Monday, December 1, 2008

Are All Religions One?

Are All Religions One? So asks a great little booklet by the same title. Written by Douglas Groothuis and published by InterVarsity Press in 1996, Are All Religions One? addresses a perennial question of interest in a pluralistic culture.

There are both popular forms of this line of reasoning, as well as more sophisticated presentations such as those by John Hick. The thrust of the argument in either case is that all religions are essentially the same. Therefore, many paths can lead to God (assuming such a being exists). Religion becomes a matter of taste -- personal preference -- rather than truth.

But are all religions one? Can they be blended into one, as the Future Clergyman in the image attempts to do? Some religions have attempted this, such as the Baha'i faith. What Groothuis does in his fine little booklet is explore the question, "Are all religions one?" by comparing three religions: Christianity, Islam, and Nondualistic Hinduism (monism).

The booklet explores what each religion believes about ultimate reality, the human condition, and spiritual liberation. All religions cannot be "one," argues Groothuis, because they contradict one another: "God's nature cannot be both personal and impersonal because personality cancels out impersonality and vice versa ... The same difficulties are encountered with the different religious teachings on human nature and spiritual liberation, concepts closely tied to the varying doctrines of ultimate reality" (p. 23).

Are All Religions One? is a helpful booklet to give away, especially if you are involved in any sort of evangelism or outreach to those involved in the New Spirituality (aka, New Age). The booklet quickly and reasonably refutes common misperceptions about the nature of truth in relation to religion, making it useful in penetrating the fog of popular ideology on the subject.

For meatier evaluations of the question see Truth in Religion by Mortimer Adler and Dissonant Voices and Encountering Religious Pluralism both by Harold Netland.

1 comment: said...

Doug's booklet also is a good primer for offerings in pre-evangelistic/apologetic efforts. It can be an accessible discussion topic/read for small group studies. So many believers are clueless about alternative belief sets and this booklet can serve the believing community well in discipling minds for Christ.