Stan GuthrieTrue or Merely Useful?
All religions don’t lead in the same direction.
When I was a new believer seeking reasons for my faith, I inhaled the writings of Christian apologists such as C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell. The way my unsophisticated mind summarized much of their material was something along the lines of, “Christianity is different from all other world religions because it is the only one in which we don’t have to earn our way to heaven, because salvation is by faith, not by works.”
Boston University’s Stephen Prothero no doubt would have challenged my simple formula on a number of levels, such as the obvious one that Christianity includes a prominent place for works, and other religions also have faith—that is, trust—in something at least. One point we would have wholeheartedly agreed on, however, is that Christianity indeed differs from all other faiths.
But Prothero would have gone further: all the world religions, in fact, differ one from another. Prothero dismisses as sentimental nonsense the theories of many other religion scholars, such as Huston Smith, that the various world religions, though different from one another in outward ephemera, share at their core the same spirit, that they are “different paths up the same mountain.”
These hopeful but ungrounded views, Prothero says, result from the%