How do Christians deal with the problem of many religions?

How does Christian theology solve the problem of the existence of many religions in the world? Each nation had its own gods. atheists often ask why they should believe in the God of the Bible, and not for example Odin, what is the difference here? Maybe the God of the Jews is just another god among many other gods? in other religions they also claim that they have their own religious experience. How do Christians view this? Thank you!

I think there are counterfeits. Christians, many of us, anyway, believe in an adversary.

[The devil] …is a liar and the father of lies.

and

…even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

 
I’ve alluded to this before:

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Excellent questions.
Do your homework. Be thorough. Study hard. If you are not satisfied, ask Christ into your heart. Sincerely and openly. Tell Jesus you don’t know if He is real. Tell him you want to know. Ask Him to show you.

I believe in Christ, I just wonder what to do with the many religions that exist in the world

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The fact of an adversary and counterfeits is adequate for me. At the end of the Lord’s Prayer many translations say “but deliver us from the evil one.

There are other things that point to the veracity of our faith too, though. A significant one to me is that forgiveness looms large – other faiths, not so much. Many others depend on what the individual has to do to appease or please a deity. In ours, it is simple humility, recognizing our sinfulness and being sorry for disobeying our King’s good laws, and accepting the gift of redemption and adoption that we are offered in Jesus.

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What would you like to do with them?

I rather think he meant intellectually, don’t you?

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how to relate to the religious experience of other religions? why are there many religions?

The question itself presumes a lot that should be examined. First, why is it a problem that there are multiple religions? Anticipating that one common reply to that might be: “because, at most, only one of them could be right” … leads to a followup question about that presumption then: how does an entire religion become either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? So is Judaism just … wrong? What would that even mean? That all doctrines of Judaism are false? I think even the most doctrine-bound Christians would agree that to say Judaism is wrong about everything is obviously silly - not to mention self-defeating for Christians.

I think it is instructive for Christians to read Luke’s book of “Acts” around chapter 15, and surrounding chapters. How did Paul and the apostles handle other religions and traditions? It was a very live question for them at that time too. And some (called “Judaizers” by Paul - and it was not a compliment) were keen to insist that people must become Jews and follow Jewish customs in order to become Christians. Paul would have none of it, but it took a council and probably a serious debate before the leaders all got on board with that. Their conclusion? (spoiler alert) They said “no.”

I think that makes a helpful model for us today. Obviously there are some practices that will be incompatible with Christianity. If a culture practices human sacrifice, or if they subjugate and abuse their women, or do anything that cannot be brought under the Lordship of Christ … then those practices have to stop. The council of Acts 15 developed their own “short list” for the demands to be made on the fledgling gentile Christians of the day. It was their main concern that they not add extra burdens which “neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear.” But anything and everything else - if it can continue under Christ’s Lordship, then there is no reason to insist people must stop or overturn all their cultural practices. It is noteworthy what Paul did not do in Athens. He did not put down their literature or poets as stupid, or tell them to stop reading and studying all their subjects. He did tell them to stop worshipping anything and everything except the true God; but beyond that he even used their own curiosity and philosophy and religions as a point of connection to them. The only thing that mattered to Paul was that they come to know Christ.

The new “litmust test” in town, for those who love tests, is whether or not one can love God and love their neighbor with the practice in question.

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thanks for the answer! what do you think about the origin of other religions, for example paganism? Why did all the peoples of the world always strive for some kind of deities?

Lucid dreams. Hyperactive agency detectors. Cognitive bias. Storification.

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I like how C.S. Lewis has addressed questions like these. He saw our common human quest for deities as a kind of hunger for something that should drive us to seek its source. Just as food is made for the stomach, society exists to satisfy our need for relationship, close friendship and even marriage to satisfy our longing for intimacy, and so forth - so our longing for the transcendent should also have a corresponding fulfillment. And just as there is such a thing as junk food that we may use to throw at our hunger, we can seek out all sorts of lesser answers to attempt to fulfill these other needs too.

