Article first appeared on SI November 20, 2006
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
-Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 22:37–39, KJV)
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
-The Beatles (“All You Need Is Love”) 1
Were John, Paul, George, and Ringo, 1900 years after Jesus of Nazareth, reiterating His message to a new generation? Is this similarity evidence that the same basic message underlies all world religions and worldviews? That after we strip away all the external, all the ceremonial, all the legal, all the theological and metaphysical considerations, every religion pursues the same basic values, usually including “love”?
That all religions are basically the same is an idea held both by the man on the street and in the halls of academia. Consider what Paul Tillich wrote:
In the depth of every living religion there is a point at which the religion itself loses its importance, a point at which it breaks through its particularity, elevating it to spiritual freedom and with it to a vision of the spiritual presence in other expressions as the ultimate meaning of man’s existence.2 read more