If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?

Do you Have to be Christian to Go to Heaven?

Since there are so many religions, which one is right?

Why are there so many religions? Isn’t there only one God? Why didn’t God say the same thing to everyone? How do I know which religion is right?

Perhaps God does speak the same truth to people all around the world. The question is, when God speaks, what do people hear?

Two people can listen to the same story and come away with very different meanings. We hear what we need to hear in order to face our own particular challenges. People of different times and cultures hear God differently, according to their own cultural and spiritual conditions.

It’s not that God is different for different people. God is eternally the same. It’s that we humans are different from one another, and we each see God in our own way. God gives every person and every culture what’s needed to know and love God, and to love and serve their fellow human beings.

It is common for people think their religion is the right one. Many Christians say you have to believe in Jesus to go to heaven. Yet the Bible does not focus as much on what we believe as it does on how we live. People who live good, conscientious lives of service to others are living in the spirit of Christ no matter what name they may use for God.

Does God have a multiple personality disorder?

At last count, there were . . . well . . . I won’t even try to count all the different religions in the world! Besides the large, well-known world religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism, there are countless smaller religions, including many varieties of traditional, cultural, and nature-based religions, throughout the world. There are also a billion or so people who don’t belong to any particular religion, either because they are atheist or agnostic or because they follow their own personal spiritual beliefs.

All of the religions have some concept of God—although some do not talk much about God. However, if we ask adherents of the various religions what God is like, we will get many different descriptions. Within the different religions God has been pictured as a male or female human being, as various kinds of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and insects, as a being with a human body and the head of an animal, as a tree or a plant, as lightning and thunder, as the sun, moon, or stars, and in many other ways.

When we start talking about the different mental and emotional characteristics of God, things get even more interesting. God loves and hates, is wrathful and merciful, is omniscient and forgetful, is unchanging yet relents from punishments that were planned, is all-forgiving but condemns everyone who doesn’t believe or do certain things.

Does God have a multiple personality disorder? How could one God be so many different things all at once? How could God be so many contradictory things at the same time? After all, if we ask people of the various religions how they know what God is like, most them will say that their beliefs originally came from God.

Are all religions except mine wrong?

Okay, there’s another possibility. Maybe all of those religions got it wrong.

Or maybe there is one that got it right. The religion I believe in! It may be Christianity or Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism, but if it’s my religion, it must be the right one. Otherwise why would I believe it?

It’s funny, isn’t it? No matter what religion we look at, the people who believe in it think they are the ones who have the real truth about God—and that all the other religions are a little bit off . . . or a lot off.

Of course, there are many religious people who take a broader view. But what about all the people who say that if you don’t believe in my religion, God will condemn you? What about all those Christians who say that you can’t be saved and go to heaven unless you believe in Jesus Christ?

If people in every religion claim that theirs is the right one and everyone else’s is wrong, how can we believe any of them? And why didn’t God make it a lot clearer to us humans on earth exactly what we’re supposed to believe about God and heaven?

Who’s confused, anyway? God or humans?

Let’s tackle some of these questions. The first thing to recognize is that God didn’t make all those religions, people did.

“What?” you say, “Didn’t God talk to all those prophets and write all those books for all those religions?” Yes, God has spoken to many prophets, priests, and ordinary people over the ages. Some of them have written down what God said to them, and those books have become the sacred texts of the various religions.

But have you ever had the experience of saying one thing, and having the person you were talking to hear something different? Just because God said something to a priest or prophet, that doesn’t mean the listener heard exactly what God said. In fact, psychologists tell us that we humans always interpret what we hear according to what we have experienced, and according to how we understand the world around us.

Let’s take a simple example: the words “I love you.” We might think these would have the same meaning no matter who we say them to. But think about the different ways this simple, common phrase will be heard by a child, a spouse, a parent, a friend. Now think of how it would be heard by someone who has just screamed in your face, “I hate your guts!” How would it be heard by a child you have just disciplined? How would it be heard by an elderly parent whom you have just moved into a nursing home against her will?

In exactly the same way, although God says the same thing to all people everywhere, each one of us hears it differently according to our own particular culture, experiences, and beliefs. The difference is not in God, but in the listeners. God says “I love you” to people in all times, places, and cultures. Each one hears that message in a unique way. The many and varied sacred texts of humanity are the result.

So which is the best religion?

Mine is, of course!

But seriously, if God is infinitely loving and infinitely wise, as the theologians and mystics of all the major world religions say, don’t you think God would do a good job of providing religion for the people on earth? Don’t you think God would provide a way for all people to experience God’s love and wisdom?

We could argue until the cows come home about which religion is the best or truest, and it would be a monumental waste of breath. God is not concerned about which religion is better than other religions. God is concerned with how well each religion brings its people closer to God, and how well each religion moves its believers to love and serve their fellow human beings.

So the short answer is: Each religion is best for the people who believe in it. If God truly is loving and wise, wouldn’t God provide every person and every culture with the religion that works best for them? Would a loving God really leave vast segments of the world’s population out in the cold? We humans come in all different varieties. And we need a variety of religions to help us find God, faith, and compassion for our fellow human beings, each in our own unique way.

Don’t you have to believe in Jesus to be saved?

Perhaps you really want to believe that God is present in all religions.

But what about all those Christian preachers who say that if you don’t believe in Jesus you’ll go to hell? And what about all the Bible passages they quote? Is it possible to believe the Bible and still think that non-Christians can go to heaven?

First of all, the Bible itself is full of people from different religions. Before Christ came, there was not a single Christian on earth. Everything in the Old Testament was originally about how people could be saved before Christianity even existed. In the New Testament John the Baptist, Jesus, and Jesus’ Apostles preached their message to Jews and non-Jews alike. And though traditional Christian preachers have selected the passages that command us to believe in Jesus, they have pushed aside a far greater number of passages in both the Old Testament and the New Testament that command us to love God, love the neighbor, and obey God’s commandments if we wish to be saved.

The Apostle Paul clearly stated what non-Christians must do to be saved, before he made his famous statements about being saved by faith in Jesus Christ:

God will repay everyone according to what they have done. To those who by patiently doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Gentile; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:6–11)

He then goes on to talk about related issues of law and conscience, concluding that all of this will take place “through Jesus Christ” (Romans 2:16).

Paul’s later statements in the same letter about the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ are intended for Christians. His letters are addressed to the groups of Christian believers in various towns and cities. And of course, if you say you’re a Christian but you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, you’re in trouble, because you are rejecting your God.

Is God prejudiced?

It all boils down to this: Is God narrow-minded or broad-minded? Does God provide salvation only for one part of the world’s people who believe the “right” way? Or does God provide salvation for all of the world’s people?

Both the Bible and common sense say that God will accept into heaven those who live good lives according to their own conscience and their own religious laws, while those who selfishly reject the truth and live evil and destructive lives will suffer the consequences.

For Christians, this means believing in Jesus Christ and living according to his teachings in the Gospels. For Jews it means believing in God and living according to the Torah. For Muslims it means believing in Allah and living according to the Qur’an. Those who believe in God, and live a good life according to their beliefs, are showing their faith in God by their actions. And even those who say they don’t believe in God but live a good life according to their conscience are following God’s law.

Jesus taught that action trumps words in this brief tale:

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered. (Matthew 21:28–31)

And even more directly:

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

In short, salvation is based, not on mere words, but on action. And those who do the will of God by living good lives according to their beliefs and their conscience are showing their faith in God, whether they call it faith or not.

Then why do we need Jesus Christ?

If people of all religions can be saved, why do we need Jesus Christ? Good question! In fact, it’s such a good question that it needs its own article. See “Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?” But for now, consider this: If Jesus Christ really is God as Christians say he is, doesn’t that mean he is God for all people, and not just for those who call themselves Christians?

It doesn’t matter what name we call God (as long as it’s nice!). No matter what name we use, it is the same God we’re calling on. There’s only one of ’em, you know!

And no matter how many different ways we may hear God’s voice, it is the same message being given through all the religions of the earth: Love God and love your fellow human beings. Live by the truth, live with compassion. Do not do what is evil and say what is false, but follow God’s commandments and engage in good deeds of useful service for others.

All who do these things, no matter what their religion, are part of the spiritual community that is God’s universal church on earth, and will be part of God’s heaven when they pass into the spiritual world.

This article is © 2012 by Lee Woofenden

For further reading:

About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in All About God
365 comments on “If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?
  1. elysiumbliss says:

    Hi Lee, thanks a lot for the great article and all the comments you replied. I always believe God is in many forms as different people has different thinking and cultures. God always pass the message with His/Her own way, subtle but effective. However, it’s always the human that are touched by His/Her kindness glorify God in different way such as statue (like in Buddhist and Hindu) or Books (Bible for Christian and Catholic and Quran for Muslim). And then there are people who have hidden agenda/motives in interpreting them. Hence, all different religion exist.

    • Lee says:

      Hi, elysiumbliss,

      You’re very welcome! And thanks for your thoughtful comment as well.

      • Sarah says:

        Hi, I just wanted to thank you for this thoughtful, logical reflection. I was beginning to think I was alone in my belief that God is bigger than any one religion. I was so frustrated with the pettiness of those around me, arguing about something they could never fully conceive, I had just about given up on faith altogether. So thank you.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Sarah,

          Thanks for stopping by. You are most welcome. I’m glad this article has given you some strength and support. And yes, there are many others who share your view and mine that God is present in all the religions of the world, and is present with all people who sincerely devote themselves to a good and spiritual life as they understand it.

      • Daniel says:

        Hi Lee, im so glad I found this Article. I am a person that tends to think to much and to try to get to the bottom of things. This article is so clear to me and it helps a lot to explane God and the verity of Religions. Sorry for my spelling and God bless you and your Family 🙂

        • Lee says:

          Hi Daniel,

          Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words. I’m glad this article is helpful to you in clarifying your thoughts. Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

    • John T W says:

      Do you think cavemen is real? From hundreds and thousands of fossils (thought to be from cavemen), can you provide your thought on cavemen?

      The first human was found from history about few millions years ago. So if it is true, these humans definitely has no knowledge of communication, how do these early humans believe in religions?

      • Lee says:

        Hi John,

        Thanks for stopping by. It’s a great question.

        Biblical literalists generally reject the fossil evidence because it contradicts their belief in a literal six-day creation. However, once we realize that those early stories in Genesis were never meant to be taken literally, but rather speak in symbolic and metaphorical terms of the early spiritual development of humanity, and of each of us as individuals, the need to reject the discoveries of science fades away.

        Accordingly, I have no problem accepting the discoveries and conclusions of the scientific community about the physical and evolutionary origins of humanity. I also recognize that the scientific community itself is continually revising and refining its theories, so I don’t necessarily take the current reigning theory as absolute truth. Rather, it is our current best educated guess and approximation of what took place on our earth millions of years ago. As we do more research and gain more knowledge and understanding, we can improve our theories and get a better picture of what took place.

        Having said all that, yes, I believe that we humans developed into our current state based on millions of years of evolution, that our species, homo sapiens came onto the scene some 200,000 years ago, as the scientific community now believes, and that we developed to our current state within the last 10,000 to 50,000 years. The roughly 6,000 year timeline of the Bible likely reflects the emergence of human civilization, especially the development of agriculture and the resulting ability to settle into permanent settlements, and later cities, rather than being largely nomadic.

        The Creation stories in Genesis are, I believe, not about the physical creation of human beings, but rather about our initial “creation” as spiritual beings. Presumably the earliest hominids were simply rather advanced animals, with no more conception of God and spirit than exists in the rest of the animal kingdom—which is none at all. However, at some point along the way, homo sapiens began to develop an awareness of spiritual things, and of the presence and reality of God. Anthropologists, as I understand it, tend to judge this by when they begin seeing evidence of funeral rites and burials rather than simply leaving their dead to be eaten, and to decompose, as happens generally among the lower animals.

