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Page last edited on 12 March, 2003

Which is the "True" Religion?

[ Article source : University of Life <www.uoflife.com> ]

There's plenty of talk, or rather, arguing, about this question. Millions of people have died because they couldn't see eye to eye on the true nature of God, the universe, and the purpose of life. That's what religion is, in its simplest form: your opinion of what's out there and what you're supposed to do about it.

Even members of the same religion rarely share the same religion in this broad definition. Because they have been raised in different families or even cultures, their perceptions of life vary greatly. It's difficult to comprehend an understanding, patient God when your own parents were never satisfied with your performance, quick to punish and slow to congratulate. It's difficult to feel loved unconditionally by God when your own parents sent unconscious messages that you were only accepted when you did what pleased them. And so you may say that you believe in a perfect, loving God, but deep inside, you really expect to feel His wrath more often than His love.

Even if you belong to the "true" church, if this does in fact exist, your own personal religion is almost guaranteed to be flawed in many significant ways. If you don't know the full range of God's love for you and His willingness to help you, for example, you will never obtain all the joy and blessings that ought to be yours.

And so the following discussions will serve the atheist, the agnostic, and the never-doubting disciple to hone their religion, to either discover the truth or to bring your true feelings--your true religion--closer to what you believe it should be.

  • Can all religions be true?
  • If there is a "true" religion, how do I find it and know when I do?
  • How do I make myself understand--in my heart--what I believe?

Can all Religions be True?

To usefully discuss this question, we first must choose a meaning for the word "true." You have three options:

  1. In its broadest form, true simply means that the religion is a religion--that it helps you worship God, that it brings you blessings somehow in return. This is the most basic level of all religions. For this type of religion, you need no formal organization or dogma. All you really need is your own heart and desires and hopefully a whisper of the divine that you can listen to.
  2. Getting more specific, true means that the religion teaches true concepts. For example: that God exists, is powerful and loving, that He is aware of us and wishes to help us, and that certain things are required of us in return. These ideas are also basic to nearly all world religions.
  3. Next, we move into dogma. Dogma sometimes has a negative connotation because it can imply that we stop at the logical understanding of the nature of religion, that we don't continue on to letting them influence our lives, or that we simply take someone else's word for their truth without an honest investigation ourselves. Nevertheless, religious "facts" will influence our world- and religious views and even our faith. They will give us peace and power and sometimes move it farther from us.
  4. Finally, in the most specific end of the scale, true means that one organization (or many?) is specifically sanctioned by God and that its teachings are more accurate than any others'.

If you accept number three, you must also accept one and two--not that they are the ultimate meaning of truth, but that they have measures of truth and validity.

If you accept number four, your next step is to consider the following question:

If there is a "true" religion, how do I find and recognize it?

Many people accept that the religion they were born into is true. They have developed trust in it often because of having experienced God's power there in some way. This is not uncommon to good people and others in any religion, and so is limited as a means to discover "the" true religion.

Many accept a religion they were converted to (or born into) is true, often because they were explained the scriptural doctrine and it made sense. If logical analysis alone were enough to clarify the truth, there would be far fewer religions today. While many have strong preferences to one point of view, the strength of various viewpoints demonstrates the folly of relying wholly on logic and personal interpretation as a means to secure truth.

There is a reason that God left some ambiguity in the scriptures, and that is to force true seekers of truth to search with their hearts. True conversion can not take place only in the mind. The heart (and a humble one at that) is required for us to fulfill the purpose of religion--to become more like God: more loving, trusting, powerful, wise, forgiving, patient, merciful, etc.

So there's answer number one: use your mind, study the scriptures and seek insight there. Be humble and flexible just in case you picked up an incorrect idea somewhere. Then pray for guidance (if you're serious and keep asking, guidance WILL come!) and watch for events around you--don't throw away a miracle or blessing because it's not what you expected to find.

Answer number two: God expects you to do some of the work. Once you have studied out the question, you can ask Him if you got it right. Galatians 5:22-23 gives you a clue to recognize when God is communicating with you. You will often feel this confirmation with these feelings: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, hoy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance...." In other words, you feel His own attributes.

Be careful, once you have your hands on one piece of truth, not to stop looking for more. You don't get this all in one shot, you know, and you're expected to continue growing and learning (a very pleasant experience, though it often takes patience and trials to get there) throughout your life. That is the meaning and purpose of life.  

How do I make myself understand what I believe?

Excellent question. It's usually a lot easier to have an opinion than to have faith, hope, and charity. To gain those things, give them a try and ask God for help. Find ways to serve others. Be patient. Forgive. Enjoy the beauty in the world around you. Raise your children with love. By doing these things, you will be participating in God's own work--to help all His children to grow healthy, strong, and good.

Here's another excellent thing to focus on: is your heart hard or soft? We often harden our hearts to God because life is tough, we're injured by others, our faith is damaged because of the pain and suffering we experience from an imperfect world and the cruelty of others. We sometimes love our sins and pleasures more than we love God and goodness (but if we only knew the sweetness that comes from goodness!). Think of the parable of the sower and remove the stones, break up the hard soil of your heart so that the seed can spring up there and after it grows, you will easily enjoy the sweet fruit it brings to your life!

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Last updated on 12 March, 2003

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Hate Hurts. Love Cures. Conjecture Fails. Truth Prevails.
Islam - Bearing witness to the Truth
Seek Understanding from Knowledge/ Information
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