I don’t mean to pick on this blog in particular, but this post exemplifies an all-too-common tendency of Christians to put an apologetic slant on their approach to non-Christian religions. The post purports to offer five reasons why “a thoughtful person would start their religious quest with Christianity,” and in a relatively short space it manages to pack in quite a few straw men, mischaracterizations, and omissions with regard to other traditions:
– “There might be glimmers of grace in Hinduism and Buddhism, but every other major world religion is about doing stuff that is going to please some deity.”
– “Most eastern religions portray evil, pain and suffering as ‘illusion’ that you need to overcome and transcend. Christianity takes evil, pain and suffering seriously.”
– “In Christianity, we get to use our minds in our worship … In eastern traditions (those religions that most often make the claim of being holistic), your reason might actually be an impediment in your religious progress.”
– “Jesus is the universal religious figure that every major religion wants to co-opt.”
The overarching approach here is to put the best possible spin on Christianity (because, hey, Christianity has never been legalistic or anti-intellectual, right?) and to offer little more than caricatures of other traditions. By contrast, I think that before we even get to the point of critiquing non-Christian religions, we need to do our very best to understand them on their own terms and see how and why they make sense to their own adherents.