While we can search out all the differences and even incompatibilities between this and that religion, it’s also instructive to hold up many prominent commonalities among so many of them too. And Lewis did that, using it to point toward a sort of common law that is embedded already in God’s creation and that we shouldn’t be surprised to see some common major threads in moral law as well.

So for me it’s no problem or surprise that so many different cultures across vast geographies and stretching back to ancient times would have such a diversity of religion.

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Christianity is the biggest and most diverse religion on the planet. There is not one Christian theology but many. There is considerably more agreement on scripture and creed (defining Christianity) but even in that there is some diversity. So… better to ask this more individually… “How do you solve the problem of the existence of many religions in the world?”

Mine is to say…

  1. Reality is not exclusively objective. There is an irreducibly subjective aspect to reality which can be identified with the spiritual.
  2. No religion has any ownership of God or the truth.
  3. Nobody speaks for God. God speaks for Himself.
  4. Salvation is the work of God not religion.
  5. Thus there are not many ways to God but NO ways (of man) to God. “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  6. Jesus is God, not a password, nor a religious dogma. John 5:39 You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
  7. The inspiration of God is not confined to some religion but rains down upon us in a torrent by many voices from the smallest child as well as in many works of literature and film.
  8. Not all the things of religion are from God and that applies just as much to Christianity as it does to any other religion.
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It does make me wonder how one would measure such a thing. For example, different sects of Hinduism worship different deities as the supreme deity. There are also polytheistic sects of Hinduism and some that trend towards monotheism. At a glance, I would put Hinduism way ahead of Christianity when it comes to diversity of theology.

It would be interesting to hear from Hindus on how they view the diversity of belief within their sects, and how they view the diversity of religious belief across the world.

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You make a good point! I meant diversity in terms of numbers. With regards to diversity in terms of how great the difference are, I agree that Hinduism has us beat there.

It is my impression that the Hindus think of Christians as religious amateurs. They embrace diversity of thought as an essential part of Hinduism to where they can even embrace all of the ideas and teachings of Christianity as part of Hinduism (that was pretty much the idea behind the Hari Krishna movement).

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I don’t really feel any objection here and I am sympathetic to skeptical arguments. People have diverse views. We are called to preach the Good News. If everyone accepted it this would be unnecessary.

Many cultures around the world have tried to explain the existence of the world/earth. The abundance and diversity of creation myths does not mean it doesn’t have an actual origin story. Neither does the abundance of religions means one does not get it more right than the others.

Most cultures will define God/gods based on what they know and how they live. There will also be a lot of “good of the gaps” type thinking. I would say many people glimpse pieces of God in other religions and also in diverse cultures. Also I don’t see a universal tendency throughout history in various cultures to seek out higher power(s) as a detriment to any theism. Rather, it can serve as a warrant for our beliefs. Clearly seeking God/gods appears to be a natural behavior. One could argue that many people seek reconciliation with God, even if subconsciously.

As far as Christianity, we do believe in genuine historical revelation. People have been polytheistic for a long time. The Old Testament had to combat this many times. It was never a deal breaker for belief in God. It was just sinful to put other false gods before God. For us, God corrected the issue with Revelation of himself.

I also believe that the way to God is through Jesus but you can take a road without knowing it’s name. A rose by any other name smells just as sweet. I subscribe to what are called wider hope theories.

I guess you could be asking why God chose to historically reveal himself to some people and not others? That I can’t answer. God is sovereign and will act as he sees fit in this capacity. We have to simply trust his judgment there.

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I am not sure yet what to do with the info. Not because of others believing in it but because of the Bible. Not directly something the Bible says but the way it seems to work. So I don’t have a opinion really more of just some thoughts that are questions just as much as statements.

