Are religions all the same (basically)?

The short answer is no -- they are not all the same.

Although it is worthwhile to note the many similarities between many (but not all) faiths, such as a search for the divine, prayer, a certain amount of separation from the world, and the value of good character, there are also some astounding differences, frequently including that of the character of the divinity worshipped. Click here to learn why they are (or aren't!) all the same, or for a basic breakdown of differences between many major religions.

To be candid, I’m not sure where people of the various religions come into it all. The Christian Bible is very clear that He "is not willing that any should perish" and that “no one comes to the Father except by Me (Jesus).” It also leaves no wiggle room regarding the worship of other gods or idols, be they the kind that ornament temples or those of everyday life, like money, power, or even sometimes our loved ones.

However, I do believe that if people are genuinely seeking for the true God, they will eventually find Him. That is not to say that how we worship makes no difference, only that He can make a way, regardless of whether I understand it completely.

People of many faiths sincerely seek God, even if they do not seek Him all the same way. People of many faiths are kind and good. But our path will be most true to the purpose for which we each were made and bring honor to God if our internal compass is true ... that is, if it points to what is true and we are guided by that, even when the path is unknown to us. A false guide, though, will sometimes lead us in a wrong direction -- so it matters what light we follow.

In that sense, it is important for each of us to seek God with our whole heart. If despite the similarities, each faith makes a different claim about who God is, or what the divine is, how salvation is achieved, and the afterlife, they cannot each be entirely and simultaneously true.

Such differences never justify the killing or persecuting of those with a different belief system. It should be the right of members of each religion to proclaim what they believe, in hopes that others will be enlightened by their journey or by the ultimate truth contained in their words and lives. But acceptance must come by persuasion and personal conviction, not forced or, alternatively, threatened into a denial of what one believes to be true.

This is how I see Christian evangelism at its best: the opportunity to call others toward a Savior who entered into the sufferings of humanity and sacrificed Himself for our well-being -- a love unparalleled in the history of the world.

Christianity alone offers a salvation and eternal destiny not based on works or on cycles of atonement. If individual Christians have sometimes expressed this not as a call of grace and love, but rather one of superiority or derision or even something to be bought, that is not what Jesus would have us do.

Jesus has said people will recognise us as His disciples by the way we love them. Conversion should always be based in conviction of what is true and good, and realisation of one's own need of it, not on shame or fear.

"You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

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