There are many religions but perhaps five of them are best known; Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The largest faith group continues to be Christianity, with around a third of the world’s population claiming to be followers of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Nonetheless, people are often left confused about which religion, if any, is the right path to follow. Is there something unique about Christianity? Is it not the case that all religions are simply different paths up the same mountain? Do all roads not lead to Heaven?
Sincerity v Truth
At the outset of this quest, some people advise that it does not actually matter which religion you select, as long as you follow it sincerely. This is a rather strange approach. I have a car at home with a 1.2 litre petrol engine. It requires fuel, but within that broad category of ‘fuel’ I must be picky about which substance is pumped into my vehicle. While I may sincerely believe that NASA’s rocket propellant RP-1 will make my Nissan Micra accelerate like never before, the outcome is likely to be disastrous. Unleaded petrol will do a better job. The sincerity of my belief is of no relevance to the truth of the matter. My ruined car will stand as a witness to the need for accuracy rather than sincerity! So it is with religions. Claims and teachings propagated by religions are either true or false. Sincerity is of little value if one is sincerely pursuing a falsehood.
"The sincerity of my belief is of no relevance to the truth of the matter."
The second thing to note in our quest for truth is that the major religions of the world disagree in a fundamental way. They cannot all be right. Admittedly. many have superficial similarities. For example, most contain a code of ethics for their adherents to follow. This will often include “the Golden Rule” in some form or another (e.g. treat others in the way that you would like to be treated). However, the differences are so fundamental that you cannot possibly faithfully believe and follow more than one at any one time.
Islam claims that Allah is the one true God and that Christians will be barred from Paradise (Qur’an, 5:72, 9:30). On the other hand, Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Buddhism maintains there is no almighty God at all, while Hindus believe in many gods. Islam, Christianity and Judaism all affirm that there is only one God. Islam denies that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. Judaism acknowledges that He died but rejects His resurrection. Christianity teaches that Jesus both died on the cross and rose again.
These are not small, trifling differences. It is simply not possible for all these religions to be correct.
"It is simply not possible for all these religions to be correct."
So, what about the uniqueness of Christianity? Why should we give it special attention? Let’s see how it differs from all other religions.
A Unique Person
Christianity is all about Jesus Christ who lived 2,000 years ago in Israel. It depends upon Him. Other religions could still exist even had their founders never lived. Their religion is, at its heart, based on a set of rules, a way of life, or a body of writings. Christianity alone is grounded entirely on the historical life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without Him Christianity would irrecoverably collapse.
This is hardly surprising when we discover that Jesus made what most people would consider to be outlandish claims about His identity. He claimed to have originated in heaven, to have existed eternally, and while on earth accepted the worship due to God alone. At one stage the Jewish leaders of His day attempted to stone Him to death for blasphemy. They said, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God” (John 10:33).
No other major religion tells of God entering creation as a man in order to save His creation. Some people will admit that Jesus was a good teacher, while others even allow that He was a prophet sent by God. Although Christians believe that He was a good teacher sent by God the Bible insists He was far more than that. He is declared to be God manifest in flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). This is why Christians refer to Him as Lord.
Finally, Jesus is a unique person because, unlike every other religious founder, no story is recorded of inappropriate behaviour or misconduct. Unlike us, He never sinned or broke God’s laws. The Bible claims that this sinlessness showed firstly that He was divine, and secondly qualified Him to save human beings from their sins. Everyone must decide who Jesus was and whether His claims stack up. One thing is for sure: amongst religious founders His claims and behaviour are unique.