“Which religion is true?”
I’ve wrestled with variations of this question for the last 14 years. Today its answer finally arrives in a new question that I’m going to pursue on Sundays at PJ Lifestyle this year:
“Which religious practices transform us into better, happier people?”
I’ve shifted on one of the fault lines of a debate that cuts across faiths East and West. Is religion primarily something you believe or something you do?
Obviously every religion makes demands for both, but not all answer the same way with comparable ratios of dogma and ritual. And not all even pursue the same directions. As Stephen Prothero demonstrates in God Is Not One, religions each provide varying diagnoses of the core problem of human existence and then provide diverse treatments. We discover this when we engage in discussions with those who practice other religions.
Many of a traditionalist temperament bristle at the term “interfaith dialogue” — and for good reason. They’re on the defense against those who want to promote the falsehood that all religions are basically the same, we’re all worshiping the same god by different names, the differences don’t really matter, and thus we should tolerate all practices, even those we find barbaric and disgusting. All too often an interfaith sheepskin obscures such wolves as postmodernism, moral relativism, and, ultimately, their grandmother nihilism. If we must “tolerate” all religious beliefs as equal then we must also “tolerate” when those beliefs inspire men to marry multiple wives and kidnap girls to keep as slaves.
But there’s another way to approach interfaith spirituality, not as a competitor or a replacement to traditional, Judeo-Christian ethical monotheism, but as a logical continuation of its conclusions about the path we must pursue to bring about a more peaceful, prosperous world.