Should You Investigate Other Religions?
“I HAD attended Christian meetings for nearly a year, and I enjoyed telling others about God’s Kingdom,” says Miguel, who is now one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in South America. “Then I started listening to religious programs on the radio and watching religious preachers on television. I thought that such programs could help me to understand people of other religions better. I realized that their teachings were not in harmony with the Bible, but I was curious.”
In the same land, Jorge was zealous in teaching others about true worship. Yet, at one point, he too began listening to religious radio and television programs. “You need to know what others are thinking,” he used to say. When asked about the potential dangers of such exposure to false teachings, he would answer: “Nothing could undermine the faith of one who knows Bible truth.” These experiences raise an important question, Is it wise to listen to what others believe?
Recognizing True Christianity
After the apostles died, true worship became contaminated by the progressive development of many forms of imitation Christianity. Foreseeing this, Jesus disclosed one way to distinguish these counterfeit forms of Christianity from true Christianity. First, he warned: “Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to you in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves.” Then he added: “By their fruits you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-23) Jesus’ true followers practice what he taught, and they are easily recognized by their fine fruits. Just as Jesus himself did, they visit people to explain God’s Kingdom from the Scriptures. Following Jesus’ example, they stand apart from the world’s politics and social controversies. They accept the Bible as God’s Word and respect it as the truth. They make God’s name known. And since they strive to practice the love that God teaches, they do not share in wars. Instead, they treat one another as brothers.—Luke 4:43; 10:1-9; John 13:34, 35; 17:16, 17, 26.
According to the Scriptures, it is possible to “see the distinction between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.” (Malachi 3:18) True worshipers today are united in thought and deed, just as the first-century Christians were. (Ephesians 4:4-6) Once you identify such a body of genuine Christians, why should you be inquisitive or curious about the beliefs of others?
Beware of False Teachers
The Bible acknowledges that even after learning Bible truth, there is a danger of spiritual contamination from false teachings. The apostle Paul warned: “Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) What a graphic picture this text paints! Like beasts wanting to carry you off and devour you, false teachers can pose a real danger.
True, Paul took note of what others believed. He once began a discourse by saying: “Men of Athens, I behold that in all things you seem to be more given to the fear of the deities than others are. For instance, while passing along and carefully observing your objects of veneration I also found an altar on which had been inscribed ‘To an Unknown God.’” (Acts 17:22, 23) Paul, however, did not regularly feed his mind on the philosophies of Greek orators.
It is one thing to inform yourself about the origins and beliefs of false religions but quite another to feed on them.* Jehovah has appointed “the faithful and discreet slave” to provide teaching based on his Word. (Matthew 4:4; 24:45) Paul himself wrote: “You cannot be partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons. Or ‘are we inciting Jehovah to jealousy’?”—1 Corinthians 10:20-22.
Some false teachers may formerly have been true Christians, but at one point they turned from truth to error. (Jude 4, 11) This should not surprise us. After speaking of “the faithful and discreet slave” that represents the body of anointed Christians, Jesus spoke of the “evil slave,” a class that complains, “my master is delaying,” and starts to beat its fellow slaves. (Matthew 24:48, 49) Often, these individuals and their followers have no clear teachings of their own; they are interested only in destroying the faith of others. Concerning them, the apostle John wrote: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him.”—2 John 10; 2 Corinthians 11:3, 4, 13-15.
Sincere people who are searching for the truth do well to consider carefully what they hear from different religions. In time, God will bless honesthearted individuals who seek the truth. The Bible says of godly wisdom: “If you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case . . . you will find the very knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:4, 5) Having found this knowledge of God through the Bible and the Christian congregation and having seen how Jehovah blesses those who are guided by that knowledge, true Christians do not continue listening to false religious teachings.—2 Timothy 3:14.
The book Mankind’s Search for God, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., presents basic information about the background and teachings of many of the world’s religions.