Published: 8 August 2015 (GMT+10)
Occasionally we receive some very basic questions about Christian belief and theology, and the answers can be educational for Christians, because they are questions everyone should be able to answer as we witness to people around us. Malik G., U.S., wrote:
Hello, I have a question regarding Christianity and other religions. It basically is why Christianity? What makes it stand out more and much more believable than the others? Why not believe in Gods like Thor or any of the greek gods? There are so many religions out there, why go for Christianity? Is there more proof of Christianity being more factual or signs that people in other parts believe in the Christian God and Christ and/or had encounters with them?
Lita Cosner, CMI-US, responds:
Thanks for writing in. I think that every believing Christian actually has a responsibility to be able to answer why we’re Christians, and not adherents of a different religion. Especially today, when the Internet means that even obscure sects can propagate their views widely, Christians need to be able to communicate why we believe what we believe.
First, the Bible is a historically-verified source. This is important, because if the Bible made a lot of verifiably false statements about things that happened in the past, we would obviously be wary about believing it about unverifiable spiritual truths. In fact, many secular archaeologists put the Bible at least on the same level as other ancient historical documents with regard to the authenticity of its records (of course, Christians believe that it’s much more than that!). So I would say that Christianity is inherently superior to something like Mormonism, where their ‘holy book’ is full of demonstrable error.
More importantly than that, Christianity gets the state of humanity right. That is, it correctly identifies humans as sinners in need of salvation. Everyone, no matter where they live or what religion they adhere to, fails to live up to even their own moral system (Romans 2:14–15), let alone God’s. So we’re rightfully judged by sinning against what we know to be right.
Also importantly, Christianity offers a solution. Many religions recognize people are sinners, but most reply to this by having the adherent try really hard not to be a sinner … and the sinner, of course, fails. Or else it requires its adherents to earn their salvation by one or more works, deeds, or sacrifices. Christianity realizes the only solution is to have a radical action on God’s part—the Incarnation—where God takes on human nature, in Jesus of Nazareth. Then Jesus paid the death penalty for humanity’s sin (Isaiah 53:6), and those who believe in Him are credited with His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
And the transaction that takes place is not just judicial; the believer is actually indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This gives the believer many blessings and benefits. One of the most important benefits is the progressive sanctification of the believer. So God’s ultimate solution for sin is to transform sinners into righteous people.
There are many, many other reasons to believe Christianity; I could fill up a couple volumes just on that (see the resources top right for just a few) But I think this hits some of the high points, and will hopefully help as you think about this. Please also see our Good News article.
Can we go back to the original question "why Christianity? What makes it stand out more and much more believable than the others? Why not believe in Gods like Thor or any of the greek gods? There are so many religions out there, why go for Christianity?" The seeker must have reason to believe, and that takes many shapes and forms, before coming to the place of faith. We can't believe in something we do not know. John 1:10-13. First believers listened to Him, observed Him then made a decision to receive Him as their Saviour.
True Christianity is so different than all other religions in that it offers to every person God's endless and equalizing GRACE. No one can earn it by doing - we must receive it. When we receive His grace through Jesus, God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit who lives in us to give us the power to resist the evil temptations of this world. Ephesians 2:8&9.
I am shaking my head over all the intelligent, scholarly commenters who still think one arrives at Christianity as through a shopping trip, comparing the products and selecting the one that best meets the scholastic tests of historical accuracy, soundness of scientific methodology, etc.
That pursuit of technical "correctness" is exactly the kind of sport B.C. Pharisaism engages in! How many times do we need to be reminded that the only authentic way to come to Christianity is to KNOW HIM, the living One? And that this will never happen unless we humble ourselves in the deepest need and longing of the soul?
If you want to claim to be "this side of the resurrection," then you need to die to the flesh of your whole temporal order and its "historicity," and be reborn to the Spirit, who is shaking his head over all the futile scholasticism.
That is a good point. The bible is historically accurate. I became a Christian through immense resistance. Although I believed in some form of God, I thought it did not matter to dig further. When I did my research, I first entered through science and found many supporting sources. Then I sifted through the common religions by checking their doctrine and looking for errors. The only one that held it's own was and is the Christian Faith.
