Can Christianity Coexist with Other Religions?

We’ve all seen the bumper stickers: The word “COEXIST” is spelled out using the Islamic crescent moon, a peace sign, the Hindu Om symbol, a star of David, the “i” dotted with a pentacle (pentagram), the ying-yang symbol, and a Christian cross.[1]

On the surface this sounds like a great idea, getting along with each other sounds like a really “Christian” thing to do, right? So let’s address this from two angles. In Matthew 22 we read the following exchange:

“One of them, an expert in the law [a Pharisee], tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” (Matthew 22:35-40)

Love your neighbor as yourself

There is no question the Bible instructs us to “get along with others,” even with those we may disagree with on a religious level. The story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10 is a prime example. The Samaritans and the Jews simply did not get along. No Jew would ever consider inconveniencing himself by helping a Samaritan, regardless of how much trouble he might have been in. Witness the priest and Levite in the parable as prime examples. The fact that the Samaritan helped the Jew!? Astonishing to Jesus’ audience. But that was Jesus’ point—it doesn’t matter who it is, it doesn’t matter if you disagree with them on a religious level, if you see someone in need, help them. 

Other verses along this line include:

  • Romans 12:18 – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
  • Hebrews 12:14 – Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy: without holiness no one will see the Lord.
  • Matthew 7:12 – So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
  • Matthew 5:43-48 – You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind

The script flips when we go back to the first commandment. If you carefully examine the holy writings of the various religions depicted on the Coexist bumper sticker, you will very quickly discover that all those groups do not worship the same god. Nor do they teach the same things. In his article, “Christians Should Never Compromise Just to Coexist,” Neil Edlin points out some of those differences. He says, 

“When it comes to the fundamental beliefs and doctrines of each religion of the world, there is a great variety and great disagreement; there are even contradictory beliefs between religions. For example, Christianity teaches that Jesus was crucified; Islam teaches He was not crucified. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam teach that there is only one god. Buddhism teaches polytheism, meaning that there are many gods, and Hinduism has three main gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.

“Each religion of the world draws its teaching from a different source. The Christian uses the Bible. Judaism uses only the Old Testament of the same Bible but rejects the New Testament. Islam uses the Qur’an. Hindus have the Vedas and the Upanishads, in addition to other sources.

“The founder of each religion taught something different from the founders of the other religions. The view of the afterlife differs from religion to religion, so we cannot establish that all religions are the same. Some do have things in common, but each also has its own unique elements, and each contains doctrines or beliefs that contradict the doctrines and beliefs of others.”[2]

But we also have God Himself declaring that He will not coexist with any other gods. Because, in fact, He declares, there are no other gods:

  • Deuteronomy 32:39 – See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.
  • Deuteronomy 4:39 – Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.
  • Isaiah 44:6-8 – This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come—yes, let them foretell what will come. So do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”
  • Isaiah 45:5 – I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.
  • Isaiah 45:18 – For this is what the Lord says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
  • Isaiah 45:21 – Declare what is to be, present it—let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.
  • Isaiah 46:9 – Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
  • Psalm 86:10 – For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.
  • Nehemiah 9:6 – You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

In summary, there is no question that we are to “coexist” as peacefully as possible with our neighbors. However, when it comes to the God we worship, God tells us there is only one, and that one demands all the love in your heart, soul, and mind.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God,

be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

—1 Timothy 1:17

  1. Religious groups represented include Islam, Hinduism, Wicca, Judaism and Taoism. See the “Side by Side” articles at this website to compare the teachings of each of these groups with Christian doctrine.

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