Aren’t all religions the same? And isn’t Jesus just one of many prophets?
A student asked, “Could you please expand
on how Jesus might respond to the Baha’i faith, that all religions are one, and that
Jesus is just one of many prophets?” Zacharias: You know, coming from the East,
John, we just plague each other with questions, I mean, that’s the way it is. If you do
an open forum in Delhi, for example, or in Mumbai, or in Chennai, you will find you’ll
never get out of there. They have very many questions. It’s a questioning culture. And
it’s also true in the Middle East. And that’s why I think religious ideas are so central
to their ethos and their pathos and they feel it so passionately.
So, the first thing I want to say is, to the listener, I understand how you feel about
these issues for two reasons. Number one, it’s a genuine question; number two, it’s
connected to family and to ancestral beliefs. And so when they raise questions on exclusivity,
for example, or on the Baha’i faith, which is syncretistic, I know why they’re asking
this. But the Baha’i faith, you know, coming up
in the mid-1800s, a little after the 1850s and so on, that particular faith, by the Islamic
worldview, is treated as heretical and people are persecuted; unfortunately so. Their intention
was noble—to try to bring everybody together. So, if you go, for example, to the Baha’i
Temple in Delhi, where I’m sure you’ve even been, there are massive edifices and
so on. There’s a fundamental problem with that:
All religions simply cannot be true. I’ve heard people say religions are all fundamentally
the same and only superficially different. Skeptics normally say that. It’s the opposite:
They are fundamentally different and at best only superficially similar. Islam is not the
same as Hinduism; Christianity is not the same as Islam. We need to be cordially able
to interact on these issues without anathematizing each other, but holding onto truth. Truth
is ultimately incontrovertible. Why can’t all religions be true? Because
the law of non-contradiction applies to reality: Two contradictory statements—meaning opposite
things—cannot both be correct at the same time. Exclusivity is a reality in truth because
truth is primarily a property of propositions. We see this in a courtroom: Were you in the
room when this took place? The answer is either yes or no. You can say one foot in there,
one foot out of there, you can play word games, but the questioner is looking for truth.
Truth by definition is exclusive. So when Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and
the life, no one comes unto the Father except through me,” it’s an audacious claim,
it’s a dramatic claim, it’s an absolute claim. The question is, can it be sustained
by his life teaching and so on? That’s what we have to ask. All religions simply cannot
be the same. Gautama Buddha was born a Hindu and he renounced
two of the fundamental doctrines of Hinduism: He did not accept the authority of the Vedas,
and he did not accept the caste system. That’s why even in recent times there are people
coming in saying in a move from A over to B, but we don’t have a caste system. But
those two beliefs he renounced. And that’s when his Four Noble Truths and this Eight-Fold
Path came into being. Islam is not the same as Sikhism; Sikhism is not the same as Hinduism.
There are doctrines and claims that are made that are exclusive to every faith. Every faith
has its exclusivity. Even Baha’ism, which claims to be syncretistic, actually excludes
the exclusivists, and says you can’t be an exclusivist and be a follower of the Baha’i
faith at the same time. It’s the nature of what truth is.
So rather than getting upset at an exclusive claim, reason tells me, let me examine these
claims and see if they stand the test of truth. That’s what we need to do.
Ankerberg: Now, folks, I also want you to know there’s a whole lot more that Ravi
has said on this question and all of these that we’re presenting during this program.
Go to Ravi Zacharias, just Google him, you’ll come to his website. Go to him on YouTube.
You can see his lectures and answering these questions in different parts of the world.
You can hear thousands and thousands of students gathering, that have asked questions to him,
and he’s stood there patiently answering these questions. So just take it from me,
there’s a lot of information there. But I want to give you another hard one. I
think on every university campus I’ve ever been, this one comes up.