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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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William

Aren’t all Religions Basically the Same?

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by Craig J. Hazen

 

There is a very old and famous fable-- of either Buddhist or Jain origin-- that has been used through the centuries to illustrate what is thought to be a fundamental truth about the religions of mankind. Several blind men were led into a rajah’s (king’s) courtyard, where they encountered an elephant. One felt a tusk and concluded that an elephant is like a spear. Another touched a leg and thought that an elephant is like a tree. Yet another bumped into the side of the beast and thought that it is like a wall. And so on. The rajah heard the activity, came out on his balcony, and told the blind men that they were each encountering only one small part of the magnificent whole.

 

The lesson by analogy, of course, is that the different religious traditions of the world are all stumbling upon only one particular aspect of ultimate reality and are blind to the total picture. But all the religious hands are touching the same essential truth.

 

It is easy to see the appeal of this unifying approach to the broad spectrum of religious beliefs. After all, exclusive claims to religious truth are seen by many to be the root of so much violence and suffering in the world as believers in one tradition fight those of other traditions-- sometimes for centuries. If at their core all religions are the same, or each is heading toward the same end, there is no real reason for conflict or quarrel.

 

Ironically, this fable has built into it an element that is not highlighted in the traditional interpretations but may be the most important issue in the story. How do the blind discover the truth about their encounter with the elephant? It is revealed to them from above. The rajah steps out on his balcony and from his transcendent perspective, and with his intact sense of sight, communicates to those below the full picture of their experience. The more profound real world question that emerges from the fable is where is our “Rajah” who can see all and can reveal to us the truth that is not accessible from our limited perspective?

 

Unless there is some word from above to tell us that all religions are basically the same, there is no good reason to conclude they are, because the evidence is stacked heavily against it. Although one can identify common beliefs and practices, some of the differences among the traditions are stark and irreconcilable.

 

Compare, for instance, Mormonism, Buddhism, and Christianity on the critical question of what is ultimately real. Mormon scripture teaches that ultimate reality is material or physical and that even God and spirits are material objects whose constituent matter has existed for all eternity. Mahayana Buddhists believe that ultimate reality is emptiness (sunyata) or beinglessness (nisvabhava)-- no gods, no matter, no spirit, no self. Christians, by contrast, see ultimate reality in God, who is an eternal, personal, triune Being who created all there is-- both physical and nonphysical-- from nothing. By any measure these are dramatic differences.

 

The conflicting ideas are multiplied once other issues are addressed. What is a human being? Why do we exist? What is good? Why is there pain and suffering? Where is history going? How do I reach salvation or enlightenment? Given the deep divergence on such timeless questions, it is completely legitimate to wonder if the essential unity of all religions is really just a noble wish or a pious hope. Indeed, without a word from the “Rajah” to tell us that the contradictions among the great faiths can be overcome, the notion that all religions are the same seems utterly untenable.

 

Another irony about the fable presented here is that there is excellent reason to believe that there really is a Rajah who has spoken to mankind and has given us the transcendent perspective we need to know the truth. Jesus Christ is a radical figure in the history of the great religious traditions in that he is the only leader who claimed to be the one eternal God in human flesh. He knows the beginning from the end and knows the deepest religious yearnings of all people. He said definitively that there is only one God and only one source of salvation: Jesus Christ Himself. Moreover (and this is very important), Jesus did not leave us with “blind faith” as the only means to know that His claims are true. Rather, He established the truth of His claims objectively through His glorious resurrection from the dead-- the central miracle of human history.

 

The King has indeed spoken from on high. All religions are not the same. And although we are all blind in sin, we can still hear the Savior’s words. He who has ears, let him hear the voice of the King.

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All false religions are the same. They all teach a salvation by works or a combination of grace + works. Religion can be narrowed down to two. True and false. Only Christianity is true for it is the only religion that is all of grace( evidence that it is God ordained and not man made).

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All false religions are the same. They all teach a salvation by works or a combination of grace + works. Religion can be narrowed down to two. True and false. Only Christianity is true for it is the only religion that is all of grace( evidence that it is God ordained and not man made).

 

Agreed. Many are similar in their pagan gods as well with just different names. Babylonian gods, Egyptian gods, Roman gods, and Greek gods are all pretty similar. Then the Nordic fairy tale stories of Odin, Thor,...., is a whole other story of made up pagan religion.

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All false religions are the same. They all teach a salvation by works or a combination of grace + works. Religion can be narrowed down to two. True and false. Only Christianity is true for it is the only religion that is all of grace( evidence that it is God ordained and not man made).

 

 

 

And the fact that Christianity has The Risen Savior. The bodily resurrection.

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tHANK gOD cHRISTIANITY ISN'T A RELIGION!

 

 

 

Religions are what people are trying to do to reach God.

 

Christianity is what God has already done through Jesus Christ For us.

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Religions are what people are trying to do to reach God.

 

Christianity is what God has already done through Jesus Christ For us.

 

I would say that Religion is an organized effort to categorize life as something that makes since to the individual. The word god (small g) is insignificant to that search. That is why Christianity is not a religion. God, the one and only is the one that makes sense of the chaos. He brings order where there is none and in so doing shows us the way to achieve what we can't bring about by going through Jesus Christ, to get to him.

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Unless there is some word from above to tell us that all religions are basically the same, there is no good reason to conclude they are, because the evidence is stacked heavily against it.
I'm not sure why people think all faiths are the same are, or even that all religions can co-exist. Many faiths completely contradict each other in practice: take the Christian faith with a prohibition on murder, and the cults which believe in murder or suicide as an act of faith.

 

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Christianity "can be" religious and/or theological.

 

Religion is chiefly man centered whereas theology is God centered. Religion is chiefly the study of a certain kind of human behavior, be it under the rubric of anthropology, sociology, or psychology. The study of Theology, on the other hand, is the study of God. Religion is anthropocentric; theology is theocentric. The difference between religion and theology is ultimately the difference between man and God - hardly a small difference.

 

Christforums is intended to be a theology forum rather than a Religious forum. Of course, this forum may often seem like a religious forum, namely because new converts seemingly focus on man's behavior rather than God (religion and politics). We are all at different stages of life in our conversion, take for example certain members which never dive into the depths of theological discussion...

 

God bless,

William

 

Is there any books on theology that I can flip through to kind of get myself familiar with the study of Theology.

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