Are All Religions Pretty Much the Same? No Way...
Christianity is based on the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead — a historical fact that cannot be refuted.
All religions are pretty much the same. Right?
They are man-made the result of human beings wondering about the world they find themselves in, and coming up with answers to the big questions about life, meaning, death and the great mysteries of existence. These man-made religions are all pretty much the same — they answer some of life’s questions and they teach people to be good and spiritual and make the world a better place. Right?
So the bottom line is they are all essentially the same, but with cultural and historical variations. Right?
You can categorize man-made religions into four basic types: (1) Paganism, (2) Moralism, (3) Spirituality and (4) Progress.
Paganism is the ancient idea that if you make sacrifices to the gods and goddesses and they will grant you protection, peace and prosperity.
Moralism teaches another way to please God: “Obey the rules and regulations and God will be happy and not punish you.”
Spirituality is the idea that if you can practice some form of spirituality you can cope with life’s problems. “Forget about the problems of this life. Learn to be more spiritual. Meditate. Think positively and you will rise above it.”
Progressivism teaches, “Life is short. Be good and work hard to improve yourself and make the world a better place.”
All four are attractive in different ways and many people wrongly assume that Christianity is a happy blend of all four. Different Christians may emphasize one of the four types more than another, but all four are sort of bundled together into the popular form of Christianity which is, “Live a life of sacrifice, pray, obey the rules, make the world a better place and God will look after you.”
This is not Christianity. This is a perversion of Christianity.
Christianity is far more radical. It gathers up the four types of man-made religion and bursts them from the inside out. It fulfills them as a waterfall fills a drinking cup.
Instead of paganism, moralism, spirituality and progressivism, Christianity is based on a simple historical fact that cannot be refuted. It is called the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Christianity is simply the message of Jesus Christ crucified, risen and ascended. We must never take our eyes away from the cross and the empty tomb.
Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and that changes everything. Jesus Christ is still alive and active in the world through his Church. If you believe and trust in this astounding truth, then you are called to participate in this event through faith and baptism. Through faith and baptism you enter into Jesus Christ and he enters into you. You enter into his Church and become part of his body.
This is the resounding message of my new book Immortal Combat: Confronting the Heart of Darkness. After delving into mankind’s perennial problem of evil, I hammer home the power of the cross and resurrection alive in the world today.
Your primary mission is not to attempt to please God by giving him stuff. It is not to obey all the rules and regulations to try to please him. It is not to pray more, be spiritual and so rise above this world’s problems. It is not to be a good boy or girl and try to make the world a better place.
Christians might do all those things, but that is not the core of their faith. It is the result of their faith. They do those things as the musician plays music or the athlete plays his sport. They do those things because they are talented and it gives them joy. So the Christian does these good things because he has been filled with the Spirit of the risen Jesus Christ, and he does those things with joy because he wants to.
Now critics will say, “Yeah, sure. Not the Christians I know. They’re a bunch of failed hypocrites.” Of course — and the good ones will admit as much.
However, whenever I hear cynics complain about the failed Christians I want to ask, “Why don’t you try for once to focus on the ones who are NOT a failure? I can take you to my parish and introduce you to a whole army of them. They are ordinary people who worship God, feed the poor, support the needy, love their kids, are faithful in their marriages, are kind and generous to their neighbor and forgive people who have harmed them.”
In fact, in my experience, there are for more ordinary, hard-working, happy Christians who are at least moderately successful than the hypocrites we hear so much about.
The fact of the matter is that the resurrection of Jesus Christ has brought humanity into a new dimension of reality. Christians are not essentially a bunch of neurotic do-gooders who are trying to please their Almighty Daddy.
They are human beings who have been (and are in the process of being) transformed by the most amazing power to have entered human history.
The power that brought Jesus Christ back from the dead on that dark morning almost two thousand years ago.
Check out Fr Longenecker’s new book Immortal Combat at Sophia Institute Press.