What About Other Religions?

Edit: I have provided my thoughts below. 

That was one of the questions on the front page of Just Stop and Think.  I came across this while researching all the responses to the 15-minute video and gospel presentation of Francis Chan (no, I will not be responding to that; I think the discussion has exhausted itself).

Regarding the question, “Why Christianity? What About Other World Religions?” here is the answer provided:

In all major religions, the followers strive to rid themselves of sin through various practices. They may pray in a prescribed way, do various good works, perform rituals, deny themselves legitimate pleasures, follow dietary restrictions, even lie on beds of nails, etc.

The uniqueness of Jesus is shown in His statement, “The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.” No other religious leader has ever made this claim. Jesus Christ alone can wash away every sin anyone has ever committed, because of what He did on the cross. By paying the penalty for our sin, He can release us from the torture of guilt. We cannot do anything in the way of religious works to wash away our sins. Forgiveness is a free gift of God through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

At the conclusion to their answer, they provide a link to CARM for more information.  Hoping to find a little more commentary, here was what they had to say:

If all religions are different paths to the same place, then why do the paths contradict each other? Does truth contradict itself? Let’s review the teachings of just three religions:  Buddhism is pantheistic and says there is no personal God and everyone can reach Godlikeness on his own. Islam says that Jesus was just a prophet, and not the only way to God. Christianity says that there is a personal God, and that the only way to Him is through Jesus (John 14:6). If these three religions are, as you say, different paths to the same place, then why do they contradict each other? Does truth contradict itself?

What do you think about this answer?  Let me request your response in one or two ways:

1.  Do you like their answer?  Why or why not?

2.  If you had one or two paragraphs to answer this question, how would you respond?

So here it what I am thinking. 

First, when you ask a straightforward question on your website, it is important that you give a straightforward answer.  The answer provided has the appearance of being some excerpt from a book and ripped out of its context rather than a direct, unambiguous reply.  Second, is it true that in all of the world religions, followers “try to rid themselves of sin through various practices?”  There is huge assumption that is implied here, namely that these followers understand what sin is.  It is at this point I think this answer fails to answer the question they ask.  The point where Christianity finds continuity with other religions is not in similar attempts to rid ourselves of sin but because every human being has been created in the image of God and that God has revealed himself through creation and His law which has written upon our hearts. Indeed, this information makes a person aware of the presence of God and realize that something is wrong, but the awareness and remission of sin is made manifest in the biblical worldview where man and the world wherein we live is fallen, in the Scriptures where God’s law leads us as a tutor to see the seriousness of our sin, and ultimately in the cross of Jesus Christ where the consequences of sin is displayed through God’s wrath and judgment for sin placed on His Son. 

Do other religious practices really try to rid themselves of sin?  On the one hand, you will find religious devotees working to rid themselves of their own identity to achieve eternal bliss; on the other hand, there are devotees who practice intense religious devotion to achieve an acceptable standing before their own god.  But should you inquire with devotees in their own religious context, one will hardly conclude that they are trying to rid themselves of sin.  At the point where this answer seeks to find continuity is precisely where Christians find their discontinuity with other religions.  God has revealed Himself in redemptive history through the giving of the Law, through the Scriptures, and ultimately through His Son.  Because God has revealed Himself to us, we know ourselves in light of our knowledge of Him.  This special revelation does not come through the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita, but through the written word of Scripture and Living Word of God–Jesus Christ. 

Though I can totally understand how they would not want to make Christianity sound unnecessarily offensive or intolerant, we cannot make sweeping assumptions in attempt to bring relative parity between Christ followers and those of other religions.  Furthermore, when answering questions, the goal should be to answer the question, not leave the person with many more questions as to what their answer really means.  With a humble and yet unapologetic presentation of the gospel message, it is my hope that we can be persuasive, precise, and plain speaking.  The answer provided is not necessarily wrong; rather, the problem is that it is not necessarily right

So that’s my initial response.  I think they were right to separate Christianity from the unitive pluralism often found in the idea that all religions lead us to the same God and that conflicting truth claims can get a blind pass.  Quite honestly, I do not see how the answer CARM provided brought any more information regarding other religions and their relationship to Christianity other than to say that the different religions have conflicting claims regarding Jesus Christ. 

Explore posts in the same categories: Religious Pluralism, Responses

One Comment on “What About Other Religions?”

  1. Scott Says:

    Timmy,

    As I read your thoughts I was thinking, “Wait a minute, not only do some religions redefine sin, some deny it all together.” They certainly do not view sin as something that God is obligated to judge.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: