Do All Religions Lead to the Same God?
“I have my own beliefs, and I am not going to change them. Anyway, it does not matter which faith you belong to because all religions lead to the same God.”
HAVE you ever heard someone express that opinion? Many people hold the view that all religions offer equally valid ways of finding God and understanding the meaning of life. Similarly widespread is the belief that there is good and bad in every religion and that no single faith has a monopoly on truth or can make the claim that it is the only way to God.
Such ideas are popular in today’s so-called tolerant or pluralistic society. In fact, those who think otherwise are often viewed as narrow-minded, even bigoted. What is your opinion? Do you feel that all religions ultimately lead to the same God? Does it matter which faith a person belongs to?
Are There Real Differences?
According to one encyclopedia, there are currently 9,900 religions worldwide, some of which span the globe and have millions of members. Estimates suggest that some 70 percent of mankind belong to the five major religions—Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. If all religions lead to the same God, these five faiths surely ought to have many things in common in their teachings, their portrayal of God, and their explanation of God’s purpose. What do the facts show?
Roman Catholic theologian Hans Küng says that the major religions do indeed share some basic tenets within the realm of human relations. Most, for instance, are in favor of not to murder, not to lie, not to steal, not to commit incest, and they teach respect for parents as well as love for children. In other matters, however, and especially in their portrayal of God, these major religions differ drastically.
For example, Hindus worship a multitude of deities, whereas Buddhists are said to be unsure about a personal God. Islam teaches that there is one God. So do the churches that claim to be Christian, but most of them also claim that God is a Trinity. Even among the churches, there is a wide range of dogma. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the object of devotion for Catholics but not for Protestants. Birth control is generally prohibited for Catholics but not for most Protestants. And Protestants cannot agree among themselves on the subject of homosexuality.
Is it logical to think that religions that embrace such a wide range of beliefs can all be worshipping the same God? Hardly. On the contrary, the result can be only confusion as to who God is and what he expects of those who worship him.
Do They Unite or Divide?
If all faiths lead to the same God, surely we would see each one of them exerting its influence to unite mankind in peace. Do the facts confirm that they do this? History indicates that religion instead of unifying mankind is a source of division and strife. Let us consider a few examples.
From the 11th to the 13th century, Christendom, that is, nations professing to be Christian, went to war with Islamic powers in a series of Crusades. In 17th-century Europe, Catholics and Protestants locked horns in the Thirty Years’ War. In 1947, as soon as independence from Great Britain was declared on the Indian subcontinent, Hindus and Muslims were at one another’s throat. More recently Catholics and Protestants spent years in conflict in Northern Ireland. In the Middle East, Jews and Muslims still find no peace with one another. And at the top of the list must be put World War II, which engulfed members of all five major religions, even involving members of the same faith on opposite sides of the conflict.
The conclusion is inevitable. The world’s religions have not brought peace and unity, nor have they led to the same God. On the contrary, they have divided mankind and painted a confusing picture of who God is and how to worship him. Hence, anyone wanting to come to the true God must carefully choose the path he takes. This is in harmony with what is encouraged by the Bible, one of the oldest religious books known to mankind.
Choose for Yourselves Whom You Will Serve
The Bible clearly shows that finding the way that leads to the true God requires careful thought and deliberate choice. Joshua, a servant of Jehovah God, said to the ancient nation of Israel: “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve, whether the gods that your forefathers who were on the other side of the River served or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are dwelling. But as for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah.” Years later, the prophet Elijah urged the people to make a similar choice: “How long will you be limping upon two different opinions? If Jehovah is the true God, go following him; but if Baal [a Canaanite god] is, go following him.”—Joshua 24:15, 16; 1 Kings 18:21.
These and other Bible texts emphatically show that those who wanted to serve the true God had to make a conscientious choice. The situation is the same today. If we want to worship and serve the true God, we too must make the right choice. But what can help us make that choice in matters of worship? How can we identify the true worshippers?
True Worshippers Recognized by Their Fruits
Regarding true and false worshippers, Jesus Christ told his followers: “Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they? Likewise every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. . . . Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.” Accordingly, true worshippers would be recognized by their fruits, or works. What are these fruits?—Matthew 7:16-20.
First, true worship unites believers in love. Jesus explained to his disciples: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” True followers of Christ must display love for one another that is so outstanding as to characterize them as true worshippers in the eyes of observers.—John 13:34, 35.
For this reason it would be unthinkable for true Christians to take up arms against one another in war. Do church members keep to this standard? In World War II, the only major religious group that consistently and steadfastly refused to support the war effort in any way were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Dr. Hanns Lilje, former bishop of the Protestant Church in Hannover, Germany, wrote about the Witnesses: “They can rightfully claim to be the only major conscientious objectors in the Third Reich.” During that conflict, Witnesses in many lands chose to suffer reprisals rather than to promote or support the war.
What other fruits did Jesus have in mind that would identify genuine disciples? In what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus started by saying: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” Jesus assigned priority to the sanctification of God’s personal name, Jehovah. He expressed the wish that through God’s Kingdom, Jehovah’s will should be done on earth. Which religion is known for publicizing the name Jehovah and for proclaiming that God’s Kingdom is mankind’s only hope for peace on earth? Jehovah’s Witnesses publish the good news of the Kingdom in 236 countries and territories, disseminating literature in over 470 languages.—Matthew 6:9, 10.
Moreover, Jehovah’s Witnesses follow Jesus’ example in staying clear of political and social controversies. “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world,” Jesus said of his disciples. In addition, the Witnesses accept the Bible as God’s Word and are convinced that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”—John 17:14, 17; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
True Religion Is Set Apart
These fruits—self-sacrificing love, the desire to sanctify Jehovah’s name, the proclamation of God’s Kingdom, separateness from the world, and faith in the Bible—all characterize true worshippers. Such fruits also set genuine worshippers apart from other religions. One lady who had enjoyed several conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses drew her own conclusions and said: “I know many religions, and they are all similar to one another. You are the only ones who are completely different from the others.”
Clearly, all religions do not lead to the same God. But there is one group that stands apart from all others—Jehovah’s Witnesses, now numbering over seven million around the world. By advocating and adhering to God’s Word, the Bible, they have done what no other group or organization has been able to do, namely, unite people of diverse nationalities, languages, ethnic backgrounds, and races in worship of the one true God, Jehovah. They will be happy to help you learn about the true God, find out what he requires of you, and enjoy the peace and security that come from worshipping God in the way that he approves. Is that not a worthwhile goal?
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Orthodox priest blessing new troops in Ukraine in 2004
GENIA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images
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Jehovah’s Witnesses help people everywhere to learn about God and his Kingdom
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Page 12: Buddhist woman: © Yan Liao/Alamy; Hindu holy man: © imagebroker/Alamy; page 13: Man reading Koran: Mohamed Amin/Camerapix; Jewish man: Todd Bolen/Bible Places.com