Are all religions the same? No, of course they are not, though there are points of convergence and commonality all around–like the longing for salvation and the search for a God higher than ourselves. Hinduism is not the same as Judaism; and Scientology is not the same as Taoism. As Ravi Zacharias has said in his book, Jesus Among the Gods,
“All religions are not the same. All religions do not point to God. All religions do not say that all religions are the same. At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not…. Anyone who claims that all religions are the same betrays not only an ignorance of all religions but also a caricatured view of even the best-known ones. Every religion at its core is exclusive.”
Some people think they are showing respect by asserting that all religions are basically the same, but that is not respectful to the Christian, the Muslim, the Jew, or the Hindu. The Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism in the world today has said that trying to combine Christianity and Buddhism is like putting the head of a yak on the body of a cow.
I know that some people reading this will already start to feel skittish. “Here we go again, one religion battling it out with another. One more reminder of why we live in a tension-filled world.” But consider this. In many parts of the world today people of different religions have perfectly civil discussions with each other about what they believe and why. In America we are so timid about stepping on somebody else’s toes that we have largely dropped the skill and spirit of religious discourse. We somehow think it is wrong if a Christian and a Hindu get into a spirited discussion about what they believe and why it is different. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and it is hugely beneficial for anyone to understand what they believe and what people of entirely different religions believe. To run away from discourse about religious convictions because we fear hurting someone else’s feelings or of being viewed as bigoted, is not respectful of anybody, it is just cowardly.
What do you think?