Why does Christianity claim to be the only way to God and salvation?

Q.  Can you explain to me why Christianity claims to be the only way God and salvation?  Aren’t all religions alike?

“Aren’t all religions alike?”  because our world is getting smaller  where once religions like Islam and Hinduism and Buddhism seemed strange and remote suddenly they are real and increasingly more prevalent in America. 

Its also true that all religions do have some similarities. For example, every religion that I know anything about does have as a goal setting a standard of personal behavior for its participants. And every religion that I have every heard of wants to create a better world by following its prescribed pattern. So there are some similarities but every religion also has basic fundamental differences.

It’s always been a far easier thing to make an ignorant decision than it is an informed one, so more and more people are just taking the easy way out. They just say, “Oh, you know all religions are basically alike. And whether God is called Jehovah or Allah or Brahma, and whether we’re aiming for heaven or nirvana or kanna, it’s really all the same. God wears a number of titles, and He has revealed himself to different peoples, in different places and different ways, but you know you can choose religion and find your way to God.” Is that right? Are all religions alike?

All Religions don’t even come close to sharing the same concept of God. 

Take for Example “New Agers” – (the Hollywood religion popularized in part by actress Shirley MacLaine) is based on Eastern mystics, Hinduism, and paganism. According to the New Age doctrine Everything is God.  God is an impersonal force or principle.  People have unlimited inner power and need to “discover” it.  The “I’am” movement and interest in the “Kaballah” are examples.

Mormons say that God the father was  once a man, but became God.  He has a physical body, as does his wife (Heavenly Mother).  There is no such thing as the Bible doctrine of the Trinity, the Father Son and Holy Spirit are three separate gods.  Worthy men may one day become gods themselves.

The Unification church (Sun Myung Moon) teach that God is both positive and negative.  God created the universe out of himself.  The Universe is his “body.”  God does not know the future, there is no trinity, God suffers at the present time.

Hare Krishna’s believe that God is the Lord Krisna, a personal creator, the souls of all living things are part of him.  Their writings tells us that Krishna once divided himself into 16,308 forms to mate with 16,308 female cowherds.

The Baha’i World Faith says that God is an unknowable divine being who has revealed himself through nine “manifestations” (religious leaders) including Moses, Buddah, Confucius, Jesus, Mohammad, and Baha’u’llah.

The Hindus are pantheistic.  The Hindus believe that everything is God. That the universe and God are one, and that there is a pervading powerful force that just kind of transcends everything called “Brahma.” But you can’t see him, you can’t touch him, you can’t pray to him.

How about the Buddhist? Contrary to popular belief, Buddha never claimed to be deity. In fact, Buddha was agnostic to this whole question about God. He didn’t know whether God existed or not he said it didn’t really matter because God couldn’t lead a person to individual enlightenment.

When you look at Islam you find a god, Allah, who is revealed through the Quran to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel.  God is a severe judge and is not depicted as loving.  One thing you see very clearly when you read the Quran, it is very anti-Christian and anti-Jewish, the “people of the book” (Jews and Christians) are considered a threat.  Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet, but NOT the Son of God.

Judaism teaches that God is spirit.  To Orthodox Jews He is all-powerful, eternal and compassionate.  To other Jews he is impersonal, unknowable, and defined in a number of ways unfamiliar to the Scriptures.  There is no such thing as the Trinity in Jewish doctrine.  Judaism looks at Jesus as an adversary – a false Messiah.

Christianity has a completely unique view of God compared to other world religions.  God is a spiritual being without a physical body.  He is personal and involved with people.  He created the universe out of nothing.  He is eternal, changeless, holy, loving and perfect.  There is only ONE God found in three Persons (not gods), The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.

All religions aren’t alike is because they don’t aim for the same goals.

New Agers – people need to offset bad “karma” with good “karma.”  It is possible to tap into supernatural power through meditation, self-awareness, Transindential Meditation and “spirit guides.”  They talk about being “reborn” for this concept of self-awareness.

Mormons say that the faithful Mormon will be resurrected from the grave by the grace of God, but in order to be exalted to the godhead one must engage in good works which merit position as a “god.”  Faithfulness to chichi leaders, tithing, secret temple rituals including “spiritual marriages” are all required.  There is no eternal life unless you are a Mormon.

The Unification church teaches that obedience to and acceptance of the “True Parents” (Moon and his wife) are necessary to eliminate sin and to result in perfection.  Those married by Moon and his wife drink a special holy wine containing 21 ingredients including the blood of Moon and his wife.

The Hare Krishna’s teach that Chanting Krishna’s name constantly, total devotion to Krishna, worshipping images, and obeying the rules of “ISKCON” throughout many reincarnated lives will release a follower from bad karma.

The Baha’i World Faith doctrine requires faith in the manifestation of God (Baha’u’llah) and knowing and living by Baha’u’llah’s principles and teachings.

The Hindus Hindus have as their something they call nirvana . They consider it a reunion with Brahma, that all-pervading force of the universe. And they liken it to a drop of water returning to the ocean. To the Hindu, individuality is lost in the reunion with Brahma and nirvana in Hinduism is achieved through a continuous cycle of birth and life and death and rebirth, in other words,

Reincarnation. The Hindus believe that every animal, whether it be a man or a reptile or an insect, when that animal dies then it comes back in another form and there is a refining process.  Yoga and meditation is required and may take many lifetimes to find release.

