Aren’t All Religions Just Different Paths to the Same Goal?

Jason Micheli —  August 12, 2014 — 5 Comments

Untitled10111I’ve become convinced that its important for the Church to inoculate our young people with a healthy dose of catechesis before we ship them off to college, just enough so that when they first hear about Nietzsche or really study Darwin they won’t freak out and presume that what the Church taught them in 6th grade confirmation is the only wisdom the Church has to offer.

Knowing most folks won’t read long boring books,  I’ve been working on writing a catechism, a distillation of the faith into concise questions and answers with brief supporting scriptures that could be the starting point for a conversation.

You can find the previous posts (questions 1-30) here.

I. The Father

Question 31~

31. Aren’t all religions just different paths to the same goal?

Of course.

 

Not.

 

Or better: Who in the hell are we to say?

If Jesus Christ is the End (telos) of all things in creation, then only Jesus stands in a position to evaluate whether or not all religions wind their way to him.

So if the answer is ‘Yes’ to the above question, only Jesus can give it.

 

Or better yet: Who in the hell are we to say?

For to assert all religions are the same (and what exactly qualifies as a ‘religion?’) requires you first to know all those religions from the first person experience of a worshipper in those religions.

For example, only someone who is a fan of both baseball and football knows the difference between stealing third and ‘going for it’ on third.

Likewise only someone who speaks French, Russian and Japanese knows if the words for savior, love or armchair really convey the exact same meaning.

 

Best answer:

The first Christians, who were no strangers to religious diversity having just abandoned paganism at great cost, would certainly have no patience with the incurious and historically tone deaf nature of the question.

After all, they would point out from firsthand experience:

One can walk many of those other, supposedly equivalent ‘paths’ quite successfully ‘without every turning aside to bind up the wounds of the suffering stranger.’

 

‘For Christ is the End of the Law…’

-Romans 10.4

Jason Micheli

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5 responses to Aren’t All Religions Just Different Paths to the Same Goal?

  1. You lost me. Maybe at the sports metaphor. Never get those.

    So the college student want to know if Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., teach the same basic thing. Like, compassion. So does it matter which one they (or anybody) follows?

    • Also, I’m not sure what to understand from the example of the early church. I don’t see much positive representation of those “other paths,” available to the first Christians — just emperor-worship, and nasty sounding words like “idolatry,” “false gods” and the like. When said college student contemplates his or her roommate’s devotion to another religion, the trouble is that other religion doesn’t sound like anything people left for Christianity. The Dalai Lama is not Caesar.

    • But that’s the point isn’t it? Not getting the sports metaphors. Only someone who’s practiced both Christianity and Buddhism over a lifetime in those communities could ever really be in a position to say. The Dalai Lama is not Caesar, no, but the ancient world had tons more religious diversity than exists today. Christianity was a revolution, completely new and different, not a type of a generalized human experience.

      • Not sure if this is what you’re saying or not. Now and then I think I can wrap my head around Barth’s point –what I think is his point–that Christianity is actually just another religion — but that there is something about Jesus — that is more than, (other than?) religion, which is always a human project.

        But how to put that in terms that your college student can hear. Or that makes sense to me more than 4 days a week.

  2. Great points!

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