For the Christian, there’s at least one point in our life when we’ve either seen others complain about how we Christians believe our religion is the ONLY correct one out of thousands or maybe you’ve been challenged by someone that deemed you intolerant for holding this belief.
I’ve been in both situations, and for those who aren’t Christian – that are outside looking in – many believe all religions teach similar truths of “love”, “peace”, and some moral value system which basically makes all of them alike. This leads many to believe that all religions have – in essence – various versions of the same truth and due to this we should all just get along, be tolerant, and coexist.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for intolerance or saying we shouldn’t learn to live with and strive to better understand those who differ from us, however tolerance is different from accepting everything as equally valid truth which is what society is quickly embracing.
Tolerance – The ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with.
Whether you believe in God or not, can all religions be pointing to the same “truth” in theory? Are Christians truly intolerant for believing Christianity is the only correct religion or are we in fact being logical? Rather than giving my answer right off the bat, I want to walk through this claim and arrive at the answer at the same time.
Truth: objective or subjective?
In Western society, there’s an increasing effort for tolerance of all beliefs (religions, sexual preferences, gender, etc) to the point where everything is deemed relative in a sense, that everyone can believe in what they want and that’s okay just as long as you don’t think your belief is the only “right” one or is “better” than anyone else’s. We’ve quickly come to embrace the idea that truth is relative and there is no absolute truth, meaning there is no concrete definition of what’s the only truth rather, all truths are equally valid.
Before I touch on relative and absolute truth, something we need to first understand is that despite how we may feel there are truths in this world that we can’t change. Truth is objective and this shouldn’t surprise us. If truth wasn’t objective we would not be able to come to an understanding of our physical world nor gain any knowledge about it. The opposite of objective truth then would be subjective, defined as “based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions”.
Objectivity is a philosophical concept of being true independently from individual subjectivity caused by perception, emotions, or imagination. A proposition is considered to have objective truth when its truth conditions are met without bias caused by a sentient subject.
Something that is objectively true is independent of beliefs and is not affected by one’s point of view. A simple example would be 4 + 4 = 8 and 4 + 4 does not equal 10. This remains true whether everyone on earth thinks it’s false and 4 + 4 adding to 10 remains false even if everyone on earth thinks its the truth. The truth is still true even if people think it’s a lie and a lie is still a lie even if people think it’s the truth. This might seem like a drawn on philosophical argument but stick with me for a bit as I lay the foundation for the main point of the article.
Absolute truth is something that is true at all times and places. An example of this would be “there are no round squares”. If I were to claim “absolute truth exists” and you were to say “there is no absolute truth” all I would need to do is ask you is, “is that statement true?” to reveal to you the contradiction of such a statement. To say there is no absolute truth is akin to saying “there are absolutely no absolutes”.
The person making such claim is making an absolute statement while denying the existence of absolutes in which case their statement would be false all the time. Therefore the only option remaining is that absolute truth exists and to claim otherwise goes against logic, is contradictory, and is also self-refuting, but yet people claim this and believe it without much of a thought to what it means.
The opposite of absolute truth is relative truth. For those who hold on to the idea of relativism, there is no universal, objective truth. Instead each point of view has its own truth. Oxford Dictionary defines “relative” as “Existing or possessing a specified characteristic only in comparison to something else; not absolute”.
When one states that “truth is relative”, we need to understand that such a statement is self-refuting because it claims to be true. If truth is indeed relative then the statement would be false as it too is relative; truth could be relative to you but not to me so who’s right? A worldview that embraces relative truth may seem appealing, tolerant, and openminded but when we follow it to it’s logical conclusion, it doesn’t allow us to grasp knowledge if everything is up to the individual.
You may feel that 4 + 4 = 8 but if truth was relative I can disagree, state that 4 + 4 = 10 and we would both be right. What a crazy world that would be! Some statements however can be relative such as “The best foods are spicy”. This can be true for me but some people hate spicy food.
The real question isn’t whether absolute truth exists, but rather which claims of truth from all world religions are absolute? This leads us to the main point of this article; Many religions claim truth but which one’s claim to truth is absolute?
Absolute Truth & Religion
Absolute truth in the context of religions would mean only one religion’s claims concerning the world we live in is true and all others are false. Such a claim would be deemed as politically incorrect in today’s society. In light of this, that doesn’t make this fact any less true. If we truly want to strive for the truth, we sometimes need to tackle tough questions and issues that make us feel uncomfortable.
When we take a step back and properly analyze this question, we’ll quickly come to the understanding that if even 2 religions out of the thousands that exist contradict one another in any one way, the claim that all religions somehow leading to God or a centralized truth, is false, contradictory, and illogical.
To further emphasize this point, let’s first take a look at 2 of the largest religions in the world: Christianity and Islam. Below I’ll highlight a few beliefs that are central to each religion.
- There is only one God that exists in 3 “persons” of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- We are all born into this world sinful
- Jesus is the son of God and 1 of the “persons” of the trinity
- Jesus was crucified and rose again
- We can’t work our way to heaven, but instead must place our faith in Jesus’ atoning work at the cross
- Everyone dies once and then faces judgement
- There is only one God that exists as a single God not in 3 persons
- We can sin but we aren’t born into this world as sinful
- Jesus is only a prophet of God, he is not divine
- Jesus did not die and therefore a resurrection did not take place
- Our “entry” into paradise depends on if our good deeds done through life outweigh our bad deeds.
