How Do We Know Our Faith is True? Look at the Evidence
Many religions have similarities — but there are glaring differences in what they say about Jesus Christ.
Jesus calls His followers to “make disciples of the nations” (Matt. 28:19). Christians who want to obey Him must care about the evidence for Christianity. Here’s why.
When we reach out to a lost and needy world, we’re bound to meet people from a variety of spiritual backgrounds. Many of them are incredibly sincere about their faith. Unfortunately, sincerity is no test for truth. Many people have been sincerely wrong about many things.
So for example, if a Mormon and an (orthodox) Christian asked each other, “How do you know your faith is true?” both of them might pin their answers on their religious experience. Mormons say their certainty comes through the heart confirming through what is already true in the mind. Christians might say it’s the internal witness of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. The two sound awfully similar, don’t they?
So how do we know our faith is true? Before we go there, let’s look at what some of the major world religions say about Jesus Christ:
Five Views of Jesus
Orthodox Christianity/Messianic Judaism: Jesus is both God and man. Jesus is an uncreated being (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16-17), the Jewish Messiah as foretold in the Jewish Scriptures, and the second person of the Godhead, equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit (John 1:1; Col.1:15-19; Phil.2: 5-11).
Other religions contradict all that:
Islam/Traditional Judaism: Jesus was man but certainly not God. Traditional Judaism says Jesus is not the Jewish Messiah as foretold in the Jewish Scriptures. He may be regarded as a prophet or teacher but not divine. Islam agrees, based on its teachings in the Qur’an, which was written six hundred years after Christ. Islam also says Jesus was never crucified, and therefore never risen from the dead.
Mormonism claims to be founded on divine revelation. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, claimed to have received personal revelation from God on the basis of two visions, in 1820 and 1823. The Mormon claim is that Jesus is a created being.
The Watchtower Society/Jehovah Witnesses agree with Mormonism that Jesus is not God, but a created being instead.
Buddhism/Hinduism: are not monotheistic faiths, meaning they either don’t believe in God, or they take a polytheistic (many gods) view. That alone makes them extremely different from Christianity. Buddhism teaches that Jesus was an enlightened man, but not God. Hinduism typically says that Jesus was a good teacher and perhaps an incarnation of Brahman, who is an impersonal, supreme being. He is one of 330 million-plus personal manifestations of the one impersonal ultimate.
Making the Choice
There are certainly similarities among these faiths. They all believe there’s such a thing as truth, right and wrong, and a spiritual purpose for life. Most believe there is a God and that we can somehow commune with Him.
However, they all also have glaring differences regarding Jesus Christ. They also differ on what God is really like, the afterlife, the nature of mankind, the chief problem mankind faces, and how to solve it for now and for eternity.
After examining the differences in these faiths, in a book called Life’s Most Important Questions, John P. Newport sums up the issue nicely:
No sane person tries to accept as authoritative revelation from God all writings which are self-declared to be such. However eager we may be for harmony and tolerance, we cannot be intellectually honest unless we face the fact that there is a real contradiction between conflicting truth claims. As we reflect on how we are created in the image of God, we need to remember that we are creatures of both will and mind, of faith and reason. We are called to think as well as act and feel; therefore our faith will always have a rational element to it.
Why Christians Actually Do Use Evidence
So then how can we know which faith to believe? How can we explain it to others? We really have to go with what the evidence tells us.
Frankly, when Christians say, “What we believe is a matter of faith and not evidence,” they sound inconsistent. After all, they expect other belief systems to put forth evidence and good reasons. If a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon came to your doorstep, wouldn’t you ask them why anyone should believe what they are telling you? Wouldn’t you reject their faith if they couldn’t give you good reasons? I assume so. Christians shouldn’t scorn those who demand the same of us.
Historical research tells us the apostle Paul wrote his famous statement about Jesus’ resurrection in 1 Cor. 15: 3-8 not long after the death of Jesus.
The Qur’an tells us He neither died nor rose again — but it was written about six centuries later. Which one would you rather trust as the one that’s telling the straight story? Historians prefer earlier evidence. The choice here is clear.
Mormonism and the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) also contradict the Christian claim, but they came much later, in the 1800s. What’s the evidence that they had a better picture of Jesus than the Bible did?
Of course I’m only scratching the surface here. There are libraries-full of more things we could talk about regarding evidences for faith. I’m convinced it all lines up solidly in favor of Christianity, but that’s not my main point here. My main point is that if we want to obey Jesus Christ and share his message, we need to be able to explain why people should believe in Him, rather than believing in some other religion or even atheism. We really can’t do that without knowing good reasons and evidence for our own faith.
Adapted from an article at Think Apologetics. Used by permission.