What’s So Special About Christianity?
Every worldview takes a position regarding eternity. Even those who don’t believe in God, still believe something about death and the possibility of heaven. To disbelieve a claim requires a belief in something contrary. When I was an atheist, I believed something about eternity and the possibility of life after death:
- If you’re an Atheist…
You deny that there is a God, have no belief in supernatural phenomena (or anything beyond the natural realm), and no belief in an afterlife.
An Afterlife Dependent on Man
All the world’s religious belief systems, on the other hand, posit that humans can work their way into God’s presence through some set of good behaviors. Regardless of religious system, all proclaim a similar idea: you, as a simple human, can control (or at least contribute to) your own eternal destiny.
- If you’re a Jew…
You obey the Ten Commandments.
- If you’re Muslim…
You obey the Five Pillars of Faith.
- If you’re a Buddhist…
You obey the implications of the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path.
- If you’re a Baha’i…
You must keep the Baha’i Law.
- If you’re a Hindu…
You must perform good deeds (Karma Yoga), work to attain a state of consciousness in meditation (Jnana Yoga), or perform acts of worship, temple rituals and pilgrimages (Bhakti Yoga).
- If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness…
You must perform good works that fulfill God’s will.
- If you’re a Scientologist…
You must work toward spiritual enlightenment and an attainment of brotherhood with the universe.
- If you’re a Mormon…
You obey the Ten Commandments of Judaism, every commandment of Jesus, and the teachings of all the Mormon Prophets.
Notice the similarity? All these worldviews are dependent on the beliefs or works of humans. You either think you are smart enough to explain it all (Atheism), or think you can somehow unite yourself to God through your own good works (all the aforementioned religious beliefs). Christianity, on the other hand, proclaims something very different.
- If you’re a Christian…
You are convinced that God is too great to be impressed with good deeds and that there is nothing you can do as a mere mortal to earn your way to heaven. Amazingly, God simply offers something that he has already done for you.
If there is a God powerful enough to create everything in the universe from nothing, this God is certainly powerful enough to bring us home without any additional help from us. A God this powerful wouldn’t be impressed with the works of men. A God this powerful doesn’t need our help; He’s fully capable of getting the job done on His own. More importantly, if there is a God powerful enough to create everything in the universe from nothing, this God is also powerful enough to eliminate imperfection. A God this powerful is a perfect Being, separated from His creation by this important distinction. Our good works might be good, but they aren’t perfect.
Of the ten worldviews we’ve listed here, only one addresses the true, powerful nature of God. Only Christianity offers the free gift of an all-powerful Deity. Only Christianity offers grace and hope for those who know they are imperfect.
Characteristics of Counterfeits
If I placed Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in a room along with many copies I painted myself, you would notice two things: First, you would notice that there is only one true Mona Lisa. All my copies would differ from the original (even though they might share common characteristics as copies). You’d also be able to identify the true painting. It would stand out from the rest; it would have a property of “singularity” marking it as genuine. Second, you’d notice the slight imperfections of all the other paintings. Each would show signs of having been painted by someone who is far less gifted than the inspired artist. One painting in the room would reflect the nature of a gifted artisan and creator, the rest would reflect the nature of an ordinary man.
Christianity is the Mona Lisa in the room. It stands alone, bearing the unique, singular quality of grace (the undeserved free gift of Salvation). All other belief systems and worldviews share a common logical flaw: they are “works based” and fail to offer the grace of God. And, like my Mona Lisa copies, they are alike in their imperfection. You can spot the truth about eternity the same way you can spot the true Mona Lisa.
The Christian offer of Salvation stands out from the rest; it possesses a property of “singularity” marking it as true. The other worldviews display common imperfections, each having been created by people who are far less gifted than the inspired Artist. One worldview — Christianity — reflects the nature of this gifted Artisan and Creator, the others reflect the nature of an ordinary men.
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, Christian Case Maker, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, God’s Crime Scene, God’s Crime Scene for Kids and Forensic Faith.
Originally published at Cold-Case Christianity. Reprinted with permission.