        I don’t know enough about anthropology to be able to say anything particularly educated about exactly when in the history of our species we began to be spiritually aware. But I believe that is the story being told in the Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 Creation stories. And from the little I do know of anthropology, I believe this probably did happen during “caveman” times.

        About communication, it is good to recognize that verbal communication through symbolic spoken languages, though highly useful and necessary for civilized society, is not the only kind of communications. Lower animals have many sophisticated and highly precise means of communication that involve sight, sound, smell, and so on. Presumably the early humans had similar forms of non-verbal communication before spoken languages were developed. So the development of spiritual awareness did not necessarily have to wait until spoken languages were developed.

        These are a few of my thoughts on the subject. Feel free to continue the conversation if you so desire.

  2. Tony says:

    Hi lee
    you said this “Ideally, they will see the light here on earth rather than in the afterlife” does that mean for those that die they can still see the “light” so to speak even if they didn’t turn to god in their earthly life cos it would be nice to hear that you can do that and avoid going to hell 🙂

    • Lee says:

      Hi Tony,

      Though I was a little unclear about it, in that sentence I was referring to people who are well-intentioned but have faulty beliefs that lead them to do things that aren’t good, even if they don’t intend to do bad things.

      The idea I wanted to convey was that it would be better if these people learned the real truth while they were still here on earth, so that they didn’t continue to be the proverbial bull in a china shop, causing destruction all around them without particularly intending to do so.

      Once again, nobody goes to hell who doesn’t want to be there. Whether or not we believe in God, how we live based on our beliefs and intentions will determine whether we end out in heaven or hell. The life we choose here through our motives and our actions is the life we will continue to live in the spiritual world after we die.

  3. John says:

    Great topic for thought and discussion.
    From my personal experience, growing up in a christian family, and now in my late 40’s I was never able to build that faith that others had because of the topics and questions you have covered in your article. As you have mentioned, religions are man made. An organization with different systems of hierarchy and rules that some person created. I see that god exists because all humans in the world past and present all need a sense of guidance, help, to gain faith and hope, and etc. We humans are very limited in what we can do and control while living in this world, and there are ongoing situations good and bad that we all go through in life, where we can do so much to help ourselves. Our worldly powers are limited. That is when we ask, talk, and pray to a god because there is nothing in this world that can help you. As people in the past from different times and places who prayed to god for help because that was the only option left. People prayed for rain. When rain came, people thanked god. I truly believe that is literally love, kindness, compassion, patience, and all other universally accepted human features. God is everywhere in this world because it is inside each one of us. Lets face it. Do we really know what god is or what it looks like? People may have an idea because of what they read and learned. But, this is not important. It’s in our hearts and our minds. Books, teachings, and history may seem credible, but there are many different versions, opinions, and interpretations, which are by some persons. You can have a person living in the world that no one knows about, without any religion what so ever, that live a life with full of god like features that I have mentioned. If god is really in us, and we truly understand what god really means, this world would have eliminated almost all of the destruction that man has created. This whole world and our entire universe. Who can explain it? It’s well beyond human understanding. This is the kind of reason why a word like god was created by humans. Only in our hearts and minds. Do we really know what happens to us when we die in this world? Obviously different people and religions have their own beliefs, but the bottom line is, no one knows. You want to live the right way. Simply put it, Do the right thing. Not because you are expecting to be rewarded, but because you want to.
    I would have liked to add a little more, but it’s time for bed.

    • Lee says:

      Hi John,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your long and thoughtful comment. Of course, I believe that God actually does exist, and that’s why we have an idea of God–even if different people have different ideas about God.

      I do like your concluding thought, about living the right way not for a reward, but because you want to. I think that if God had a choice between a person believing in God but not living the right way, or not believing in God and living the right way just because that’s the right way to live and that’s what the person wants to do, God would choose to have the person not believe in God and live the right way.

      After all, it’s not what we believe, but how we live in relation to our fellow human beings that really matters.

  4. Osia says:

    “Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.” 2:62
    I believe it’s not the scriptures that set us all apart, rather, its the human nature’s persistence that only he/she is on the path of righteousness and no one else. Its a combination of egotism combined with a sprinkle of ignorance that divides us all. The formula is simple though, ignorance and tolerance are indirectly proportional; as ignorance decreases, tolerance rises and vice versa. To sum it up, a perfect saying from an examplary personality: “Every individual is either your brother in Faith, or your brother in Humanity.” -Ali ibn abi Talib

    • Lee says:

      Hi Osia,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I agree that ignorance is a major factor dividing us, and yes, some egotism, also.

      I would add, though, that some people seem to need to think that only their way is correct in order to keep themselves on some path toward God instead of becoming scattered in all different directions, and thus ineffectual in their spiritual walk. So as much as I disagree with their rather narrow views of religion and truth, I also recognize that for them, it may be necessary to believe such things.

      Of course, if they start persecuting those who don’t share their beliefs, that’s where I would draw the line and say that such behavior is invalid and not to be allowed in civil or spiritual society.

      Back to the positive, I enjoyed the quotes you provided. In all religious traditions, there are those who hold a broad view of God, salvation, and the worldwide community of faith.

  5. Abhishek B Divatar says:

    I know Iam vry young to understand all the topics published here but whatever I understood I understood it vry nicely.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Abhishek,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’m glad the articles here are adding to your understanding.

  6. Sophist Hater says:

    Saying that Christianity being true doesn’t make other religions false is like saying Creationism and Evolution are both true, or that Geocentricism and Acentricism are both true or that left is right and up is down. What sort of sophistry is involved in trying to reconcile mutually exclusive truth claims? You wouldn’t accept two opposing views as true in any scientific belief because only at most one can be true. When we talk about religion why do we resort to being irrational?

    If Chriistianity is true it means that humanity was lost in darkness so God came to show the way. To say that God didn’t come to save us from spiritual darkness, idolatry, and pagan superstition is to deny a core teaching of Christianity. God is not wicked for establishing a true religion. It just means that people remain lost in darkness, mostly because sin is addictive but also because they would have to admit that their ancestors were wrong. And those who do convert tend to become martyrs so some form or another.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sophist Hater,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      Usually I delete comments whose sole purpose seems to be to tell me that I’m wrong. See our comments policy. However, embedded in your comment is a legitimate question, which I’ll endeavor to answer.

      You ask, “What sort of sophistry is involved in trying to reconcile mutually exclusive truth claims?”

      Laying aside the charged “sophistry” language, let’s look at this question.

      Certainly, some truth claims of the various religions are mutually exclusive. For example, Christians say that Jesus was the Messiah, whereas Jews say that he was not. Those are mutually exclusive truth claims. I happen to believe that Christians are right about this particular truth claim, and Jews are wrong. In short, where there are mutually exclusive truth claims, I don’t attempt to reconcile them. I stick with what I believe to be true. Having said that, quite often looking deeper into the reasons people believe mutually exclusive things can lead to a better understanding of the entire subject.

      However, the above article is not about reconciling mutually exclusive truth claims. It’s about seeing and understanding that even if various religious get various things wrong, every legitimate religion has sufficient basic truth to enable its faithful to believe in God and live a good life according to the teachings of their religion.

      From a Christian perspective, Judaism may be mistaken in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. However, Judaism does believe in one God, and believe that God has given various moral teachings that must be followed in a person’s life. And a conscientious Jew who believes in God and lives a life of love and service toward his or her fellow human beings because that’s what God commands is, I believe, on the way to heaven, not on the way to hell.

      I realize many Christians believe that salvation is possible only through Jesus Christ. And the thing is, I believe that too! But I also believe that the way the vast bulk of Christians have historically understood it is false and non-Biblical. However, that’s too big a topic to cover here. Instead, I’ll refer you to my article, “Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?

      I hope this helps.

  7. jleetang says:

    Hi, i’m Catholic Christian. and if i’am giving a chance for a second religion if would be islam or being a muslim. what do you think about islam?

    • Lee says:

      Hi jleetang,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your question.

      Islam, like the other major religions, has its good side and its bad side. On its good side, it is a very good religion: a religion of peace, morality, belief in one God, and service toward one’s fellow human beings regardless of their religion or race. On its bad side it is a religion of war, evil actions, and destruction to all who don’t belong to one’s own narrow sect of Islam.

      If you’re seriously considering Islam, I would suggest steering clear of its violent fundamentalist wing. Nothing comes of that end of Islam but pain and death. If Catholicism isn’t working for you, and Islam is attractive to you, I would suggest finding a moderate, peace-loving Muslim Imam in your area and having a conversation about the true meaning of Islam in its best form. If the Imam starts talking about jihad and fighting against Christians or Jews or anything like that, stop listening, go away, and find a truly peace-loving Imam who is not a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

      Of course, I’m a Christian, so I don’t particularly recommend that you switch to Islam. But if that religion is calling out to you, just don’t get sucked into the violent, intolerant, backwards-looking end of Islam that is getting so much press these days. That will only tear down your spirit, and turn you into a person who is intolerant and hates those who aren’t like you. I hope that is not what you want to be.

      Islam is a much better religion than that.

      I do also recommend that you look into some of the articles on this website. Perhaps if Catholicism isn’t working for you, you’ll find a form of Christianity here that does work for you.

  8. Lee says:

    To a reader named Chris who recently commented here:

    I have not approved your comment because I will not subject my readers to yet another non-Biblical treatise on how we are saved only by faith in Jesus, and everyone else goes to hell.

    That is utterly false, as you will discover when you stand before the throne of God after you die. Please see James 2:24 for your answer on that one. It is the only place in the entire Bible where faith alone is mentioned, and it is specifically rejected as saving.

    Your beliefs do not come from the Bible. They come from Martin Luther. Martin Luther invented the doctrine of salvation by faith alone because he he didn’t pay attention to everything the Bible says about salvation, and he read into the Bible things that simply aren’t there.

    • The Bible never says that we are saved by faith alone.
    • The Bible never says that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.
    • The Bible never says that all non-Christians will go to hell.

    You are very much mistaken because you are ignoring most of the Bible’s teachings about salvation, and misunderstanding those few Bible passages that you do pay attention to.

    If you want to know what Jesus himself teaches us about who will go to eternal life and who will go to eternal punishment when the nations are gathered before the throne of God, please see Matthew 25:31-46.

    If you trust in your head-faith for salvation, but do not love and serve your fellow human beings, you will have a very rude awakening when you stand before God’s throne. You cannot disobey Jesus’ commandments to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40), and expect that God will save you merely because you profess some theoretical “faith” in Jesus that is not matched by your actions.

    For more on what the Bible does and doesn’t teach about salvation, please see these articles:

    1. “Christian Beliefs” that the Bible Doesn’t Teach
    2. Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does
    3. Faith Alone Is Not Faith
    4. Did Jesus Really Die to Pay the Penalty for our Sins?!?
    5. Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?
    6. The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus
    7. Christian Beliefs that the Bible Does Teach
  9. Lee says:

    To Donna Newby:

    Of course I am going to delete your comment. It is full of unfounded attacks and accusations. You know nothing about my relationship with Jesus Christ. And you are asserting many teachings that simply aren’t in the Bible—teachings that the Bible specifically rejects. Your comment breathes out slander against the disciples of the Lord. That is not the way of Christ. I hope and pray that you will examine the heart from which your attacks flow, and reconsider your path.

    Usually I simply delete comments from fundamentalist Christians attacking the Biblical truth taught at this website. Their eyes are blinded by false human doctrines. There is no use attempting a conversation with them. They have abandoned the commandments of God, and hold to human traditions instead (Mark 7:8).

