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 Earth,1 with some of the most widely recognized including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Ephesians 4:5 in the New Testament reads that there is “One Lord, one faith, and one baptism.” This scripture makes me wonder: if there is to be only one of each of these things, why are there so many different religions that teach about the same topics 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 1800s in upstate 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 grove of trees 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 to ask of God to know which church was true. During his prayer, Joseph said in his own account: “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.
God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith, and both of them had bodies of flesh and bone. They explained that all the current religions on the Earth “draw near to [them] with their lips, but their hearts [were] far from [them],” which I understand to mean that they all had a part of the truth but had not yet received the fullness of Christ’s Gospel. But, Heavenly Father and the Savior promised that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, 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 the apostles were killed, I understand that the power and authority that Christ had given to them to lead the Church became lost. Changes to His doctrine ensued as man no longer had the authority to receive such revelation on a church-wide level. 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, according to my belief, 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 and gift 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. I have read this book, and after praying about it, have felt the truth of it confirmed to me by the Holy Ghost. Anyone who prays about its message with a sincere heart, a genuine desire to find the truth, and faith in Christ will have God manifest the truth of the Book of Mormon to them by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10:3-5).
Learn more about the Book of Mormon.
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.