If Christianity is the only true religion, then why do practitioners of all other religions feel fulfilled in their faith and achieve the same desired results as Christians?
If Christianity is the only true religion, then why do practitioners of all other religions feel fulfilled in their faith and achieve the same desired results as Christians?
How Can Christianity Be The One True Religion? Dr. William Lane Craig
As some of you know, I am a former New Age author for thespiritscience.net and owner/founder of the website and Facebook page for “Spirit Science and Metaphysics”. After an experience of Jesus and doing some deeper studying in the New Age, I realized that Jesus Christ of the Bible is exactly who He claimed to be. I became a born-again Christian and gave up everything I was involved with in the New Age, and since then have received a lot of backlash.
One of the objections that got raised is that one religion cannot possibly be true, and they all point towards the same Divine Truth. Someone said “I can’t understand how it can be right to walk out my door each morning and feel in my soul that everyone around me is wrong”.
How can there be so many world religions, and only one be correct? They must be pointing towards a common universal truth. Isn’t it just absurd, rude, judgmental and even arrogant to claim that YOU have the one true path to God and the majority of the world is lost at sea?
First off, it’s important to point out that if we want to show a position to be false, we can’t do that by pointing to the qualities of the person holding the belief. In your eyes, it may be arrogant to claim that almost all religions are false, but that doesn’t mean the claim itself is false.
If we want to show a claim to be false we need to present an argument against that claim instead of labeling the person presenting that claim to be arrogant as an attempt to invalidate their belief. Otherwise we are simply attacking the personality of the speaker instead of the beliefs the speaker is holding, and are committing a patented ad hominem fallacy.
I think most people realize this and are just genuinely curious about how to reconcile this problem. So here we go.
Universalism is a more extreme worldview than believing in one true religion
The New Age movement holds tightly to religious pluralism and universalism, which is the view that all religions are inspired by a common Source and they all point to the same truth that we will one day reach, regardless of what path we choose to get there. The New Age, for the most part, believes in a definite Creator and a Source, but maintains that all religions are man’s attempt to explain the same divine revelations.
No single religion is true, but instead the truth can be found only in a universal spirituality that recognizes the common link between all religions and faiths. Each path ultimately leads back to the same God and the same Source.
The person who believes that there is no single path that leads to God must believe that every single religion in the history of the world that claims exclusivity is fundamentally false.
They believe Jesus is not the only way. Allah is not the one true God. The gods of Hinduism are not to be taken literally. Judaism is not a result of the one true God revealing Himself to one specific people. The Buddhist who claims that there is no God or divine Source have got it wrong.
If someone says “I have found the truth. It’s called Islam”, and you say “There is no one true path, Islam is not the only way to God”, then you are calling Islam fundamentally false because it teaches it IS the only path to God. Just as Hinduism and Christianity do.
Religious pluralism itself is a claim that these fundamentalist religions and their main beliefs cannot be exclusively true, and are therefore essentially false.
Given the bewildering degree of religious diversity in our world, the
assertion that Christianity is the one true religion for all people strikes many
today as hopelessly out of touch with current realities. The claim seems to
display generous amounts of both intellectual naïveté and arrogance.
Nevertheless, with proper qualification, I do believe that the Christian faith, as
defined by the Christian Scriptures, is true and that this sets it apart from other
religious traditions. But tonight I will not be arguing that Christianity is in fact
the only true religion. Rather, I will be exploring what is involved in making
such a claim, clarifying what is and what is not included in it, and considering
in a very preliminary way how one might defend such a thesis.
But first, some preliminary remarks. Like many people today, I would
very much like for all religions to be true and for all morally good and sincere
religious believers, of whatever faith, to be correct in their beliefs and practices.
Life would certainly be much simpler if this were the case. But, as I have
discovered in other areas, reality frequently has a stubborn way of not
conforming to my desires. I suspect the same is true here. Given the very
different, at times mutually incompatible, claims advanced by the major
religions, I simply do not see how we can affirm them all as somehow being
Let me clarify at the outset what is not included in the assertion that
Christianity is the one true religion. Affirming Christian faith as the true
religion does not mean that there is no truth or goodness or beauty in other
religions. If the Christian faith is true, then any teachings from other religions
which are incompatible with essential teachings of Christianity must be
rejected. But this does not mean that there are no truths embraced by other
religions. Indeed, I think that the Christian faith shares some significant
common beliefs with other religions, with some more so than with others. And
surely we can and must acknowledge that there is goodness and beauty in other
religious traditions as well.
