The "Liberal Gospel" in today's world claims that all religions are the same. They're all just different paths to finding the same God.
That -- while sometimes said with kind intent -- is, of course, the very worst kind of nonsense, balderdash, & moonshine. Anyone who knows something of the other religions and then reads the Bible like an honest grown-up will see that right away. In fact, you don't even have to be grown-up. An honest child can see the difference as well.
However, there is one thing upon which all religions agree. And that is that there is something terribly wrong with this world. This world is not functioning correctly. Just look around at all the pain, suffering, death, disease, crime, war, injustice, and wrong-doing. Just read the headlines of today's paper.
As Tacitus -- an ancient Roman senator & historian -- once wrote: the history of this world is "horrible even in peace." For some people, it's just painful to be alive in this world. Literally.
So, all religions are forced to address this. Even the Christian Scientist -- who formally tries to deny the very existence of evil -- finds himself/herself having to address it always and forever. It's like trying to deny the existence of yourself. Counter-evidence keeps cropping up. It's offensively ridiculous. That's why I didn't even include them in the generalized statement above that "all religions agree that there is something terribly wrong with this world." In some ways, they've forfeited the right to be included in a conversation with grown-ups. And I say that as someone who has had friends in that communion. I love them, but they need to have the courage to open their eyes.
A fellow PCA pastor (Joe Novenson) once suggested a metaphor that would help us hold this truth -- the existence of evil in this world -- in our minds in such a way that would allow us to clearly see how the religions of this world differ. It's a very helpful metaphor, and I'm just going to reproduce it here.
Please imagine that life is like a 16-foot deep, 16-foot across, round, slimy-walled PIT. You are in it, and you can't get out of it.
You're in way over your head, in a situation in which you can get little help, and over which you have little control.
But to make matters worse... inside that pit, there's also an 8-foot cobra. He's coiled and ready to strike.
Let's say that that cobra represents all the injustice, death, crime, suffering, poverty, pain, disease, war, & wrong-doing in this world. It represents everything that is wrong -- both in your personal life and in the world in general.
And here's what we're going to do: We're going to escort a representative from each of the world's major religions right up to the edge of that pit. That representative will see you in the pit and offer you his religion's version of "salvation."
We'll see just how different or alike the religions of this world are. Note that if you can think of a religion that we won't bring to the edge of the pit, it's really just a deviation (some would say a "heresy") of one of the religions that we will bring to the edge of the pit.
... to be continued ...