Respecting All Souls, But Not All Beliefs
"We must respect all religions and beliefs" is what the world says today. Is this a true and logical way to live? I want to be clear at the outset. There is a difference between what people mean when they make that statement, and what the statement actually means.
What do people mean when they say “We must respect all religions and beliefs”? Most sincere and honest people mean by this that people are entitled to believe what they want, and that we should respect those people regardless of their belief system. It is important to respect all souls. All souls are created in the image of God, so all men are to be treated with respect.
God Loves All Men
The "golden text" of the Bible tells us that God loves all men.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:16)
Of course we learn from this that God loves all men so much that he sent Jesus to provide all men the opportunity to be saved. Paul wrote:
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.(Romans 5:8)
Since God has shown love to all men, we as children of God are also encouraged to show love to all men.
We are to love all men
Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.(1 Peter 2:17)
So, at the outset of this article we must be clear: God expects us to show love and respect to all men, based upon the fact that all men are made in the likeness of God; each individual is a living soul. Having then proven that all men are to be shown respect and love based upon the fact that God loves all men, we must ask: Does God respect every way of life, or every set of beliefs?
Does God Respect Every Way?
Anyone familiar with the Old Testament will acknowledge that God did not accept every way, nor any religion that was contrary to Him.
Exodus 20 specifically condemns the worship of any type of idol. Thus we see that God condemns any set of beliefs that does not worship Him. Isaiah 46 shows that God had no respect for the worship of idols. And Daniel 3 makes it clear that God does not respect all religions, as His servants refused to bow to the image the king had made.
Jeremiah 10 shows beyond any doubt that God refuses to respect false religions. The psalmist also writes by inspiration:
Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.(Psalm 119:104)
Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.(Psalm 119:128)
The word “way” is the Hebrew word orach meaning “path, way, way of living.” God specifically says that He hates any way of living that is false, or wrong! He specifies further:
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.(Proverbs 8:13)
The Proverbs writer makes the point that the way devised by men leads to death. Proverbs 14:12 says
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
God informs the people through Isaiah that His way is superior to man’s:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.(Isaiah 55:8)
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.(Isaiah 55:9)
Clearly then, God does not respect ways that are contrary to Him. The same is true in the New Testament:
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.(Galatians 1:8-9)
It is clear then, that God does not respect every religion and every teaching!
Should we respect every way?
God loves all men, but he does not respect any way that is false. So let us be clear. The phrase under question is not “We must respect all men,” but rather “We must respect all religions.”
In other words, we must respect every way. Let us start with defining certain terms:
According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word respect is defined as: "A feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc."
The definition of religion is:
- the belief in a god or in a group of gods
- an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
- an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group
If we take these definitions at face value and put them together, we have this: "A feeling of admiring a religion that is good, valuable and important." Since religion can be defined as a belief system adhered to by a person or a group of people, we conclude that the statement is more properly written thus: "We must have a feeling of admiring all belief systems that are good, valuable and important."
So we must ask, “Are all religions good, valuable, and important?” Today we will only look at one of these attributes: good. Are all religions good?
In order for a religion to be good, good must be acknowledged
The religion of atheism teaches that there is no such thing as "good," therefore, the atheist’s religion is clearly not good (since there is no such thing). But if respect is based upon a feeling of admiration for that which is good, then I ask, are we to respect the atheistic religion? (Again, we are not discussing whether we are to respect atheists; we are discussing the set of beliefs that they adhere to.)
If their belief system is not good (since there is no good), then their system is to be without respect.
Any religion that teaches that there is no good religion is claiming that you ought not to respect it, because respect is based upon being "good," and this religion teaches that no system of beliefs (their own included) is good. So when the atheist tells me that there is no good religion, I know that they do not wish for me to respect their set of beliefs.
Of all people on the face of the earth, I find atheists very intriguing. I do so for a number of reasons. First, they cannot possibly live according to their beliefs. They believe there is no such thing as "wrong," however, when their car is stolen, they call the police. If someone were to hit their child, rape their wife, or burn their house down, they would strongly protest that they had been wronged, and that someone should pay. Yet it is completely inconsistent with their system of beliefs to cry foul when there truly is no such thing as foul to begin with.
