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Is your religion correct?
The True Religion
There are many religions on this planet, most claiming theirs is the correct one. Which one is right, or can they all be right? Is there anyone who is absolutely convinced their religion is correct and everyone else is wrong?
The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies.
There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide. About 84% of the world's population belong to one of the five largest religions. These are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or various forms of folk religion.
The Marion-Webster's Learner's Dictionary defines "religion" as:
The belief in a God or any group of God's.
An organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and the rules used to worship a god or a group of gods.
An interest, a belief, or an activity that's very important to a person or group.
Means "ceremonial service and worship to God."
This is the general definition found in most dictionaries. But in today's world the word "religion" can mean almost any set of beliefs, whether or not it includes service and worship to the God of the Bible.
Most religions teach people are to be good, to love and not hurt others. The Bible teaches man wants to be good because he was created in God's image. And if they live according to God's will they will be rewarded. On the other hand, if they don't they receive everlasting punishment. This can be difficult because of man's original sin.
Different religions have varying views concerning the God of the Bible. Many are not according to His Word. Some may have the believe theirs is the one true God yet they don't worship Him as He desires. Obviously, if a god is a false one it doesn't matter anyway.
Most likely the touchiest point where most religions disagree is over the nature of deity. Various groups teach agnosticism, animism, atheism, deism, monism, polytheism and the Trinity along with many others.
Another sore spot is about what happens after death. For example, Purgatory taught by the Roman Catholic Church, or the belief in a heaven or hell taught by many religions. And what about reincarnation, nirvana or transmigration of the soul? Of course there are many others.
Other problems arise over theological beliefs and rituals. There are also differences on topics such as abortion, birth control, clergy gender, homosexuality, clergy celibacy and gender, dress codes etc. It would be difficult to find two faiths having identical teachings and practices. If a "true religion" does exist, then it would most likely be within one of the world's 10,000 religions. Logically all others would have to be in error.
Two main religions
There are mainly two religions, Judaism and Christianity which encompasses Catholicism and Protestantism with their various denominations. The Bible says there is only one God who created the heavens, earth, and man. Although they had their beginning with Christ who was God, they have perverted the original purpose of what He intended. It has been watered down and degraded so much what's left is of little value to Him.
John chapter 18 describes a conversation between Christ and Pilate prior to the crucifixion. At the end Pilate asks Jesus the most important question ever asked. "What is truth?"
Joh 18:32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.
Joh 18:33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
Joh 18:34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
Joh 18:35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?
Joh 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Joh 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Joh 18:38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
Protestant and Greek Orthodoxy as different religions
Let's look at the differences between Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity regarding salvation.
Buddhism. The way of "salvation" is through elimination of all human desire.
Islam. Salvation comes when good deeds outnumber bad ones.
Christianity. Salvation is a gift from God to humanity received by belief and faith in his son Jesus Christ.
Could it be more reasonable to just say all religions are wrong than one religion is true. So we can conclude: All major world religions are false or only one is true.
Today, a glance at world affairs might suggest religion is the cause for much of the trouble around the world. Religion can be a contentious issue, although it doesn't have to necessarily be so.
All have beliefs their followers must accept. This can lead to intolerance of other religions. Scripture and dogma can be vague and open to various interpretations. Therefore, fights can arise over which is the correct one. Religious extremists may see radical measures as necessary to fulfilling their God's desires. Those who call for violence see themselves as fulfilling those desires.
Many religions call for evangelism, which can cause conflict. Believers are to spread the word of God and increase the numbers of the flock. History shows missionary Christians for example, tried to forcibly impose Christianity on other peoples. For example, the effort to impose Christianity was an important part of the conflict surrounding European colonization.
Of course, the growth of Christianity in the United States indicates they too feel society is missing something. Conflict over abortion and teaching of evolution in schools are two good examples. Many see religion as inherently conflictual but this is not necessarily so. However, as with ethnicity, religion serves, as a way to distinguish one's self and group from another.
The true religion
In the debate between religion and atheism, accusations of bias, prejudice and closed-mindedness fly back and forth. Needless to say, no currently existing religion meets all required criteria. Read this list, if you belong to a religion not meeting one or more of them ask why not.
The one true religion would have to be:
Universal. Any true religion inspired by an all-powerful deity, would transcend all culture, language, and ethnicity barriers. All humans are fundamentally the same. It makes logical sense, if God wanted to send a message to us, he would send it to all.
Many current religions disqualify themselves by this standard. Judaism, for instance, teaches Jews are a spiritually superior race, chosen to trumpet his message. Islamism’s are similar, claiming God's word can only be truly understood in Arabic. Language can the words of God be truly understood. This makes no sense.
Morality and ethics. Another standard immediately disqualifying a large majority of major religions. Many terrible atrocities throughout history were perpetuated by people claiming to believe in a loving and merciful god. But this defies common sense. One truly guided by a loving God should truly be gentle and peaceful.
Not in opposition with science. Over the past several hundred years, science has vastly changed our understanding of the cosmos. Life has gone from being the direct creation of God to being the result of five billion years of evolutionary history. How many religions have gone gladly along with this? A case in point is the Roman Catholic church’s official apology to Galileo three hundred years after his death. Many still argue with science today, especially when it comes to the theory of evolution. The possibility of a God who created everything is all but ignored.
Keeping updated. The belief is Jesus has come and gone, and has been gone the past two thousand years. Many believe he ever intends to return. Others believe he will return to preside over the apocalypse which many believe will occur very soon. Some Christian sects, to preside over the apocalypse which is due to occur very soon. The pattern is usually the same. Great prophets and deities remain in the past. All miraculous events like parting of the Red Sea Sea, or resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred in the past, making it difficult for the scientific community to explore.
- Logical. If any religion asks us to accept a given claim, it should make good sense and backed up by reasons other than it's the will of God. For some reason, a large number of religions flunk this one. Christianity, also, fails this on multiple counts.
Does this mean every claim made by a religion must be true if it's to be true? Here we must distinguish between beliefs or doctrines which are essential to a religion and those which are not. Not all beliefs in a religion are equally important. Some are relatively insignificant, and adherents of a religion might disagree among themselves over the truth of such beliefs. Protestant Christians, for example, disagree over the proper form of baptism. Buddhist traditions disagree over whether monks should be celibate.
Other beliefs are much more significant and are so important one can't be an adherent in good standing while simultaneously rejecting them. Determining just which beliefs are defining can be a controversial matter, as many sometimes disagree among themselves over the question. But that there are defining beliefs for the major religions and that we can identify at least some such beliefs seems clear. For example, belief that Allah has revealed his will for humankind in the Koran seem to be a defining belief of Islam. Similarly, belief in an eternal God who created the universe is generally accepted as a defining belief of Christianity. Belief the Buddha attained enlightenment and thereby became aware of the causes of suffering is usually taken as a defining belief of Buddhism.
Certain affirmations about God, Jesus of Nazareth, sin, and salvation might be true. If they, then Christianity is true. But can there be more than one religion with true defining beliefs? Could there be other religions apart from Christianity true in this sense? The answer depends in part upon how broadly or narrowly one understands the notion of a religion.
Suppose we think of Protestant and Greek Orthodoxy as different religions. The issue then is whether Protestantism and Greek Orthodoxy have mutually compatible defining beliefs. If so, one could say both are true religions.
But then what about Buddhism, Islam, and Shinto? Are they compatible. If the central teachings of these religions are taken seriously one would be hard put, to hold there are two or more of these religions with defining beliefs which are true.