As we take religion more seriously, differences become more obvious
Q: Are all religions the same? The Dalai Lama, who just celebrated his 75th birthday, often refers to the 'oneness' of all religions, the idea that all religions preach the same message of love, tolerance and compassion. Historians Karen Armstrong and Huston Smith agree that major faiths are more alike than not. But in his new book "God is not One," religion scholar and On Faith panelist Steve Prothero says views by the Dalai Lama, Armstrong and Smith that all religions "are different paths to the same God" is untrue, disrespectful and dangerous. Who's right? Why?
All religions are the same, in the sense that all religions see their role as bringing people closer to God.
Of course, religions do differ very much from one another. Not all theologies claim or preach the message of love, tolerance and compassion, nor do they have very strict definitions of these terms. Love may be limited only to those who adhere to the same religion. Tolerance may be only for those who hold the same beliefs that I do; and compassion is for those people who are my partners, very close partners, who see the world as I do.
But the differences among religions are sometimes even deeper; they are not only about social behavior, but also about what it means to be closer to God. In this, there are many different paths. Some paths may be completely contradictory, or have very little in common with one another.
For those who view religion as something weak, sweet, and uncompelling, all religions are the same. But as people take religion more seriously, the differences become more obvious, and sometimes different belief systems will find it almost impossible to work together at any level. Because the beliefs are so important to their adherents, often there will be differences, disagreements, and perhaps also some fighting. It does not necessarily mean that disagreements are something to enjoy; but at least we have to accept them as facts on the ground.
Posted by: cardwellv | July 12, 2010 11:41 AM
Report Offensive Comment
The comments to this entry are closed.