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The Pattern of All False Religions

Mon, Mar. 03, 2014 Posted: 07:57 AM


As the story goes, he was in a cave when suddenly the angel Gabriel appeared to him. The angel then supposedly pinned him to a wall and commanded him to “Recite!”

From that alleged episode was born the prophet of Islam (Muhammad), the Koran (which means the “recitation”), the god Allah, a rendition of Jesus that somewhat matches His portrayal in the Bible, and a method of salvation based on weights and measures (i.e. works).

Pick whatever non-Christian religion you’d like and you will see the same pattern emerge. You will witness:

A particular individual who eventually proclaims him/herself to be a prophet…

Who creates or ‘discovers’ a particular authoritative set of writings based on visions or encounters with a supposed angelic messenger or deity…

Who then uses those experiences and writings to proclaim (1) a false god; (2) a false savior; and (3) a false salvation.

 With this well-worn path, the lives and souls of countless people have been destroyed. Let’s take a look at some concrete examples to get a better idea of how the process works.

A False prophet

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, claimed that in 1820 he received a special vision of the Father and the Son[1] who instructed him not to join any modern church; all were abominations in their sight. Three years later, another messenger (Moroni) allegedly appeared to Joseph to inform him of a special book that was inscribed on gold plates, which supposedly contained the everlasting gospel. Seven years after that, Smith founded the Mormon church and claimed to receive another vision from God that he was to be “a seer, a translator, a prophet, and an apostle.”[2]

Smith certainly isn’t alone in his claims of seeing visions and being crowned a prophet. Investigate the lives and assertions of Charles Taze Russell from the Jehovah’s witnesses, Muhammad, Buddha, Sun Myung Moon, or L. Ron Hubbard and you will see the same things.

A False authority

According to Joseph Smith, the book of Mormon is “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than any other book.”[3]

Every false religion, without fail, will put forward an authoritative work that is considered equal to, but most often superior to, the Bible. Further, the religion will cast doubt about the Bible’s truthfulness and claim it is corrupt as did Mormon leader Orson Pratt when he said, “Who, in his right mind, could for one moment suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the Bible has escaped pollution?”[4]

A cursory review of Islam, Jehovah’s witnesses, and other like faiths will show both extra-biblical writings or a rewritten Bible and a dim view of any set of Scriptures outside their walls.

A False god

A. W. Tozer wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”[5] That being the case, it’s not surprising that false prophets, using their false authorities, preach a false god that corrupts its adherents.

Mormonism, for example, teaches that God was once a mortal man who progressed to become God – an exalted man. Milton Hunter of the Mormon church says, “God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar to that which we are now passing.”[6]

Some repeat the enemy’s promise in the garden (“you shall be like God…”), while others put forward a pantheistic deity such as Wicca that claims: “She [Gaia] is the source of fertility, endless wisdom and loving caresses… She gives birth to abundance… Since the Goddess is nature, all nature…She is omnipresent, changeless, eternal.”[7]

Be sure that whatever god is preached, it will not be the God of the Bible.

A False christ

False religions don’t repeat the error of uneducated skeptical internet sites that try and deny Jesus ever lived, but instead they put forward another Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4) that is a counterfeit. Mormonism, for example, denies the eternality of Jesus and claims instead that he was the first spirit child of God, is the spirit-brother of Lucifer and Jehovah of the Old Testament, and became a man when God and Mary had physical relations.

A counterfeit Christ is an incredibly important part of the enemy’s teaching because, in the same way that placebo medication can’t heal a real disease, a fake Jesus can’t save anyone from their real sin.

A False salvation

Nearly all false religions have a works-related path that earns the right of its practitioner to live eternally with God. For example, Mormonism is quite open that faith in Jesus and God’s grace does not lead to salvation: “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God, that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.”[8]

In a similar vein, Islam makes it clear that working one’s way to heaven is the only way: “Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy - They will attain salvation: But those whose balance Is light, will be those Who have lost their souls; In Hell will they abide”[9]

Whatever non-Christian religion is consulted, grace by faith alone and through Christ alone is not found where salvation is concerned.

What About Christianity?

While the names, writings, and descriptions may change, the overall pattern does not. The path of a false prophet using a false authority to proclaim a false god, christ, and salvation is found in every non-Christian faith.

“Hold on a minute,” says the skeptic, “how can you say Christianity isn’t like those other religions? It seems to follow the same model!”

A fair question. Let me give three brief defenses regarding how Christianity differs.

First, while the failed prophecies in false religions are legion, no prophet of God ever uttered a prophecy that failed to materialize, proving his claim that he spoke for God. On this subject, Blaise Pascal wrote: "I see many contradictory religions, and consequently all false save one. Each wants to be believed on its own authority, and threatens unbelievers. I do not therefore believe them. Every one can say this; every one can call himself a prophet. But I see that Christian religion wherein prophecies are fulfilled; and that is what every one cannot do."[10]

Second and similarly, God substantiated His prophets through miraculous works that provided evidence that the words they spoke were true. No such things can be substantiated in other faiths[11], while in Christianity, the crowning miracle of all – Jesus resurrection from the dead – can be strongly argued for on historical, philosophical, and theological grounds.

Lastly, ever other religion in the world can be categorized in one of three ways: (1) epistemic: if I just learn something I’ll be better; (2) pragmatic: if I just do something I’ll be better; (3) existential: if I just experience something I’ll be better.

By contrast, Christianity is ontological. It is grounded in a Person that cannot be separated from the faith. Buddha admitted that he could be removed from his faith and it would not change, but not so with Jesus. This is why Paul said in 2 Tim. 1:12: "For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed…” (and not “what I have believed”).

For these reasons and others, Jesus Christ and Christianity are unique and stand alone among the sea of competing belief systems. All other religions and their adherents that preach a false god, christ, and gospel receive this warning from Jesus: “They are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14).

Notice that both the deceiver and the deceived go into eternity lost. Perhaps this is why every New Testament book except Philemon contains warnings against false prophets and their teachings, which underscores the fact that there is nothing else that should be taken more seriously than spiritual truth and error.

Due to the popularity of this article, there is now a PowerPoint presentation available that can be used to present the information above in classroom and other lecture settings.



[1] The actual number of messengers differs in Mormon history.

[2] Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1978), 1:40-42. See online source at: http://www.josephsmithacademy.org/inspira/ebooks/history-of-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints-vol-1/.

[4] Orson Pratt, “Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon,” in A Series of Pamphlets (Liverpool, England: n.p., 1851), pg. 47. See online source at: http://tinyurl.com/l6d46qg.

[5] A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (San Francisco: Harper, 1961), pg. 1.

[6] Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1958), pg. 104. See online Mormon site reference at: http://mormonthink.com/QUOTES/natureofgod.htm.

[8] Spencer W. Kimball: quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1990), see online source at: http://www.ldsces.org/manuals/book-of-mormon-institute-student-manual/bm1996-03-2ne-3-6.asp.

[9] Sura 23:102-3.

[11] Even where miracle stories appear in other faiths, they are much like in Islam where such accounts only appeared after Christian apologists confronted Muslims with the miracles of the Bible.

Robin Schumacher