Christianity does not exist in a vacuum. That’s not to say it couldn’t exist in a vacuum, it most likely can. God is capable of that. But we live in a world in which religious pluralism is prominent. It has been that way since people have occupied the earth (sometime after Adam and Eve’s children had children). There are many religions and many of those religions possess some good and beneficial characteristics and qualities. Yet, without the differences, a vacuum would exist. The differences however, are the points when sense awakens to the variance that exists between the religions.
Christian colleges and schools of religion have studied comparative religions for generations. Comparing religions, honestly and fairly, can bring a wealth of knowledge and certainly understanding, and hopefully wisdom.
Some religions value peace, while others promote love. Some religions emphasize mankind’s role while others are more concerned with god’s position. Some religions are focused solely on this life and others are concerned with the future life in another sphere of existence. And yet, though most religions have a thing or two in common with Christianity, Christianity offers a few unique perspectives that are not found in any other religion whatsoever.
First, Jesus who is the Christ (Messiah) is the only source of salvation for mankind, for every person. The Hebrew people of the Old Testament times were looking for salvation from God through the Messiah he would send. Jesus fulfilled all 300 plus prophecies that foretold who the coming Messiah would be. Things like where he would be born @Micah 5:2; that he would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey @Zechariah 9:9; that he would suffer and die @Isaiah 53:5, and more.
Jesus arrives on the scene in the first half of the first century and fulfills all the prophecies, revealing himself gradually over a period of roughly three years. Toward the end, a few days before he was crucified, Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” @John 14:6.
Peter with John the apostle beside him, having been arrested for telling people that Jesus is the Messiah told the court “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” @Acts 4:12.
Paul encouraging Timothy, a pastor of the Ephesian church reminded him “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given at the proper time” @1 Timothy 2:5-6.
Second, mankind’s need is God himself. Pascal, centuries ago noted that every man has a God-shaped vacuum that can only be filled by God. Yet, since sin entered the world through Adam’s disobedience, humans have tried to fill that vacuum or hole as some have interpreted it according to his own will and means coming up with all sorts of things that remove God from the equation, even by some who believe in God and his Messiah, Jesus. It’s sort of the spiritual form of trying to put a round peg in a square hole. It won’t fit. It won’t fill the void.
Mankind’s need is God. As people try to fill the void in their lives, they try any one of a number of religions that do not include God or vary from God’s revealed word, the Bible. Some people try to fill the void through addictions, drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships, food, money, work, objects, etc. But, it is God that fills the void. He does so through our faith in Christ Jesus’ death on the cross.
With Easter 2012 upon us, Good Friday being tomorrow, when Jesus died, it wasn’t that some really great man died who brought wonderful teachings to the world. Jesus wouldn’t be any better than Ghandi, Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson or any others. He wouldn’t be greater than any prophet like Elijah, Isaiah, or Jeremiah. But he is the Son of God and God has proved that he is through Jesus deeds and miracles and teachings (cf., John 20:30-31; Acts 2:22), he died and rose from the dead.
There is such a wealth of religions and religious teaching that confusion about what is real and true and what isn’t. How do we sort through it all? Look at the similarities? Compare the differences? If I am talking with someone from other religions I will find the similarities and some them the truth from what we have in common, deconstructing their argument and disproving the untrue by means of truth and reality.
There are many religions, but there is only one that leads to God and salvation. It is Christianity and that was God’s plan all along. Those who believe in Christ through faith and obedience would possess the name of Christ and be called Christians.
They are people who acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God as well as believe in the fact and are completely committed to Christ @Luke 9:18-27 (cf., Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21; Romans 6:1-7). They believe and live by faith.
No other religion makes the same claims, no other religion makes such bold claims and no other religion can back their teaching with actual truth. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life.
Larry Norman who was Christianity’s first rock musician popularized the term “One Way” with the forefinger pointing to heaven. Why? Because Jesus is the only way! It is a bold claim, but it is truth. And because Christians receive grace, there is no arrogance to the claim that Christianity has the only answer to life’s questions and is the only way to God.
Celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because if he had not raised to life, Christianity, no matter how nice, or how good it is, has no value. Jesus has raised to life and he lives and sets at the right hand of God in heaven waiting for the day that God will send him back to judge the world.