Why are there so many different kinds of religions in the world?

The world is filled with religions. The number of religions existing today has been estimated to be somewhere in the thousands. Man has been developing religions for thousands of years. Every major religion has splintered into a bewildering variety of sects, denomination and spin-offs. Why are there so many different religions?

A common answer to this question is that all the religions have elements of truth. As man has searched after truth he has discovered little portions of the whole truth. Each religion describes one aspect of truth. By combining the truths of many different religions a person can gain a better understanding of spiritual truth. This idea is itself a religious principle, but not one found in the monotheistic religions of Islam, Christianity or Judaism. The belief that all religions contain a portion of truth originates in the Eastern religions but it cannot be true.

Certain religions, particularly Christianity and Islam, claim exclusivity. They claim the truth they uphold is ultimate truth. That which disagrees is in error. Many religions which do not make exclusivistic claims teach things that are incompatible with other religions. Christianity claims God is Trinity. Judaism and Islam claim God is One. Which is it? God cannot be both the Christian Trinity and the Muslim One. Hinduism teaches there are many Gods. Christianity, Islam and Judaism teach there is only one God. Both claims cannot be true. Christianity claims there is only one way to be forgiven of sin and have eternal life. Many other religions claim there are many ways to heaven. All religious claims cannot be true. More significantly, the core elements of religions cannot all be true. The nature of God and the means of salvation are central principles of most religions. From a logical perspective the possibility exists that all religions are wrong. The major tenets of all, or even most, religions cannot all be right.

Religion is not the result of man’s search for truth. The many different religions exist because of man’s rejection of truth. In Genesis 4 there were only four people on the planet and they all knew God was real. At least half the human population had spoken face to face with God. No one denied the existence of God. Everyone agreed on major tenets about God: He is real, He is creator, He is in charge, He is to be worshiped. Yet even with a tiny population and much first hand information there were still religious differences. Cain and Abel came to worship God. Abel brought a prime lamb for sacrifice and Cain brought some vegetables. God rejected Cain’s sacrifice, which led to Cain killing Abel. Cain’s offering was nothing more than a new worship, a new religion, which rejected the truth revealed by God. The first religious division was the result of disobedience to God.

Making this problem worse is the intentional effort of Satan. He is described in the Bible as the god of this world who blinds the eyes of men lest they see the light of the gospel. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Satan and the fallen angels masquerade as messengers of the light. (1 Corinthians 11:13-15) Demonic forces work to confuse and mislead men. (1 Timothy 4:1). Satanic manipulation moves men to devise and proclaim false religions. Satanic and demonic influence have added to the multitude of religions in this world.

The world is confused by an abundance of different, disagreeing religions because men refuse to believe and obey God. Romans 1 says that God’s existence and glory are seen in creation. Men refuse to acknowledge Him or give thanks to Him. They prefer to worship creatures instead of the Creator. Satan hates man and God. The devil actively works to create more confusion and to promote more idolatry. The vast numbers of religions come directly from the huge number of people and societies that have replaced the worship of God with the worship of other things.

Do people with tattoos go to hell?

Tattoos are an increasingly popular way for people to decorate and modify their bodies. Tattoos have a history that stretches back thousands of years and today tattoos are a part of the culture of the most primitive tribes and the most advanced cities. Though in years past some have taught otherwise, nothing in the Bible describes tattoos as the mark of the beast. Tattoos are not an unpardonable sin. The presence of a tattoo on a person does not automatically disqualify him from heaven. No single sin condemns someone to hell. People are condemned to hell because of the sin nature, the natural bent to wickedness that all possess at birth. David says in Psalm 51, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Even before a person exits the womb, he is a sinful creature. This sin nature is why people go to hell. Individual acts of sin are an expression of the sin nature which all people possess. Consequently, none are condemned to hell because of being tattooed.

Similarly, people do not go to heaven because they were good enough to not get a tattoo. None enter heaven because of an action taken or a sin avoided. Heaven is reserved only for those who trust in the grace of God and receive the gift of forgiveness purchased by Jesus on the cross. Because the problem is one of human nature, the solution is not behavioral. The solution is a transformation of nature. To enter heaven one must be given a new nature, a nature that is righteous and acceptable to God. The new nature that man needs has been provided by Jesus and is freely available to any who will turn to Christ to be cleansed of guilt and transformed into righteousness.

A full answer to the question of tattoos must also consider if it is sinful to get tattooed. Some tattoos are going to be sinful because of their content. That which is obscene or profane is sinful, even if other tattoos might be acceptable. Tattoos are prolific in our culture. The days of only a fringe few being tattooed are long gone. No longer are tattoos immediately connected with rebel groups or gangs. The New Testament does not give a specific prohibition against getting a tattoo. The Old Testament did prohibit the Israelites from getting tattooed. Leviticus 19:28 says, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19 contains a combination of timeless commands (do not prostitute your daughter; do not seek after wizards) and temporary commands (do not round the corner of your beards; do not eat bloody meat). The command against tattoos in verse 28 is specifically addressing the idolatrous worship of the pagans in Canaan making the prohibition against inking the flesh challenging to categorize as timeless or temporary. However, the weight of the chapter is against those things associated with idolatry and includes tattoos in the category of idolatrous practices.Though the context of Leviticus 19 does not give definite clarity on whether or not this is an absolute principle, it seems to me that the burden of proof lies with those who would defend getting a tattoo.

Though I am reluctant to communicate a definite prohibition against all tattoos, I would give a couple serious warnings. If there is any legitimate possibility the tattoo is going to be associated with idolatry, wicked groups or sinful behavior, do not get it. If you have any doubts at all about the righteousness of getting a tattoo, don’t get one. If the motivation for getting a tattoo is to look cool or to gain acceptance, don’t get one. Though tattoos may be permissible, and certainly will not condemn one to hell, the Old Testament association of tattoos with idolatry, the need to live wisely in this world and the Christian’s maintaining a Godly testimony would seem to indicate it is best for a child of God not to get inked.