6. Are all religions the same?

You’ve probably heard many people saying, “All religions are the same!”, “They might look different but they are simply different paths to same destination”. But if you study religions even just a little bit, you realize how ignorant this statement actually is. Even without indepth research, you will realize that there is very little resemblance among different religions.

First of all, not all religions believe in God. Buddhism denies the conventional idea of God but teaches that we all can become God. When we become free from all the worldly cravings through continous training and abstinence, we become “enlightened” and reach the state of “nirvana”. You might think all religions believe in heaven but that is not true either. Both Buddhism and Hinduism teaches that our life is never ending cycle of death and rebirth unless we reach “nirvana” or “moksha”, they differ in theory how that actually happens. Christianity believes in one God in three person (trinity) but Judaism outright denies it saying “there is only one person of God”.

But with all these seeming differences aside, such general claim, “all religions are all the same at their core!” would be absolutely offensive to the founders of religion. Confucious will never say that Buddhism and Confucianism are the same in essence. Mohamad will never say Islam and Buddhism are different path leading into same destination. Such over-generalization usually comes from arrogance, a desire to be seen as all-knowing. These religions are fundamentally different in their teachings and beliefs on definition of salvation, methods of attaining salvation and after life.

However, there is one common thing for all major religions except Christianity. It is that all religions start from what “we have to do”. Christianity begins from what “God has done” already in Christ. Religions says “do”, but Christianity says “done”. That’s why “grace” is what makes Christianity unique. Hinduism teaches “karma” saying the bad things you have done will surely found you out in the future. But we Christians believe in God who forgives and pardons the guilty. He gives favor to the undeserved. Such grace and forgiveness does not give license to sin more but empowers us to live holy and rightously. This does not mean God is wish-washy. It was his uncompromising justice that required punishment of our sins and that is why Jesus Christ died on the cross, on behalf of our sin.

Realizing such differences helps us to know how to respond to people who make over-generalizing statements on religions. Studying different religions core beliefs is actually beneficial for us to understand Christianity better and appreciate the difference we find.