Are All Religions the Same Or Creeds and Chaos?
In the past few months, several people have stated to me that all religions are the same. First, the adherents and believers in these religious systems would I am sure would find that statement quite surprising. For example, Islam is a form of monotheism as is Judaism, whereas Christians are trinitarians and Hindus are to some extent, polytheists. The source of this rather outrageous statement comes from an invasion by the secular society of religious belief. Our society is a democratic society of political equality and personal equality. By saying all religions are the same, the civil system is imported into the precincts of religious belief. It is also based on a kind of general tolerance for all thinking based on the idea that we cannot cast judgment on any other person’s opinions or beliefs. Another source of this error in thinking is the emphasis on God’s love for all humanity and it follows that every religion insofar as they believe God has love for humanity have come to regard it as the same. I can say this much that in Christianity, God has many other attributes besides love which includes significantly areas of moral righteousness and judgment. There is truth in the statement that all religions are the same in the sense that all people in these religions are seeking to reach and understand God in some way. Christians believe that the ultimate expression of God’s nature is found in Christ – and in Christ alone, Christians believe we can reach and understand God.
I cannot identify the source of the thinking that all religions are the same. I have identified what I think is the error in thinking in connection to this. But I now want to talk about something else and I call it creeds or chaos. Christianity in its authentic, historical form is a creedal religion. This means that in the three creeds can be found what it means to be a believing Christian. There are three creeds. First, the Apostle’s Creed, which dates from the eighth century and is so-called because its roots are from the apostles. The second of the creeds is the Nicene Creed which was formulated in response to the Arian heresy. It is somewhat beyond the scope of this so-to-speak essay to go into the historical roots of these two creeds, which can be found in many fine books. The third of the ancient creeds is the Athanasian Creed. Again, this creed has a historical basis and it is somewhat beyond this essay to go into it. I have given the title creeds or chaos to this series of thoughts because I believe that without these creeds, the Christian faith is in chaos. At the present time, for many Christians, the Christian religion in response to Democratic tolerant system of thought, has been watered down to some kind of general love feast. I think the civil society brings this development about in an attempt to not offend the various religious and national groups in our very diverse society. In saying this, their religions and beliefs are included and respected. This secular, political development does not change the basic structure of the Christian faith as stated in the creeds. The creeds say the opposite, that democratic inclusiveness maintains and tells us. They posit a world structure and belief system that goes far beyond some sort of shallow politics. They represent philosophical statements of what is real, what is true, what life is all about, what we are about, and where we are going. They give us a two-tiered vision of the world in which God in heaven reigns over mankind on earth in communion with the Holy Spirit and his only Begotten Son Jesus Christ is present, risen from the dead.
The creeds offer us philosophical certainty and make claims of absolute truth. Without creeds, the Christian faith has no meaning and is at the mercy of every fashion, fad and temporary development that may come and go in our society. The creeds tell us what the world and life is all about. Without the creeds, the Christian faith and religion is left to the subjective interpretation of individuals possibly unknowing, possibly prejudiced, and openly swayed by their own peculiar agenda.
I am refreshed in reading and speaking the creeds. They tell me of a life beyond the grave, of a God who will return, of a God who is threefold in Persons, remaining one substance. They tell me that Jesus was born of a Virgin, raised from the dead and established his church that will never die. The creeds plant us firmly in the ground and will outlive every fashion, fad and media show with which we are continually assaulted and propagandized. The alternative to the creeds is intellectual chaos. Without them, Christians and non-Christians will be lost in every person’s subjective perception which more often than not, contains more error than truth. I am always stimulated in reading the creeds – they take me out of my parochial presence to eternity and truth.