Even though I’m basically a hobbit and absolutely LOVE mushrooms, this is not a post about mushrooms. It is a point about comparative religions.
A very popular attitude towards faith and religion is this:
“All religions are basically the same, they might look different, but they are all fundamentally the same. It doesn’t matter which one you choose.”
This view is popularised with the use of an illustration (a parable of sorts) of blind men and an elephant (Google it!). The basic belief is that people of faith are like blind men (religions) feeling different parts of an elephant (God), and the reason they say different things is because they are experiencing a different part of the elephant. But it’s the same elephant (A similar argument is ‘all roads lead to God’).
There are a couple of problems with this parable. Firstly, the storyteller has positioned himself OUTSIDE of the scene and is looking in on it. He is claiming to have an understanding about God that religions do not. Which, if you think about it, is pretty arrogant considering the people who use this argument most are those who don’t believe God exists in the first place. Which leads me on to:
What about the blind man sat with his back to the elephant, feeling into the air saying ‘there is no elephant!’?
Setting the shortcomings of this illustration aside, saying all religions are basically the same is fundamentally flawed. It is as dangerous to your soul as saying ‘all mushrooms are basically the same, it doesn’t matter which one you eat’ is to your body. Choosing cooking and eating the wrong mushroom, may sustain you for the rest of your life – it will just be a VERY SHORT life—it will kill you! However similar it appears to be on the outside! It is CRITICAL you do not eat a poisonous mushroom.
saying “all religions are basically the same” is as dangerous to your soul as saying “all mushrooms are basically the same” is to your body.
Even if we were to accept that ‘all religions are fundamentally the same’ (which I don’t, by the way, religions might be superficially similar, but fundamentally they couldn’t be more different), the question isn’t whether they LOOK or appear to be the same, but whether they bring life, or death.
This is the question, the challenge, given to the people of God at Shechem:
“choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living”.
Joshua’s declaration is “as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
Modern culture may not put up and worship idols in the same way, but make no mistake, that which we give our attention to, that which we follow and give priority in our lives is every bit as much an idol to us as those statues and carvings were to people in Biblical times.
What choice will YOU make?
For goodness sake, please don’t eat a poisonous mushroom!