Christianity is Unique

Poet and journalist Steve Turner satirically remarks in his poem “Creed:” “We believe that all religions are basically the same; at least the ones we read were. They all believe in love and goodness.  They only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.”

Indeed, to claim that “all religions are basically one” or that “all religions lead to the same god” is logically inconsistent. I would like to define some of what separates Christianity from other worldviews, and the power that it has.

1) Christianity gives ultimate meaning and purpose to life. In this respect Christianity is separated from atheism.  The Bible gives us a view of a cosmic, beautiful, incredibly important story unfolding.  It is a war between good and evil, between love and lawlessness.  It gives us a reason to live and it shapes our lives. Of course an atheist can live with a sense of personally constructed meaning, but that meaning lacks the authority to empower his actions in his moments of greatest need.  It is essentially utilitarian.  It is, by his own admission, only a product of random chance that happened to serve him for a time and will abandon him at the grave.

2) Christianity does justice to the importance of the heart. This separates us from Islam.  A Muslim is justified when his good deeds outweigh his bad ones. But Christianity is not a legalistic religion.  It is not chiefly about rule following.   In a legalistic religion, rituals become compulsive.  The heart is not addressed because the actions are considered sufficient. Christianity, on the other hand, emphasizes the heart first, and actions follow naturally.  Consider Jesus’ brilliant “Sermon on the Mount” that begins in Matthew 5 for examples.

3) Christianity is ambitious. This separates us from Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.  A central goal of Buddhism is to become free from all desire.  Desire is understood to cause pain, and eliminating desire eliminates pain and brings us to enlightenment.  There is no distinction between desires for right or wrong ends.  All desire is to be eliminated. Christianity, however, exalts the desire for that which is right, while rejecting that which is wrong.  It is ambitious enough to expect something more wonderful to be accomplished than an escape from all desire.

4) Christianity teaches us how to forgive others and ourselves. In this way I believe that Christianity outshines any other worldview.  The Bible teaches that God is Love.  Love is willing to suffer for the good of others.  Thus Jesus Christ came to the cross to suffer for our sakes, so that He might forgive us. The incredible teaching of Christianity, which no other religion dares to suggest, is that God Himself, our Creator, is willing to suffer in order to absorb our evil.  In this way the relationship between Him and us is held together. It follows that we have no right to withhold forgiveness from others.  We are not justified in withholding mercy when we are so clearly in need of it (Matthew 18:21-35).

In conclusion: No worldview meets mankind where he is like Christianity.  Its meaning, purpose, and morals are universal and objective, giving them the necessary weight to serve us in our most difficult hours.  It emphasizes the transformation of our hearts, not simply of our actions.  It gives us an ambitious outlook on the outcome of this amazing battle that we see around us.  And most importantly, it teaches us the truth about love, the only force strong enough to hold us together.

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