WHY YOU CANNOT RESPECT ALL RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND WHY CHRISTIANS MUST NOT DO SO
Today’s world is the quintessential definition of a walking contradiction. It aims for political correctness, not wanting to offend yet its social media is a cesspool for all things offensive. It is an age of information where everything is at the click of a button yet people have never been less informed about everything. It claims to be progressive with its LGBT propaganda, pride rallies and parades but this is in fact a retrogression to the Biblical days of Sodom and Gomorrah and the days of the ancient Greco-Roman empires. It claims to respect women yet it says anybody can identify as one and be entitled to be treated as one (wherein lies the respect then if a woman is reduced to something literally any Tom, Dick and Harry can identify as? is this not reducing womanhood to a concept that cannot be defined? Even cavemen and dinosaurs could clearly identify and differentiate between male and female, yet this generation is the progressive one?). It claims to be an inclusive world but it ostracises, castigates and cancels (thus excluding) anyone who fails to hold to its popular and often non-Biblical perspectives. An offshoot of this bundle of contradictions and quest for political correctness, which to the world’s mind, is the apogee of human existence, is this idea of respect for all religious beliefs.
It must be said that while for the most part, people who say they respect all religious beliefs or advocate for this “coming together of all religions as one” often have their hearts in the right place, it is an impractical position to hold for the following reasons:
First, a person respecting a religious belief would at least be open to the possibility that it is true. If a person believes or knows a claim of a religion is outrightly false then it is delusional to respect it. Who would knowingly respect a lie? A hypocrite or a coward perhaps! With this in mind, it must be noted then that all religions have conflicting claims about God and reality. claims that do not mix and that cannot be reconciled.
Take the claims around Jesus Christ for instance.
Christianity views Jesus Christ as God in the flesh. The saviour of the world who died on the cross and rose again for it, the only begotten Son of God. Islam views Him as merely a prophet and claims He never died on the cross as the event on the cross (which was reported by eye witnesses in the Bible as well as historians from all ages) was one big illusion (Surah 4:157). It claims in Surah 6:101 that God has no Son since He has no wife (a bit odd an all powerful God would need a wife to have a son, but I digress) and that God does not beget nor is he begotten. Judaism on its own part believes that Jesus (who is not divine) died on the cross but did not rise from the dead. How in the world do you reconcile these claims? How could you hold to one of these beliefs and respect the other two?
In addition, other religions have their own version of Jesus as well, a guru, a spiritual leader, a sage, a great teacher e.t.c. but none calls Him Lord and Saviour as Christianity does.
Secondly, the concept of God is fundamentally different in all religions. In Christianity, God is triune (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), three persons but one God. Allah in the Quran expressly mocks the trinity in surah 5:73–75 (the description of which Allah gets wrong by the way, as he clearly thinks Christians take Mary as part of the trinity). Hinduism have Brahma (the creator), Vishnu(the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer) thus recognising at least three different gods, Buddhism’s goal is self enlightenment thus putting self at the centre of itself and its belief system rather than God, African traditional religions recognise gods of iron, stone, water and every village has its deity which it worships in its own unique traditional way. How again does one reconcile this?
Thirdly, people who make this claim make it on relatively very little information as they have no idea how many religions there actually are in the world and have no basic idea of what they all believe. What if there was a religion perhaps that authorised people to kill those who do not believe in it? Or to get married to 6 year old girls? Or that taught that stealing from others was fair game? Would they, in the spirit of respecting all religions, respect that claim as well?
Fourth, the God of some religions do claim exclusivity. In Judaism, the first of God’s commandments is,
“You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)
In Christianity, Jesus says in response to one of His temptations,
“You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” (Matthew 4:10)
In order to convert to Islam, one must say “the Shahada” which reads,
“There is no god but Allah and Muhammed is His messenger”
The Quran is also clear that Allah is the only god as opposed to one of three as cited earlier in Surah 4:73–75
Not only that, these religions also claim exclusivity for themselves, Islam for instance states,
“If anyone seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him; he will be among the losers in the Hereafter.” (Surah 3:85)
In Christianity, Peter states,
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name (than Christ) under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:13), parenthesis mine for context
Buddhism’s self enlightenment path by definition excludes a God, Hindu’s gods already include a creator which by the way both the Judeo-Christian God and Allah claim to be. Again how can all this be reconciled?
Short answer? It cannot be! It is impossible to respect all religious beliefs because they are inconsistent and irreconcilable with each other. They were not meant to be observed in conjunction with each other.
Which brings us to the second point, why should Christians not do this?
First, because Christianity is an exclusive belief system. Christ claims to be exclusive
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”(John 14:6)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:7–9)
Second, because the Christian God is an exclusive God,
“You are My witnesses,” says the Lord,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
That you may know and believe Me,
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
Nor shall there be after Me.
I, even I, am the Lord,
And besides Me there is no savior.”
“For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:5 & 6)
Third, because the gospel which is the centre and heart of the Christian faith is exclusive; exclusive to those who believe in the exclusive Christ,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:4)
Fourth, and this is the most important bit, every other belief system is disrespectful of the deity of Christ and His atoning work on the cross, which is the foundation of the gospel. These belief systems disrespect Christ when they say He is merely a prophet or that He never rose from the dead or that His death was an illusion in the first place, they disrespect Him when they give Him any title other than Lord and when they do not acknowledge Him as saviour. They disrespect Him when, contrary to His words, they claim there could be some other way to God other than Him.
Now, what do we do with this information as Christians? Go around being jerks to people of other religions? No, we respect people (who are deserving) irrespective of their religious belief, but we do not respect their religious beliefs because their religious beliefs, whether they understand this or not, do not respect ours.
There are a thousand other ways to get along with people, a thousand other common grounds to find; sports, hobbies, movie genres, tastes in wine and whisky but these common grounds cannot be religious in nature because Christianity claims to be (and is) in a class of its own, it shares grounds with no other belief system on the planet. Any camaraderie and kinship based on the compromise of faith embedded in the “I respect your religious belief” lie is at best false peace.