Global false religions and Christian cults that deny Jesus Christ as their Savior mislead, deceive, and divert people from the narrow and true path to salvation.

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In the book of Matthew, Jesus Christ warns us about the roads that lead to both life and destruction. He says, “Enter through the narrow gate” in Matthew 7:13–14. Many people enter through the vast, convenient gate that leads to destruction. It is difficult because the gate to life is narrow, and few people find their way.”

This passage emphasizes the peril of taking the broad way, a path filled with idolatry and false religion that ultimately leads to destruction.

In Matthew 7:22–23, Jesus further cautions, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” This warning underscores the reality that not all who claim to serve Christ are indeed known by Him, particularly those who fail to do the will of the Father.

This article will explore how various world religions and even some professing Christians walk on this broad path, leading away from true salvation in Jesus Christ.

Catholicism

Catholicism, despite its claim to Christian orthodoxy, incorporates practices that deviate from the Biblical teachings.

  • Idolatry: The veneration of Mary and the saints, the use of statues, and reliance on sacraments as means of grace are idolatrous.
  • False Security: Catholics may believe that participation in rituals and adherence to church traditions suffice for salvation, potentially neglecting a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Catholicism teaches the necessity of the sacraments for salvation, including infant baptism, the Eucharist, and confession. While rooted in Christian tradition, these practices overshadow the necessity of a personal, saving faith in Jesus Christ alone. The reliance on intercession by dead saints and the veneration of Mary detract from the direct access to God provided through Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

Islam

Islam, the world’s second-largest religion, strictly adheres to monotheism, yet its rejection of Jesus as the Son of God and Savior positions it on a broad path.

  • Idolatry: Islam forbids the worship of material idols, but it does revere the Kaaba and adhere to strict rituals. Examples of these rituals include the hajj and pilgrimages to Mecca to circumambulate the Kaaba.
  • False Prophet: By denying the divinity of Jesus and His role as the mediator between God and humanity, Islam leads its followers away from the true path to salvation.

Islam emphasizes works and adherence to the Five Pillars to please Allah. This works-based approach contrasts with the grace-based salvation offered through Jesus Christ. The Quran’s teachings about Jesus diverge significantly from the biblical account, presenting Him merely as a prophet rather than the Son of God and Savior of the world.

Buddhism

Buddhism, with its focus on enlightenment and the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), leads many down a path that denies the existence of a personal God.

  • Idolatry: The veneration of Buddha statues and pursuing enlightenment through self-effort constitute idolatry.
  • Self-Reliance: Buddhism’s emphasis on self-improvement and attaining Nirvana through personal effort neglects the need for divine intervention and redemption.

Buddhist activities like chanting, meditation, and ritual offerings aim to become enlightened and break free from the cycle of rebirth. Instead of relying on divine grace, this inwardly focused spirituality depends on human effort. Buddhists miss out on the salvation that Jesus Christ freely offers by seeking liberation through personal discipline and insight.

Hinduism

Hinduism is one of the oldest and most complex religions in the world. Its polytheistic nature and diverse practices characterize it.

  • Idolatry: The worship of multiple gods and goddesses, the use of idols in temples, and various rituals are inherently idolatrous.
  • False Gods: The plethora of deities in Hinduism distracts from the worship of the one true God as revealed in the Bible.

Hinduism’s vast pantheon and the incorporation of rituals such as puja (worship), sacrifices, and festivals create a religious environment steeped in idolatry. The belief in karma and reincarnation as means of spiritual progression further distances adherents from the biblical concept of grace and redemption through Jesus Christ alone.

Hare Krishna

The Hare Krishna movement, a Hindu branch, centers on worshipping Krishna as the supreme deity.

  • Idolatry: Chanting, idol worship, and rituals dedicated to Krishna are vital components.
  • Exclusive Worship: The focus on Krishna as the ultimate God detracts from the worship of the biblical God.

The Hare Krishna movement emphasizes bhakti yoga (devotion) to Krishna through practices such as chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, rituals, and festivals. From a biblical perspective, this devotion to a single deity within the Hindu pantheon is idolatrous, as it places another god in the position of the one true God.

Shinto

Shinto, Japan’s indigenous religion, involves worshipping kami (spirits) and nature.

  • Idolatry: The veneration of kami, the use of shrines, and rituals are forms of idolatry.
  • Nature Worship: Shinto’s focus on nature spirits diverts worship from the Creator to the creation.

