Are All Religions One, the Same, or Equal?
Jesus’ message of love is not the same as other religions
Doug Britton, MFT
Introduction to “Are all religions the same or one?”
For many years of my life, I was sure there was some sort of spiritual reality that went way beyond what our “basic” senses could perceive.
I was equally sure that no one religion contained the truth. I suspected they all had a piece of the truth.
I was attracted to various forms of “new age” religious thought, ranging from Zen Buddhism to a search for UFOs.
My thoughts about Christianity were basically negative. However, at the age of twenty-two I met a gentle, loving, non-judgmental man who called himself a Christian. As I talked with him over the next one and a half years, and as he quietly read Bible passages addressing my spiritual ideas, I realized he had something powerful and real … something that I didn’t have.
Related: God’s love for you
I began to think there was something different about Christianity—something very different from the other religions and religious experiences I had studied or experienced. It seemed that maybe all religions are not the same, equal, or one.
Then one night, completely unexpectedly, my wife surrendered her life to Jesus and was “born again.” She had been into drugs and eastern religions, and was not at all interested in Christianity. She changed overnight. Her intense anger disappeared the next day, and when she talked she seemed much more genuine and real. My question had been, “Are all religions the same?” Seeing her change, I became sure they were not one or the same.
A few months later I also gave my life to Christ, and I too found myself changing in many ways. God saved our marriage from ruin, helped us raise our kids, and showed us how to live meaningful, joyful lives.
I don’t condemn anyone who thinks all religions are one or the same. In fact, I have a deep respect for people who are searching for truth. In this study, I will share what I have learned in my search, and I will share words Jesus said when he was here on earth. I think you will see that his message was very different from what so many think today, that he offers something very different from other religions.
Are all religions the same or one? Jesus’ message of love is different.
Years after my wife and I surrendered our lives to Jesus, we were on a flight across the country. Seated next to us was a man who was deeply immersed in a form of new age religious thought.
He said all the world’s great religions are the same at their core, that they have the same message—one of love and unity with the universe. He was sure that Jesus said the same thing, and that Jesus’ message was a universal message.
He isn’t alone in this idea. Lots of religious leaders, college teachers, media personalities, and others say the same thing. As I wrote earlier, at one time I shared similar thoughts.
Many people say they like Jesus’ message of love, but they often completely misunderstand what Jesus’ message of love really is. As John wrote, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).
Jesus does teach a message of love, but it is more than a general “let’s love everybody” message or “we’re all one with the universe.”
It is the message of, “I love you so much that I am offering you life if you will believe in me.” It is the message that we can be reconciled to God by being “born again” through faith in Christ and entering into a personal relationship with him. It is the core of Christianity.
If you have been taught that Jesus’ message of love is no different from that taught by other religions, that all religions are one or the same, let me introduce you to his actual words, taken from the Gospel of John. Key phrases are emphasized in boldface to highlight his message—that belief in him, personally, is the way to be reconciled with God.
Jesus says he is the shepherd, gate, and giver of eternal life
It is not just Jesus’ message of love that counts. It is Jesus himself! Read his words and you will see that his message is very different from those who say all religions are basically the same, that all religions are equal, or that all religions are true.
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who be-lieves in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believ-ing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
“Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid him-self from them. (John 12:36)
There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. (John 12:48)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:5-6)
Are all religions the same? Jesus says that belief in him opens the gate.
It’s important to realize what “believe” means. It means much more than to simply acknowledge that there is one God. The Bible says that “even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19).
And it means more than simply agreeing that Jesus is the messiah and the son of God. “Believe” means to “adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth” (Amplified Bible). It does not mean simply joining a church or acting religious. It is surrendering your life to Christ and allowing his Spirit to dwell within you.
Believing in Christ is clearly not the same thing as saying that all religions are one, or that all religions are the same, or that all religions are equally true.
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who-ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not be-lieve stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:18)
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and be-lieves in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has everlasting life. (John 6:47)
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever be-lieves in me, as the Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37-38)
I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:24)
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35)
Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.” (John 12:44)
“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. (John 16:31
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message. (John 17:20)
Jesus says we can’t earn our salvation through works
It’s common for people to think they need to do something to earn their way into God’s favor. But that’s not what Jesus says. He says it is simply a matter of belief.
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)
Jesus says when we believe, we become children of God
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)
What does this mean? It means we must be “born again” spiritually.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3)
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5)
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” (John 3:6-7)
If all religions are not the same or one, what should I do?
If you have never done so, I invite you to present yourself to Jesus now and to accept his gift of love, to become reconciled with God. Read the following as a prayer:
“Dear Lord, I confess that I am a sinner. I want to be a child of God. Please forgive my sins and accept me as your child. I invite you to be my Savior and the Lord of my life. I surrender myself to you in the name of Jesus Christ.”
If you prayed with sincerity, Christ accepted you into his Kingdom and you are now a Christian. Welcome to the family of God!
I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord today. Thank you, Jesus!
Signature: ________________________ Date: ___________
You have an exciting life ahead of you. As you grow in the Lord, he will transform your life. These four suggestions will help you get started in your Christian walk:
- Tell someone that you accepted Christ.
- Read the Bible daily, starting in the New Testament with the Gospel of John.
- Join a Bible-believing church.
- Pray regularly.
Related: More Bible studies on knowing God
More Bible Studies
eBooks on Christianity
About Doug Britton, MFT
Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)
Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.