    Jesus is crystal clear in his teaching about salvation. Those of all nations who love and serve their neighbor will go to eternal life, while those who do not will go to eternal punishment. Read Matthew 25:31-46. This is the plain teaching of Jesus Christ in the Bible.

    You have rejected the Lord’s own teachings about salvation, and substituted doctrines invented by the Roman emperor Constantine’s council, Anselm, Luther, and Calvin. These are the human traditions that you have substituted for the Word of God and for the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Bible.

    Contrary to my usual practice, I took a chance and responded to your earlier comments that brought up questions about the Bible and the salvation brought about by Jesus Christ. In each case, I pointed out that the things you are claiming are not actually taught in the Bible.

    As I said to Chris just above:

    • The Bible never says that we are saved by faith alone.
    • The Bible never says that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.
    • The Bible never says that all non-Christians will go to hell.

    None of these beliefs are in the Bible, and none of them come from the Bible.

    Instead of examining the Bible for yourself, and seeing that these doctrines are not there, and that the Bible specifically rejects them, you began attacking me and making all kinds of false accusations against me. But it is you who are following human beings such as Luther and Calvin, and rejecting the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Bible.

    Unfortunately, like most fundamentalist Christians, you don’t realize that you are deceived by false, anti-Biblical doctrines because you have never studied the origins of your own beliefs. You don’t even realize that the things that you think are taught in the Bible were actually invented by various human beings hundreds or even thousands of years after the Bible was written. You cannot read or see what the Bible actually says because you are deceived and blinded by false human doctrines. You simply do not see the Bible’s overwhelming rejection of those false doctrines.

    I pray that one day your eyes will be opened, that the scales of false human doctrine will fall away from your eyes, and that you will at last be able to read and see the true teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the Bible. I pray that God will open your heart to see the true love and grace of God, which extends to every single human being that God has created.

    If you want to know the genuine Biblical truth about the salvation brought about by Jesus Christ, please read these articles:

    Once again, I pray that God will touch your heart and open your eyes to see the greatness of God’s love, and the truth of the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Bible.

  10. Donna Newby says:

    Lee you say (August 3, 2015 at 2:04 pm),

    You say that “what sets a person a pat as one of his disciples (Christian) was not about belief at all.”

    But the Bible says (emphasis added) that “…if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and BELIEVE in your heart that God raise him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) and “For it is with your heart that your heart that you BELIEVE and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:10)

    And you say instead that “Jesus teaches us that anyone who has love for one another is among his disciples. That, according to Jesus Christ himself, is how we can know that someone is a follower of Jesus. give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35, italics added).”

    But people are capable of loving to some extent without knowing God and being one of His disciples. Is there anyone in the world who is incapable of showing any love at all…no…therefore, by your explanation, it means everyone is Jesus’ disciple. However, a disciple of Jesus is a follower of Him. How can someone follow Him if they do not know Him. And why would they follow Him, if they do not even recognise Him as God.

    Jesus says, “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” (John 14:24). And Jesus says, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” (John 14:21). ”Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me he will be much teaching.”” (John 14:23)

    Disciples need to be discipled, and how can people be discipled , and do the right things, if they cannot hear his voice.

    Also Jesus says that those who are His disciples bear much fruit. “This is to my Fathers glory, you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”. (John 15:8)

    So those who are not Jesus’ disciples cannot bear fruit. People need his Holy Spirit to bear fruit. And only Christian have his Holy Spirit, and are therefore there only ones who could bear fruit that Jesus is referring to.

    Everyone cannot be Jesus’ disciples just because of their capacity to love, as Jesus also says, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hate you.” (John 15:18-19)

    If everyone was on the same side, that is jesus’ disciple, then how could the above possibly make any sense. The natural earth / soil, trees, rivers, cannot not hate or love anyone, so the words ‘the world’ above must be talking about other humans who are different, who are not he same as His disciples.

    As no-one in the world is incapable of loving, and we all get it wrong sometimes, that puts us all in the same boat, that is, our love tends to vary depending upon the circumstances around us, and usually who we are speaking to, or what we are having to deal with…so,wine generally doesn’t love the one who just stole her boyfriend, for example.

    The Bible speaks of certain people who cannot hear and understand God’s voice. Jesus was telling the Jews in the Bible “Why is my language not clear to you?. …” (John 8:43), and Jesus continues in the verses that following directly after by saying: “… Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil and you want to carry out your father’s desires. (John 8:43-44).

    Here, Jesus is clearly saying some belong to the devil and not God, and that is why they are unable to hear / understand.

    And in verse 47, Jesus says, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God. “.

    Jesus makes it clear that some people do not belong to God.

    And in verse 31, Jesus makes it even clearly who are His disciples, and He says, “if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

    Jesus disciples belong to Him, and those who are not His disciples do not belong to Him.

    In Romans 8:9, Paul is talking to those in Rome, and he says, “… if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

    God bless you,
    Love,
    Donna xxx

    • Lee says:

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks for your comment.

      That wasn’t my idea. I was quoting the Bible, where Jesus himself said:

      By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)

      Your whole comment seems to be arguing that Jesus was wrong, and that everyone does not know that we are his disciples if we love one another.

      Quite frankly, if I have a choice between thinking that Jesus is wrong and thinking that you are wrong, I’m going to go with you being wrong. 😉

      When Jesus says that everyone will know we are his disciples if we have love for one another, I believe him.

      Of course there are people who do not have love for one another. There are people who hate one another, and who show that hatred by lying, stealing, committing adultery, and doing all kinds of other evil deeds to hurt and destroy their neighbor. These people are not Jesus’ disciples, even if they claim to be his disciples and claim to believe in Jesus.

      Notice that Romans 10:9-10 says that we must believe in our heart. Not merely in our head, but in our heart. And when we believe in our heart, it transforms us from the inside out. Saying it with our lips is an expression of that belief in our heart. And if saying it with the lips is not an expression of belief in our heart, then it does not save us.

      Further, if we believe in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, then we will live as if we believe it. And that means listening to Jesus’ teachings and living according to them.

      Jesus himself said that the most important commandments in the entire Bible are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). If we disregard and disobey Jesus’ commandments, then we neither believe in him nor love him.

      But everyone who does obey Jesus’ commands by loving God and loving their neighbor, even if they don’t realize that he was the one who gave those commands, is a disciple of Jesus—whether or not they realize it. That is what Jesus teaches us in John 13:35.

      It is also what he teaches us in Matthew 25:31-46. There Jesus tells us who loves God and who does not, and who is saved and who is not. And it has to do with what we do, not just with what we believe in our heads. What we truly believe is shown by what we do.

      Fortunately for several billion people here on earth, God’s plan for salvation is much broader than yours. You would condemn most of the world’s population to eternal death. God, in the Bible, says that all who show their love for him by loving their neighbor will be given eternal life.

  11. kamaal says:

    Dear Lee,
    I have meticulously explored most of your posts and found them rotating around the truth orbit. Excellent mental effort ! What I genuinely sensed in your writing is your keen interest to put your hands on the light of the truth which in turn will raise your spiritual comfort level. However, as a Muslim , who has spent quite long years studying the holy book – the Quraan syntactically & semantically in a genuine search for the truth light, I could confidently say that the problem lies in how people interpret what they read in holy books which might be worlds away from the intended meaning. The ultimate result is irresponsible ingominious actions based on intentional and unintentional misinterpretations. This creates an air of skepticism concerning the validity and credibility of the HOLY BOOKS. I therefore would suggest that people should have the courtesy of refraining from passing immature judgements.
    On the other hand, I guess I got a sunnier viewpoint regarding generational curses; in Quraan it is clearly stated that no one will ever bear the consequences of someone else’s actions as God is the creator of all justice. Thus children are not condemned to live out the misery of their parents’ evil actions. And the tribulations children may experience during their childhood are attributed solely to God’s supreme wisdom which is out of people’s limited comprehension abilities.
    In regard to the possibility of seeing God in the afterlife, it is implicitly stated in Quran that believers will see God but with no mention to the how.
    Finally, I wish I could share with any human being my knowledge of Quraan in the hope that we will settle our disputes some day !

    • Lee says:

      Hi kamaal,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words and thoughtful comment.

      I clearly have nowhere near the knowledge of the Quran that you do, though I have had pleasant associations with a Muslim Imam years ago when I was a pastor, and I very much enjoyed his peaceful and spiritual perspective on Islam and the Quran. He confirmed for me that there is a deeper and more profound way to read the Quran and to understand the religion of Islam than is engaged in by the radical sects that make it into the international news. I do hope that your deeper views of the Quran will spread greatly in future years so that there can be peace among the brothers and sisters of our various religions. Perhaps you could start a blog of your own, and share some of the insights you have gained?

  12. […] I did a Google search on “do all religions see the same truth” and found a few awesome links. Here’s one: https://leewoof.org/2012/11/05/if-theres-one-god-why-all-the-different-religions/ […]

  13. GodIsOne says:

    Hello Lee,

    This is a great article. I have to say I have not find any Christian yet, who accepts that religion is created by Human. All those scriptures, sacred books are still written by Humans who thought what God have told them but may have interpreted it as something else. And these days religion became just a joke. People use it whenever and wherever that gives them an edge superior than others.

    One example I give to people is, when you go to a restaurant and order a plate of food, your focus will be on chewing that yummy delicious food down your throat but not where all the ingredients came from. It could be from different countries, which possibly means different religions and most likely atheists too. You are not separating those ingredients because it came from a person who practiced different faith instead you accepted it as a whole meal that satisfy you. You thank God for the food but the other people in the corner possibly also thank God that they are able to sell their ingredients and feed their families. In the end, there is just one God but people often have no tolerance with other religions. There is no such thing as find God in this place or that place. If God created each one of us, then there is God in everyone of us. Just because you are Christian/Hindu/Muslim/Sikh/Buddhist/other doesn’t mean your blood is different from one another. We all breath and I guess do you know how earth got its Oxygen. Certainly it is not created by your GOD per se, because it existed before people realized there is someone called “GOD”.

    I guess we are thinking in the same lines, I hope one day the world will awake and see things differently.

    • Lee says:

      Hi GodIsOne,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I do hope one day the idea that there is one God for all people will be the common belief throughout the earth.

  14. Mariam says:

    Hiii lee 🙂
    Although I’m a muslim. I really loved your article and enjoyed all the questions. I really wish the world has more ppl like you. There’s just a lot of hate n violence because of a certain, religion, gender or race which is quite shameful after all this rising education and technology.
    Ppl still find it very hard to accept eachother and embrace their differences. I’m a muslim but u’ve nvr believed that just muslims will go to heaven just because first, it doesn’t make any sense and second because there are verses that says that and other verses that says everyone who believes in god n the judgement day n does good will nvr be afraid and will nvr be sad. Other verses that they will go to heaven. So there is a deeper n a wider meaning to everything. We just humans tend to interpret and understand what we want n disregard the rest not because we r bad or we don’t mean well. I guess it’s just because we r human. Thanks n sorry for the long post 🙂
    peace

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mariam,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I very much agree. And it is good to hear from people of other religions besides my own who think along the same lines. God is the same everywhere, but we humans see God differently. That’s all part of the variety and diversity that makes human life interesting! Each of us has our place in the whole, and God is what holds us all together, as much as we’re willing.

  15. Rohan kumar says:

    i won’t believe in gods because i have never seen him

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rohan kumar,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      Of course, you’re free not to believe in God or gods. But if you don’t believe anything you’ve never seen, there are going to be an awful lot of things that do definitely exist that you won’t believe in.

  16. Derelict says:

    Usually when people make this claim, somebody else points out that Jesus himself argued against this sort of thing, by referring to John 14:6: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me.”

    How would you address this claim? That verse in particular seems to be the one everyone trots out.

