How do You Choose a Religion?

Hey, I gotta question!" yelled a student from the back of the room. I was sharing the claims of Christ at a University of Massachusetts fraternity house when he interrupted me. "Yes, what is it?" I queried. "I think Jesus is great for you, but I know Buddhists and Muslims, and they're just as sincere as you are. And they think their views are true just like you do. There's no way a person can know his religion is the 'right' one, so the best thing to do is to just believe everyone's religion is true for them and not judge anyone."

Ever heard something like this? It's hard to believe you haven't. What should we make of these ideas? How should we respond? I think there is a good response to this viewpoint and I hope to provide it in what follows. But before I do, we should carefully note what seems to underlie such a claim. The student was assuming that there are no objective principles that, if applied to one's religious quest, would help one make the best, most rational choice of religious options. In the absence of such principles, any choice is either purely arbitrary or totally based on emotion or upbringing. In either case, such a choice would in no way put a person in a position to judge someone else's choice as being wrong.

Are there objective principles to guide one in choosing a religion? Indeed there are. I believe the following four principles should be used to guide one in choosing which religion he or she will follow and, if properly applied, I believe they will point to Christianity as the most rational choice.

Facts About Creation

Principle 1: A religion's concept of God should harmonize with what we can know about God from creation.

First, some readers will object that all we can know about God is what he has revealed to us through the Bible. The Bible, however, makes it clear that, from creation alone, even those who have never read the Bible should know certain things about God (Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:18-23). This means that when one begins to search for God by reading the various "Holy Books" of different religious traditions, one does not begin with a blank slate. One has had the opportunity to "read a book" — the book of creation — every day of one's life before one picks up the Bible, the Koran or anything else.

Moreover, while I will not develop the argument here — I want you to look into the matter for yourself — but a powerful intellectual case can be made from facts about the creation that a single personal God exists (For a good place to start learning how to make this case, see Francis J. Beckwith, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, eds., 

To Everyone an Answer

). This case claims that the existence of one personal God is the best explanation for (1) the existence and beginning of a finite universe, (2) the beauty and order of the universe, including the existence of biological information, (3) the existence of finite minds such as our own, and (4) the existence of objective moral law and the equality of human rights.

Please note that Principle 1 points to monotheism, not because the Bible requires it, but because monotheism is the best explanation of these facts about creation. Principle 1 leaves Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the running.


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