Many have asked over the centuries, “Of all the religions in the world, what makes Christianity special?”
I’ve rolled this over in my mind for years, and I believe the simple answer is: Christianity is the only religion in the world in which God loves His creation, is ultimately concerned with the people, and came down to man’s level of existence in order to personally help him. Every other religion, with the possible exception of Judaism, leaves the adherent in question as to his relationship with his god and his future.
The man who recently asked me that question then asked, “Okay, what are the essentials of Christianity?” The following is a summary of our discussion.
As you may know, there are approximately 4,200 religions in the world. That covers any kind of faith or belief system you can think of. And many religions have various denominations within them. We read that within Christianity we may have as many as 33,000 denominations. That is, of course, debatable; and at least two “denominations” consists of one solitary congregation.
There may be six major religions in the world. They are: Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age, Judaism, and Christianity. And each religion has its own god, gods, and/or goddesses.
Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are monotheistic, and most denominations within Christianity believe God is eternal. But several groups, including the Mormon Church, claim that God is not eternal, Jesus and Lucifer could be brothers, and men can become Gods. Therefore, Mormons may believe in millions of gods. This could actually remove the Mormon belief system from Christianity.
Other religions also have a multiplicity of gods. For example, Hinduism claims to have approximately 300 million. The New Age religion (which actually dates back to antiquity) is quite complex, and claims that every person and animal either is or can become a god. This, of course, contradicts Scripture.
With all that in mind, what makes Christianity special? What are the essentials of Christianity?
For starters, true Christians believe the Bible, and recognize that God, in the human form of Jesus, came to earth to rescue man from his own degradation; and made possible the restoration of our relationship with God.
Many theologians and teachers have their list of what makes Christianity unique, and (of course) I have my list. If any on the list were not true, Christianity would be a false religion. Also, any one of these can be broken down into several components, which is one way the list can grow.
- The Eternality of God (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1). He did not have a beginning, and will not have an ending. He is the “I Am” – eternally self-existent.
- Absolute Truth (John 7:11). Whereas many ideas, theories, and concepts are debatable, there is Truth that can be known, which cannot be negated, modified, or superseded.
- Inspired Scripture (2Timothy 3:16). The Bible was written by men who were inspired by Almighty God, and can lead us into relationship with the living God.
- The Deity of Jesus Christ (John 1:1, Mark 14:61). Jesus is fully God and fully man. This includes the facts of his virgin birth, His perfectly sinless life, His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.
- The Fall of Man (Genesis 3:6-19, Romans 3:23). Everyone is born in a sinful state, and is destined for an eternity without God.
- Salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16, John 14:6, Romans 5:6-17, Acts 16:31). Only through Jesus can we be restored to the Heavenly Father. This includes recognition of and confession of sin; and with God’s help (through faith by His grace), turning from sin and purposely living to honor God.
- Jesus’ Personal Return (John 14:3, Matthew 24:36). The Bible says that Jesus will return (at a time unknown to both man and angels).
If any of those points are not true, the Bible is not true; and in that case Christianity is not true. Christianity is based on what the Bible says, and Who God is. No other religion has a god who loves the people and gave His own life to rescue them from eternal destruction.
One criticism of Christianity is: “It is exclusive.” Of course it is. But ALL religions are exclusive in some manner, and mankind is already lost and headed for a black eternity. However, since Jesus offers eternal life to ALL who accept Him (John 10:10), I believe Christianity is the truly inclusive religion.