  17. N .W.Hawes says:

    Amen Lee I couldn’t agree with your more.
    However I feel we need to remember that Jesus said-‘The tree is known by its fruit’ When Isis sate that the angels are telling them to kill innocent people for God . Then it cannot be God telling them. Quite the opposite, it must be pure evil- probably demons of sorts who wish to create chaos. However referring to an earlier argument you made. Im sorry I really just have to say something. From my perspective has anyone ever posed the question- what is truth? I know Pontius Pilate did. Jesus replied He held witness to the truth.But I think Pilate had a point there. Let me explain. I am a Christian I believe in the lord Jesus Christ-he is my saviour. He is the only way for me. But BIG BUT!! I don’t believe he is is the only way to God. I know you will quote me John 5V: I am the way the truth….and the only way to God is through me. But like you said before this message is for all Christians who belief that Christ is there saviour. This is not the same for Hindus , Muslims, other faiths. God s love is so amazingly fantastic that he reaches to us where we are in our belief system. Our own faith.
    N.W.Hawes

    • Lee says:

      Hi N.W.,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughtful comment.

      I do agree that what ISIS is doing is not from God, but from evil. Even most Muslims agree.

      Unfortunately, much of the Middle East has been plunged into war, and that is not entirely the fault of the people of the Middle East. Western powers have been intervening militarily in that region for over a century now, and that has helped to create a climate of violence and instability in which evil has a field day. So although ISIS is certainly largely inspired by evil, it is an evil that stretches far beyond the boundaries of ISIS or even of the Middle East.

      As long as the West refuses to engage in its own serious introspection, and recognition of its own complicity in the various wars and disasters unfolding in the Middle East, it will only contribute to the evil that spawns such horrible travesties of religion as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the rest.

      This is not to condone what ISIS is doing. It is indeed a horrible travesty of religion. But to understand why ISIS exists and is so attractive to so many lost and confused Muslims, it is necessary to look at the wider, worldwide context that led to its existence.

      And of course, as you say, there is also the spiritual context. Evil, as personified in the Devil, loves to create chaos and carnage here on earth, and looks for every opening and opportunity to do so. Those openings are primarily in the human heart. When human hearts are more interested in wealth and power than in love and kindness, the Devil (which is really a synonym for hell) rushes in, and leads those humans to create all sorts of carnage, pain, and sorrow.

      (For more on the Devil, see my article, Is there Really a Devil? Why??)

    • Lee says:

      Hi N.W.,

      About whether and how Jesus is the only way to heaven, please see my article, Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?

      Short version: Yes, Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. But that way is open not only to those who intellectually accept Jesus Christ as their savior, but to all people, of all religions, who live in the way Jesus Christ taught: with love to God and love to the neighbor.

      In other words, Jesus Christ made salvation possible for all people, not only for Christians. For how he did this, please see the article, Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?

  18. Joshua Darlison says:

    Hey Lee
    Love this article, has helped me a great deal in my understanding and acceptance of other religious views but i do have one question regarding this mater, If every religion is “right” as so to say and it was us humans that took different interpretations of God leading to these various religions, why do different religions have different religious experiences? such as a Christian would really only experience Jesus, Mary etc but a Islamic believer would experience Muhammad etc

    • Lee says:

      Hi Joshua,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad the article has helped you!

      In answer to your question, God reaches out to every individual and every culture in ways that that individual or culture can understand and appreciate. So if a particular person or culture has a revered figure that it looks to for spiritual guidance, God will reach out to that person or culture through that revered figure.

      Of course, this is based on the idea that God actually does speak through many religious teachers and leaders in many different cultures. A narrow view, taken by fundamentalists in many different religions, is that the religious figures of other religions were sent by the Devil, not by God, and that they are false prophets. But a broader view is that the various spiritual leaders and teachers of different cultures are all sent by God to teach the people of those cultures in a way they can understand and appreciate, and that is most appropriate to their way of thinking and the customs and mores of their culture.

      This is not to say that there aren’t actual false prophets. There are many quasi-religious leaders who have led their people to horrible actions, and to death and destruction. And if we look at the worst parts of the various world religions, we could accuse all the spiritual leaders of the great religions of being false prophets.

      However, there is a common core to the teachings of the many great religions, and that core is generally to believe in God, or at least some power higher than oneself, and to show love and kindness to our fellow human beings. Good people of all religions receive this message from their religion, and live good, heaven-bound lives based on it.

      And back to your question, because they have received these teachings from God through the great figures of their own religion, when they have religious experiences God comes to them in the form of those figures that they already respect and love. This helps God to more effectively reach the people of various religions and cultures.

      For an article that goes into some detail about how God adapts the message to the culture receiving the message, specifically with regard to the Bible and the ancient Israelites, please see: How God Speaks in the Bible to Us Boneheads.

  19. N .W.Hawes says:

    Hi Lee,
    I’m back again. Thank you for replying to my piece . I am really impressed with your view on Christianity. You are doing well . And I think you are very close to the original teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. What I find so refreshing is you are are re interpreting the vision of what the Bible originally set out to do. Let me explain what I mean.If we accept that the Bible is the word of God: and I do! We need to understand , or at least try to understand the difficult task ahead of him. He gave us a free will and in doing that the opportunity to close the door on him. In order to keep us close to the initial focus of what God is really about he gave us scripture. He gave us words to to help us understand how to keep the faith -how to get back to him. BUT and this is a big but- as we know people interpret the Bible differently. Each person may read the same passage and read different things into it. I even think God knew that would happen. Whats happened is like you say so many times groups of people have taken one aspect and grouped together and sated that the Bible says this , the Bible states that.
    The point Im trying to get here is that the Bible is a living, breathing divine instruction for all to us. Its written in a way to give each and every person a message that appeals specifically to them. So what might be right for one person may not be necessarily right for another. Gods message is everywhere for all people-its just up to us to read it and through prayer and meditation to listen to what Gods plan is for us.
    Now with all this you probably agree But cant you just take this a little further. For me Jesus Christ is all I need-he is enough BUT that is me. What about that 8 year old Muslim boy living in Marrakesh. I do not believe the only way for him to find a union back with God is through Jesus Christ. Look at Matthew 25 V:31-46 (You Know this Lee)-You are so limiting God if you feel that the whole story is just about Jesus. He may be just right for me and \You but God who is perfect allowed other religions , allowed other ideas to become holy, sacrosanct. I do not believe its about trying to put the whole ethical Christian moralistic philosophy solely through the focus of Jesus Christ.
    There I’ve said it. Believe you me my faith is incredibly strong but there is a whole spiritual universe out there , living and breathing and we need to listen to it too.
    Nick.
    N. W.Hawes

    • Lee says:

      Hi Nick,

      Thanks for another thoughtful comment. I do think that you and I have a similar perspective on many things related to the Bible and Jesus Christ.

      Before responding in any detail to your final thoughts and challenges, did you read the two articles I linked to in my most recent reply to you? I don’t believe that an eight-year-old Muslim boy living in Marrakesh must believe in Jesus to be saved, nor that he must focus on Jesus Christ. If he follows his own religion faithfully, and believes in God as his religion teaches him to believe, then he is bound for heaven just as much as any faithful Christian.

      • N .W.Hawes says:

        Thank you Lee
        for replying to my article. I did read your articles in great depth and Like I said before you are really spot on in my opinion about Jesus Christ and Christianity as we understand it today. I would like to say a deep thank you for what you are doing. You are very c;lose to the actual teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and I really hope there are are more people like you around doing what you are doing. Of course the real conundrum comes with John 5: I am the way, the truth and the life…the only way to the father is through me. For years I have struggled with this one- because it seems to be saying you can only meet God through going through Jesus Christ. Not only is this a contradiction of Matthew 25V31-46 but also it seems to be denying any other ways to Christ other than the Christian one.
        I do have a view on this in that God is pure Love and like his father his Son is also pure love -so if you show full love and compassion to your fellow man, then you will be doing Gods will. Just like the commandment ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’. Jesus himeself said that and love god thy God with thy strength all thy Heart and mind are the two greatest commandments. If you get those right -you cant really go wrong.
        Lee Can you tell me what you think John V5 is really about. I would appreciate your answer.
        Thank you. God Bless.
        Nick.
        N. W. Hawes

        • Lee says:

          Hi Nick,

          I presume you’re talking about John 14:6:

          Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

          I gave my perspective on that verse in the section titled, “Jesus the way to the Father” in the article, Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?

          I would add that in my view, much of the confusion about this verse comes from the erroneous idea among the vast bulk of Christians that Jesus Christ is somehow a separate being from God the Father. That’s simply not true.

          Jesus Christ is the human presence of God the Father.

          For starters, anyone who pictures and prays to God in human form is relating to the human presence of God, even if he or she doesn’t attach the name Jesus Christ to it. And even those who don’t think of God in human form, but pray to God or have some sort of relationship with God are really interacting with that human presence of God, even if they don’t think of it as human.

          So when Jesus says that the only way to the Father is through him, what he means is that we cannot approach the infinite divine nature of God directly. We need to do it through some sort of embodied presence in our mind by which we can picture and approach God. We can’t just pray to a force or a wisp of spirit. We need someone more substantial to pray to. And that more substantial, embodied, or pictured presence of God is the same thing as Jesus Christ, who is “God with us” (Matthew 1:22-23).

          John 14:6 doesn’t say that the only way to God is through belief in Jesus Christ. It says that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. Whether or not we believe that Jesus Christ is the presence of and pathway to God, the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ is the presence of God with us, through which we can approach and have a relationship with God.

          If it helps, instead of saying “Jesus Christ” just say “the Lord.” That is what Swedenborg does throughout his theological writings, probably because it has the broader meaning of God’s human presence that he wanted to convey. Here is what he said in Secrets of Heaven #14:

          From this point on, the term Lord is used in only one way: to refer to the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ; and the name “Lord” is used without any additions.

          He is acknowledged and revered as Lord throughout heaven because he possesses all power in heaven and on earth.

          He also commanded this when he said, “You address me as ‘Lord.’ You speak correctly, because so I am” (John 13:13). And his disciples called him Lord after the resurrection.

      • Özcan says:

        I wonder why God would want us to “believe” in Him when thousands of years of human experience has taught us that belief neve leads to people becoming more peaceful, more humble or more tolerant. I would argue that religions have achieved the exact opposite; more divisions, more intolerance and more violence. Ironically, all in the name of God. What would God lose if we didn’t believe in Him (I do believe in a Creator)? Does He need our belief? Is he weak or narcissistic? Does he need attention? Do you think God will burn all atheists in Hell, even if they are more righteous than millions of practicing Muslims, Christians, Jews and others?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Özcan,

          It is true that much of religion has had the effects that you describe. That, I believe, is because much of religion has become corrupted along with the corrupt materialism of the masses of people that follow those religions.

          However, for people who are not corrupt and materialistic, but who truly care about their fellow human beings, religion can and does also have a good influence. There are many people of all religions who have worked tirelessly for the betterment of humankind, and in service of their fellow human beings.

          Religion isn’t all bad. It becomes bad only when people with ulterior motives use it to gain power and wealth for themselves instead of for its true purpose, which is to get us to give all glory to God, and to humbly serve our fellow human beings, whoever they may be. Religion can be a powerful force for good. But in the wrong hands, unfortunately, it becomes a powerful force for evil.

          Meanwhile, here are two articles that address your questions:

          I hope these give you some things to think about as you clarify your thoughts about God, religion, and spiritual life.

