When we speak of religion, what do we mean? Religion means believing in a superhuman power – a god. Some cultures worship multiple gods in what is called polytheism. Believing in one god is called monotheism.
As we know, people around the world believe in many different religions. Even people who follow the same faith often have different ideas on the correct way to follow that religion. For instance, there are Sunni and Shia Islam; Christianity has Catholics and Protestants, and many more sub-branches.
Some people have no religion (atheism) or doubt that you can really know anything about God (agnosticism). Some people feel that it’s unscientific to believe in God. Is that true? And among all these world religions, which one is the truth? Let’s explore!
Is religion important?
Yes, religion matters. Religion contributes to stable family life and the preservation of society. Faith in a higher power helps address the plethora of social issues that confront us today. The regular practice of religion, through attending worship and teaching services, engaging in fellowship with other believers, and spending time in prayer and reading scriptures has multiple benefits. It enables people to be more emotionally stable, provides essential support networks, and leads to peace in one’s life and society.
Did you know that the practice of religion helps relieve poverty? Many organizations that minister to the homeless and impoverished are religious. Christians serve as the hands and feet of Jesus when they provide housing and food for homeless and needy people. Multiple organizations that help people break addictions or provide mentoring programs for at-risk youth are religious.
How many religions are there in the world?
Our world has over 4000 religions. About 85% of people in the world follow some religion. The top five religions are Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
The world’s largest religion is Christianity, and the second-largest is Islam. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are all monotheistic, meaning they worship one god. Is it the same god? Not exactly. Islam might claim to worship the same God as Christians, but they deny that Jesus is God. They say Jesus was an important prophet. Jews also deny the deity of Christ. Since the God of Christianity is a triune God: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit – one God in three Persons – the Muslims and Jews do not worship the same God.
Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, worshiping multiple gods; they have six primary gods/goddesses and hundreds of minor deities.
Some people say Buddhism has no gods, but in reality, most Buddhists pray to the “Buddha” or Siddhartha Gautama, who founded the religion as an offshoot of Hinduism. Buddhists also pray to numerous spirits, local gods, and people they think have achieved enlightenment and become a Buddha. Buddhist theology teaches that these people or spirits are not gods. They believe “god” is the energy in nature, a sort of pantheism. So, when they pray, they aren’t technically praying to someone, but the exercise of prayer helps inspire one to detach from this life and its desires. That’s what Buddhist theology teaches, but in real life, most ordinary Buddhists do think they are communicating with the Buddha or other spirits and do ask them for specific things.
Can all religions be true?
No, not when they have teachings that conflict with other religions and have different gods. A fundamental belief of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism is that there is ONE God. Hinduism has multiple gods, and Buddhism has no gods or numerous gods, depending on which Buddhist you ask. Even though Christians, Muslims, and Jews agree there’s only one God, their concept of God is different.
Religions also have different teachings on sin, heaven, hell, the need for salvation, and so on. Truth is not relative, especially truth about God. It’s illogical to say they are all true. The law of non-contradiction states that ideas that contradict each other cannot be true simultaneously and in the same sense.
Are there multiple gods?
No! Hindus and Buddhists might think so, but how did all these gods come into being? If you investigate Hinduism, you’ll learn that they believe that Brahma created gods, demons, men . . . and good and evil! So, where did Brahma come from? He hatched from a cosmic golden egg! Where did the egg come from? Someone had to create that, right? The Hindus don’t really have an answer for that.
God is the uncreated Creator. He didn’t spring from an egg, and no one created Him. He always was, He always is, and He always will be. He made everything that exists, but He always existed. He is infinite, with no beginning and no end. As part of the Godhead, Jesus is the Creator.
- “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will, they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
- “By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16)
- “He [Jesus] was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:2-3)
- “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13)
How to find the true religion?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Which religion’s leader never sinned?
- Which religion’s leader told His followers to turn the other cheek when mistreated?
- Which religion’s leader died to make atonement for the sins of all the world?
- Which religion’s leader made a way to restore people to a relationship with God?
- Which religion’s leader resurrected to life after dying as a substitute for your sins and the sins of all people?
- Which God will give life to your mortal body through His Spirit, who lives in you if you believe in His name?
- Which God can you call Abba (Daddy) Father and whose love for you surpasses all knowledge?
- Which religion offers you peace with God and eternal life?
- Which God will strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being when you trust in Him?
- Which God works all things together for the good of those who love Him?
Islam or Christianity?
Christianity and Islam have a few similarities. Both religions worship one God. The Quran (Islamic holy book) recognizes Biblical people like Abraham, David, John the Baptist, Joseph, Moses, Noah, and the virgin Mary. The Quran teaches that Jesus performed miracles and will return to judge people and destroy the antichrist. Both religions believe Satan is an evildoer who deceives people, enticing them to leave their faith in God.
