If all religions are not the same and make exclusive claims about their (own) worldview and intolerant in varying degrees, then one should not accuse the other, but seek the truth which will truly set them free, writes Praveen Raju.
“Sparks flew,” in one of the Oprah winfrey show (while interviewing several New Age luminaries) when she emphatically stated “there couldn’t possibly be just one way (to God). One of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way to live….‘I’m a free-thinking Christian who believes in my way, but I don’t believe it’s the only way, with 6 billion people on the planet”. (Google to watch the video)
In a pluralistic world-system, many people including (some who claims to be) Christians, are increasingly emphasizing that there are many ways to reach God for their salvation. Only Christians are labeled as narrow minded and intolerant, as they make an exclusive claim that there is ‘only one way to God’. Let’s look at some of the following claims that people make:
- There is only one way to God
- There are few ways to God
- There are many ways to God
- All the ways lead to God
Who is broadminded and tolerant above? Let’s take dig to find out step by step.
Step one: All are inclusive and tolerant?
- Truth claim: ALL the above are making an EXCLUSIVE claim that their statement is ‘the truth’.
- Tolerant? All of them by asserting their claim to be ‘the truth’ denies the other. One is not including the other. For example: The first one claims only one way to be true and denies all the other; the second one picks and choose to claim some ways to be true and consider others to be false; the third one denies the earlier and latter by adding few more, and the last one denies all the above views by claiming that there are not just one way / few ways/ many ways but all ways lead to God.
Do you see the point? Every one sticks to their own “guns”. Everyone (above) in a sense is making an exclusive statement and becoming intolerant to the other. For example; If hinduism claims to be the most tolerant worldview by accepting “all the ways leading to God, ” then why persecute Christians (who claim only one way to God) and conversions (when one converts to the other religion? after all, as per hinduism, all ways are same).
Step two : All ways are true (statement)?
Can all the above statements be true at the same time in the same sense? Let me put it in a statement form – the way it will look if all the above claims is true – ‘There is only one way to God and yet few ways to God and yet many ways to God but hey no! all the ways leads to God?’ Does that make any sense? It cannot because as logic tells us “ a contradictory statement cannot be true at the same time and in the same sense”. Therefore, there cannot be only one way to God at the same time/sense and yet many ways to God any time/sense. One excludes the other.
Step Three: All faiths are same?
Let’s divide into different worldviews to evaluate this question.
· Hinduism (Pantheistic) : God is Infinite and Impersonal or non-personal
· Hinduism /Greek (Polytheistic) : Many finite, personal gods.
Judaism and Islam (Theistic) : God is one /unipersonal and infinite.· Christianity (Theistic ) : God is triune, infinite and Personal (triune:. one God or Divine Essence existing in three persons.
· Buddhism (Agnostic) : God may or may not exist (cannot be known)
· Jainism /Taoism (Atheistic) : No God or supernatural reality exist. Do they all look similar or teach the same thing? Can we say God exist and do not exists at the same time? God is Personal and non-personal? One God exist and many gods exist? – A unanimous and resounding -NO!
How many ways to God?
1. To claim all the ways are true and leads to God is to claim one has walked in all the ways (including atheistic worldview) and arrived at the same point (God). Even if its claimed , it cannot be verified in any ways.
2. To claim all the way are same and teaches the same thing is misleading (as seen above). As one way contradicts the other, then both cannot be true at the same time. Either one is true and all the other are false or all of them are false. As seen above, all cannot be true at the same time/sense. Its either or is true by assuming one is true.
If all religions are not the same and make exclusive claims about their (own) worldview and intolerant in varying degrees, then one should not accuse the other, but seek the truth which will truly set them free. The ancient Indian Sanskrit prayer (translated) goes in this way to know the truth “Lead us from untruth into truth, Lead us from darkness into light, and Lead us from death into life or immortality”. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life, No man goes to the father (God) except through me (John 14:6-7) and “You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32)
“Anyone who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6)