Are All Religions Basically the Same?

In this brief clip from his teaching series Defending Your Faith, R.C. Sproul explains why Christianity is different from every other religion.

Transcript

I hear people say, “there is this underlining unity, we all believe the same thing.” That’s not true. What Muslims believe about what is good and the nature of redemption is radically different from what Christianity teaches, for example. Buddha was an atheist who simply claimed to be enlightened, Confucius talked about the veneration of ancestors—that’s a long way from the faith of the Scriptures. And what you don’t have in Buddhism and Islam, Confucianism, Shintoism, Taoism, and these other religions is an atonement. You don’t have a way of redemption that we have in Christianity, nor do you have a living Mediator. Moses is dead, Buddha is dead, Confucius is dead, and Muhammad is dead. There is no resurrection in these other religions. Christianity has elements to it, content to it that distinguish it from all other religions, and with that distinction comes the claim of Christ that it [He] is the only true way to God.

The Two Religions

If you survey the religious landscape of modern culture, you will encounter an astonishingly diverse range of views. But beneath the surface, these seemingly disparate spiritualities share a common worldview, one that is radically opposed to the Christian faith. In the final analysis, there can be only two religions—worship of the Creator or worship of creation.

On September 30, in a Google Hangout, Dr. Peter Jones, the Executive Director of truthXchange, discussed his new Ligonier teaching series, Only Two Religions. You can watch this below.

Religion or relationship?

sproulrcjrIn an article entitled, or a relationship?” Dr. R. C. Sproul, Jr, writes:

Yes. There are, of course, all manner of things that separate the Christian faith from all other faiths. Ours is the story of God condescending to us, rather than we climbing to Him. Ours is a story grounded in history, and eyewitnesses. And most importantly of all, ours is true. If then religion means merely how man earns God’s favor, if religion is merely the myths of our fathers, if religion is but the lies men tell themselves to feel better about themselves, then of course, Christianity is no religion.

What is Religion?
It is, however, perfectly appropriate to use the term religion as “that set of dogmas, institutions and practices by which a supreme being is submitted to and worshipped.” In this sense, of course Christianity is a religion. Our faith is not merely grounded in but subsists in historical realities. We are what we are, we do what we do, we believe what we believe, we proclaim what we proclaim precisely because a man and a woman disobeyed their Maker and plunged all their descendents into the vortex of the wrath of God, because God took on flesh and came as the New Man, and in space and time, under Pontius Pilate, lived a perfect life, died an atoning death, and walked out of His tomb three days later, alive. Forty days after that, this same Man, God in the flesh, ascended to His everlasting throne where He is now bringing all things under subjection. We are the people of the Story, the true Story.

Love, Hate & Religion
What this aphorism, “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion,” is getting at however, is not only true, but important. That is, the Christian faith is not merely signing off on these historical events. “Yes, I believe this happened. Yes, I believe that happened.” The devil himself, along with his minions, can agree with the historical account (James 2:19). They can even agree with the sound interpretation of that history. They believe Jesus died for sinners. They believe men have peace with God as they repent and trust in His finished work alone. Trouble is, they hate the truths they can affirm (much like a godly person can affirm that the Baltimore Ravens are the current Super Bowl champions, and hate that truth). They know the religion. Their relationship is all hate.

What we are affirming when we emphasize the relationship is that we delight not just in the truths about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, but that we delight in them. What we affirm, better still, is that because of these historical truths, we have not only been forgiven, but adopted, that we have been made the very children of God. Because of these historical truths, because of His love for us from eternity, we are indwelt by the Spirit. Because of these historical truths, because of what He did, we are the very bride of Christ. Because of the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, we are together the very body of Christ. Christianity isn’t then a relationship, but a series of relationships, all grounded not in a religion, but the religion.

This post was first published on rcsprouljr.com.

Wouldn’t that be something?