But Muslims admit that their prophet Muhammed was only a prophet and not sinless. They believe he was God’s messenger but not their savior. Muslims don’t have a savior. They hope God will forgive their sins and allow them into heaven after most of them spend some time in hell. But they have no certainty that they won’t spend eternity in hell.
In contrast, Jesus, the third Person of the Triune Godhead, died for the sins of all the world’s people. Jesus offers salvation from sin and the assurance of going to heaven to all who believe in His name and call on Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Christians have forgiveness of their sins, and God’s Holy Spirit lives within all Christians, guiding them, empowering them, and blessing them with fullness of life. Christianity offers Jesus’ incomprehensible love and intimacy with God as Abba (Daddy) Father.
Buddhism or Christianity?
The Buddhist notion of sin is that it is moral wrongdoing, but against nature, not against a supreme deity (which they don’t really believe in). Sin has consequences in this life but can be remedied as a person seeks enlightenment. Buddhist don’t believe in heaven in the sense that Christians do. They believe in a series of rebirths. If a person is able to detach from the desires of life, they can achieve a higher form in the next life. Ultimately, they believe, a person can achieve full enlightenment, ending all suffering. On the other hand, if they don’t pursue enlightenment and instead pursue earthly desires and sin against nature, they will be reborn in a lower life form. Perhaps they will be an animal or a tormented spirit. Only humans can achieve enlightenment, so being reborn as a non-human is a wretched situation.
Christians believe that sin is against both nature and God. Sin separates us from relationship with God, but Jesus restored the opportunity for relationship with God through His sacrificial death. If one acknowledges their sin and repents, believes in their heart that Jesus is Lord and believes He died for their sins, they are reborn. The rebirth is not in the next life, but this life. When someone receives Jesus as their Savior, they are instantly changed. They are set free from sin and death, they have life and peace, and they are adopted as children of God (Romans 8:1-25). Their sins are forgiven, and they receive God’s nature to replace their sinful nature. When they die, their spirits are instantly with God. When Jesus returns, the dead in Christ and those who are still alive will be raised with perfect, immortal bodies and will reign with Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Christianity and science
Does science disprove religion? Is Christianity at odds with science, as some agnostics and atheists claim?
Absolutely not! God put the laws of science into place when He created the world. Science is the study of the natural world, and it constantly uncovers new truths about the universe and the world around us.
Some things once believed to be “scientifically proven” have since been disproven by science as new knowledge comes to light. Thus, it can be dangerous to put one’s faith in science, because scientific “truth” changes. It doesn’t really change, but scientists sometimes come to the wrong conclusions, based on faulty understanding.
Science is a great tool and helps us understand the world God made. The more we understand science – the intricate inter-workings of atoms and cells and nature and the universe – the more we realize that all this was created and couldn’t have happened through mere chance.
Science deals with the objective, natural aspects of what God created, while true religion includes the supernatural, but spiritual things and science aren’t contradictory. Our universe is governed by exquisitely fine-tuned laws of physics. Our universe could not sustain life if even one small thing changed. Think of the immense amount of information in one strand of DNA. The laws of physics and biological discoveries all point to an Intelligent Mind who created it all. Science, true science, points us to God and informs us about His nature:
- “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Why is Christianity the true religion?
The law of non-contradiction tells us that truth is exclusive. Only one true religion exists. We have examined how Christianity stands up to other religions and to science. We should also point out that religion is not just a set of rituals; true religion is relationship with God. And out of that relationship with God comes “pure religion:” a faith that brings eternal life but also morphs a person into the hands and feet of Jesus and into holy living:
- “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)
Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith is unparalleled when compared to the spiritual leaders of other religions. The Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) and Muhammed are both dead and in their graves, but only Jesus broke the captivity and power of death when He resurrected from the grave! Following Christ means we are freed from the law of death. Christianity is the only religion where its leader died so His followers could live.
Muhammed and Siddhartha Gautama never claimed to be God. Jesus did.
- “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
What is the right religion for me and why?
The right religion for you is the only true religion. Christianity is the only religion that offers you a sinless Savior who gave His own life so that you and all people on the planet can have the opportunity to be saved from sin and death. Christianity is the only religion which restores you to relationship with God – to grasping His mind-blowing, incomprehensible love. Christianity is the only religion that gives you the valid hope – the confidence of eternal life. Christianity is the only religion that offers you the peace that passes understanding in this life. Christianity is the only religion where God’s Holy Spirit comes to live inside you and intercedes for you with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26).
Whether you’re a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, an atheist, or an agnostic, truth is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the true God, can be your Savior and Lord. Trust Him! God will forgive your sins and give you eternal life. He will flood your heart with light and hope. God will make you complete; He will give you fullness of life. By trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are restored to fellowship with God, to that joyful intimacy and mind-blowing love.
Today is the day of salvation. Choose truth!