Quick Thoughts on ‘All Religions Teach the Same Thing’
Let’s be honest: We don’t like to offend people and we want people to like us. Because of this, we let some pretty silly ideas go unchallenged in our culture today. One perennial offender is the notion that all religions basically teach the same thing. If anyone is to find the truth about God or ultimate reality, then this myth has to be dispensed with quickly.
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat hits the nail on the head:
The differences between religions are worth debating. Theology has consequences: It shapes lives, families, nations, cultures, wars; it can change people, save them from themselves, and sometimes warp or even destroy them. If we tiptoe politely around this reality, then we betray every teacher, guru and philosopher — including Jesus of Nazareth and the Buddha both — who ever sought to resolve the most human of all problems: How then should we live?
It is out of a sense of false tolerance that we think we are actually loving one another if we never challenge ideas that we believe to be false. In addition to this liability, we often lack the courage to (respectfully) say what needs to be said.
How to Respond to This Slogan in Conversation
With that in mind, the first thing to do when encountering this claim is simply ask a question — “That’s interesting; in what specific ways are all religions basically the same?” And then wait for a response. Fight the temptation to answer for them. Often, this will be enough to expose the superficial slogan so that you can have a more productive spiritual conversation.
In his book God Is Not One, Boston University professor Stephen Prothero observes:
No one argues that different economic systems or political regimes are one and the same. Capitalism and socialism are so obviously at odds that their differences hardly bear mentioning. The same goes for democracy and monarchy. Yet scholars continue to claim that religious rivals such as Hinduism and Islam, Judaism and Christianity are, by some miracle of the imagination, essentially the same, and this view resounds in the echo chamber of popular culture.
Let’s not fall for false tolerance. Let’s be courageous. Let’s stand for truth.
Originally posted at Think Christianly. Used by permission.