Second, just as intriguing to me is the fact that atheists are adamant that there is no such thing as God, and then will set themselves up as gods!
Many will even go so far as to say they know that there is no God. This man is apparently someone who has done research like no other. In order to make such a claim, he would obviously know every realm in the entire material universe intimately. If he has not searched diligently and looked in every single place in the universe, the God that he "knows" does not exist may well be found there.
The atheist not only must know every single aspect of the material universe, but he must be totally and completely familiar with every single spiritual existence. So the atheist that claims he knows there is no God acknowledges that he himself knows everything, both material and spiritual in every minute detail. One could conclude then that the atheist has dismissed any idea of an all-knowing God and has placed himself into the "all-knowing" category.
Yet, in his "all-knowing" life, he refuses to acknowledge that there is any such thing as good. Thus, as stated earlier, the religion of the atheist tells me that there is no good religion; I therefore know that they do not wish for me to respect their set of beliefs.
In order for a religion to be good, it must teach 'good' morality
Any religion that teaches its adherents that it is OK to be a pedophile is not a good religion. For instance, Islam teaches that Muslims are to imitate their prophet in every way of life. They recognize that Muhammad married a six-year-old girl, and had sexual relations with her when she was 9. In places like Yemen today, Sharia law forbids any other laws being passed that would protect pre-pubescent children from being raped by their much older husbands. This is based upon the example of their beloved "prophet." The Quran itself explains that it is fine to marry and divorce a girl, before she ever reaches puberty.
Again, this same religion teaches that it is OK to have sex slaves, and that raping those slaves is justified in the sight of God. Yet this is contrary to all we know to be good and moral!
So, we conclude that while we understand that Muslims are to be respected as souls made in the image of God, we also readily admit that their teachings are contrary to a good morality and thus their teachings are not good. We love their souls, but their teachings are contrary to God, and therefore are not good.
If the teachings are not good, the teachings are, by definition, unworthy of respect.
A good religion will have a good God
There are some in the religious world under the umbrella of Christianity who claim to follow the God of the Bible, but as they understand him, he is a cruel God. We will not list them all, but we will look at one such group.
Calvinists teach that God, before there ever was any creation, arbitrarily chose certain individuals to go to Heaven and certain individuals to go to Hell, based upon nothing. The Calvinists then explain that if you are one of the lucky ones to have been selected to go to Heaven, then there is nothing you can do to stop yourself from going to Heaven. And the opposite is also true. If you were not given an arbitrary check mark beside your name, then you must forever be bound to Hell. Even if you wanted to go to Heaven, you could not go.
Calvinists also claim that every single action that any man does is an action that God causes to happen. So when any person sins, he is doing the will of God, as it is God who is causing the sin to take place. Then, God is also justified in sending those sinners to Hell, by their simply doing what He has foreordained them to do.
This picture of a god is not the God of the Bible. The God found in the Bible says that each is responsible for his or her own sin, and that they will be judged based upon the way they have lived in this life. The election of God is not specific to individuals, but rather general and inclusive of all who will obey.
The Calvinist’s religion is a religion that follows an immoral, unjust God; therefore the god they follow is not a good god. Since the god of the Calvinist is not good, the whole Calvinistic religion is wrong from top to bottom. And while we do respect the Calvinist, for he has a soul and was made in the image of God, we deny the religion he follows because it leads to an unjust, false way. And as we saw earlier, God hates every false way!
There are plenty of other belief systems that could be looked at. At this point, however, we will stop. The point of this article is not to give a list of every single belief system that God does not respect. The point is that, just because someone says “all religions and belief systems are to be respected,” that does not make it so.
We have shown that God does not respect every religion and belief system, and neither does he expect that of His children. Does he expect us to love and respect every soul? Yes! Does that mean that we are to accept and respect every single word that comes out of the mouth of every individual in the whole world? Absolutely not!
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God…(1 John 4:1)