some people uncomfortable.  When it comes to matters of faith, they do not like the idea that a person, or group of people, might be wrong.  However, in other areas they readily accept objective truth.  For example, if the clerk at the grocery store tells them their bill is $25 and they hand over a $50 bill, they would expect change.  They would likely object if the clerk tried telling them that $0 is equal to $25, or that in the clerk’s world all change comes to $0.  This is because they accept the concept of objective truth.  Yet, when it comes to areas of faith and religion they seem to lose their objectivity.   Unfortunately, this results in a disaster far greater than occurring at the check out line.

Consider just one claim of two major religions: Christianity and Islam.  According to Islamic belief, Jesus of Nazareth was born of a virgin, performed miraculous signs, and was a prophet of God.  Islam also teaches that Jesus was not crucified and was not God.

Christianity, on the other hand, agrees with Muslim belief regarding the virgin birth, miraculous life and prophetic work of Jesus.  However, Christians believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and that he was crucified on a cross and rose from the dead three days later.

Obviously, both Christian and Islamic views on Jesus cannot hold the same place in reality.  It is not possible that Jesus was God in the flesh while at the same time he was not.  As well, it is impossible that Jesus did not die on the cross while at the same time he did.  The only possible conclusions that we can draw is that the Muslim belief is wrong, or the Christian belief is wrong, or they are both wrong.  But, they cannot both be right!  At least one must be in error.

Some people also object to some claims Jesus made that seem very exclusionary.  For example, Jesus claimed that he was the only way to the Father in heaven and that all would have to go through him to get to the Father (John 14:6).  If this is a true statement, then any other claim made by other religions regarding fulfillment in heaven cannot be true.  If this is a true statement, then any other religion that does not recognize this truth does not hold complete truth.

Some might say that this is very narrow-minded.  However, that would be like saying that the answer to 2 + 2 should not be limited to 4 and it would be narrow-minded to think 4 is the only answer.  You may feel that the answer 4 is narrow-minded and bigoted, but emotions do not dictate was is really real in our world.  There is a big difference between what you prefer to be true and what is really true.

So, to answer the question originally stated: yes, I believe it is not only possible, but is commanded, that Christians get along with people from other religions.  However, because of how truth functions in our world, anyone should recognize that not all religions teach the same thing and, therefore, not all religions can be equally true.

In my next article I plan discussing how we might know if what Jesus said is true.  Be sure to subscribe to this website to get the next posting!



Dane Cramer is a backpacker, Christian blogger, jail chaplain, amateur filmmaker, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us





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