There are so many different religions in the world, how do you know which is the right one? (Part 2)

Fr. Joel Church meets World, God & Faith

In Part 1 I wrote, “If you want your life to be the best it can be, you must follow the religion that has the most truth.”

You Have to Sift for Truth

If you want to be a good scientist, you have to be willing to test answers and discard the ones that turn out to be false. The same thing goes with our own lives. The truth is mixed in with a lot of error and some outright lies. But all facts look true until you begin to examine them. The truth holds up to scrutiny; error does not survive scrutiny. If you want to know the truth, you have to ask good questions and look for good answers. You have to be willing to scrutinize what you think you know.

You also have to be willing to let truth make you uncomfortable. We all know people that refuse to face the truth. I met a man from Turkey who told me sincerely that the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center were really a Jewish plot. The towers came down because of bombs planted by the Jews to make the Moslems look bad. So explain to me the part about the Saudis hijacking planes and flying them into the towers — they were framed? It boggles the mind that someone would so willingly believe lies. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be satisfied with comfortable lies; keep looking for the truth.

Follow the Path of Truth

You have to start somewhere. My starting point is Jesus Christ. His birthday is so important it touches off celebrations the world over (a party we call Christmas). He is without a doubt the most interesting man who ever lived. Mahatma Gandhi, whose nonviolent protests successfully freed India from British rule, learned nonviolence from Jesus even though he wasn’t Christian. He once said, “I would become a Christian if I’d ever met one.” I am convinced that the meaning of life is Jesus Christ. I am Catholic because of Jesus; I believe the Catholic Church is the most faithful and authentic witness to Jesus Christ.

So Only Catholics Get to Heaven?

People start to get awkward when you talk about true and false religions, as though you were judging them. Not at all. The Truth is the judge. We Catholics believe that the Catholic Church has more truth than all the other religions. It has the best and most comprehensive answers to the big questions. But this doesn’t mean only Catholics get into Heaven. God loves every single person who ever lived. He loves them so much, he wants them all to get to Heaven. And He has a plan for each of us. All we have to do is be willing to say Yes to God’s plan; He will do the rest. (CCC 1260)

So if anybody can get to heaven, does it really matter what religion you join?

Lies hurt us. The Aztecs believed that they had to sacrifice human beings in order to make the sun keep shining. The truth is that human sacrifice is wrong, destructive, and evil. Yet God was still working in the Aztec culture inviting them to say Yes to his plans. In fact, when Hernan Cortez landed in Mexico, his landing coincided with the fulfillment of a prophecy that made the Aztecs think he was a god returning, possibly to abolish human sacrifice.

Think of the truth like light in the darkness. Living in the truth is like daylight: you can clearly see things, and you travel more quickly and securely. The more lies fill your culture, the darker things become. You can still make progress to God but it’s hard to see clearly, it’s hard to avoid pitfalls, and it’s easier to get lost. No matter how thick the darkness, God provides each person enough light to find Him and come home.

You Are Not Alone In the Search

Finding good answers to the big questions is priceless. You will see the world and yourself more clearly and you will make progress as a person. Where do you start? Start with what you know. If you were raised Assemblies of God, begin there. What do they believe about Jesus, life, the afterlife, morality? Learn, but also sift. Remember, you are not looking for a religion that matches your personal preferences; you are looking for the truth. Ask good questions; seek satisfying answers. Discard things that do not hold up to scrutiny. You can’t reject something just because you don’t like it. You have to replace a poor answer with a better answer. Save everything that holds up to scrutiny. Seek, and you shall find. You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.