Note: All bible verses are from the ESV unless specified otherwise. Emphasis in all quotes has been added.
Some listening music while we talk again.
One of the reasons people conclude that “all religions are true” or that all paths lead to God is the assertion that all religions teach basically the same thing. Be nice to each other, don’t steal or murder, etc. While there is some truth to the idea that all religions tend to instruct people to live in ways that are generally conducive to a peaceful life (though there are exceptions), this is an extremely naïve approach to the teachings and requirements laid down by each faith system.
We’ll start with Islam. In Islam, it is expected that the faithful Muslim will follow what are called the Five Pillars of Islam. These Five Pillars are speaking the Muslim confession of faith (“There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet”), paying alms (charities), reciting your five daily prayers, observing the fast during the month of Ramadan, and making – at least once in your lifetime – a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Here we already have problems. The first pillar is a confession and acknowledgement of Muhammad as a true prophet of God. This creates problems for the Jew and the Christian who believe that Muhammad taught false doctrine and therefore cannot be a true prophet according to the test of a prophet as laid out in Deuteronomy 18. I will not attempt to settle the issue of true or false prophets now, it is enough for the moment to say simply that already we have tension and disagreement between these faith systems which are supposed to somehow all be true.
The concept of rewards is an interesting one when speaking of different faith systems. Many if not all faiths promise some sort of afterlife that includes various rewards for the deeds done in mortality and a deeper look at these various promises reveals vast, even contradictory concepts.
For instance, when we look at the concept of Nirvana as taught in Buddhism, we see an enlightened and unembodied state where the person is literally one with the rest of the universe. The person does not do anything in this state, in fact the person essentially ceases to exist in any significant way. Just like a drop of water that a glass of water that is poured into the ocean, the person loses anything distinct about him or herself and is completely absorbed into the energy of the universe. The word "nirvana" itself indicates a sense of being "quenched" or "snuffed out". This is in stark contrast to the rewards promised by the faiths of the Judeo-Christian strain wherein the person continues to exist consciously and bodily in a place of unending pleasure. These two concepts are simply incompatible. One cannot be embodied and unembodied.
However, even within the Judeo-Christian concepts of paradise or heaven, we see disparate qualities. As a single point of comparison - though there are many more - I would like to look at the concept of sexual relationships in heaven.
Writer, artist, lay theologian, student of comparative religion.