  1. I generally reject concordism in favor of accommodation. That means that I believe that God reached out to ancient Jewish people through a worldview they understood. Ancient Jewish people were part of ancient Mesopotamia and they shared some core beliefs such as nothingness was darkness and water as opposed to just a black void. I’m not going to spend to much time on it. Plenty of threads talks about accommodation versus concordism and books like those by John Walton touches on it in depth.

  2. Based off of what the Bible said about divorce it seems that sometimes God permits things because of the hardness of their hearts. God says he hates divorce but permitted it die to the hardness of their hearts.

So those two things tie into this discussion because of this. Is it possible that a higher power accommodated the Jews by taking on a god they were familiar of, Yahweh and he looked at where they were morally and ethically and socially and he begin to reveal a plan with them that lead towards righteousness despite meeting them where they currently are. If so, he would have permitted actions , thoughts and beliefs that he does not truly believe in to better meet them half way and work on guiding them where he wanted. But is it really logical that out of every nation, out of millions of people, he just picked the Jews to reveal the truth to mankind. Or is it possible he accommodated nations all around the world as various gods and met them where they were guiding them towards goodness. Could the same higher power that was Yahweh met the Norwegians as Odin and met them where they were and begin to improve them through prophets and so on. Could the contradicting laws between faiths sometimes just simply be god meeting different nations where they are.

That does not mean there is not a force of evil. Almost all faiths also have evil. Could Satan have also accommodated many nations and that’s why there is some villain in each faith.

None of this is my opinion, because I don’t yet have one, it’s just simply some thoughts I have.

There is also the concept of all other faiths are evil and the byproducts of either liars or deceived people.

I think I see what is meant there, and I want to press that further just a bit - probably investing more in those words than you were interested in packing into them. But I’m just using that thought as a springboard here.

It’s a recently traditional formulaic view that might try to portray Christian conversion as a “once-and-done” event with only one strictly binary question to be answered: are you “in” or “out”? Did you say and believe the right things in your heart? If so - good job! You must be “in”.

But if that view were entirely true to the faith, then there is little reason for all the presumably “in” people to keep meeting each Sunday morning to hear continued preaching. I mean … yes … there are the hoped-for consequences of their now-acquired faith that they might be going to church to learn how they can even better love their neighbors and to be exhorted toward greater and greater works of generosity and love. But let’s face it. At least here in the U.S. a large share of our church-going isn’t with the “what can I give to and do for my community” motivations, but more with the “I need this” sort of motivation. And that is not a bad reason to go to church - don’t misunderstand me in this. [And for pretty much all of us, it will actually be a varying mix of those two drivers.]

So what is it that drives the presumably “already saved” people to keep needing more? I suggest that conversion has to keep happening. Sometimes it is the presumable “Christians” who are most needing to hear good news. To hear it fresh - and if their church is doing its job, to challenge them out of settled complacencies and/or other sins that remain entrenched. It’s been said that some churches in Africa see a need to send missionaries to the U.S. And I suggest that may not be just a flippant reversal of our own cultural expectations, but to address a very real need. It could well be that one of the vaster spiritual deserts in the world, most in need of some Good News has been North America for the last couple of centuries.

All this is to say that it may be well and fine (maybe!) if we wish to address which parts of everybody else’s cultures and religious practices ought to be switched out for an upgrade - or who is most in need of some pointedly prophetic preaching. But then let’s realize that our own church communities and cultures almost certainly remain in constant need of the same. Delivering me from my own sin seems to be a full-time job for me … and somebody more than just me too, and with no sign of anything less than on-going, full job security for them.

Some of it is theologically too. For me and the congregations I attend salvation *is not forever. We reject Once Saved Always Saved and believe that christians can fall away back into destruction. So part of us meeting up regularly is to help keep
Encouraging one another to continue running the good race towards salvation and that it’s a time to fellowship and encouragement for each other.

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An adequate reason “to keep meeting” is because we are told to?
 

This from Bonhoeffer is not entirely irrelevant:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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