Nor, in claiming that the Christian faith is true, am I suggesting that
Christians are necessarily morally better people than, say, Muslims or Hindus or
Sikhs. Nor am I defending everything that the institutional church has done or
represented over the past two millennia. Sadly, there is much in the history of
the Christian church that betrays the teachings of our Lord.
Furthermore, in claiming that Christianity is the true religion, I am not
saying that Christians should not cooperate with other religious communities
in a variety of ways to further the common good. Given the very real religious
tensions in our world, I think that leaders of the major religions need to be
especially vigilant in working to reduce conflict between religious communities
and to cooperate together in addressing our many global problems. Nothing
that I say tonight should be taken as in any way detracting from the urgency of
such interreligious understanding and cooperation.
In speaking of the truth of Christianity, we must also distinguish the
issue of truth from the question of salvation. To affirm that Christianity is the
true religion does not, by itself, commit one to any particular view about the
extent of salvation. Christians, including Evangelicals, disagree over important
questions concerning the extent of salvation.2 But this issue needs to be settled
on the basis of criteria internal to the Christian faith itself, including questions
of the proper interpretation of Scripture and the historical understandings of the
church. There is no logical connection between the claim that Christianity is
the true religion and any particular view of the extent of salvation.
For example, it is no doubt the case that most who believe that Christianity
is the true religion also believe that not everyone will be saved. Yet there
certainly are those who believe that Christianity is uniquely true but who also
embrace soteriological universalism (e.g., Origen, John Scotus Erigena, Jacques
Ellul, and perhaps Karl Barth). Conversely, while it might be the case that
many religious pluralists are also universalists, in the sense that they hold that
ultimately all people will attain the desired soteriological state, there is nothing
about religious pluralism as such that requires universalism. Religious pluralism
maintains that the major religions are roughly equal with respect to truth and
soteriological efficacy,3 and thus it affirms “equal soteriological access” among
the religions. But it is compatible with this to maintain that, despite such
18 | Can Only One Religion Be True?
equality, in fact relatively few people will actually attain the soteriological goal,
however this is understood. Thus, questions about the extent of salvation must
be addressed separately from the issue of the truth of Christian theism itself.
Sam Harris is a brave man. In a country where 90 percent of adults say they believe in God, he has written a bestseller condemning religion. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (Norton) has won numerous awards for its meticulous and far-reaching arguments against the irrationality of religious belief. Harris has also drawn criticism from all sides, endearing himself to neither religious moderates nor fundamentalists, and even irritating atheists. His latest book, Letter to a Christian Nation (to be published this month by Knopf), is a bold attack on the heart of Christian belief. Clearly, this is someone who is not afraid to speak his mind.
As a teenager in the eighties, Harris became fascinated with Buddhism and Hinduism, and he made several trips to India and Nepal, where he participated in many silent meditation retreats. He later studied philosophy at Stanford University and came to see the more dogmatic teachings of both faiths as, in his word, “nonsense.” He’s currently completing his doctorate in neuroscience, researching what happens in the brain when we experience belief, disbelief, and uncertainty.
Harris began writing his first book almost immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He was dismayed by how quickly public discussion turned from pointing the finger at Islamic fundamentalism to calling for religious tolerance. As he saw it, 9/11 should have exposed the dangerous irrationality of religious belief, but instead it pushed the United States even deeper into its own religiosity. And so he began work on The End of Faith, whose central tenet is that religion — and religious tolerance — perpetuates and protects unjustifiable (not to mention just plain silly) beliefs. In an age of nuclear proliferation and jihad, Harris says, religion paves the way for violent destruction on a terrifying scale.
Harris goes after religious belief with a mixture of humor and deadly seriousness. “Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him,” he writes, “or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.” Unlike some atheists who cast clever barbs at all spirituality, Harris sees value in what he calls the “contemplative experience” and views his own Buddhist-inspired meditation practice as an evidence-based, rational enterprise.