  20. N .W.Hawes says:

    Thank you lee for answering me.
    Are you saying that in order to reach God we need to have to go through an intermediary.
    God in human Form. I can agree with you that God needed to come down and live with us as a human being in order to reach us. We were lost to him and so he needed to feel and breathe and ;live like us and suffer like us. But the only candidate qualified to do that seems to be Jesus Christ. Has God ever come down in any other form other than as Jesus. Mohammed was a prophet-just like Ezekiel or Jeremiah the Buddha was a wise sage but human. Zoroaster was human, Confucius, the guru Nanak were all great sages but they were never divine.
    The point is it seems to me that our little Muslim boy in Marrakesh, when he prays to Allah(God) is praying to an aspect of God that has no bearing on anything to do with Jesus Christ or Jesus as God in divine form. Muslims revere Jesus Christ as a Prophet not as the Son of God.
    Can you help me on this one Lee I’m a little bit confused
    Appreciate it. God Bless.
    Nick
    N. W. Hawes

    • Lee says:

      Hi Nick,

      According to Christian belief, Jesus Christ is the unique human incarnation of God. In Hindu belief, however, there are many “avatars,” or human incarnations of God, throughout history. Being a Christian, I believe that Jesus is the unique human incarnation of God.

      However, unlike most Christians, I don’t believe that Jesus is a separate person of God. Rather, I believe that Jesus was God come to earth, though with a human nature from Mary during his lifetime here on earth. By the time he rose from death and ascended to heaven, he was the same being as God, with nothing left of the limited human nature from Mary. As he had said, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30). So as I see it, Jesus Christ and God are one and the same. There is no separate “mediator,” but Jesus Christ is God’s own human presence with us, serving as his own “mediator.” As I mentioned in a previous comment, Swedenborg commonly used the title “the Lord” instead of “Jesus Christ,” which gives a greater sense of universality.

      So whether or not a particular person of a particular faith believes that Jesus Christ is God, there is no other God in existence. So anyone who prays to God is praying to the One God, whom I believe is the Lord God Jesus Christ.

      I realize this may seem a bit mind-bending. Once again, I recommend the article, Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit? It provides a fuller explanation of this view of Jesus Christ as the human presence of the one and only God of the universe.

      Whether or not we think of that human presence as Jesus Christ isn’t crucial. The important thing is that people of all religions have a relationship with God.

  21. Randy says:

    What are your thoughts on spiritual warfare?

  22. Pedro Fernandez says:

    GOD is just ONE, there are different Mesias or their alternatives since the diversity (even ateos and agnostics) is the best way for the Humanity.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Pedro,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughts. While I happen to believe that there is only one Messiah, I think I understand your meaning that God reaches out to different people, of different beliefs, in different ways. And I do agree with you on that, of course.

  23. Sam says:

    I am a Muslim, and I’d like to thank you for this article, and for your responses to all the comments above.
    My view on religion right now is exactly like yours, we are just using two different paths that lead to the same destination.
    I have read both the old and new testament, along with lots of religions history, and I am always surprised on how it is not clear to everyone that all (most of them anyway) religions are the same, we are looking at the same thing, but everyone sees it in his own eyes, based on his own culture, kind of like looking at the moon.
    I believe that the main reason that most of the religions got a bad name, is by using them politically, a manipulated religion is the best way to control the masses, where everyone must submit, and no one is allowed to question.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sam,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for sharing your good thoughts here.

      Yes, when religion becomes a tool for political control, it gets corrupted, and becomes a corrupting influence on human society. That’s what happens when wealth and power come first in human minds, and God and spirit are merely tools to achieve them. At that point, religion is not really religion at all. “Religious wars” are merely human grasping for wealth and power papered over with a veneer of (false) “religion.” Those who engage in them will have a hard lot when it comes their time stand before God.

      However, God is present in all genuine religion. I see you and all other sincere, thoughtful, and good people of all religions to be brothers and sisters in the universal kingdom of God.

  24. MyOwnGod says:

    I don’t believe in god, I believe I am my own god. I understand why believing in religion can make it easier for some people to live their life. I’m not saying he doesn’t exist, but you can’t know that he does exist, either. I just never understood, why you would let someone else depict your life, why you would let someone else tell you, what you must do to be happy. that there is only one way to be happy. I’d rather believe in being my own master, my own god. Make my own happiness. I’d rather believe, religion was invented to force the evil to be good. People who don’t know how to be good to your fellow people.

    • Lee says:

      Hi MyOwnGod,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughts. Of course, you’re free to believe whatever you want, especially about God. That’s part of what it means to be human.

      However, that doesn’t necessarily mean your beliefs actually correspond to reality. The physical universe, from what we can tell, operates by a set of laws that we didn’t decide, and we can’t change. So even if you believe you can jump out of a the 100th floor of a skyscraper and not get hurt, you’re still going to die if you do it. So it does help if your beliefs correspond to reality.

      If there is a God, then God presumably put not only those physical laws in place, but also a system of spiritual law that governs our spiritual reality and our eternal life. It’s not so much “letting someone else depict your life” as it is recognizing that there are laws in the universe, both physical and spiritual, that we didn’t set up, and that we can’t change.

      Having said that, I don’t believe God is arbitrary or sadistic, as many religious teachings seem to when analyzed by the average modern thinking person. I think that God set up a universe that is fair to us spiritually, even if it may not always be fair materially and socially in this world. For more on this, see: Can Gang Members Go to Heaven? (Is Life Fair?)

      I don’t think religion was “invented” to force people to be good, but to lead people to be good. Obviously it’s not effective in forcing everyone to be good because there are still many corrupt, selfish, and evil people in this world.

      And as far as believing in God and spirit, and knowing (or not) that God exists, please see my article: Where is the Proof of the Afterlife?

      Thanks again for stopping by. I hope we’ve given you some food for thought.

  25. Karen says:

    I just have one simple question…Why do people believe in God/Jesus/etc.? Is it because your parents pounded it in your head? In a world of science as we know it today, WHY do people believe in God or Islam or any other. How did we get all these different “Gods”? In the Christian faith, why do people believe a book that was written thousands of years ago when there was absolutely NO science to prove anything? How would “science” describe all the religions….or God…? Were people afraid that if they didn’t believe, something horrible would happen…or if you didn’t believe as your parents or others believed, you would die or be killed et al? There is NO logical proof in God….none. You believe because that’s what you were taught to believe because if was the right thing to do and it tried to help people be better people and help and love each other. The Bible is a story book…it tells stories about people and how they lived, loved and died in those times. Science has also show that the night Sodom et al was destroyed, there was a meteor shower…..God started it of course…to believers. How about the fact that it might have been a natural phenomena? Religion has done as many bad things as it has good…it has taught people to care, love, believe….it has also taught that if you don’t believe a certain way, you are bad et al. I believe Jesus lived, he was a good man, he tried very hard to help people physically and emotionally. Because he did so many wonderful things back in Biblical days….where is he NOW? How about ISIS? How about abortion? etc. etc. In my life, I have not seen Jesus or God do ANYTHING about the poor, sick, abandoned, homeless, downtrodden et al? How can anyone possibly believe???

  26. Muralidhara says:

    It is interesting that there is a thought for synthesising religions of the world . Almost all religions proclaim ‘single GOD ‘ concept but all the religions fight for the mindspace of man!
    Perhaps GOD is evolving in his creative genius but a few things do seem to be very clear. GOD is fighting against human ego, is not all powerful (not independent of laws of nature as being uncovered progressively by science), though GOD maybe the most powerful, may be.. has all the knowledge but the things to know remain ourside of god, operates using laws of nature which cant be violated..GOD created the wordls for the experience of life (all souls) but god did not create any soul(no purpose!).. There seems to be a lot of logic in the concept that Souls are not created by GOD, that GOD is full of compassion and is out of his immense love , is trying to rid souls of thier oringinal impurity of ego thought (using his omniscience) . Christianity,Islam and allother religions are evidence of the various workings of one GOD in TIME to redeem souls of their ego trouble….These thoughts are influnced bya school of thought called Saivasidhdhantha in India…Essential message is GOD is ONE AND is above all religion and GOD cant love only Islaimites/Christians/hindus…no way!Let us just follow our religions if we like them but know that all are bound in LOVE and the moment it is relaised GOD is LOVE , there is no place for religous separation of the human bond.

    Muralidharan

    • Lee says:

      Hi Muralidhara,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for expressing your thoughts. While I don’t agree with everything you say, I certainly do agree with your general conclusions that God loves people of all religions, and that religious differences should not be a cause for separation and division in the human bonds that hold us all together.

      I do believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient. As I see it, it’s not that God is “can’t violate” the laws of nature, but that God created the laws of nature, and expresses God’s power and will by use of the laws of nature. The laws of nature are expressions of spiritual laws, which, in turn, are expressions of divine laws. These are not limitations on God, but rather, the means by which God expresses God’s power and accomplishes God’s purposes.

      I do also believe that God created everything in the universe, including human souls. Everything in the universe is an expression of some facet of the nature of God. And God is also fully present in everything in the universe, down to the smallest subatomic particle. However, we humans are uniquely able to choose to go against God’s will. This causes us to become the “squeaky wheel” that requires the “grease” of God’s special attention, love, and guidance.

      For more on these beliefs of mine, please see these articles:

      Whether or not you and I happen to agree on these particular beliefs, I think of you as a fellow child of God. In my belief, the essence of religion is not correct beliefs, but rather loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. As Jesus said, all of the law and prophets—meaning all of our religious beliefs and directives—depend on these two commandments (see Matthew 22:34-40).

  27. Mila says:

    Hi Lee,

    I admire your patience responding to all those people over few years. I am not sure if you would get this comment cause it has been a while since last post, but I will try to get through.

    I have been questioning religions, believe and God as many others who got here. I never stopped believing in God, even when I was questioning and asking what if all is human mind illusion. Some power inside me doesn’t let me stop believing in God 🙂 I red the article and all the comments. It made me swing from one side to the other so many times, not article itself but all those comments.
    You are saying about all sort of religions coming from one source and people of those religions will be saved at the end. I happen to wonder (and I am a bit surprised nobody asked earlier) what about those religions, or as some call sects that are concentrating on pure evil? Take for example satanists. Personally I know about their existence and a bit about their practice but I was never interested to explore in depth, so I migth be wrong altogether. However, as far as I know they, as a group recognise pure and good God just to be able worship pure evil. Thinking that there is only one God and that God is source of everything that would lead to conclusions that good and evil was created by one creator. Consequently those who believe in good Good may be treated the same as those who believe in evil. Many religions lead to reward at the end of this life. I wonder how everybody accordingly to your article would be rewarded at the end of their life? I just couldn’t imagine the same at the end for those who worship good, merciful God as for those who had chosen to put the same effort into worshiping evil as their conscious choice.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mila,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your great question! If you really read through all of the comments, then I admire your patience as well. 😉

      You are certainly not alone in going back and forth about God. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It forces us to think deeply, rather than superficially, about whether there is a God, who God is, and what God is like. Faith that has been tested and tried in the crucible of life, and against many doubts and objections, is much stronger than faith uncritically accepted just because our ministers and elders told us so. Although the process of questioning and doubting God and God’s nature can be discouraging and disconcerting, it has its purpose. Annette and I wish you light and strength as you travel that rocky and winding path toward God.

      Now to your questions.

      I, too, am aware of the existence of satanists, but am by no means an expert. However, what I do know suggests that not everyone who is attracted to satanist cults and sects is actually an evil person.

      • Some of them just have unrealistic ideas that evil is sexier than good. To them, satanism is just a fad and a bad-boy (or -girl) phenomenon, like teenagers smoking or doing drugs because it’s “cool,” even though it’s gradually killing them.
      • Some of them join such sects because they’re angry with “the establishment”—often quite justifiably—and are rebelling against hypocritical authorities and the corrupt religion and society in which they were raised.
      • And yes, others may become satanists because they truly want to live a life of unfettered evil, and satanism tells them that it’s okay, and even good, to do so.

