Is there a right religion?

     There are many religions in the world and all of them cannot be right. They are so different. They include idol worship, polytheism, pantheism, and monotheism. How can we judge between them. Many of them have scriptures and it is no use quoting contradictory scriptures to people who don't accept them in the first place.  It is more reasonable that all religions are false than that all religions are true. In this "tolerant" age it is not politically correct to say that anybody's religion is false. But all religions cannot be true.  Is there a basis for evaluating the truth or merit of a religion?   How can we deal with this problem?

        One way was suggested by Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) who wrote some comments in a proposed book now called  Pensees
         l. The true religion must teach the hiddeness of God:  "God being thus hidden every religion which does not affirm that God is hidden is not true and every religion which does not give the reason of it, is not instructive."

         2. The true religion must explain the misery of man.  "That a religion may be true, it must have knowledge of our nature. It ought to know the greatness and littleness and the reason for both."

         3.  The true religion must teach how man can know God who is hidden and give the remedy for his alienation and misery.  "The true religion, then, must teach us to worship Him only, and to love him only. But we find ourselves unable to worship what we know not, and to love any other object but ourselves, the religion which instructs us in these duties must instruct us also in this inability, and teach us also the remedies for it.

     If we apply these principles to the major world religions it becomes possible to make some judgments about them.
      Pantheistic religions that identify God and nature  do not meet Pascal's three requirements. They do not talk of God as singular or personal but only as a very nebulous "center."  It becomes meaningless to talk about God when one is really talking about a tree, or mountains, or people.  God is not really hidden. He is the bug, tree, cloud, or man  and other beings. God is  bigger than I am, but he is also me. The language used to describe God, indeed the whole concept of God in pantheism, becomes very ambiguous.

      Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism  are interesting in that none of them began with an interest in God or gods. Buddha was only interested in life's problems as related to  desire and the misery associated with desire.  Confucius was not interested in the issue of God. Neither Buddha, Confucius, or Lao-tzu claimed to be gods, and were not interested in the subject.  Many centuries after they lived all three philosophies became religions and gods were introduced.

    Confucius was interested in ethics and tradition, Lao-tzu, as the presumed founder of Taoism, had no more interest than an ethical outlook on life.  It took a long time for them to be made into gods in their traditions. All these systems of thought degenerated into idolatry and polytheism.  They were humanistic philosophies and did not require any sense of worship of anything.  Buddha rejected the gods of Hinduism.   It is ironic that later the religion which grew out of his teaching  should reintroduce gods.

     This leaves three other major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

     Judaism and Christianity have a unique relationship.  Judaism offers a knowledge of God based upon God's self- revelation.  Only God can reveal God. Judaism affirms this.
 This commitment to  God's self- revelation is affirmed by Christianity.  A basic difference between Judaism and Christianity relates to the concept of a Messiah.   Jews do not believe the Messiah has come and  the Christians believe the Messiah has appeared in the person of Jesus of  Nazareth.  This becomes a matter of  serious interpretation of the Old Testament.

Passages like   Isaiah 53, Isaiah 7:14, 9:1-7,Psalm 2:7, Gen.3:15, Jeremiah 23:5, Micah 5:2 Isaiah 40:3,
and many others  carry little weight  in the Jewish community.  Whereas  Christians look to these passages and   see  them as prophecies which were fulfilled in  Jesus of Nazareth.

      Pascal wrote:   "We know God only by Jesus Christ. Without this mediator all communion with God is taken away....Apart from Him, and without the Scripture; without original sin, without a necessary mediator promised and come, we cannot absolutely prove God, nor teach right doctrine and right morality."

     The issue of Islam assumes another dimension. Islam claims to build on Judaism and Christianity.  It presumes to be the successor to these two religions.  So long as it claims a continuity with the two religions, it has to reckon  with the contradictions involved in its claim.  There is nothing in Judaism or Christianity to call forth another religion beyond the Messiah. Mohammed did not claim to be the Messiah and there is nothing in the Christian scriptures pointing to a future prophet.   When it became obvious to Muslim scholars that the Bible did not prophesy the coming of Mohammed, they then claimed that Jews and Christians conspired to corrupt the Scriptures deliberately.  The Qur'an speaks about the authority  and reliability of the Bible in the days of Mohammed and it is a monstrous proposal that Jews and Christians  deleted passages from thousands and thousands of manuscripts in various parts of the world.
To propose such an undertaking is preposterous.

     In Pascal's terms, only Christianity offers a mediator (the God-man=Jesus) who helps  humans come to know the hidden God.   The cause of misery is sin, or rebellion against God's commands, and this is also the cause of  our lack of knowledge about God (God's hiddenness).

     If you are interested in how you can come to know the hidden God,  see
              How to Get to Heaven from Wherever you are   on this web site.



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The Healing Site