Since the publication of The End of Faith, Harris has appeared in the documentary The God Who Wasn’t There, as well as on various cable-television programs, including The O’Reilly Factor on FOX News and Comedy Central’s news-lampoon show The Colbert Report. Though busy working on his new book, Harris made time to talk to me twice. He was charming and witty — joking, when I talked to him the second time, that he had converted to Islam since we’d last spoken — but also tough. His arguments are tight and well rehearsed, and, like a politician, he can stay “on point” and turn a question on its head. I sometimes found it frustrating to discuss life’s deepest mysteries in scientific terms. As one respondent wrote on Harris’s website (www.samharris.org): “As far as trying to rationally prove that God exists, I don’t even try. . . . So how do I know God exists? . . . I FEEL him.” This is the kind of faith Harris would like to see the end of.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Throughout history, scholars and researchers have tried to identify the one key reason that people are attracted to religion.Some have said people seek religion to cope with a fear of death, others call it the basis for morality, and various other theories abound.But in a new book, a psychologist who has studied human motivation for more than 20 years suggests that all these theories are too narrow. Religion, he says, attracts followers because it satisfies all of the 16 basic desires that humans share.“It’s not just about fear of death. Religion couldn’t achieve mass acceptance if it only fulfilled one or two basic desires,” said Steven Reiss, a professor emeritus of psychology at The Ohio State University and author of The 16 Strivings for God (Mercer University Press, 2016).Steven Reiss“People are attracted to religion because it provides believers the opportunity to satisfy all their basic desires over and over again. You can’t boil religion down to one essence.”Mercer University PressReiss’s theory of what attracts people to religion is based on his research in the 1990s on motivation. He and his colleagues surveyed thousands of people and asked them to rate the degree to which they embraced hundreds of different possible goals.In the end, the researchers identified 16 basic desires that we all share: acceptance, curiosity, eating, family, honor, idealism, independence, order, physical activity, power, romance, saving, social contact, status, tranquility and vengeance.Reiss then developed a questionnaire, called the Reiss Motivation Profile, that measures how much people value each of these 16 goals. More than 100,000 people have now completed the questionnaire. The research is described in Reiss’s book Who Am I? The 16 Basic Desires that Motivate our Action and Define Our Personalities.“We all share the same 16 goals, but what makes us different is how much we value each one,” Reiss said.“How much an individual values each of those 16 desires corresponds closely to what he or she likes and dislikes about religion.”A key point is that each of the 16 desires motivates personality opposites and those opposites all have to find a home in a successful religion, Reiss said.For example, there is the desire for social contact. “Religion has to appeal to both introverts and extroverts,” Reiss said. For extroverts, religion offers festivals and teaches that God blesses fellowship. For introverts, religion encourages meditation and private retreats and teaches that God blesses solitude.Religion even finds ways to deal with the desire for vengeance, Reiss said. While some religions preach of a God of peace and encourage followers to “turn the other cheek,” there is also the other side: the wrath of God and holy wars.“Religion attracts all kinds, including peacemakers and those who want a vengeful God.”All religious beliefs and practices are designed to meet one or more of these 16 desires, Reiss explained.For example, religious rituals fulfill the desire for order. Religious teachings about salvation and forgiveness tap into the basic human need for acceptance. Promises of an afterlife are designed to help people achieve tranquility.What about atheism? While all people need to fulfill the same basic desires, not everyone will turn to religion to satisfy them, Reiss said. Secular society offers alternatives to fulfill all of the basic desires.“Religion competes with secular society to meet those 16 needs and can gain or lose popularity based on how well people believe it does compared to secular society,” Reiss said.One of the basic desires – independence – may separate religious and non-religious people. In a study published in 2000, Reiss found that religious people (the study included mostly Christians) expressed a strong desire for interdependence with others. Those who were not religious, however, showed a stronger need to be self-reliant and independent.Reiss said one advantage of his theory is that, unlike many other theories of religion, it can be scientifically tested.“In 16 Strivings for God, I discuss a mystical personality type – the kind of person who would likely find value and meaning in mystical experiences and would be attracted to religion for that reason,” he said.“We can test that and find out if there really is a mystical personality type.”While the theory can tell us a lot about the types of people who are attracted to religion and different religious experiences, it cannot say anything about the truth of religious beliefs, Reiss said.“I’m not trying to answer theological questions about the existence or nature of God,” Reiss said. “What I’m trying to answer is the nature of why people embrace religion and God.” The psychology behind religious belief
God bless you for your question. Jesus said it best. We are many members but one body. May God the Creator continue to bless you as you seek understanding in the reading of His word. Amen.
Because American Christianity has been taken over by a very worldly minded group of churches. These churches are more interested in numbers than actual salvation.
When a so-called “Christian” has exactly the same results as a practitioner of any other religion, that so-called Christian is not truly saved. They may not know that. They have probably been told they are by their so-called pastors who are more interested in their money than their souls.
This is sad, but true. It is rampant in America and other nations and getting more so.
The way to know a true Christian is there is a DRASTIC change in them after salvation. They are far more peaceful, joyful, and focused on God and the Bible than just about anything else.