Challenge: They’re All the Same God

Posted: October 12, 2010 by Amy Hall in Choosing My Religion, Truth Matters, Weekly Challenge

Last weekend, I was able to join Brett on one of his mission trips to Berkeley. While we were there, we spoke to some people at the Hare Krishna temple who were worshipping temple “deities” (as they call them) like the ones pictured here.

While describing what people did at the temple and why, a young man explained:

You can be any religion and come here to worship. All the gods people pray to, like Jesus, are really the one God that we pray to here. We chant and sing the name of Krishna as a way to progress spiritually, but you can repeat the name of your god over and over, and you’ll have the same result. As the Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” This is what that verse is talking about. You won’t really understand what it can do for you until you try it.

How would you respond to this man? What questions would you ask? What ideas would you bring up? In which direction would you move the conversation? Sometimes the hardest part of speaking to someone about the truth about God is choosing the most important direction, out of all the possible directions, in which to take the conversation. So as you answer, remember that you probably won’t have time to address everything the comment brings up–nor would you want to, since a multifaceted response could either overwhelm the listener or simply give him an opportunity to easily wander down a side-street in the conversation that will distract from what’s really important.

Instead, keep the discussion focused, letting go of some things you could answer (and probably even want to answer). It’s better to drive one point home well in a way he will understand and remember than to jump lightly from point to point. Think of where you want to end up in the discussion, and then start developing a clear, straight line of thought that will lead there as directly as possible.

With that in mind, let us know what you think, and we’ll hear what Brett thinks on Thursday.

  1. Sam Harper says:

    I’d say, “I don’t really think that’s even possible. I mean Zeus and Athena can’t be the same god because Zeus existed before Athena did. Isis, Osiris, and Seth aren’t the same god either. The only way it’s even possible for the god of every religion to be the One God is if every religion were monotheistic. But some religions are explicitly polytheistic. If Yahweh and Osiris are the same god, then Yahweh and Isis are NOT the same god because Osiris and Isis are not the same god.”

    • Christians believe Jesus is God, Muslims believe he’s not. How can they both believe in the same God? As Sam pointed out above me, some religions are polytheistic and some monotheistic, how can you say “they’re all the same God?” There can’t be one God and multiple gods at the same time.

      It’s impossible for contradictory statements to be true at the same time. If Jesus is God, Muslims are wrong. If Jesus is not God, Christians are wrong.

      The other problem with this statement is that the person is still espousing a specific view of God and saying that my view is wrong. By saying we all worship the same God, he’s contradicting my view that adherents of different religions worship different gods, so obviously he must think he’s right and I’m wrong. He’s not being any more inclusive than I am.

      There’s also the fact that not all religions worship a god, or at least don’t emphasize any kind of worship of him/her.

    • Brandon Victorian says:

      I would first ask him the things that each individual deity figure taught, and give special attention to the things that contradict. Because once you focus on that, it’s easy to see where they can’t all be God, unless God likes giving mixed messages. With that cleared up, one can go on to show how the scripture about calling on the name of the Lord has a meaning of a particular God, who is not all these deities, but only one specific God.

  2. Scott Erlandson says:

    Rather than engage this man in a debate to which he already holds a strong belief (all gods are the same god) I would attempt to lead him through the “good person” test. By using the 10 Commandments to shed light upon his sin (thus allowing the Holy Spirit to convict this man’s heart) we open the door to present God’s plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus and what He did for us on the cross, rather what ONLY HE could do for us. Not until that point is made will this man be able to see that other gods/religions are based on what the believer DOES while Jesus/Christianity is based upon what has already been DONE, that which we could not do for ourselves.

  3. Jerry Teets says:

    The verse you quoted from the Bible, do you know where it comes from?

    This in found in the New Testament, let us take a look at it and see if this is what this verse is talking about.

    Here it is Romans 10:17. The writer is Paul and he is quoting from the Old Testament. Paul says Jesus is Lord. What does this mean, let us go to Exodus 6:3. Here the Lord appeared to Israel’s founders…Abraham, Issac and Jacob. This Lord gave Israel His law and commanded in Exodus 20:1 & 2 that Israel is only to worship the Lord and that they are not to make images to represent the Lord in any form from creation. So the verse you quoted does not mean the Lord is whatever everyone believes….rather the Lord is the only one everyone is to believe. Do you want to know more about Jesus and how you can believe in Him as your Lord and Savior?

  4. John says:

    In the end they can all be the same god only if everyone is mistaken. I think it is highly likely that those who are willing to say “they are all the same” have an overly spiritual approach to God. They believe there is probably just one and everyone worships their interpretation of what they believe He is. It doesnt help quoting the bible, quran, or anything else, if they believe you are just worshipping your idea, mistaken or not, then unless I am just not thinking properly, there is no response to that. They are usually willing to admit that they could also be mistaken. So the post modernism is so ingrained, some people there is no reasoning with.

  5. Larry Lenard says:

    I really want to understand how these temple dieties relate to Krishna. I also want to see if Krishna will help these devotees leave the Wheel of Samsura, thus stopping the cycle of rebirth. Finally, I want to understand what the devotee thinks Nirvana will be like. Once this groundwork is laid, we can talk about Jesus and His finished work on the cross.

  6. John Rowe says:

    Wow, so since you’re here doing this I guess you must feel that spirituality is important, that there is more than just what we see and do here in this world. You’re right there is much more – your eternal soul is at stake. But what makes you think that you’re right about what you believe…?

  7. I’d ask how is it that “calling on the name of the lord” effects salvation. Is it the “calling on the name” itself that has the power to save? If so, how does that work? Or is it the one being called that does the saving? How does THAT work?

  8. Given that this person quoted scripture, I would use that scripture as a basis. I would ask them “So what is the name of the Lord?” Then follow that up with “it says name, not names” so there must only be one right name. That name belongs to only one.

    Christ uses analogies to tell us what he is like, living water for example, but only claims one name “I Am”, which is what God calls himself in scripture.

    Calling on THE name of God is the requirement, so therefore any random god we have a name for won’t work. So which of these gods is the one true God?

    At this point I have presented a question the person either has to answer or deny. They either believe there is one true God, or they don’t. The question should result in a crisis of belief, because they can no longer rely on their statement that “any name you want” is true.

    The points about spirituality, idols, chanting, and the afterlife come secondary to the question of who they believe God is. If they will not recognize that there is only one true God, those other issues become irrelevant. In order to convince them of those points they must first recognize there is only one I Am.