Just one religion among many

There are so many religions in our world. And they look very similar. They have religious looking buildings, similar moral teachings, and meditation or prayers to a divinity, …just for starters! It is perfectly understandable to consider them as equally valid, or just different ways of looking at the same principles.

To illustrates this, there is a classic tale of several blind monks who feel a different part of an elephant. One of them gropes the tail and says it is long and wiry. Another feels the body and says it is large and flat. Yet another handles the tusks and says it is tough and pointy. And then they all argue about what the elephant is like because they all have part of the truth. And in this sense they are all right with their part (literally) of the truth! But none of them can see the whole elephant. In other words, none of them posseses the whole truth.

Is it not the same with religion? All religions only understand part of the truth but not the whole truth. If they did understand the whole truth, they wouldn’t need to argue.

But historically, a closer inspection reveals that the various religions involve different people in different times asking different questions about different things. For example, Buddhism was founded in reaction to Hinduism. And the Koran says that Jesus never died. Where as the bible says that Jesus did die. On this historical claim alone, both religions cannot be right. Either Jesus did die, or he didn’t!

So is following Jesus just one among many (equally valid) religons? Jesus didn’t think so. He himself said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He claims to be the exclusive way to God his Father. Indeed elsewhere he effectively calims to be equal to his Father (eg John 5:17-18). Is Jesus being arrogant in his exclusive claims? If he is, then he is not alone.

Remember the tale of the blind monks? We can only know that they possessed part of the truth if we alone could see the whole elephant and so possess the whole truth! So for us to claim that all religions possess only part of the truth, is to suggest that we alone can see the whole truth in a way that no other religious believer can. And this is an equally exclusive claim to that of Jesus.

The question then is whose exclusive claim is right? Jesus’ or ours?

The best way to find out is to at least read his claims in the New Testament with credible historical investigation. Are you willing?

Richard Chin
AFES National Director