Shinto practices include rituals, offerings, and purification ceremonies at shrines dedicated to various kami. This nature-centric spirituality and reverence for ancestral spirits constitute a form of idolatry that neglects the worship of the one true God as the Creator of all things.

Mormonism

Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, introduces additional scriptures and prophets alongside the Bible.

  • Idolatry: The veneration of Joseph Smith and reliance on the Book of Mormon are deviations from biblical Christianity.
  • Additional Revelation: The introduction of new scriptures and doctrines contradicts the sufficiency of the Bible.

Mormonism’s teachings about God, Jesus, and salvation differ significantly from those of orthodox Christianity. The belief in eternal progression, the preexistence of souls, and the potential for humans to become gods are heretical. Reliance on additional scriptures such as the Book of Mormon and veneration of Joseph Smith undermine the authority of the Bible and the unique role of Jesus Christ in salvation.

Seventh-day Adventism

Seventh-day Adventism emphasizes the observance of the Sabbath and the teachings of Ellen G. White.

  • Legalism: The strict observance of the Sabbath and dietary laws leads to a legalistic approach to faith.
  • Prophetic Authority: The reliance on the writings of Ellen G. White detracts from the sole authority of the Bible.

Seventh-day Adventists’ focus on specific doctrines such as the Sabbath, dietary restrictions, and investigative judgment creates an environment of legalism. The emphasis on Ellen G. White’s prophetic authority and Adventism’s unique doctrines overshadows the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the Trinity and adhere strictly to the teachings of the Watchtower Society.

  • Idolatry: The organization’s authority and unique doctrines replace biblical truth.
  • Denial of Christ’s Divinity: Rejecting the deity of Jesus Christ undermines the foundation of Christian faith.

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ teachings about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and salvation differ markedly from mainstream Christianity. Their rejection of the Trinity, unique translation of the Bible (New World Translation), and exclusive reliance on the Watchtower Society’s interpretations are distortions of biblical truth. This practice leads to idolatry, where the organization itself becomes the object of ultimate authority.

Other Major World Religions

1. Sikhism: Combines elements of Hinduism and Islam, venerating the Guru Granth Sahib.

  • Idolatry: The veneration of the holy book and adherence to specific rituals are idolatry.
  • Works-Based Faith: While commendable, the emphasis on good deeds and community service neglects the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Sikhism teaches devotion to one God and emphasizes ethical living and community service. However, the veneration of the Guru Granth Sahib and the adherence to specific rituals can detract from the biblical emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and faith in His atoning work.

2. Jainism: Focuses on non-violence and asceticism, venerating Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers).

  • Idolatry: The veneration of Tirthankaras and the use of statues in worship are forms of idolatry.
  • Self-Effort: Jainism’s emphasis on self-effort and ascetic practices neglects the need for divine grace and redemption.

Jainism’s strict ethical code and ascetic practices aim to achieve liberation from the rebirth cycle. The veneration of Tirthankaras and the rituals performed in their honor are seen as idolatrous, focusing on human figures rather than God. The reliance on personal discipline and self-effort contrasts with the biblical message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

3. Bahá’í Faith: Teaches the unity of all religions, venerating Bahá’u’lláh as a prophet.

  • Idolatry: The veneration of Bahá’u’lláh and the inclusion of non-biblical teachings are idolatry.
  • Universalism: The Bahá’í Faith’s emphasis on the unity of all religions dilutes the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation.

The Bahá’í Faith promotes the unity of all religions and the oneness of humanity. However, the veneration of Bahá’u’lláh and the acceptance of teachings from various religious traditions undermine Jesus Christ’s exclusive claims. This universalist viewpoint distorts the gospel’s unique message into idolatry.

Conclusion

Indeed, those who follow idolatrous religions and reject Jesus Christ as their Savior are paving the way to hell. Few people discover the problematic path and narrow gate that leads to life, as Jesus said in Matthew 7:13–14.

Numerous world religions, as well as certain self-identified Christian groups within various sects, adhere to the broad way, which is identifiable by its practice of idolatry and deviation from biblical teachings.

Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to true salvation and entry into heaven because He is the only one who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Through a personal relationship with Him and the worship of spirit and truth, one can find the narrow path to eternal life. This commonality exists among all religions despite their differences in practices and beliefs, which is idolatry.



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