“Your priorities are so messed up Ray, I think without religion, world peace could be possible; wouldn’t that be something?” Andrew Molina

They tried world peace without religion through atheistic communism. It resulted in the slaughter of an estimated 110,000,000 people. The North Korean regime is atheistic, and they are a continual threat to world peace, while religious extremists in the Middle East want to blow Israel off the map. The history of humanity is soaked in the blood of those who have been killed in the name of religion and in the name of atheism. So it’s clear that the problem is deeper than atheism or religion. The unexposed root of the problem is sinful human nature that branches out into religion and politics to carry out evil agendas. Human nature is so stubborn, proud, and rebellious that we can hardly agree with each other about anything. I’m sure you would disagree with that. – Ray Comfort

Organized Religion?

“I’m not into organized religion.”

Oh really, so you are into disorganized religion?

The only God there is (the holy Trinity – one God in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit) has inspired His only word there is (the 66 books of the Holy Bible) to tell us with explicit detail, how we are to approach Him. Anything else is either idolatrous, blasphemous or both.

Is that too strong an opinion?

Well here’s the thing. I did not make this up myself. I don’t get to do that. None of us do. This what the God of the Bible says about the matter.

Now either He does not exist and/or His word is not true OR else we, the human race, have to fall in line.

Those who are serious about following His instructions organize things the way He has commanded. They don’t get to choose what to do. He has made His will clear. We are to gather together as disciples of Christ, based on His word, and with qualified elders to serve us in the task, worship Him in spirit and in truth.

The question is not “why only one way?” but given the rebellion of us all, why would there be any way at all. God loved the world so much that He willingly gave His one and only Son so that all those who believe in Him would in no way perish, but have eternal life. Justification before God is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

“I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jesus) – John 14:6

“…and there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

“There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Tim 2:5

Organized Religion?

When someone tells me, “Oh, that’s interesting. So you prefer the disorganized kind?”

The conversation normally goes somewhat quiet when I ask that question. Usually most people have not thought about the matter to any great degree.

Yet, if we were to understand that WE and our feelings and opinions are not what matters on this issue – that we are not the center of the universe and in fact, that God has the right to orchestrate worship as He sees fit.. I know, what a concept!!… but yes, were we brave enough to stop and ask God’s opinion, seeking to find out what pleases Him, we would not read far in our Bibles before finding out that worship is to be carried out His way on His terms.

Remember Cain and Abel? Remember how one sacrifice was accepted by God (Abel’s) and the other was not (Cain’s). Remember the Tabernacle? Remember that His instructions had to be followed precisely and meticulously? Talk about organization… Entire books of the Bible were dedicated to revealing His precise instructions. God is holy and is to be treated as such by those seeking to approach Him in worship. Failure to do so had severe consequences. Nadab and Abihu were struck dead by God for seeking to design their own methods of worship. After their deaths, no one in Israel (including Aaron their own father) was allowed to even mourn their loss (Leviticus Chapter 10). Remember that?

Leviticus 10 reads: 1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.

4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, “Come near; carry your brothers away from the front of the sanctuary and out of the camp.” 5 So they came near and carried them in their coats out of the camp, as Moses had said. 6 And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons, “Do not let the hair of your heads hang loose, and do not tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the congregation; but let your brothers, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning that the Lord has kindled. 7 And do not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses.

8 And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, 9 “Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. 10 You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the Lord has spoken to them by Moses.”

Frightening stuff, yes? Actually, its meant to be. It is a fearful thing to come before God in worship. All of us will be consumed if we do not come His way, on His terms, and by means of the sacrifice He has authorized. (see Hebrews 10:19-22)

So back to our discussion – were we to seek God’s thoughts on the matter, one of the many things we would find is that He loves the corporate worship gathering of His people, greatly preferring it to all of our private spiritual devotions combined.

“The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.” (Ps. 87:2-3)

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25, 26)

This is just the starting point of course, but rather than taking a poll of the community to ask for people’s personal preferences, its time we come on our knees humbly before God and with open Bibles ask Him, “What pleases You God? What is a true Church in Your eyes? What is Your view of worship? What isn’t?”

I hope that each of us are prepared to obey Him when He tells us the answers.