Why are there so many different religions in the world today?
by Kaleb Smullin and Stockton Lott
There are over 4,000 different religions that cover the earth1, with some of the most widely recognised including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. But as we read in the Bible, in Ephesians chapter four, verse five, it states that there is “One Lord, one faith, and one baptism.” This begs the question: If there is to be only one of each of these things, why are there so many different religions that teach them in different ways? Have you ever asked if any of these denominations hold the fullness of the truth?
This question was asked by a young man named Joseph Smith over 200 years ago. He wrote:
“So great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong… In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”2
Amidst this great time of confusion during the early 1800’s in up-state New York, U.S.A, Joseph was determined to find an answer. He read in the Bible, James, chapter one, verse five which states, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” No scripture had touched him in such a way as this did. He knew that if he were to find an answer to his question, it could only come from God. This scripture would turn out to be a hinge point in his life.
One day, he decided to put the scripture to the test. He went into a forest near his house, where he could be alone. Once he reached the point where he wanted to offer his prayer, he knelt down and began the first vocal prayer of his life. As he was praying, a vision opened before his eyes. In his own words, he described the event as follows: “I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me, I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spoke unto me, calling me by name, and said pointing to the other, “This is my beloved Son, Hear him”3.
In the vision, He saw God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ appear to him. They explained that all the current religions on the earth “draw near to [them] with their lips, but their hearts [were] far from [them],” meaning they all had a part of the truth, but had not yet received the fullness of Christ’s gospel. But, they promised that the gospel in its entirety would be restored, through Joseph.
But why was it necessary for the truths to be restored? Where did they go? Did Christ not establish a perfect church while He was on the Earth? Christ did establish a perfect church. However, after His resurrection and ascension, and then the death of the apostles, the authority that Christ had given to them to lead the church, using God given revelation had become lost. Changes to His doctrine ensued as man no longer had the authority to receive such revelation. With the passing of time, man realized that the doctrine that was being taught was not the same as that which Christ had established. Trying to bring back the truth by themselves, they established their own churches founded upon their own interpretations of the Bible. This is why there are so many different sects of religion.
Many years after Joseph’s vision, under God’s direction, he was able to find another record of scripture. With the power of God, he was able to translate it into what is now called: The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. This record does not replace the Holy Bible, but instead, goes perfectly together to testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ. This record was given to us as proof, to know for ourselves if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Christ’s church on the Earth today. Everyone is invited to read the Book of Mormon. Anyone who prays about its message with an open heart, sound mind, and genuine desire to find the truth, will find the answers they have been looking for.
1 Fairchild, Mary. 2021. “How Many Religions Are There In The World?” Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/how-many-religions-are-there-in-the-world-5114658.
2,3 Smith, Joseph. “Joseph Smith – History” Chapter 1.