ARE THE MAJOR RELIGIONS WORSHIPPING THE SAME GOD?
We like to think that the major religions are
worshipping the same god, that the differences between religions
are inconsequential. We are most definitely not worshipping the
same god and the implications are important.
We like to think that there is one god and each
religion thinks it has the best description of what god is and what
he wants from us. The differences between these “understandings” of
god are so large and contradictory that the gods can’t possibly be
If one looks at the various religions’ claims
as to what god is asking of them, it would appear that god either
contradicts himself or changes his mind regularly about his
expectations. It appears that he himself does things that humans are
prohibited from doing, things that the bible calls repulsive.
So what does this all mean? For one thing, it
gives serious modern-day relevance to one of the Ten Commandments:
to not worship other gods. A person might childishly think that this
commandment refers only to stone or wooden statues. Actually the
commandment is timeless and much more subtle than that. The warning
is meant for our time as much as for any other time in history.
Basically, the bible recognizes the
ever-present temptation of humans to gradually alter or more
seriously redefine their gods, to give the gods characteristics,
motives, powers, behaviors, etc. that are not in the Five Books of
Moses. These departures have consequences for individual lives and
for societies, they are very detrimental to happiness. That is why we need this
commandment. It is in our interest to leave G-d as He is described
in the Five Books of Moses. If we redefine G-d, we get hurt. On the
other hand, if we all came back to the same understanding of G-d,
humanity could finally achieve its potential for harmony and
There is only one God, the One amply described
in the Five Books of Moses. He shows an interest in, or love of,
humanity by giving us civilizing rules and suggests that they be
spread by example. He doesn’t want them spread by coercion and
murder around the world. He does not accept faith as a substitute
for action. He wants us to understand that the rules reward those
individuals and societies that adopt them ….. in this life. In the
Five Books of Moses he doesn’t promise other chances, other lives.
Finally he makes it very clear that we need to take responsibility
for ourselves. You follow these rules, things will go well. You
don’t follow them, you will suffer. In the Five Books of Moses He
definitely does not suggest waiting and hoping that someone will
make things easier for us.
If these things seem right to you, then you
grasp the simple beauty of Back To Basics Judaism.