The "Big Tent" Myth

We received an email recently comparing two religions and asking if God was the same, why the different messages (specifically about who Jesus is). But implicit in the question is one assumption: religions speak of the same god, and in spite of differences, have the same core foundation.

But that assumption is false.

Religions are exclusive (most anyway). Christianity differs from Mormonism, which differs from Buddhism, which differs from Jehovah Witnesses, and so on. It’s popular (and quite politically correct) to lump all religions together in a “big tent”, but that doesn’t work as each teaches differences which cannot be reconciled (the Jesus of orthodox Christianity differs from the Mormon Jesus, which differs from the Jehovah Witness Jesus, and so on).

Even the so-called “Christian” religions (Christianity, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses) have major irreconcilable differences (either Jesus is God or not, that’s a pretty big issue and one with different views, depending on orthodox Christianity, Mormonism, or Jehovah Witness doctrine; they all have different views, and all obviously claim to be correct) — you can’t be a Christian and a Mormon — it’s one or the other.

A casual study of world religions notes they differ quite substantially, and many (most?) have exclusive claims of truth — to say they’re equivalent and can be reconciled is wrong. To show the error, let’s consider two different statements by two people, which we’ll call “A” and “B”. “A” says the car is blue, while “B” says it’s red.

Exactly one of the following is true:

  1. “A” is right and “B” is wrong.
  2. “B” is right and “A” is wrong.
  3. Both “A” and “B” is wrong.

But they can’t both be right if the claims differ. Thus, if one religion says Jesus is God, and the other says no, they can’t both be right (if only two choices exist, one must be right, but if more than two choices exist, they can both be wrong).

So which is right? That’s really the key, isn’t it?

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