Do all religions worship the same God? The answer to this question is in the definition of God or gods. I remember working in O’Hare at American Airlines, when one passenger approached me wanting to travel to Liberia.
We argued for a while because he would not give me his visa for this country, which is required for all US citizens traveling there. But he said he goes to Liberia often without a visa every month. We argued back and forth until I finally understood that he was not going to the Republic of Liberia, a country in West Africa, but Liberia, the city in Costa Rica!
We used the same language, but had different referents with different objects of our thoughts.
Religion is one of the main areas where this is a problem. When a Muslim says “I believe in Jesus” he means a prophet who is not the son of God. When a Christian says this, he means the Son of God and God of very God. When a Jehovah’s Witness says this, he means the Archangel Michael. When a Hindu says he believes in God, he means something completely different than what a Jew would mean when he says God.
My point is that merely because different religions use the same terminology it does not mean they are using the same referent or object, especially God what ever you call him or it…, Dios, Jehovah, Yahweh, Elohim, Allah, Khoda, Brahma…We need to define our terms before any meaningful dialogue and get off the ground!
By the way the Scriptures, ie. Bible declares that there is one and only one God (the Quran says the same over and over), whether you believe it or not, that is what it says. But just because there is one God, does not mean all religions follow the same God, even Islam and Christianity..no matter what they call him.
Carm puts it this way..
- (Deuteronomy 6:4)–“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one”
- (Isaiah 43:10)–” . . . Before Me [YHWH] there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.”
- (Isaiah 44:6)–“. . . there is no God besides Me.”
- (Isaiah 44:8)–“. . . And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none.”
So then a question may arise,
“How can we know if a religion is false?”
Check out this link for that: One way to spot a false religion.
Now let me add to this something to make us think deeper on this.
Stephen Prothero is a Professor of Religion at Boston University, –(secular thinker) wrote a great book called “God is not One”
Prothero’s main thesis is that religions are not the same…surprise! This books is great for a culture that sucks in pluralism like oxygen and beer.
Prothero documents that they are apparently the same (morality, rituals), and essentially different (views of the nature of God, heaven, hell, salvation, evil, goodness, sexuality, personhood, woman’s rights, and human destiny to name a few).
Not only are they different in their theology, but also in their methods and even end results.
For example, he lists…
1 – Islam (The Way of Submission) –the problem is self-sufficiency, the solution is submission, the technique is performing the religion (the Five Pillarsetc.)
2 – Christianity (The Way of Salvation)- the problem is sin, the solution is salvation in Jesus Christ, the technique is some combination of faith and good works. [This is a heresy of course. Salvation comes only by faith alone, in Christ alone. But although that is a necessary condition, it is not sufficient one, as there is also the role of sanctification, fellowship to help one become more whole etc. ]
3 – Confucianism (The Way of Propriety) –the problem is chaos, the solution is social order, the techniques are ritual and etiquette.
4 – Hinduism (The Way of Devotion) –the problem is samsara (cycle of death and rebirth),the solution is moksha (release)and the technique is devotion.
5 – Buddhism (The Way of Awakening) –the problem is suffering, the solution is nirvana, the technique is the Eightfold Path.
6 – Yoruba Religion (The Way of Connection) –the problem is disconnection, the solution is reconnection to the divine, the technique is divination and sacrifice.
7 – Judaism (The Way of Exile and Return) –the problem is exile, the solution is return, the technique is remembering and obeying.
8 – Daoism (The Way of Flourishing) –the problem is lifelessness, the solution is flourishing, the technique is the Dao.
What do you think?