How Christianity Is The Opposite Of Every Other Religion In The World
By Shane Pruitt
According to the best estimates that exist, there are approximately 4,200 different religions and spiritual traditions in the world today. These religions each derive their own set of morality, ethics, and religious laws from their distinct beliefs about the cosmos and human nature. Each one claims to be a superior way of experiencing life, and for most of them, they claim that their specific set of values came from a supernatural being, force, or power. And even though, by definition, each one of these religions contradicts each other to a greater or lesser extent, our amorphous culture claims that they’re all valid, correct, and point to the same God, simply in different ways. “What is true for you isn’t necessarily true for me” is the slogan of our cultural context And we’re taught that an extreme tolerance of all these different viewpoints is our only option.
In a sense, tolerance has become the highest of all virtues in the world today. Its definition is specifically, “the willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own.” Now a measure of tolerance is good thing, in the sense that no one should be oppressed because of their race, religion, or cultural differences, especially when it comes to spheres of life in which we interact with people who maintain different beliefs than our own on a daily basis. However, the unfortunate truth is that our culture has taken tolerance to a completely unhealthy place; everyone must not simply tolerate, but we’re forced to “accept” everyone else’s beliefs systems, habits, and choices as good, right, and on par with our own. In fact, our culture has become so tolerant that we’re completely intolerant of anyone saying that someone or some group is “wrong”.
That’s what brings us the unwelcome gift of ridiculous “Oprah-like” statements such as: “We all worship the same God, just in different ways” or, “All religions are the same, they’re all headed to the same destination, we’re all just taking different paths.”
This is where we must step in to faithfully and gently proclaim that not only are all religions not equally valid or true, but that Christianity is the exact and complete opposite of all of them. Right down to its core.
Allow me to take a moment and demonstrate what I mean by unpacking several of the more popular religions and the means by which a follower is taught to achieve the highest good within each of them:
Islam: According to the teachings of Islam, the purpose of life is to live in such a way that is pleasing to Allah so that one may gain Paradise. Islam teaches that at puberty, an account of each person’s deeds is opened, and this account will be used on the Day of Judgment to determine the person’s eternal fate. Essentially, in order to achieve salvation according to Islam, a person is required to express faith in Allah and in Mohammed, his prophet, as well as have more good works than bad over the span of their life from puberty onward through death.
Buddhism: Religious beliefs are important in Buddhism, but its important doctrines aren’t necessarily the same as some of the other major world religions. For example, because Buddhism isn’t monotheistic, or theistic at all really, it doesn’t have doctrines about God, but nevertheless, beliefs are still central to the Buddhist worldview. These beliefs, summarized by the Four Noble Truths, are claimed to enable adherents to Buddhism to free themselves from suffering by focusing on them instead of the world around them. There is no generally understood “salvation” within Buddhism, only an eternal end to suffering, which is achieved by not chasing after things that do not give lasting happiness and whereby achieving Nirvana upon death.
Hinduism: This ancient eastern religion embraces a diversity of beliefs, a fact that can be confusing to a Western religious practice accustomed to creeds, confessions, and carefully-worded belief statements. One can believe a variety of things about the divine, the universe, and the path to liberation and still be considered a Hindu. Perhaps the most well known Hindu saying about religion is, “Truth is one; sages call it by different names.” Still, there are some beliefs common to nearly all forms of Hinduism which form the boundaries of what may be properly called Hinduism verses non-Hinduism; these beliefs include the authority of the ancient Indian sacred texts, the Brahmans (priests), reincarnation, and the law of karma (or the right or wrong that one does) that determines one’s destiny both in this life and the next. Furthermore, most Hindus are followers of one of the principle gods (there are technically over one million recognized gods in Hinduism!) which are Shiva, Vishnu, or Shakti, though these are all considered to be manifestations of a single Reality.
Judaism: Right doctrine and theology are very important in Judaism, and to arrive at a right system of beliefs, the Hebrew Scriptures address the biggest topics in life, from God, to the universe, to human nature, and it is vital for a devout follower of Judaism to believe their testimony. Judaism is also different from other ancient Near Eastern religions due to their belief that God is unitary and solitary, thus his relationships are not with other gods or deities, but with humans, whom he created. Judaism can thus be described primarily as ethical monotheism, the belief that God is one and that he is concerned with the actions of mankind, and that the actions of mankind (namely following or disobeying God’s commandments) are the primary means by which a follower of Judaism may obtain eternal life.
