Friday, February 20, 2009

The Uniqueness of Christianity – Part 3

III. Are All Religions Alike?

Are all religions pretty much alike? I think by now we know the answer: all religions have some basic principles in common, but they are significantly different from each other in many ways. The differences between Christianity and other religions can be summarized in this quote from Billy Graham: “World religions attempt to reach up to God; Christianity is God reaching down to man.” God reaching down to us is clearly seen by Jesus coming to earth, and by the imagery we see in Revelation 3:20 (NRSV) where Jesus says:

“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.”

Here is a nice summary of the differences among the various religions: “Not only are the roads extremely different, but the destinations don’t look anything alike either.” That’s because all religions differ in their understanding of God; their view of the afterlife and the end times; our responsibilities; and their definition of salvation. Because of these large differences, not all religions can be true despite their superficial similarities.

What about Mormons and JWs?

We often talk about the major world religions, but there are smaller religions that we commonly see in this country. I thinking of such religions as Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Scientology, the Moonies, and the Unity School of Christianity. We should be aware that there are significant differences between these religions and mainstream Christianity. Some of these American-born religions claim to be Christian or leaning towards Christianity, but they differ significantly from orthodox Christianity. They may talk about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and use Christian terminology, but their understanding is significantly different from what mainstream Christians believe. Their values and practices are often very commendable and their followers are devout, but their theology is unorthodox and they can’t really be called “Christian.”

More on this in a future post.

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