{12}     Religion: Uniqueness of Christianity

48.            Are all religions the same?

     Many argue that the objective of all religions is to persuade people to do good works.

a.Religions are different: There is only one truth (and truth corresponds to reality). All religions have different key teachings. They all have their truth claims to the exclusion of all others.

B.Different answers to lifeís basic questions:

        Life has 3 basic questions of origin, meaning, and destiny: Where am I from? What is the meaning of life? What happens to me when I die?

C.Illustration of naturalism:

        Therefore, a naturalistic worldview is inadequate to explain the nature of reality in a coherent way: it could not explain the origin of the universe, nor could it explain morality. It cannot provide a meaning to life and cannot provide an answer on destiny.

d.Religious tolerance does not mean equal validity of truth:

        If we are going to hold that all beliefs are of equal value, we cannot fudge later by excluding certain beliefs we happen not to like. Are we really willing to say that the belief system of a tribal chief performing human sacrifice, a white supremacist advocating mass genocide, or a Satanist promoting anarchy and lawlessness is of equal value to all other beliefs?

49.            How is Christianity unique?

A.Christianity has a consistent answer to lifeís basic questions:

        For Christians, we were created by God for His purpose. Our meaning of life is to know God and love Him. Our moral choices are based on Godís character. Our destiny is to live in eternity with God and all His children.

B.Christianity is unique in perspective:

        While all other religions are human attempts to reach God by good works, Christianity is Godís act to reach humans by His grace. We believe that man has no ability to be perfect to please God so good works cannot save man from sin.

C.Christianity is unique in factóEmpirical proofs when comparing religions (PEARL Method):

        Prophecy: Can these religions point to well-attested examples of fulfilled prophecy equivalent to those of the Bible?

        Experience: Can we see in history and throughout the world today that these religions powerfully change peopleís lives for the better? [universality of experience of rebirth and assurance of salvation]

        Archaeology: Does archaeology support the historical claims of these religions?

        Resurrection: Can these religions point to well-documented confirming miracles in the same way Christianity can point to the resurrection? [objective reality behind subjective experience]

        Logic: Do these religions give the most consistent, comprehensive and satisfying explanation of man and the world?

     Belief that Christianity is the only true faith can appear arrogant if it is motivated the desire for supremacy. We should be motivated solely (and in humility) by the desire to know and live truth.

50.            Can those people who have never heard of the gospel in their life time be saved? If they are condemned, isnít God unfair?

a.Biblical truth concerning salvation: (1) No one is innocent. (2) Salvation only through Jesus (Jn 14:6). (3) Everyone has opportunity to repent (Jn 7:17). (4) Fair judgment of God as He never condemns innocent people and will judge fairly (Ac 17:31).

b.How was it possible to receive salvation without knowing Jesus, such as OT saints?

(1)Possibility 1: OT saints looked forward to the Messiah (manifested in the act of animal sacrifices) while NT saints look back at the Messiah.

(2)Possibility 2: All OT saints believed God (took God at His word) and obeyed God (exercise faith in the provision for salvation which God revealed), eg. offer animal sacrifices.

(3)For them, the sacrifice of Jesus was the ground of their salvation even before the event took place. God would regard them as righteous in view of the death of Jesus which occurred later in history.

c.Saving faith probably involves 3 elements:

(1)Seek God: Anyone who seeks God will find Him (Dt 4:29; Pr 8:17; Jer 29:13; Mt 7:7).

(2)Repent of their own sins (Is 55:6-7; Ro 2:5-6,12-16).

(3)Believe God and exercise faith in whatever God reveals. [In OT, offer sacrifices; in NT, accept Jesus; but based on faith.] For those who never heard the gospel, this may be the knowledge of what is right on the basis of their conscience.

d.It is possible that people who never heard the gospel will all be condemned because no one is innocent and everyone is responsibility for his own sins. But it is also possible that some of them (including infants who died, see Davidís saying in 2Sa 12:23) may be saved.

e.One suggestion is that they may be judged according to their God-given conscience or moral standard (Ro 2:12-16).

f.†† Who then is saved? Answer: Only God knows. While this question has no definitive answer, it is important for each person to have assurance of oneís own salvation.

51.            Why did God favour the Jews?

        Jews are an elected race. The election is based on the covenant between God and Abraham.

        Jews are chosen to be a tool of God to fulfil His eternal plan and kingdom.

        God does not favour one race and the gospel is for the whole world(Ac 10:34-35). Jews actually endure more sufferings in history than most other races.

52.            Secular Humanism is the religion of many atheists. Is there truth in it?

        Religion: All religions have some truth. Secular humanism is just another religion but most of what they preach is not truth. They regard man as God and they denied the need of manís need for a supernatural God. They believe that there is no after-life so there is no need for salvation.

        Morality: They believe that moral values are originated from human experience so they change with time and with culture (moral relativism). They emphasize reason and intelligence, not faith. They value dignity of the individual and the freedom of choice. Their viewpoint on most moral questions is contrary to Biblical morality.

        Scientism: They take science as the ultimate solution to all problemsóa science religion.

        Modern humanism and Satanism have similar definition of man. Both attempt the divination of man in order to escape from human finitude. Both deny the Creator-creature distinction.