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Prothero on Colbert: All Religions Are Not Saying the Same Thing

Posted on June 15 2010 8:00 pm
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Stephen Prothero, author of God is Not One, was on The Colbert Report last night to discuss religion, which seems to be something Colbert is particularly interested in (notice how he breaks character to discuss the Catholic focus on suffering like Christ did). His main point touches on something I just discussed on NRB (click here) which is that the world’s major religions are contradictory. Either one is right and the rest are wrong, or none are right. The idea that they are all teaching the same thing and are compatible just doesn’t work, as much as I wish that weren’t the case.

Prothero correctly writes that these differences matter. They are substantive and not based on semantics or interpretation. For example, Christians believe Christ died on the cross and was resurrected. Muslims believe he was never crucified and was just a prophet that was transported to heaven when his time was done. These beliefs cannot be reconciled.

Watch Prothero’s interview with Colbert below:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen Prothero
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

I fully sympathize with the temptation to declare all religions as equal. You rid yourself of the burden of learning about each one, and there’s no need for judgment—the theme I keep coming back to in my blogs. More than anything, I believe that’s where the knee-jerk resistance to Christianity and religion as a whole comes from.

Whenever I discuss my religious beliefs, I am almost immediately asked (with a not-so-subtle sound of anger): So everyone that doesn’t agree with you goes to hell?!

This is an issue Christians struggle to explain. God doesn’t send people to hell. A more and more common belief is that hell is separation from God, and it’s a willful separation that comes from the values and actions of the individual. God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell—that’s what the entire sacrifice of Jesus Christ was about. And we can’t say for sure who will go to heaven or not, Christian or not, because we are finite human beings. We can only account for ourselves. However the afterlife goes, it is surely far beyond our capacity to understand and each person’s life is the product of a nearly unlimited number of factors that we can’t detect, understand or fathom. Therefore, we should leave judgment of people (though not their actions) to God, just as the Bible says.

And being an unbeliever doesn’t mean that God won’t use you for His purpose, or won’t intervene in your life. He isn’t the friend that refuses to talk to you after an argument or until you give in to his demands. Looking back, I can see how God was working in my life even though I was an agnostic. I am now a Christian, but I recognize that those that do not follow my faith aren’t disposable to God. He can use members of all faiths, but that doesn’t necessarily mean each faith is created equal.

Oh, and one more thing. Prothero says that Islam is “winning.” I have a different take, which you can read here.

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