I only highlighted a few key points of each religion but we already see the contradictions. In essence, what saves you in Christianity (admitting you are a sinner, believing that Christ is Lord, died and rose again, and confessing this belief) is what Islam rejects, is considered heretical at best and is damnable at worst.
If all religions led to the same truth how can God both be a single triune God but at the same time a single God that rejects being triune? How can Jesus both be just a prophet of God and not the son of God or part of the trinity and yet also be these same things? How could Jesus have died and rose again but yet not have died and rose again?
Christianity also asserts that there’s nothing good we can do to get to heaven or be saved, rather it depends on our faith in Christ’s sacrifice. Islam rejects this and instead presents personal accountability for salvation through good works. How can we both be saved without good works and faith alone but yet be saved not by faith but by good works at the same time?
To further drive this point home, let’s take a look at another well known religion: Hinduism.
- There are millions of gods
- Once we die we reincarnate into a higher or lower caste system based on our karma; we could reincarnate into animals or as a person of lower or higher status
- One of the main goals of Hinduism is to break this cycle of reincarnation
When we take a look at these 3 religions, we see that there’s a problem. Both Christianity and Islam assert that we all live and die once and face some type of judgement but Hinduism claims that we go through many lives; a cycle of death and rebirth.
Both Christianity and Islam claim there’s only one God (and even then they have specific claims on the nature of God) while Hinduism has millions of Gods, something Christianity and Islam both strongly reject and even see as blasphemous. We’ve only looked at 3 of the world’s main religions but I can easily add in Luciferianism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Shaminism, etc.
Only One Way
Based on everything that has been mentioned, we can see that all religions and belief systems can not in fact lead to God, heaven, or a centralized truth as they all make distinct claims to the nature of the world, mankind, God/gods/lack of a deity, an afterlife/reincarnation/lack of an afterlife, etc. They all make absolute truth claims.
Due to this there can’t be multiple correct absolute truths about the world we live in. To believe otherwise is to not assess the claim logically. Some may claim that since religions teach about morality – for example – to some degree, they’re all in fact speaking about the same moral truth. This too is incorrect because each religion or belief system brings in its own unique framework it uses to speak on moral truths.
For example, if we wanted to ignore the obvious contradictions between Christianity and Hinduism and state they’re both leading to the same truths, we would first need to realize that Christianity talks about morality through the framework of the triune God of the bible. In this case the morality that Hinduism may speak about is vastly different since its definition of god or gods doesn’t stem from the belief of the triune God of the bible (in the persons of Father, Son, and Holy spirit which should not be confused with the Hindu trimurti) therefore they can’t be speaking about the same type of morality.
To bring this to a conclusion, it is logical for us to say all religions could be false, but not all religions can be true. This view aligns with Atheism which denies the belief of the supernatural and claims made by religions until further evidence is given. So even with this example we see that only one worldview can be true. If Atheists are indeed correct, then all religions are false. If Christianity is correct, then all other religions, beliefs, and worldviews are false and so on.
Although I believe Christianity is the truth because Jesus himself makes the claim that he is the truth, the way, and the life (John 14:6), my purpose for this article is to show that only one religion or belief system can be true. My goal in communicating this fact is for people to critically think about what they believe to be truth. Many people go through life believing all religions lead to the same truth, leaving them in what I believe to be a state of complacency; to not make an effort to discover the truth for themselves. I want to challenge people to not just believe what I say, but assess these claims yourself to arrive to the truth.
My firm believe is that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life just as he stated. I believe that he is God in the flesh, that he died for the sins of humanity, and rose again 3 days later, and that by believing in his sacrifice and confessing it we have eternal life. I can firmly rest in the assurance that Jesus is the only way to heaven and eternal life first through faith in his sacrifice at the cross and resurrection.
My belief is also supported through a myriad of evidences that corroborate the biblical narrative such as the dead sea scrolls and 5,000+ New Testament manuscripts that give credence to the bible’s historical reliability, or recently discovered scientific facts such as air having weight or mass (written in the oldest book of the bible in Job 28:25), blood and plants emitting their own frequencies as if they’re “speaking” or “singing” (Genesis 4:10 and Isaiah 44:23), the earth in space (Job 26:7), as well as over 300 prophecies fulfilled in the life of Christ (a mathematical impossibility) and prophecies concerning the times we’re living in to just name a few.
If the claims made by Christianity are in fact not only true but absolute truth (I believe they are) and that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life just as he stated, then that means the most important thing we do in this life is what we do with the person of Jesus Christ – either reject or accept the claims of who he said he is and what he came to do.
If that’s the case, that means doing good works and hoping the scales balance out won’t lead to God. It means there are no “redo’s” in a next life but that what we’ll be facing upon death is an eternal destination. However, the good news is that this also means there is a God who loves humanity so much he sacrificed his son so that we could be reconciled with him just by believing in his sacrifice (John 3:16-18, Romans 10:9-10)!
If you’re not Christian, I challenge you to assess the claims of Christ and of the bible objectively. Here is a good start. It’s not possible for the bible’s claims to be true for me and false for you, they can only be true for all humanity or false for all humanity. Navigate here to learn more about God’s free gift of salvation. What we do with this gift is our choice, but I encourage you to think about it as it will be the most important decision you will make for your eternal life.
- Tolerance – https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/tolerance
- Subjective – https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/subjective
- Relative – http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/relative
- Objective – https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/objective
- Absolute – https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/absolute