The article touches on the reliability of the Bible as a whole, but what is most convincing to me is overwhelming amount of scholarship that validates the historicity and authenticity of the New Testament source manuscripts in particular. If one reads the New Testament, it is clear that Jesus makes unique truth claims about his divinity and his salvific mission that must be accepted or rejected. In spite of the cottage industry now devoted to attacking the New Testament in general and Jesus-as-God specifically, the genuine scholarship on these points is overwhelming and beyond refutation. We can state with virtual certainty that the entire New Testament was completed within 100 years of Jesus' death and resurrection (at the latest; personally I think it more likely they were completed before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.), that Paul's epistles contain certain creedal affirmations of the early church's beliefs (Jesus as God, who died and rose again to save all those that believe on Him) that date back as early as 1 year following Calvary, and that we can reconstruct the original texts with greater than 98% accuracy. There are many other convincing proofs of the reliability and accuracy of the NT texts, which means that anyone reading them can be confident they are reading a true historical account of the things Jesus said and did. This means that one must take seriously Jesus' truth claims, and "wrestle with God" before accepting or rejecting them. And if one rejects them, they are either not aware of the current scholarship on the NT text, are simply prefer to ignore it in order to justify their own lifestyle and opinions.
I think that in answer to the barrage of questions nowadays about "Christianity", we as Christians need to substitute the word "Christianity" with "Jesus Christ". I believe (and have noticed) that putting WHO rather than WHAT we believe in carries more weight, and bears more testimony than apologetics.
What categorically distinguishes Christianity from any other religious form or practice is its TELEOLOGY!
Forget trying to "prove" God and his Word through allegedly accurate historicity. If there's one thing the Bible makes very clear, it is that God has an END PURPOSE in his creation; and in Christ's Resurrection and Ascension (translation to the Spirit), one comes to know, from the very heart, that this end purpose is not defined by or realized in terms of the temporal order!
Rather, the entire temporal order itself -- the flesh's frame of reference with its time, history, numbers, population, quantitative measures of all sorts -- is subordinated, swallowed up, subsumed in the Eternal, the One who is before, after, above, under, around, through and beyond Time and all that exists in its context.
"In the beginning" is not a demarcation of Time; it is a declaration of eternal primacy, principle. And Genesis and all else in Scripture must be read from that principle.
The only way to know why Christianity is not comparable to any other religion is to know Who He Is. And one will never come to such saving knowledge (Jn. 17:3) through any amount of human education, even "Christian." It is only in the Spirit meeting the deepest, heartfelt hunger for Truth in the penitent soul.
Invariably, every religion teaches some form of morality and hustling good works over one's lifetime, as the means of attaining eternal life. Christianity is the antithesis of religion, being a "faith" in THE Creator God who alone provided everything necessary for man to attain eternal life, which included perfecting every man forever (Heb. 10:14) once God set him apart unto Himself through man's expressing true faith in Jesus Christ, Who died for/paid the penalty for man's sins. No religion claims that God does the actual work in salvation, nor has any religion ever proven itself to be true by any means, much less than by God Himself, in the Person of Jesus Christ, coming to earth to show the world numerous miracles that included healing the blind and resuscitating people from the dead; and Jesus was also seen by 500 extra biblical witnesses after His resurrection. Hence, there are great differences between the Christian faith and every one of thousands of religions.
This article is a little disappointing. Malik is clearly asking for evidence and the article gives him theology.
Surely the best approach would be to give him the strong evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and then, having established the uniqueness of Jesus, to explain Jesus' 'theology' about sinful man needing rescue.
It is completely possible to believe that Jesus was an itinerant Jewish rabbi in the first century and to go to Hell in unbelief. I did allude to the strong historical evidence for Jesus, but I would have been wrong not to give Malik the Gospel.
Thanks for reminding us of the importance of the basics. I never tire of hearing the basics of the gospel and "why Christianity" and etc.