However, as followers of Jesus Christ, what does the Bible say about studying other religions? Should we explore the tenets and practices of non-Christian faiths, or does God desire for us to avoid exposure to other belief systems?
Approach with Discernment
The Bible does not explicitly prohibit learning about other religions. However, Scripture clearly teaches that there is only one true God (Isaiah 45:5) and only one way to salvation through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Therefore, as believers, we must approach learning about non-Christian religions very carefully and with much discernment.
We should not study other faiths because we are seeking a new belief system or spiritual authority. As Christians, our sole spiritual authority is the Word of God. We also recognize that not all religions are equal paths to God. Salvation is found in Christ alone.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” (John 14:6 NKJV)
However, learning about the practices and beliefs of other religions can help us better understand the world we live in and connect with non-believers to share the hope of the gospel. Exposing ourselves to non-Christian thought requires maturity and being grounded in our faith. With wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit, exploring other religions can strengthen our conviction in the truth of Christianity.
Test Other Teachings Against Scripture
As you learn about non-Christian religions, remember to filter all teachings through the truth of God’s Word. The Bible instructs us:
“Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21 NKJV)
Evaluate new concepts against Scripture. Does this idea align with biblical principles or contradict them? Anything that conflicts with the Word of God must be rejected as false teaching. While we should seek to understand others’ beliefs, we must not compromise our commitment to the truth of the gospel.
Guard Against Syncretism
There is a danger when studying other religions called syncretism – the blending of different, and often contradictory, beliefs from various faiths. For example, some try to hold both Christian and Buddhist worldviews simultaneously. However, Scripture makes it clear that we cannot mix belief systems or cherry-pick parts we like from different religions.
“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:21 NKJV)
As we learn about other faiths, we must be careful not to adopt any spiritual practices or beliefs that conflict with biblical teaching. Do not try to combine different religions or conform Christianity to match non-biblical worldviews. Stay grounded in the truth of the Word.
Remember the Great Commission
As believers, we are called to share the gospel with the world, not just learn from it. When interacting with people of other religions, look for opportunities to kindly share the message of salvation with them. Pray that God opens doors for you to minister to non-believers instead of only receiving ministry from them.
“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.'” (Mark 16:15 NKJV)
Of course, have compassion and respect. Listen to understand their views without judgment. But also be bold in testifying about the hope within you. While learning about other religions can build relationships, remember that our primary purpose is the Great Commission.
Walk in Love
In all things, including encounters with people of different faiths, let love guide your words and actions. Study other religions to grow in compassion for those who are lost without Jesus. Approaching people with self-righteousness or condemnation, even if unintentional, will not draw anyone closer to God.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-2 NKJV)
Loving others as Christ has loved you is the most compelling way to share the gospel. Let curiosity about other faiths deepen your compassion for the spiritual condition of the world.
- Approach learning about other religions with discernment and test teachings against Scripture
- Do not blend beliefs from different religions or adopt non-biblical practices (syncretism)
- Share the hope of the gospel when engaging people of other faiths
- Reject concepts that contradict God’s Word, regardless of their source
- Walk in love when interacting with people of different beliefs
By studying what the Bible teaches about God, salvation, and truth, we can gain much wisdom in how to appropriately analyze non-Christian religions. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, exploration of other faiths can strengthen our own convictions when done rightly. However, we must always approach with caution, evaluate against Scripture, and stay rooted in the truth of the gospel.
The key is finding balance. Total avoidance breeds ignorance, while unrestrained acceptance leads to compromise. The Bible warns us not to be taken captive by hollow philosophies (Colossians 2:8) but also to be harmless as doves and wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16). With discernment and love, we can study other religions in a way that honors God and furthers the kingdom.
Ultimately, our relationship with Christ should remain the highest priority when encountering non-biblical beliefs. As it says in Colossians 2:6-7:
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (NKJV)
Stay rooted in Jesus above all else. He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.