Buddhist  For the Buddhist, for example, the goal is also called “nirvana,”  but different from the Hindu concept.  This “nirvana” is defined as the extinction of desire. Buddhists would tell you that desire is the cause of all pain and all suffering. But if an individual can follow the eight-step path to enlightenment, then desire can be eradicated, and a person can grow literally to nothingness, and  that’s called nirvana. The illustration Buddha used is like a candle being snuffed out. Now, frankly, that doesn’t sound all that appealing to me, does it to you?

Islam  In Islam, the goal is heaven which is looked at as a place where there is wine, women and song. And that’s ironic, because all those things are forbidden to Muslims in this life. A Muslim must depend entirely on the mercy of God who’s judgment is arbitrary and uncertain sending people to eternal paradise or to hell.  There is only one way to guarantee eternity in paradise.  Die as a martyr.

Judaism teaches that prayer, repentance and obeying the Law of Moses are necessary for salvation.  Some Jews believe that salvation is the improvement of society.

The goal of Christianity is summarized by the apostle Paul in:

1 Tim. 1:5

5* But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

This is what the New Testament calls “sanctification”.  God brings us into the likeness of Christ in thought, and word, and deed through our exposure to the Word of God and the practical application of His Word in our everyday lives.

In virtually every world religion, with the exception of Christianity, the participant tries to appease a god of anger and a god of wrath. Every religious system except for the Christian system, every single one is a do-it-yourself proposition. You live a certain way and you earn your salvation and then God will be appeased and He will give you a reward.

But Christianity, on the  other hand, proposes that Jesus Christ was literally God incarnate. God in the flesh, and that He voluntarily sacrificed himself on a cross as a payment for my sin. It’s what the New Testament calls atonement, it’s paying a debt that I could not pay, and He offers a gift of salvation. In Christianity Jesus gives you forgiveness. He gives cleansing. He actually gives a bit of his own righteousness, the apostle Paul says it this way:

2Cor. 5:20-21

20* Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

21* He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus draws us to  God.

Somebody once said that the other world’s religions are like giving swimming instructions to a drowning man. Christianity is throwing him the life preserver.  D. T. Niles once said that in other religions good works are an “in order to.” In Christianity good works are a “there for.”

In Hinduism and Buddhism and Islam, all your good works appease your god, and you struggle your way up to him, in Christianity you are given the gift and your good works are a result of that. Christianity is what God has done for man in seeking him and reaching down to help him. And other religions  are a matter of man seeking and struggling upward to God.

Christianity asserts in no uncertain terms that salvation is ONLY through the gift of Jesus Christ.  And the others simply do not recognize such a claim. Here are the words of Jesus on this subject:

John 14:6

6* Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

7* “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

In a speech given by the apostle Peter recorded in the book of Acts

Acts 4:10-12

10* let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health.

11* “He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.

12* “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Christianity is the only acceptable way to God according to the New Testament.  This very narrow view demonstrates that not all religions are alike.

Not even every so-called “church” sees the significance of the New Testament and the teaching of Salvation found there.

Listen to Jesus prayer:

John 17:20-21

20* “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;

21* that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

22* “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;”

Contrary to this prayer for the past 2,000 years the church of Christ has been continually divided.  While it’s true that most “christian churches” all point to Jesus, there are many groups which have gone the way of the eastern religions.

There are many groups which no longer believe in the deity of Christ.  They tell us that He was NOT born of a virgin.  They claim that he never worked miracles.  They don’t believe that he was raised physically from the grave.

Paul said:

1 Cor. 15:3-4

3* For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

4* and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

There are liberal churches who ignore teachings of Jesus and the apostles. They may recognize him as the Son of God, but they would ignore direct teaching about something as important about how you accept the grace, how you accept the salvation that’s offered. They would even ignore some teachings about how God is to be worshipped.

Well, what does all this mean to you and me? Three things: 

(1) Don’t be frustrated by this religious conglomeration and just throw up your hands and say, “Well, it’s just so bizarre, just forget it!” There are always competing claims in every aspect of life. From something as simple as to which is the best laundry detergent to which is the best political system for a country to be run by. Why should we be surprised that there are competing claims about something as important as religion?

(2) Choose carefully. What we are dealing with here is too important to simply discard and it’s too important to choose thoughtlessly. Can you imagine making a decision about the God of this universe, the God who put the breath of life in me and the breath of life in you, can you imagine making that decision with less time and less concentration than you would spend buying a used car? Millions of people do it everyday.

(3) Remember there is a right and a wrong answer. I know one thing about our God, He  is an objective God, He is not a subjective God.

He’s the God who made gravity and centrifugal force. He’s the God who made the seasons and the cycles of nature. He’s the God who has ordained the system whereby 2 + 2 are 4; not 10.

Jn. 17:17

17* “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

Joh 5:24 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Joh 12:48 

“He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.

We don’t choose our God at a whim. God is a God of order. God is a God who is the right God. And the one thing I want in my journey of life more than anything else is to find Him. I’ll tell you I have accepted the claims of Christianity.  I was not born in a Christian home and I was not raised by Christian parents.

I have taken the time to review every major world religion and while I see some wonderful teachings about treating other people well and see some philosophy that’s admirable, I don’t see what I see in Christianity. I don’t see a God who loved His creation so much that He reached down and saved us. Only Christianity tells us about that God, saving us through His son, Jesus.  (Thanks to Dr. Steve Flatt for the ideas above).

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