“Basic Deism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all basically teach the same things about God… right?”
I get that the ideas are interchangeable but they are only partial revelations without Christ binding them. I have the same issue with Islam that I do with 15th century Catholicism… the purity of moral and metaphysical reason gets muddied in trying to appease (and convert) pagans. So much so that a central message of repentance and spiritual discipline turns into an elaborate copy of pagan ritual and state-ism. Christianity isn’t what most Christians says it is. It is at it’s core a fullbore pursuit of God through his express self-revelation (Jesus). anything else is froth and trappings. Many Christians would have to leave modern Christianity to find Christ… and that’s not a diss on the church as a whole it is merely an observation I’ve seen first-hand. Most of our ritual is steeped in egotism and pastor worship; breaking that down is difficult without direct discipleship and most leadership likes it that way.
Frank Viola and Sweet wrote a great book breaking down a lot of this called “Pagan Christianity.” Another good read would be “The Pastor Has No Clothes” by Jon Zens
I’m all for seeking truth on your own terms, it makes you a better seeker and helps you see through the lies that are offered on the surface, ultimately religion is a thing you do and the gospel is a renunciation of doing for the sake of gaining and replaces tradition with a living breathing, speaking thing. A lot of Christians worship the bible and if not the bible directly then at least some core teachings in the bible. But Christ says, “study the Scriptures thinking in them you will find life, but these are testimonies of me.” [John 5ish] Truth “about” God comes from the bible, and nature, and philosophy or meditation, good storytelling even, often simple openness to unchangeable truth; but the truth “of” God, his substance and communion, are in Christ alone.
So the religion side of islam (the do part) and Christianity and to a larger extent Judaism are all the exact same (disregarding the fringes) even their honor and exaltation of the creator are the same, but when it comes to relation to God, redemption – mediation – unification, they veer into completely different realms. It is the inner-life, the heart and soul of men that God seems to be overly concerned with, and there in that place there is no substitute, it is wholeness or destruction. And not God ordered destruction; God honoring, God pleading.
Christians don’t have the authority or the spiritual awareness to send anyone to hell (if they even understand that term to begin with) nor does the God of the bible (at least as far as the text is concerned) but there is room for you to condemn yourself. In essences He is Judge and Jury, but execution comes down on a deafening cross. The gospel is exactly that, no frills no extras. No other moral practice comes close to the inner freedom that comes from that awareness or the responsibility that follows. Unfortunately most teach backwards from sin instead of forwards in grace.