      So to answer your question, for the individuals involved it all depends on why they became satanists, or joined other cults or sects devoted to evil.

      It also depends on how they actually live.

      If being a satanist just means engaging in sexy, evil rituals in which you dress up in black robes with scary, blood-red symbols on them and do strange dances around bonfires in the dark while chanting weird-sounding stuff, that’s not really hurting anyone, is it? It’s not all that different from going to a juicy horror flick at the ol’ drive-in movie theater for the chills and thrills.

      But if the satanists actually engage in theft, lying, murder, adultery, and so on, justifying it by saying that they’re following Satan, and Satan commands them to do evil, then they truly are on the road to hell. And if they persist in that sort of behavior for the rest of their lives, using their satanism as a justification and cover for being selfish, greedy, power-hungry, adulterous, and destructive, then they have made their choice, and that choice is for hell rather than for heaven.

      As Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits” (see Matthew 7:15-20). God looks at our hearts and our actions, not just at our beliefs and our rituals, however strange they may be.

      For more along these lines, please see these articles:

      I hope this helps! If, after reading my reply and these articles, you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. And godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  28. Özcan says:

    Hi Lee (and Anette),

    I’m very happy to have found your site, I wish there were much more people like us in the world. I was raised a Muslim, but I can no longer believe in organized religions. I believe in being a good person. If I was born in India, I would have been Hindu, if I was born in Japan, I would have been a Shintoist. This is not even debatable. I can no longer believe in an unjust and racist God who would burn billions of people in an eternal Hellfire because they were born in the wrong region of the world. I actually never believed this, but I tried to shut off my intellect and conscience out of fear. I thought I might become an infidel and burn in Hell for eternity if I thought too much. I now realize that I felt terrorized by the God of the Qur’an. Thank God, I feel completely free now. Religions, and especially Islam, Judaism and Christianity unfortunately only bring divisions, hatred and violence. I really don’t believe that God wants or enjoys hatred, bigotry and violence on earth. I don’t believe God is immoral or insane or irrational. God bless you.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Özcan,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughtful comments. I believe there are people like us in (and from) all the religions of the world. And by that I mean people who have left behind the narrower and more institutional version of whatever religion they were born into, and moved toward a broader and more universal view of God and spiritual life.

      This, I believe, is part of the new spiritual era that is now dawning on the earth, in which the old forms of religion will gradually be broken down and left behind, and a new form of spiritual life, in which love for God and love for all other people, regardless of race, religion, and so on, will take over and become the primary religion of the earth.

      Unfortunately, that new era is only in its beginning stages. There is still much of the old narrow, judgmental, and exclusionary version of religion in all of the major religions of the world.

      One concept I would suggest for your consideration is that the best things, when corrupted, become the worst. Religion at its best is meant to bring about universal love for all of God’s children throughout the world. But when corrupted, it becomes instead what you describe: divisive, bigoted, and wracked with hatred and violence.

      I also believe that God is not immoral, insane, or irrational. I believe, rather, that God is universally loving, wise, and powerful for good for all people—even those who reject God. For more on this, see: God is Love . . . And That Makes All the Difference in the World.

  29. Rama Surya Srvaan Tumu says:

    Hi Lee,

    Firstly I want to congratulate the risk you have taken to choose this subject. I am Rama Surya Sravan from India. When I started reading this I keep on saying myself that you will finally tell Jesus or Father of Jesus as GOD. But surprisingly when I Am moving to next sentence, I feel or I sense a great article coming by.

    This question: If there is one God why so many religions? keep on arising for many Truth seekers like me and we always never found an answer. But you Lee almost satisfied me that what ever you will be judged irrespective of any religion.

    This reminded me of my favourite Bhagavadgita quote (CH 2: Ver 47): “Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani” which means:

    “You have the right to work only but never to its fruits.
    Let not the fruits of action be your motive, nor let your attachment be to inaction.”

    Till now I am in a endless quest to know what is Truth keeping aside how I am in this life.

    From now I will focus more into being good, doing good. I will from now will try to be genuine, doing my karma, if possible helping others.

    What does God (Allah/Jesus/Budhha/Yehovah) needs more from us. He just need us to always be good, tell truth and justify that we are His Image.

    Also my sincere suggestion is to never criticize any faith in this world, what Krishna told in Bhagavdgeetha is same in terms of essence as what Jesus told in New Testament and so what Allah said to Muhammed (PBUH) in Quaran.

    Have a great life to all both here and in after life.

    “If you want miracle, then be the miracle”

    Yours co-human being

    Surya Sra1

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rama Surya Srvaan Tumu,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your good and thoughtful comment. As I say in the article, though I personally am a Christian, I believe that God is present and active in all the religions of the world, providing spiritual pathways for the many different cultures and nations of this earth.

      I am glad my article has helped to inspire you toward being good and doing good. If our religion doesn’t lead us to love and serve our fellow human beings from the heart, of what use is it?

  30. Evaristo Blanco Jr. says:

    I like the way you put forward the discussion about God. i haven’t read or heard anybody reason or is so straight forward on his belief , It renovate my belief about God and leaves a new inspiration on what to do . Hope that many would read your interpretation about God , and they would stop trying to enforce their believes on others.Let the person make his/her decision on what religion to fallow. I would also hope that in reading they would not be driven by monetary gains in the name of God. Really hope to read more from you.

  31. Joe says:

    Hi Lee,

    1. are are several Gods? one for each religion?

    2. we see the bad guys not punished for their wrong doings.. in fact, they get better each day.. but the good guys not rewarded for their kindness, but continue with their sufferings.. why?

    3. Friends who have sinned, told me God will forgive them if they repent. So they sin everyday, repent everyday, knowing that God will forgive them, and thus no big deal after all being sinful..

    I have many more questions, but will stop here..

    Thanks
    Joe

    • Lee says:

      Hi Joe,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and questions. Here are my replies:

      1. No, there is only one God for all religions. But each religion sees God differently. For a related article, see: Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?

      2. Justice and fairness are not natural attributes of this material world. It’s common here on earth for unjust people to prosper through their schemes and stratagems, and for good people to suffer. But that is for God’s purposes also.

      Unjust people may prosper, but they will not gain any real joy, peace, and happiness from their material success. Eventually they may realize—as many financially successful people do in their later years—that their material successes in life are empty, and that there is more to life. Then, having tried it their own way and having failed to achieve happiness that way, they may consider trying it God’s way instead.

      Meanwhile, good people who suffer are going through tests and trials of the soul that build their strength, character, and commitment to what is good and right. We do not develop strength of character by having an easy life in which everything is handed to us on a silver platter, but rather by testing our principles, our character, our sense of goodness, and our resolve against struggles and obstacles. Through them, we develop into loving and compassionate angels of heaven.

      For more on this, see: If God is Love, Why all the Pain and Suffering?

      3. Your friends are in for a rude awakening if they think they can sin, repent, and sin again, and there will be no consequences. In fact, if they sin again, they have not repented at all. Repenting means being truly sorry for what we have done, and committing ourselves to not doing it again. So if your friends think in the way you describe, that means they don’t even know and understand what repentance is.

      For more on the meaning of repentance in our human relations with one another, see: Repentance: The Unpopular Partner of Forgiveness

      And for a much deeper dive, see my recent four part article starting with: God, Forgiveness, Freedom, and Hell – Part 1

      I hope this helps! Do feel free to ask more questions as they come to you.

  32. Sarah Nazim says:

    Great post! To add to this discussion, not sure if you’ve ever heard of the Baha’i faith, but essentially we believe:

    Throughout history, God has sent to humanity a series of divine Educators—known as Manifestations of God—whose teachings have provided the basis for the advancement of civilization. These Manifestations have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, explained that the religions of the world come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God. Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life. Such a vision unfolds in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh.

    Baha’is acknowledge the validity of past religions however, we adhere to the writings of Baha’u’llah who we believe is the latest messenger of God.

    Essentially, God revealed a religion at a specific time, to a specific people and revealed it in a way that would meet the capacities of the people at the time. The common theme in all the religions, as you mentioned is really about action, doing good deed,etc. So essentially living a life of service to humanity, and the notion that “actions speak louder than words” is fundamental principle in our faith. Also, we don’t have any clergy or pope’s, we believe that one must independently investigate the truth, because we all inherit religion from our fathers and forefathers, therefore we blindly imitate the past instead of researching for ourselves. The divisions we see today are man made indeed, this notion that one religion is better than the other is silly, each religion brought something progressively new to the table.

    The biggest problem I think is that people don’t take the time to research religious history and don’t seek reliable sources hence we often form biases towards other religions instead of realizing that we all believe in the same God, but have let man made traditions and dogmas separate us.

    This is a great speech if you’re interested to understand the Baha’i perspective:
    https://youtu.be/uXUh_Pdro9U

    Here’s the official website: http://www.bahai.org/

    I only share this to enlighten 🙂

    Kind Regards,
    Sarah

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your good and informative comment. While I’m not especially conversant in Baha’i beliefs and practices, my sense for many years has been that Bahá’u’lláh did for Islam something very similar to what Swedenborg did for Christianity.

      There are major differences between the two, of course. For example Swedenborg considered Jesus Christ to be, not one of a series of messengers or manifestations of God in the manner that Bahá’u’lláh inherited from his Islamic roots, but rather the unique occurrence of God living out the life of a human being in this physical universe here on this earth, in accordance with Swedenborg’s Christian roots.

      But there are also striking similarities, such as the concept outlined in my article above that God gave different religions, priests, and prophets at different times and to different cultures to meet the spiritual needs of those times and cultures. And the related idea that there has been a progression of revelations of the nature of God and spirit as humankind as a whole has gone through various spiritual changes of state over the various eras of humankind. And of course, a major point of agreement is that all religions provide a pathway to God, and that all people of faith and goodwill throughout the world form one universal “church” or human spiritual community in God’s sight.

      Thanks again for your comment and links. I did correct the YouTube link as you requested.

  33. David says:

    Wow, another feel good “your ok, I’m ok” snake oil salesman. Just what Jesus had in mind when He said “no one comes to the Father, but through Me”. Also “I am the way and the truth and the light”. Not Buddah, not Allah, not anyone else. There is nothing vague in the words of the Christ, though you twist them to meet your own ends. You can rationalize all you want so non-believers can feel good about themselves, but at the end of the day you only serve to shorten the line of those that may be saved. The Truth may not be politically correct in that it is not ‘inclusive’ and does not necessarily make room for even those who do good works, but it is what it is, to be embraced, rejected, or in this case corrupted.

    • Lee says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      Usually I simply delete these narrow-minded, condemnatory, and insulting comments because there is no real truth in them.

      But for those who have a similarly narrow, condemnatory, and non-Biblical view of Christianity—and for those who have these bigoted views shoved in their faces all the time—I offer these articles showing that you are just plain wrong if you think that these things you are spouting are actually taught by the Bible:

      1. Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?
      2. Do Atheists Go to Heaven?
      3. Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does
      4. Faith Alone Is Not Faith
      5. “Christian Beliefs” that the Bible Doesn’t Teach
      6. Christian Beliefs that the Bible Does Teach

      My friend, you are very much mistaken.

      The Bible does not teach the things you say it does.

      I hope and pray that Jesus Christ will open your mind to the real truth so that you can read the Bible in its own light. Jesus himself says who is and isn’t saved, if you will only listen to his own words, instead of clinging to the false, human-invented doctrines that you have been taught—doctrines that were invented by human beings such as Martin Luther and John Calvin 1,500 years after the Bible was written.

      Here is what Jesus Christ himself says about who will and won’t be saved:

      “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

      “Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

      “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

      “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

      “Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

      “Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’

      “Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31–46)

      My friend, you are very much mistaken.

