It may be popular to say that all religions are one. It pleases all and offends none; it permits everything and does not include a cross. But, is this the truth?
Ancient scriptures of the world do not say that all `ways' lead to salvation or moksha. Religions differ in philosophy and ethics. They vary in concepts such as God, man, world, salvation, life, death, and life after death. Religious worship differs; some worship fire, others water and yet others worship spirits. Some glorify self and others renounce it. Even the deities differ. How then can all religions mean the same thing?
What is the result of their differences? In many countries people suffer on account of their religious convictions and some have even been martyred. In some instances families persecute their members who embrace other religious faiths. But, if all religions lead to the same goal, why do these things happen?
It is clear that all religions cannot be the same. Why then do people persist in saying that all religions are good and lead to one place? Could it be because this idea would kill the spirit of inquiry and analysis?
We live in a scientific age and no scientist dares to say that every theory is correct. Nor can we assert that all things are right and good. There is a way that is right and there is also a way that is wrong. The necessity to choose between them puts the onus on us to discover the truth.
One of the ancient scriptures of India, the Rig Vedha says.
"Yekham sath vipre bahutha vadhanthi"
(Truth is one; but men have divided it).
So, we can be sure that there is only one truth and one way - that is God. But, man by his own power and knowledge cannot see or know God.
Many ancient saints in India understood that they were in darkness and presumed God to be `Light'; they readily accept this concept of God as the light of this darkened world. Some presumed God as "Truth", some as `way' and some as `Life-giver'.
A famous Tamil saint, Thirumoolar, who lived around 900 A.D. wrote that man cannot get rid of his sins by his own efforts, just as a thief, bound by ropes cannot free himself. Only God could come down to earth form heaven and in human form to offer Himself in payment of the penalty for sin. He will show the right way through His spirit entering into the heart of man. Thus He washes away the sins of man.,
How does God reveal himself to man?
A God-fearing person believes that there is ONE God who is the Truth, the Way, the Life, the Word, and that He is omniscient, the sin-bearer and Sacrifice for sin. Instead of waiting for the real to reveal Himself by His own grace to men, they formed their many gods and goddesses out of their own imaginations.
Yet, God who was the `word' in the beginning did reveal Himself in the flesh. The Bible says:
"In the beginning was the world,
and the word was God,.
And the word became flesh, (John 1: 1,2,14).
He was called Jesus because He would bear the sins of the world. Jesus said, "I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6). The Gospel of St. John, Chapter 2:24, 25 says that Jesus is all knowing. Jesus became the perfect sacrifice and paid the penalty for our sins.
Does God reveal Himself in many ways?
God is not confused and He will never confuse His own people. God will therefore, surely not reveal himself in different ways; as Jehovah, to Jews, Jesus to Christians, Allah to Muslims, Shiva to Saivaites, Bishu to Vaishnavites and over three hundred million gods and goddesses and god-men and god-women to the Hindus, thus confusing His people and putting them in conflict with each other.
God is love and righteousness. It would be incorrect to say that there is one God of love and another God of righteousness. It is the attributes of one and the same God which man has assigned to various deities.
Man, realizing his own sin, falls at the feet of God for forgiveness and redemption. The righteousness of God declares, "This man accepts that he is a sinner. He must pay the penalty". The love of God proclaims, "This man realizes that he is a sinner and has come for forgiveness. He must be shown mercy". Man stands before God, full of fear, wondering if God would punish him or forgive him. If God, in righteousness, punishes him, He would not be a loving God. If God, in love, ought to meet the demands of justice while at the same time shows mercy and love. So He reached down to man, took man's punishment upon Himself, thereby fulfilling the demands of righteousness, and thus is able to forgive man, expressing His love. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself". (I Corinthians. 5:19).
"God so loved the world that He gave He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life". (John 3:16).
"Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea, the Lord shall give that which is Good" - (Psalms 85: 10-12).
The Aryan search for the God to whom they would offer oblation. Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father God" (John. 14:9)
Their search for Thathvagnana (truth) Jesus said, "I am the truth" John. 14:6
Their search for Amrutham (a kind of drink which will never permit them to die) Jesus said, "Whoever drinks the water that I give him will never thirst" John. 4:14
Their pursuit after Shanthi (peace) Jesus said, "My peace I give to you" John. 14:27
Their search for Jyothi (light) Jesus said, "I am the light of the world" (John. 9: 5)
They anticipated the Prajapathi or Vishvakarma (Creator of universe) Through Jesus all things were made John. 1:3
They anticipated the Thrata (Saviour) Today a savior is born Luke 2:11
They called him the Medha Purusha or Yagnapurusha (God who will sacrifice his body) Behold the lamb of God. Who takes away the sin of world. John. 1:29
Many people believe that only truth can liberate man from sin. This is certainly true. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the Truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). What then is Truth? This was the question Pilate the Roman Governor asked of Jesus when Jesus was brought before him. Jesus never gave him an answer, for He is the Truth, He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by me" (John 14: 6)
God is not found in a book or in lectures or discourses. He is found whenever a sincere seeker opens the door of his or her heart by faith and with repentance, offers to Jesus Christ, a complete personal surrender. God will be found of such a person. 'When you seek and find God with all of your heart, I will be found by you declares the Lord'. *(Jeremiah 29:13-14)
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon