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.

What is the difference between praise and worship?

Browse through church websites and you will find a pair of often repeated word: praise and worship. The words praise and worship can be found together in a single phrase, separated into different concepts or substituted for each other as synonyms in a paragraph. What are praise and worship?

Culturally, the words are descriptive of a wide range of events. Praise and worship are used most often as if they mean the same thing. The Bible uses the words frequently, a few times close together but most often separately. They overlap some in their usage but are distinct in meaning.

Praise is most often used for the vocal exaltation of the greatness of God. Praise is the verb that fills the Psalms. Boasting in God’s deeds, giving thanks to God for His work and blessing the name of God are all acts of praise. Praise may be accompanied by other activities, like dancing or feasting, but praise is done with the voice. Praise is telling. Praise is telling God and others how wonderful God is.

While praise can legitimately offered to one other than God, worship is to be reserved for God alone. Worship is the act of a humble person adoring his God. Worship often involves a ritual, a form or a liturgy. Worship offered sacrifice, attended the feasts, knelt in prayer, gave offerings or approached God in another way commanded by Him. Worship took place in public and in private. A person worshiped at the temple surrounded by others or at home by himself.

Worship in the Old Testament always has the idea of bowing down before another. The New Testament frequently uses worship in the same way and includes the analogy of kneeling before another to kiss his hand. Worship bows before God in reverence of the One you serve.

Worship today is often understood only in its relationship to music. The time of singing at the beginning of a church service is known as worship. Listening to a playlist of Christian songs is considered to be worship. Singing with a congregation or listening to Godly music alone can be acts of worship, but worship in the Bible is never restricted just to musical expression. In fact, the majority of Biblical discussions of worship do not involve music in any way.

Praise and worship are also understood to be a very emotional experience. Both involve the emotions but neither can be defined from the Bible as primarily emotional. The Psalms are heavy on emotion but even heavier on doctrine. The character and power of God are the central truths to which the Psalmist responds in praise.

Jesus says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” Worshiping God in truth involves the mind. Worship requires an understanding of God. Worship is an intellectual activity. The worshiper thoughtfully considers the glory of God, the truths of God, the grace of God and the commands of God. The thoughtful worshiper then responds to God’s greatness. Worship that does not encompass the emotions is hollow. Worship that does not exceed the emotions is shallow.

To generalize the differences between praise and worship think of worship as bowing down before the altar and praise as standing with arms raised to heaven. Though ideas have similarities with each other, praise and worship are two different approaches to God. Both should be part of the Christian’s relationship with his God.

Won’t we get bored in Heaven?

Eternity is a long time. What will Christians do for all that time? Won’t we eventually run out of things to do, things to discover and things to invent? Eternity stretches out before our imagination and leaves us baffled by its magnitude. From our perspective in this brief life we cannot understand how we will find pleasure that will remain for eternity. What is to keep eternal bliss from becoming eternal boredom?

The Bible says almost nothing about the eternal state. When the Bible speaks of what happens to believers after death it speaks about their condition in between physical death and eternal life. The joys of heaven and the blessings of the kingdom do not necessarily describe the Christian’s actions during eternity. When a believer dies his spirit enters into heaven where it rests and worships God. At the rapture the body of the Christian will be resurrected and made perfect. The glorified body will be united with the soul of the deceased. When Jesus returns to the earth to establish His kingdom all the saints, the living and the resurrected, will reside on the earth with Him for one thousand years At the end of Jesus’ one thousand year reign God will destroy this earth and create a new one.

The creation of the new heaven and new earth will begin eternity. On that new earth will be a wonderful city called the New Jerusalem. Revelation 21 describes the splendor of that city. The last four verses of Revelation 21 and the first five verses of Revelation 22 are the only verses in all the Bible which tell of the saved one’s actions in eternity. The multitudes of redeemed will come to the New Jerusalem bringing to God their glory and honor of Him. All the saved will serve God and reign with Him forever. The Bible provides no specifics about what this service and rule will look like. Whatever form it takes, the saved will be actively working for the Lord for all eternity.

One of the hardest things about trying to imagine eternity is the complete inability of our minds to comprehend the joys awaiting. What color is the smell of perfume? What does a C-sharp look like? Our perceptions are very limited. The eternal delights are much like color to one who has never seen or sound to one who has never heard. Eternity’s joy is invisible to our current desires. We can only imagine what the delights of heaven will be like. Even then our imagination is likely to be very wrong. Only in heaven will we be able to fully appreciate them the pleasures at God’s right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

The joys of God are infinite and never to be exhausted. One of the losses of sin is our sense of wonder. The hallmark of sin is it quickly grows wearisome and the sinner must seek more excitement. Sin is never satisfied or satisfying. Those things which are Godly pleasures are satisfying and ever delightful. In heaven the joy given to us will be ever fresh and eternally satisfying.

Does God accept to Himself a Muslim’s sincere worship of Allah?

C.S. Lewis was an excellent author and noteworthy Christian thinker. The recent big screen success of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader have brought a few of his works to popular attention. The Chronicles of Narnia is a seven book series that tells the adventures of the Pevensies children and their relatives in the land of Narnia. The last book of the series tells of the overthrow of Narnia by their enemies the Calormenes. The Calormenes are a warlike people who worship the vulture headed, winged god Tash. The Narnians worship the true god and creator of their world, Aslan. C.S. Lewis very intentionally uses his work to depict some of the great doctrines of Christianity. Aslan is an unmistakeable picture of Jesus. Aslan’s death on the stone table in place of Edmund retells the death of Jesus on the cross for mankind. Likewise, Lewis includes other obvious imagery. The Calormenes are a very Turkish people obviously intended to bear strong resemblance to the Muslim countries.

In The Last Battle a sincere young Calormene soldier who devoutly worships Tash comes face to face with Aslan. The soldier is terrified because he has served Aslan’s enemy all his life and he now expects to be slain by Aslan. The Lion does not kill the young man but tells him something very surprising. All the good and sincere worship that was heaped upon Tash was accepted by Aslan as given to himself. Because Tash and Aslan are complete opposites, all evil done in Aslan’s name is actually done for Tash. All good done in Tash’s name is actually done for Aslan. Though the worshiper was mistaken in the object of his worship Aslan received all good as done for him.

The theological point Lewis appears to be making is that all those who worship in goodness and sincerity will be received by God. Though they think their worship is to a different god, the true God will accept all honorable and devout worship. This argument is still being made today. Some of those who say Allah and God are the same mean to say that it doesn’t matter what you call your god. If you are sincere in your attempts to do good and serve your god, then the true God will accept your worship. Is this true? Does God accept all sincere worship as if it was done for Him?

Recently I answered the assertion that Allah and God are really the same god. In March of last year I addressed why sincere worship is not by itself acceptable to God. God does not accept well intentioned but misplaced worship, because He accepts none apart from Jesus. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Only Jesus has done that which is acceptable to God. God does not accept any man because of sincerity or goodness. God does not accept any worship apart from Jesus. God only accepts those who have been made righteous in Jesus.

The apostle Paul confronted the Athenians for their sincere but wrong worship. Acts 17 shows that they were deeply religious. They were so careful in their worship they built a statue to the unknown god in case they accidentally overlooked the worship of a god. Paul came to Athens and taught them of the the god they did not know. He did not comfort them that God accepted their sincere worship. He told them who is the true God and instructed them to repent of their wrong worship because God would judge them. Their well intentioned worship was not acceptable to God. In fact, their rejection of the gospel showed they were not seeking to truly worship God. Their worship of another god was rebellion against God. They did not want to worship the true God. So it is with all who worship another god. Their worship is not acceptable to God because it is in fact rebellion against Him. Only those who have trusted Jesus for the forgiveness of sin are redeemed by His blood and are accepted of God.