      You are denying what Jesus himself taught about who is and isn’t saved.

      And what hope is there for “Christians” who deny and reject the teachings of Jesus Christ?

  34. Kp says:

    Hi,

    Interesting article of work over faith but isn’t the parable of two son used in the context of believing in John the Baptist and not related to saved by work?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Kp,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments.

      No, the parable of the two sons is not only about belief, but about actions (i.e., works) pursuant to belief. Here is the full parable:

      “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

      “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

      “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

      “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

      “The first,” they answered.

      Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. (Matthew 21:28–32)

      Clearly Jesus includes doing what John the Baptist preached under “believing him,” or he would not have talked about “repenting and believing him.” Repenting means no longer doing evil works. John the Baptist preached a very clear message of repenting from evil works and doing good works instead:

      John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

      “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

      John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

      Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

      “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

      Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

      He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:7–14, italics added)

      When John said, “Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire,” what else could he possibly mean but that everyone who does not do good works will not be saved?

      Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the entire Protestant wing of Christianity have badly misunderstood the Bible with their teaching of salvation by faith alone. See:

  35. May God Bless U. Thanx

  36. Christine Gomez says:

    Thank you Lee! Excellent insight! However Jesus never claimed to be God. Jesus always referred to himself as the Son of God and was committed to doing the Will of God. Of course his disciples referred to him as the Christ – which means Messiah not God the Creator. Jesus also made it very clear he was a “Servant of All”, which means Jesus was not partial. I’m glad there are a few Christians like you who are able to interpret Biblical truth with emphasis on being obedient to God and His commandments and also understand the importance of the Old Testament.
    May the Holy Spirit continue to lead you.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Christine,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      It’s true that Jesus never came right out and said, “I am God.” But he said and did many things that make it clear enough. For some of these, see the article: Christian Beliefs that the Bible Does Teach.

      His disciples were slow to understand who he really was—which is perfectly understandable. However, after his Resurrection they did understand. Thomas, one of the most skeptical, came right out and addressed him as “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

      Thanks again for your thoughtful comment and kind words. Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  37. […] Source: If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions? […]

  38. anonymous says:

    Lee, can you explain what is better and more logical, heaven or nirvana?

    I am beginning to think that personality is just a reaction to your environment. Buddhists thought this, the smartest person I know also thinks this and most scientists hold this view.

    But good old Swedenborg says that every personality is different and you have groups in heaven (or bell) that you’re a part of forever who are most like you. I assume this is a good thing because I would not want to be friends with many people who are like me, I have a lot of flaws.

    So what is personality? The questions are the same because nirvana is the heaven of Eastern religions like hinduism and buddhism but instead of individuality, they hold the view I shared above, that people are just reacting to things.

    This question is very important to me, I cannot believe Swedenborg or any non-nirvana religious views unless I know that personality is not just reactionary. Because heaven is an individual promise for YOU, God has a relationship with YOU, if everybody is just a product of their experiences then what makes us different?

    • Lee says:

      Hi anonymous,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your good comment and questions. In fact, these are huge questions! I can hardly do justice to them in a comment. But I’ll say at least a few things in response.

      I don’t claim to be an expert on nirvana. Even among various Eastern religions there are many differences in belief about exactly what nirvana is.

      In general, though, I would say that to the extent that nirvana is thought of as a re-mergence with the Divine and a loss of individual identity, I would consider that to be a faulty concept. What’s the point of creating many individual souls if all of their individuality is going to be erased in the end? There is some discussion of this and many related issues in the context of the common Eastern belief in reincarnation in this article: The Bible, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Reincarnation.

      However, to the extent that nirvana is thought of as a state in which our individual identity is retained, but that we are in a state of bliss, peace, and relationship with the Divine and with fellow souls, then I would see it as the Eastern equivalent of Swedenborg’s view of heaven. On that, you might be interested in this article: Who Are the Angels and How Do They Live?

      Our personality is a very complex thing. It is an interaction between our inborn nature and many environmental factors over which we have little or no control, such as the influence on us of the people who raised us, of the city, town, or community in which we are raised, and many other influences, not the least of which is the choices we make along the way in response to all of these factors.

      However, rather than thinking of the many and varied personalities of the billions of human beings who inhabit this planet as somehow a problem, I think of it as a beautiful and powerful thing.

      Consider the human body. According to recent scientific estimates, there are about 37.2 trillion cells in the body of an adult human being. Every one of those cells is distinct and different. Of course, there are groupings of similar types cells, such as muscle cells, brain cells, bone cells, lung cells, and so on. And those groupings form the structures and organs of the body without which it would not be a fully functioning human body.

      The different people on earth, with their different personalities, are like cells in the body. Each person is a little different from every other person—and some people are very different from some other people. But together, our different personalities fit us to do all the different kinds of work and service that are required to make us function together as a society, which is very much like a universal human “body” consisting of everyone who lives on earth.

      Without all these different personalities, human society simply wouldn’t work. We need some people to program computers, some people to prepare food, some people to pick up the trash, some people to build the cars, some people to fix them, and so on and so on. Every individual contributes to the whole in his or her own unique way.

      This is precisely the way Swedenborg describes heaven: as a “universal human” being in which every individual angel has his or her own place, and engages in useful work and service to others in his or her own unique way. And unlike here on earth, where many people hate their jobs, every angel loves and enjoys the work he or she does.

      And of course, that entire “universal human” being of heaven, and every individual in it, is also in a relationship with God, who binds everyone together in love and wisdom.

      As for your flaws, you’ll leave behind the really problematic ones as you go through the process of being prepared for heaven in “the world of spirits,” which is where everyone goes immediately after death. For more on this, please see: What Happens To Us When We Die?

      Of course, none of us is perfect. Only God is perfect. Even as angels in heaven, we are still continually learning and growing as human beings. That is what keeps our life there interesting and exciting!

      I don’t know if this answers all of your questions, but I hope it helps. If, after reading this and the linked articles, you still have more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. And Godspeed on your spiritual journey.

  39. Hoyle says:

    I am always amazed by people who claim to know what God is thinking. No one really knows as God is not possessed of human characteristics. God occupies neither space nor form and would have no reason or need to “think” like humans. Everyone’s idea of God is a little different, as it should be. The notion of a “God” was necessary after mankind sought an explanation for his own existence. Thus, religions were born to provide “answers”.
    I don’t believe it helpful to over analyze God. Faith in your God is all that is necessary. If you want “answers”, go to church. If you want internal serenity that faith might provide, look no further than your heart.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Hoyle,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for expressing your thoughts here.

      While I do think God has human characteristics such as love, wisdom, compassion, justice, and is the source of those characteristics in us, I also don’t think we humans can ever fully grasp or comprehend the infinite reality of God. Our understanding of God is adapted to our own culture and character as human beings. That is as it should be.

      • Hoyle says:

        Thanks for the interesting discussions. If God is the “source” of any human characteristic, he would necessarily be possessed of all of them; neutral, good and evil. I propose that any attempt to understand our creator should be void of religious influence, cultural ideology or adaptation of the ideas of others, a difficult analysis no doubt. Faith in God does not require education or understanding of any religious belief. Rather, it seems that education and religion more often cloud our views. I do agree that mankind will likely never . . . “fully grasp or comprehend the infinite ‘reality’ of God”. I also believe that we’ll never even partially grasp the idea of an infinite creator. Let us not pretend to know God’s characteristics, no matter the thoroughness of learned discussion, theological education or individual thinking. Faith and individual understanding in our chosen creator aren’t for sale.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Hoyle,

          You’re welcome. These are good sentiments. However, the practical reality is that most people would have no concept of God at all if it weren’t for religious influence, cultural ideology, and adaptation of the ideas of others.

          Most people are focused almost entirely on the things of this world. Most people do not have any direct experience of God and spirit. If they didn’t have holy books and religious teachers conveying to them ideas and beliefs about God and heaven, they would live a completely secular and materialistic life.

          Yes, religion has all too often become very corrupt as its leaders become more motivated power and wealth than by a desire to lead their flocks toward God and spirit. Many of the articles on this site are written to steer people away from those corruptions and toward a more just, true, and loving understanding of the ways of God and of the spiritual life.

          However, let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Underneath the overlays of human corruption there is still a core of truth about God and spirit in the various religions of humanity. And many ordinary people gain access to God and spirit even through very corrupt religious institutions. This is what Jesus was talking about when he said:

          “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.” (Luke 11:43–44)

          God has a big mess to deal with in human society on earth. And when you’re cleaning up a big mess, sometimes the process is very messy.

          About God’s human characteristics: No, we don’t have to accept that God is evil as well as good. Evil is a distorted mirror image of good. It doesn’t have any existence or reality of its own. It is, rather, a twisting and distortion of the good that comes from God. All of God’s characteristics are good. But when those good characteristics flow into selfish and greedy human beings, the human beings twist them into selfishness and greed.

          The same sun shines on a flowering plant as on a dead body. One turns that sunshine into beautiful and fragrant flowers. The other turns it into a stinking rotting corpse full of maggots.

          What flows from God is pure love, wisdom, and power for good. What it turns into when it hits human beings and human society depends upon the character and quality of those human beings and that human society.

          There are many articles here that deal with these issues. Here are just two for now:

  40. Jan Rode says:

    This site is great! I love it! I’m sure we’re all one and no one is not part of God. God is in every living being and He is everything that is. I also agree with Mark that Krishna-consciousness seems to be more (the most?) inclusive. I also find it more logical and its happy colorfulness is very pleasing. Yet the spirit tells me in my dreams again and again and when I’m awake that I have to believe in Jesus Christ…

    • Lee says:

      Hi Jan,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughtful comment and kind words. While I think somewhat differently about God and humanity, I do appreciate the spirit of what you are saying. For my own testimony about why I believe in Jesus Christ, please see: The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus.

      Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  41. Melinda says:

    What a refreshing outlook and articulated so beautifully. I was raised Christian but have gravitated toward Hinduism as it includes all forms of life as having a soul (or more accurately, being a soul) and therefore being equally important in the eyes of God. Christianity doesn’t do that, and if it does in some cases, it’s not stressed to nearly the degree that Hinduism teaches this. Christianity stresses humans as being the main players on the stage of life but that outlook seems to me to be a human interpretation based on a very limited perspective. Thank you for seeing that there are many paths for all the different kinds of people in this world.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Melinda,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughtful comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the article! Hinduism at its best is a very broad and inclusive religion. And of course, it’s a very ancient one.

      Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  42. Lizbeth says:

    Religion is wrong. All of them. It is about the truth. God is real and everything that it says in the Christian or Catholic Bible is the same. Other Religions either add or take away things from the Bible. It’s not about being religious it’s about being true to god and doing what is right because we all know what is right and what is wrong. You don’t have to he religious to go to heaven. Because even a murder, a rapist, etc.can go to heaven if they repent and ask for forgiveness. People just don’t get it. They think being religious will take you to heaven but it won’t. Having a relationship with God is extremely important and the first step of going to Heaven. Thanks to all the people who have made God look bad, have made alot of people not believe in God anymore. We need to prepare because Jesus is coming soon. I suggest you read the book of Revelations. But before you read it, ask God to give you understanding and help you understand what you are reading.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Lizbeth,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. While I don’t entirely agree with your perspective, I do agree that it’s not necessary to be religious in the usual sense in order to go to heaven. Rather, it’s necessary to repent, ask for forgiveness, and build a relationship with God.

      And I agree that many churches have made God look bad, and in this way have driven many people away from God. Atheists who reject “God” because they’ve been taught by traditional Christianity that God is an arbitrary tyrant who sends most of the world’s people to eternal torture in hell just because they were born into the wrong religion are not really even atheists by the biblical definition. See: Do Atheists Go to Heaven?