Baha’i: This 19th-century Persian religion teaches that god is a single, personal, inaccessible, omniscient, and almighty being without beginning or end. Though inaccessible and incomprehensible by humans on their own, Baha’i teaches that what may be known about god is understood through his messengers termed Manifestations of God. Thus all religious history is interpreted as a series of dispensations whereby each progressive Manifestation brings about a more advanced revelation of who god is, suited for the time and place in which it was expressed. The writings of Baha’i state that all humans have a rational soul, and that every human has a duty to recognize God through his messengers and conform to their teachings. Through recognition and obedience, service to humanity, and regular prayer the soul becomes closer to god, so that when the soul dies its spiritual development in life becomes the basis for judgment and advancement in the spiritual world.
Confucianism: Concentrates on appropriate behavior in life, not a future heaven. The afterlife is unknowable, so all effort should be made to make this life the best it can be, to honor ancestors, and to respect elders. The purpose of life is to fulfill one’s role in society with propriety, honor, and loyalty.
Scientology: For Scientologists, the true self is the spirit or “thetan,” the eternal essence of each individual. For millions and millions of years prior to this life, the thetan has existed and inhabited numerous bodies. The process of moving on and being reborn as a baby in a new body occurs as a natural and normal part of the universe. Thus Scientology’s understanding of the process of the afterlife is very much in accord with Hinduism in many respects, except for the idea of karma or a moral judgment based on the previous life of the soul. Scientologists then look forward to their next embodied life and the ultimate goal of taking the truth of Scientology to all people.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: They believe they are Christian, and that there are different levels of heaven. The anointed are 144,000 who receive salvation by the blood of Christ and will rule with Him in paradise. They are the bride of Christ. For all others, Jesus’ sacrifice only freed them from Adam’s curse of original sin, and “faith” is merely the opportunity to earn their way to heaven. They must learn about Kingdom history, keep the laws of Jehovah, and be loyal to “God’s government”—the 144,000 leaders, 9,000 of whom are currently on the earth. They must also spread the news about the Kingdom, including through door-to-door proselytizing. Upon death, they will be resurrected during the millennial kingdom where they must continue a devout life. Only afterwards are they given the opportunity to formally accept Christ and live for eternity under the rule of the 144,000 leaders.
Mormonism: Unlike Christianity, Mormonism espouses a distinctly nontrinitarian theology in regards to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as being three physically separate and distinct beings, though one in thought, action, and purpose. Mormonism teaches that God the Father is literally the father of all spirits of all men and women, which existed prior to their mortal existence. Further, all humans, as children of God, can become exalted, inheriting all that God has and becoming like him as a God. The primary means by which Mormons believe one may live eternally and be exalted is through a combination of faith and good works, with an emphasis on good works.
As is readily apparent, all of these different religions have plenty of differences in their teachings and views of their deity or lack thereof. However, every religion in the world basically teaches a very similar practice when it comes to the creature trying to figure out how to please his or her deity (or deities). They all boil down to:
The creature must do certain things, keep certain rules, pray a little more, chant a little louder, rub a few more beads, do more pilgrimages, reach up to god, reach a place of enlightenment, do more good than bad, give more money, be a nicer person, climb the spiritual ladder, shake off bad vibes, and after all of this, hopefully that deity will “accept” you or be favorable towards you. They’re all about creation reaching up and trying to attain to the state or quality of their ultimate beings and holding on for dear (eternal) life.
However, biblical Christianity teaches the exact opposite of all of these other major religions. Ultimately, there is nothing that we can do, nothing that makes us good enough or nice enough, there are not enough beads in the world to count, no amount of money that can buy it, no chant or prayer that is loud enough, and there is no enlightenment for us because we’re actually born spiritually dead, and no matter what we do or don’t do, this Deity will not and cannot accept us in our fallen human nature. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked… (Ephesians 2:1 – 2a)
Therefore, unlike all other religions, Christianity teaches that God himself reached down to creation. He took on the form and nature of his creation in the person of Jesus without ceasing to be God and then died a substitutionary sacrificial death to atone for the sins of his own creation. After this sacrificial death, Jesus was raised to life in order to demonstrate that he was God and that his death had been sufficient payment for the sin of mankind. And now Jesus doesn’t merely point us to the way of eternal life, but he himself claims to be the way to eternal life, as faith in Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for sin is the only requirement of Christianity. There is no level of spiritual enlightenment which we must attain, or a number of good works that we must perform in order to be accepted by God, he has already done all that needed to be done in order for us to be redeemed and offered salvation through faith in Jesus. In other words, mankind can be saved by good works, just not ours, but rather the work of Jesus on our behalf.
That is the exact opposite of every other religion in the world!
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8 – 9).”
For a similar article by the same Author, check out 9 Unbiblical Statements That Bible-Loving Christians Believe