A Summary of Problems Related to Religious Pluralism

In his book Charts of World Religions, H. Wayne House defines Religious Pluralism in the following way: “There are many valid religions and life-transforming religious experiences. Different religions embody varying responses to the same divine reality. Most religions can successfully facilitate salvation, liberation, or self-fulfillment.” In other words, we are all worshiping the same God in different ways. The Hindus worship God in their on way, the Christians, Jews, and Muslims are all worshipping the same God in their own way, the Scientologists are doing likewise. “Can’t we all just get a long?” This is a popular song sung by the world today. Religious Pluralism is the home of the world’s beloved attitude of tolerance in which all world views are accepted and valued as equally true. The highly popular mantra, “What’s true for you isn’t necessarily true for me” is repeated by the “tolerant” people of society. They claim we all experience God in our own unique way and one day all of us will end up at the same destination no matter which road we chose to take in life. But is this true? Do all roads lead to God? Jesus Christ said in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” These are radical words that stand in stark contrast to Religious Pluralism. Indeed, many in this world are entering that broad and easy gate that leads to destruction. We can easily discover the problems related to Religious Pluralism by observing two basic categories: religious worldviews of God and truth claims made by religions.

First, briefly understanding how world religions view who God is reveals the initial problem of pluralism. Atheism, for example, claims there is no God, the universe came into being on its own out of nothing and continues in its same self-sustaining energy that created it. We are products of this cosmic chaos and evolved into our current state of humanness over a period of millions of years. Since there is no God or gods then the topic of deity is frivolous. We are here today, and tomorrow we are gone. Cousins to the Atheistic world view are Agnosticism and Skepticism. Agnosticism is the milder approach to atheism in that rather than claiming and asserting there is absolutely no God, it simply states that it is unknowable whether God exists. In a way it is a form of Henotheism because it sets oneself up as the object of worship while not denying the possibility of the existence of a God or gods. Skepticism seeks to be skeptical of all truth claims and is, in essence, skeptical of its skepticism. There are no concrete conclusions it can arrive to. Though these three views are related, they are in conflict with each other already.

Monotheism claims there is only one God and therefore no other god exists other than Him. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’i and, Zoroastrianism all claim there is only one God. Polytheism claims there are many gods, in fact millions of gods. Hinduism boasts over 330 million gods. To make matters confusing, Hinduism describes the nature of God to be monistic, pantheistic, panentheistic, animistic, polytheistic, henotheistic, or even monotheistic all at once! How can He be all of these when each of them are different in nature? Pantheism “claims God is all and all is God.” The entire universe is said to be part of God’s consciousness and all of us are divine as we function as membranes in His consciousness. Yet, the Bible teaches He alone is God and we are made in His image yet we are not divine.

The problem becomes glaringly obvious: there cannot be many gods and only one God or no God at the same time. Or God cannot be both pantheistic and transcendent, One of them has to be correct, they all cannot be. It is logically impossible and incoherent. If the God of the Christians claims there is no other God besides Him and has revealed Himself to be separate from and transcendent to creation then He cannot also be pantheistic or polytheistic, as Hinduism and others teach. He is either one or the other. This may be possible if God intentionally lied, confused, or deceived, but God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), nor is He the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).

In addition to the differing views of God, the philosophical and truth claims add greater improbability that all roads lead to God. Case in point, on the surface, one can see that just listing the different views about God’s existence and or His nature raises some serious contradictions. We do not have to go in to great detail of those views in order to realize these contradictions and conclude that only one view can be true. Well, the same is true for the Religious Statements, or truth claims, of each religion. For instance, Islam declares there is no God but Allah who is singular in nature, and Muhammad is His messenger. On the other hand, Christianity declares there is no God besides YHWH who is three Persons in One essence (Trinity), and Jesus Christ is God the Son manifested in human flesh. Mormonism claims all churches are corrupt and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church, as revealed to Joseph Smith. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church claimed to be the fulfillment of the Second Advent of Christ (among many other things), yet studying his life and acts clearly demonstrates this to be false, especially in light of the hundreds of prophecies that lay out the credentials of the Messiah’s Second Coming. Eastern religions teach reincarnation and samsara as fact while the Bible clearly teaches we have one life and then we are resurrected from the dead and judged. Rajneesh the Hindu guru taught aggressively against Christian doctrine and even went so far as to claim to be the only “Awakened” one on earth, or the savior to lead mankind in the next quantum leap in evolution. Him and countless others have claimed positions of authority that belong only to God. So, how can all of these claims be true at the same time? They cannot.

These are just a few superficial examples out of hundreds that reveal the unreconcilable problems that plague Religious Pluralism. When we consider both the subtle and vast differences between the various worldviews we can see that all roads cannot possibly lead to God. There is only one Way which God prescribed and that is through Jesus Christ. He said in John 14:6, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Religious Pluralism sounds good in theory, but it is not intellectually honest. Muslims are not worshipping the same God as Christians, nor are the Mormons. The Hindus are definitely not worshipping the God of the Bible either. Everyone’s doctrines are diametrically opposed to one another. As Ron Rhodes stated, “Some say all religions are essentially the same and only superficially different. But the truth is, all religions are essentially different and only superficially the same.” There may be some similarities, but as you dig deeper the problems begin to emerge. The mantra “What’s true for you isn’t necessarily true for me” does not hold any water, the broad and easy gate is seen for what it is, and the narrow gate either becomes your most hated truth or your most prized reality.

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