  43. Basma says:

    Thanks for this article!
    I am muslim and I really liked this article.
    I always think about this question and I think that I got an answer that made me finally comfortable.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Basma,

      You’re welcome! Thanks for stopping by and for your good words. I’m glad this article was helpful to you. Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  44. Hong Fei says:

    There is no one god in Buddhism. Also, people sometimes don’t accept a version of one story or like you say, people understand things differently. Also, if people could all get along then we wouldn’t have Democrats and Republicans…

    • Lee says:

      Hi Hong Fei,

      Yes . . . Democrats and Republicans . . . 😉

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. It’s true that it’s a little hard to get a handle on the Buddhist concept of God. I don’t think that’s because it’s not there. Just that Buddhism tends to focus more on personal spiritual practice and growth than on theological issues.

  45. Kyle says:

    Lee, I found your article tickled the ears of culture but was vastly void of truth By Jesus saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me”…he’s making an absolute truth statement. Therefore anything that contradicts his statement is by definition false. There is one God. One Lord. One Savior by which man is saved. No other religion can save its followers, forgive sins, and offer hope for today and eternity. Our culture will scream, “Offensive! How dare Christians claim Jesus is the only way to God.” But Jesus himself said it. For Christians not to profess this truth is to not trust in Jesus at all. Therefore, not all religions are true or lead to God. In fact, any religion that is contrary to the claims of Jesus (his words, not mine) is false. Forget religions. It’s who you say Jesus is that matters. Living a “good and kind life” can make things pleasant for today but that does nothing for your eternal standing once our time on earth is done. I would think satan is quite pleased we have more religions than we can count.

  46. Chris says:

    Hey Lee, It would be awesome to see all people have a soul as caring as yours. It is also very clear you have a great desire to see all people come into reconciliation with God and the Creator. Thank the Lord that we now have a message to proclaim with assurance and confidence. A truth that we can attach to the love and desire to see all people everywhere be saved.

    Paul did not just talk to Christians or believed that God’s message was only relevant for Christians. He clearly knew God commanded all people everywhere to repent.

    Acts 17:22-34

    22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

    24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

    29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

    32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words.

      Yes, Paul preached his message to people all over the then-known world. He believed that it was a universal message of salvation, not one confined to Jews or to any other particular group of people.

      Of course, Paul sought to make converts for Christ everywhere he went. But as he explained in Romans 2:1-16, he also understood that even people who are not Christians and do not become Christians can be saved if they repent from their evil ways and live a good life according to their conscience—which is God’s presence within them. For more on this, please see: “Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?

  47. Hey Lee, I have enjoyed reading your posts. I wish all people had a soul as yours: with a great desire to see all people to be reconciled to God. You have such a great devotion in seeking God’s truth and will for our lives. Because I respect your thoughts and careful devotion, I would like to hear what you think of 1John 4&5. Thanks – Chris

    Testing the Spirits
    4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
    God Is Love
    7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His [c]only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
    15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
    Overcoming the World
    5 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
    5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
    This Is Written That You May Know
    13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
    16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
    18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
    21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Chris,

      Thank you for your kind words, and for your comment and question.

      Was there something in particular that you wanted my thoughts on in 1 John 4 & 5? There is a lot packed into those chapters!

      • I know there is a lot packed in those chapters, sorry, but I don’t want to guide or influence you in any way. I would like to see how the Spirit moves you in your thoughts and feelings as you read these chapters. Again, I respect your deep devotion and I am interested in what God reveals to you. Thanks

        • Lee says:

          Hi Chris,

          That would be more than I’d want to take on in a comment. I’ll keep it in mind for a future blog post, though.

          Meanwhile, of course my favorite statement in those two chapters is “God is love” in 1 John 4:8, and repeated in 1 John 4:16. On that, please see: “God is Love . . . And That Makes All the Difference in the World.”

          And one other for now, about “testing the spirits.”

          There are many people walking around today with many mistaken ideas about God, spiritual life, and the afterlife because they have had contact with spirits who have told them various things. But it is a mistake to think that just because someone is living in the spiritual world, and is a spirit, that person or being knows all truth and is a reliable source of information. There are mistaken and even lying spirits in the spiritual world just as there are mistaken and even lying people here in the material world. So spirits really aren’t a reliable source of truth.

          For more on this, please see: “What about Spiritualism? Is it a Good Idea to Contact Spirits?

  48. Hey Lee, I didn’t know that my question the other day regarding Paul went through, but I just now saw it posted. I hope you didn’t mind me complimenting you twice:) I will have to review Romans 2. Thanks for the reference. As for 1 John 4&5 if the Holy Spirit guides you to address them as a whole unit in a blog post, I would look forward to reading about it. Thanks for your time. Chris

  49. Cameron says:

    During my reading of “True Christianity” I came across a couple passages that seem to contradict what you say in the article:

    “Our minds are varied according to their forms, which are inwardly spiritual depending on our faith in God and also on our life from God. These forms become translucent and angelic when we believe in one God, but become opaque and beastly when we believe in many gods, which is virtually the same as not believing in God.”

    “Nevertheless there are people who deny God, people who worship nature as God, people who worship many gods, and people who worship idols as gods. The reason for this is that they have let worldly and bodily perspectives block off the inner reaches of their reason or intellect and obliterate their first childhood idea of God; they have rejected religion from their heart and have put it behind them.”

    The only explanation I can think of is that Swedenborg is talking about Christians, but this is sort of a weak argument and doesn’t seem to be the case. I have a couple Pagan friends (and I was once Pagan as well) and I have to disagree that such beliefs make a person “beastly” or “opaque”. Do you think you could shed some light on the matter?

    • Hoyle says:

      Hi Cameron. Your latest comment is well thought out and opens the door for independent thinking. For the sake of brevity, let me offer this. I don’t want the government to define my friends or enemies. Similarly, I don’t want religion to define my spirituality or tell me if it passes the litmus test. Go with what works for you and yours. After all, it’s your existence. Your beliefs, thoughts and the manner that you used to get there are just as good as anyone’s. Bless you.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Cameron,

      Good question.

      I do think that part of the answer is that as its title suggests, True Christianity is primarily for and about Christians. And I do believe that Swedenborg has Christians especially—but not exclusively—in mind in the sections you quoted from True Christianity #8 & 9. Consider, for example, what he says a few sections earlier in #4:

      Also worth noting is that the church’s [i.e., Christianity’s] deterioration was the result of its splitting the divine Trinity into three persons, each of whom is God and Lord.

      As a result, a kind of brain fever spread throughout the whole theology and infected the church that calls itself Christian from the name of the Lord. I call it a brain fever because this development has so deranged human minds that they do not know whether there is one God or three. The mouth says there is one, but the mind thinks there are three. The mind, then, is at cross-purposes with its own mouth, and thought with its own speech; this results in no knowledge of God at all. The materialist philosophy that rules today has no other source. As long as “one” is what the mouth is saying and “three” is what the mind is thinking, do they not inwardly meet halfway and obliterate each other? Then if thinking about God occurs at all, it scarcely goes beyond thinking the word “God. ” The word is denuded of any meaning that would entail actually having a concept of him.

      And just before the statements you quote, in #7:

      The churches in the Christian world teach one God; this is common knowledge. They teach this because all their teachings come from the Word, and those teachings are all integrated as long as one God is acknowledged not only orally but also with the heart. It is common in Christianity today, however, for people to confess one God with their lips but three with their hearts. To such people God is no more than a verbal expression. To them theology as a whole is a kind of golden idol locked up in a case, and the key to unlock it is held by church leaders alone. When such people read the Word they do not detect any light in it or from it—not even the impression that there is one God. To them the Word is marred with blotches, and the oneness of God in it is obscured.

      If you read the entire section on “The Oneness of God” in which your two quotes are, you’ll find other places where Swedenborg talks about how the Trinity of Persons doctrine leads to materialism and a denial of God. So I do think that in the statements you quote he especially has in mind people in the Christian world who have departed from full monotheism when he speaks of people who believe in many (in this case, three) gods becoming “opaque” and “beastly” (meaning like animals, embedded in and focused on nature), and “worshiping idols as gods.” And because Christians should have a clear idea of one God, it is worse spiritually, he says, for Christians who fall away from a belief in and worship of one God.

      For more on the doctrine of the Trinity of Persons and the damage it has done to Christianity since it was first invented and promulgated as doctrine in the fourth century, please see these articles:

      However, in a broader sense, I believe Swedenborg’s point is that people in general who veer toward polytheism tend to do so because their primary focus is on this earth and the material things that exist on this earth. This is seen in the various pagan gods commonly being associated with various elements of nature, such as the sun, the moon, harvest, various animals and plants, the seasons, and so on. These “gods” are personifications of the various parts of nature in which the pagan is engaged.

      Among pagans, this is not necessarily evil, but it is “earthly” in the sense of being focused primarily on the things of this earth. And according to Swedenborg, there is a “spiritual-natural,” or “spiritual-earthly” heaven, in which live people who are mostly focused on outward, earthly things, but who are good people who wish well to others, love and care for others, and live according to moral and ethical principles that value other people—and I would include God’s creation in general—as much as they value their own self.

      In other words being “earthly” or even “animal-like” (“beastly”) can be evil, but it is not necessarily evil if the people involved simply think in a rather earth-focused way, but still live good, moral, and ethical lives because they believe that is the right way to live.

      Being “opaque” and “beastly” becomes evil, though, when people reject God and spirit because they do not want anyone or anything telling them how to live their lives, since the sort of life they want to live is immoral, unethical, materialistic, and selfish. Such people close off their minds to God and spirit, rejecting God and attributing everything to nature instead. These are the people Swedenborg especially means when he speaks of people who become “opaque” and “beastly.”

      I hope this helps.

  50. Mike H says:

    I am searching in my life at the age of 58 for the “truth”. Being raised Protestant and having “questions” answered at age 12 by clergy that seemed to exclude people and were very ‘unbelievable” ( to young or unwise to accept faith i suppose) I tried to live by the “golden Rule”. A year ago, I discovered or was enlightened to Jesus’s first commandment to “love God” and how it leads or proceeds his second – “the golden rule” .

    I too struggle for various reasons with a God who is not loving, caring and welcoming of all his children and that is my cross at this time – organized religion who’s leaders seem to place “rules” ahead of one God for all and Love –

    I have a thirst for knowledge and an openness to the Mysteries of Faith as the Catholic Religion , especially the Jesuit and Franciscan orders have been very meaningful over the past year as I move closer to the God I have always known to be there but frankly was afraid to give glory to.

    The “perennial tradition” and “Oneing” as taught or explored by Brother R Rohr have recently been within my learning experiences and have been extremely peaceful and calming.

    These posts have been eye opening and exciting, a wealth of experience, views and research into a very personal world that I was afraid I was alone in!

    Again, many my questions have been discussed from both sides at this site and have allowed me some comfort to know I’m not alone nor a “bad” person for wanting to continue in my quest for understanding of my Christian faith as it concerns my “belief” that God first loves everyone and is a compassionate God, in which all his children will be welcomed as they accept Him, without prejudice for religious dogma’s and tradition that seem to restrict access to Him.

    thank you one and all as I continue to try to be the best person I can as measured relatively against Jesus’s commandments as I understand them.

    Mike

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts and your journey with others who are on the path. I’m glad the articles here have been helpful to you as you travel that path. If there is any way I can be of further help to you, please don’t hesitate to ask.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

Featured Book

God and Creation

By Lee Woofenden

(Click the cover image or title link to review or purchase. This website receives commissions from purchases made via its links to Amazon.)

Join 1,224 other followers

Earlier Posts
Blog Stats
  • 3,516,470 hits
%d bloggers like this: