We are going to reiterate that, when talking about this subject, things can get tense because it is an uncomfortable discussion to talk about if some religions are right or wrong. At Enrich we understand that everyone has a perspective including the word of God itself. This will be a theological breakdown of Universalism and Pluralism. This is what the bible has to say about these subjects and what Jesus taught.
Universalism: belief or theology of the salvation of all souls. Its most prominent birth was with Origen of Alexandria in the 3rd Century. It reemerged during the Enlightenment and 19th century America as a means to mitigate the Calvinistic approach of some being predestined as the elect to be saved by God while the rest of humanity is predestined to not be saved and be sent to hell.
Pluralism: in philosophy, pluralism is a metaphysical position that considers that the whole world is composed of independent and interrelated realities. This position differs from monism which defends that reality is only one. Theological pluralism is the notion that believes that all religions are useful paths to reach God.
If all religions to lead to ONE God then there must be striking similarities in the theology of all religions.
Let us compare different religions with one another to see if these other religions share logical similarities that would point to one God.
-Only one god—Called Allah.
-Jesus is a prophet who was virgin born but not son of God (Not God)
-Jesus was not crucified. Someone was substituted for Jesus and he hid until he could met the disciples.
-Muslims do not believe in the crucifixion therefore there is no need to believe in the resurrection
-Sin is disobedience towards the established law. It does not grieve Allah
-Man is created by Allah and is pure, sinless and perfect.
-Salvation is achieved by submitting to the will of Allah. There is no assurance of salvation – it is granted by Allah’s mercy alone.
-Muhammad is the last in the line of the prophets and therefore, the final authority in spiritual matters.
-The Quran was written by Muhammed (only Muhammed) and is considered to be divine. --Muslims to accept the bible especially the Pentateuch if it agrees with the quran.
-Allah is far away from humanity and hard to obtain or know. One must live a life of works to -please Allah and follow the law given by Allah ( The Five Pillars, daily prayer, hajj pilgrimage, --profession of faith—that Allah is the one true God, there is no God but him and profession that -Muhammed is the true messenger of God, Alms, Fasting)
Muslims deny the trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirt) rather then mistake the trinity for Father God, Jesus and Mary.
-God (Heavenly Father) is an exalted man with a physical body of flesh and bone. LDS founder Joseph Smith said, “If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible-I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
-The trinity is denied with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost seen as three separate entities. “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us” (Doctrine and Covenants [D&C] 130:22).
-Jesus was the spiritual “first born” Son of God in the preexistence. “Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ, so he is literally our elder brother” (Gospel Principles [GP], p. 11).”And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn” (D&C 93:21). He is also the “only begotten” physical offspring of God by procreation on earth. “Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal father. That is why he is called the Only Begotten Son” (GP, p. 64).
-His atonement (death and resurrection) provides immortality for all people regardless of their faith. “Christ thus overcame physical death. Because of his atonement, everyone born on this earth will be resurrected . . . This condition is called immortality. All people who ever lived will be resurrected, ‘both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous’ (The Book of Mormon [BOM], Alma 11:44)” (GP, p. 74). (See GP, pp. 11, 17-19, 61-77.)
-Recognizes the LDS Four Standard Works as authoritative. These include the Bible “as far as it is translated correctly” (Articles of Faith 1:8). It also includes The Book of Mormon (BOM) which Joseph Smith declared is “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 194).
-People are the preexisted spiritual offspring of the Heavenly Father and Mother. “All men and women are . . . literally the sons and daughters of Deity . . . Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal (physical) body” (Joseph F. Smith, “The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, pp. 78,80, as quoted in GP, p. 11).They are born basically good and are “gods in embryo.” A commonly quoted Mormon aphorism (attributed to fifth LDS president Lorenzo Snow) says “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”
-People sin by disobedience to God’s laws. Adam’s fall, a part of Heavenly Father’s plan, caused a loss of immortality, which was necessary for mankind to advance,
-Jesus’ atonement provided immortality for all people. Exaltation (godhood) is available only to Mormons through obedience to LDS teachings: faith, baptism, endowments, celestial marriage, and tithing. “Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God-Wherefore, all things are theirs” (D&C, 76:58-59).
-Joseph Smith wrote the book of Mormon. It was first published in 1830.
-Scripture, however, is certainly not seen as sufficient– it is incomplete without the “Second (or Oral) Law.” This Oral Law is mostly embodied in the writings of Jewish traditions found in the Talmud. The Talmud is a set of books, composed of the Mishnah and several commentaries. It is printed in such a way that each portion of the Mishnah is printed on the same page with its commentaries. One popular compilation of the regulations of the Talmud is the Shulchan Aruch, which gives summary guidelines for the ordering of a Jewish home and lifestyle.
-Not only is the Scripture insufficient without the Oral Law, Judaism maintains that a greater authority is to be accorded to these traditions. Judaism teaches that even if a voice from heaven contradicts the consensus of the sages, it (the heavenly voice) is to be rejected.
-The defining verse of Scripture for rabbinic Judaism is Deuteronomy 6:4, commonly referred to as the “Shema” (Hebrew for “hear”): “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” The key word in this verse proclaiming the oneness of God is a Hebrew word that allows for a composite unity. For example, it is used in Scripture of a man and his wife (“one” flesh) and of evening and morning (“one” day). The Shema notwithstanding, Judaism has increasingly used another word to describe God–a word that means absolute and unqualified singularity. God is seen as primarily transcendent, and for many Jewish people, God is more impersonal. For some, He has become little more than a philosophical construct or an impersonal force.
-Judaism is motivated by a desire to do God’s will. Judaism believes God’s will is primarily found in the Mosaic law, as it has been elaborated and applied to changing circumstances through the centuries. In rabbinic Judaism, good and evil are always possibilities for man, but his dignity and basic goodness requires that he be free to tip the scales in either direction, and his inclination is to choose the good. Therefore, Judaism is optimistic about one’s ability to do God’s will, and sin is not generally a major concern.
-With the destruction of the temple by the Romans in A.D. 70, the sacrificial system ended. This was one of the greatest crises in the long history of the Jewish people. It necessitated the reconstitution of Judaism, for the sacrificial system was foundational to the Mosaic Covenant. Scripture taught that man’s approach to God could only be indirect, (i.e., through the blood of sacrifices). Judaism reversed itself on this point and began to teach that one could approach God directly.
-Since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, at least three positions have developed within Judaism regarding atonement for sin. The most common view is that repentance, prayer, and good deeds provide atonement. It is also held that the sufferings of the Jewish people, as a whole, provide for their own atonement. This is based on the understanding of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 as the people of Israel. Finally, there is the view that the Jewish people will automatically have a share in the world to come by virtue of being Jewish. In any case, there is no concept of a need for regeneration. If a Jewish person has strayed from God, it is only necessary for him to “return” (the Hebrew meaning of “repentance”) and walk in God’s ways.
-The emphasis that Christians have placed on Jesus as the Messiah has forced the issue into the background in rabbinic circles. Within Judaism, opinion regarding the Messiah is varied. Judaism allows for concepts of the Messiah in both personal and impersonal terms. Some understand the Messiah as a future political or military deliverer. Others, however, understand the Messiah as a golden age of peace and prosperity. Finally, some conceive of the Messiah in nationalistic terms, as the modern State of Israel.
Although Orthodox Judaism retains the belief in a personal Messiah and He figures prominently in the liturgy, He does not occupy a leading role in contemporary Jewish thought.
-- Some have argued that it is not so much what Judaism affirms that is important, but what it denies. A central tenet of rabbinic Judaism is a denial that Jesus is the Messiah, much less, that He is God. Since the historicity of Jesus is difficult to deny, Judaism has embraced Him only as He is divested of deity and of His role as Messiah. When Jewish scholars speak of reclaiming the Jewishness of Jesus, they most often refer to the Jewish learning and concepts which Jesus expressed, but admit no authority or originality to Him. He was simply a humble Jewish reformer and teacher.
There is only one true God, this God is triune (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and has been fully revealed through His Word (the Bible) and in historical evidences.
Jesus is the divine son of God and is God himself. He is God’s word in the flesh and is virgin born. Jesus is the saviour to Humanity
Man is created in God’s image. Man is born into sinful nature, imperfect and born into rebellion towards God. Sin is complete rebellion toward God and His covenantal nature towards His creation. Humanity needs to be saved from their sinful nature. Jesus is the way to salvation, He died on the cross and He resurrected Himself from the grave (because He is divine/He is God). Humanity is saved because Jesus died as a sinless, perfect man. He died unjustly so that Humanity can live with Him in heaven forever. Humanity is saved not from their works for God but through Faith in Christ alone—this is a gift of grace from God.
Sin and rebellion against God grieves God.
The Bible is the complete and finished word from God. It is perfect, non-contradictory, infallible and inerrant. The bible was written over a period of 1000+ years by 40+ authors over 66 books in multiple geographic locations telling one, complete, succinct story of good news of God’s complete salvation for humanity through Jesus Christ.
God is not untouchable or impersonal. God is both transcendent and imminent—meaning God is all powerful and above this world (far away) AND He is personal, He is intimate and is with us.
Notice the differences between these different religions? Notice how each religion treats Jesus Christ? Even religions not highlighted here present God in ways that are actually more in line with one another versus Christianity. The main difference here is the one man, JESUS CHRIST. Every other religion will attack Christ’s divinity or deny Christ’s existence all together. Jesus is what separates Historical Christianity from every religion in the world.
These other religions actually have more in common with one another rather than with Christanity. Judaism actually has the most in common with Christianity but there are still more differences than expected.
Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism all teach a god that is far off and hard to obtain, we must access this god through repeated works. It is also interesting that their sacred books are written by one person rather than a collection of authors (except Judaism). It is also interesting that every other religion denies the trinity AND denies Jesus Christ. The only religion that accepts Jesus is Christianity. All of these religions deny that Jesus is God, that He is the son of God and that Jesus brings salvation.
Salvation is obtained through WORKS in all of these religions (including Catholicism)
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
To answer this we must first understand the theology of inclusivity and exclusivity. God is exclusive throughout the entire Bible but the goal post of that exclusion changes throughout from the Mosaic Covenant to the New Covenant. This can be seen clearly in the story of Achan in Joshua 7 (Achan is committing a private sin while fighting for God’s army and they lose, Achan’s consequence is that is whole family and himself are killed) and in the lepors of the New Testament in Luke 17:11-19 when Jesus heals the ten lepors
Jeremiah 29 is also written to those who were exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon (God’s judgement on them is the exile BUT he is offering mercy through Jeremiah’s prophecy for them).
--God called His people out of slavery to build a home in Canaan and to influence Canaan from the inside out. (Exodus, Numbers). When God commands laws there is usually two consequences for the breaking of the laws, exile from the community or death.
God’s exclusive nature continues throughout the process of salvation. Salvation under the New Covenant (Jesus) is no longer for God’s selected people of Israel and Judah rather it is for everyone to access HOWEVER—it is not automatically given to everyone so it remains exclusive. Who is it for exclusive for? Those were repent to Jesus Christ, He worship Jesus, see Him as God and the ultimate atonement for our sins. This can even be seen in the OT to. Salvation is always exclusive for those who choose to have Faith in Jesus Christ, who repent to Him and who worship Him.
“Zion will be redeemed with Justice and her repentant ones with righteousness. But transgressors and sinners will be crushed together, and those we forsake the LORD will come to an end.” Isaiah 1:27-28
“Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way?’ Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me.’” –John 14:5-6
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” -- Matthew 7:13-14
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled.” 2 Timothy 4:1-3
“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” --Revelation 20:4-15
Universalism applies passages like Acts 3:21 and Colossians 1:20 to mean that God intends to restore all things to their original state of purity through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:18; Hebrews 2:9), so that in the end everyone will be brought into a right relationship with God (1 Corinthians 15:24–28).
But such a view runs counter to the teaching of the Bible that "all who call upon the name of the Lord" will be united to Christ and eternally saved, not all people in general.
It is very clear that there is not multiple paths to God through other religions. Jesus was very clear that those who deny His truth and Him will not receive salvation and will go to Hell. This is an exclusive Gospel (only exclusive to those who choose to have faith in Christ and Christ alone)
Universalism Ignores God's Justice
Universalism focuses exclusively on God's love and mercy and ignores his holiness, justice, and wrath. It also assumes that God's love depends on what he does for humanity, rather than being a self-existing attribute of God present from eternity, before man was created.
The Psalms speak repeatedly of God's justice. Without hell, what justice would there be for murderers of millions, such as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao? Universalists say Christ’s sacrifice on the cross met all the demands for God’s justice, but would it be justice for the wicked to enjoy the same rewards as those who were martyred for Christ? The fact that often there is no justice in this life requires that a just God impose it in the next.
James Fowler, president of Christ in You Ministries, notes, "Desiring to focus on the rosy optimism of the universal perfection of man, sin is, for the most part, an irrelevancy... Sin is minimized and trivialized in all universalistic teaching."
Universalism was taught by Origen (A.D. 185–254) but was declared heresy by the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 543. It became popular again in the 19th century and is gaining traction in many Christian circles today.
Fowler adds that one reason for the resurgence of universalism is the current attitude that we should not be judgmental of any religion, idea, or person. By refusing to call anything right or wrong, universalists not only cancel the need for Christ's redeeming sacrifice but also ignore the consequences of unrepented sin.
As a doctrine, universalism does not describe one certain denomination or faith group. The universalist camp includes members of varying doctrinal categories with differing and sometimes contradictory beliefs.