AND HOW IS CHRISTIANITY ANY DIFFERENT?
Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, the most ruthless, rapacious and voracious conqueror of his day came knocking on the door of Jerusalem offering it two options; willingly surrender or resist and be plundered by us in the same way we plundered other nations and territories far bigger than you. In Sennacherib’s message to Hezekiah, king of Jerusalem and Judah, he asks,
“Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered Samaria out of mine hand?Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?” (2 Kings 18:33–35)
In other words, he was asking the city of Jerusalem what made their god different from those of other cities that they had plundered. This is similar to the skeptic’s question as to what makes Christianity more than just another world-view and what makes its God less fictional than that of any other world view.
We see that the questions of the so called “modern atheists” are in fact not new at all. They have been asked thousands of years and generations before us. Little wonder the scripture says there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). But what indeed makes the Christian faith any different?
First, almost every world-view has a concept of God, or an ultimate being or a higher power or a superior force but only Christianity dares to claim that this being not only exists but has in fact physically revealed Himself or Itself in the form of a human being. Paul in his admonition to Timothy reminds the latter of his doctrine,
“ And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh…” (1 Timothy 3:16)
John also emphasizes,
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God, the same was in the beginning with God, all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1–3,14)
And before anyone gets any funny ideas saying Jesus Himself never claimed divinity or said He was God, remember that Jesus was crucified not for anything He had done but rather who He claimed to be,
“… Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses?Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.” (Mark 14:61–64)
The Jews had earlier tried to stone Him to death for the same reason,
“ The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (10:33)
Secondly, No other theistic world view has the concept of a Saviour. This is unique to Christianity. Every other world view teaches that a man can work his way to God or to salvation. Christianity alone teaches that no one is good enough to do that.
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)
“…There is none good but one, that is, God” (Mark 10:18)
But Christianity does not just recognize this problem, it provides the solution, a Saviour. Christianity asserts that this Saviour is God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Isaiah in the old testament prophesied,
“…there is no God else besides me, a just God and a Saviour…” (Isaiah 45:21)
And when Mary was pregnant with child, the angel said to Joseph,
“…and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save His people from their sins”(Matthew 1:21)
And to the shepherds,
“…unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11)
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Paul continually makes reference to “God our Saviour” (1Timothy 1:1, 4:10, Titus 2:10, 2:13, 3:4). This means that in Christianity, unlike other world-views, eligibility for salvation is on the basis of unworthiness, that is, a person being humble enough to admit he cannot be saved and is in need of a Saviour. The unworthy, not the good (or more accurately, those who believe themselves to be good), qualify for salvation. Christianity is the only world-view where the burden of salvation is on the Saviour not the saved.
Thirdly, no other world-view asserts that it is possible to know this higher power or superior being in a personal, intimate way. Christianity again teaches that once saved by the Saviour, not only is it possible to have a relationship with God, He becomes a Father to the saved. Jesus after His resurrection instructs Mary Magdalene,
“…but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God.” (John 20:17)
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2)
“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6)
Christianity alone asserts the existence of a God who is interested in having relationships and building a family. Paul talks about praying to the Father of whom the whole family in heaven and on earth is named (Ephesians 3:14-15). He also talks about how believers (whether asleep, which the world calls dead, or alive, hence the reference to the whole family in heaven and on earth) are now members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). This is an asinine, ludicrous and outrageously ridiculous assertion in any other world-view.
Fourth, Christianity is the only world-view which has an earthly nation whose history is inextricably intertwined with its roots. Israel stands as a testimony not only to the roots of the Christian faith but also to the historical records as contained in the Old Testament scriptures. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, slavery in Egypt, the parting of the red sea, the conquering of the promised land, the kings, the judges, the prophets, the apostacy, the captivity, the genealogies and the coming of Jesus Christ are all part and parcel of Jewish history (See Stephen’s historical account in Acts 7 and Paul’s in Acts 13:16–41) and no credible alternative theories as to their roots and origins have been espoused.
Fifth, no other world-view has as much historical evidence in support of it. Although there is controversy among world-views as to the identity of Jesus Christ, there is no honest dispute as to His existence. From the first century Jewish historian, Josephus to the modern day Bart Ehrman (Neither of which is a Christian by the way), His existence is not in doubt. His crucifixion is also not in doubt as this was a public event witnessed by many, both Jews and Gentiles alike. There are extra-Biblical historical accounts of His miracles and deeds, teaching, death and the empty tomb. The evidence was so overwhelming in Paul’s day that during his defence of the gospel before Agrippa, he boldly says,
“For the king (Agrippa) knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.” (Acts 26:26)
The facts surrounding the gospel were as clear as noon to those who lived around the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. So clear that Agrippa responded that Paul almost persuaded him to become a Christian (Acts 26:28).
The objective historical evidence (especially in terms of eye witness accounts) for Christianity far outweighs the evidence available for any other world-view.
Finally, as a bonus point, no text of any other world-view comes close to the Bible in terms of reach and influence. It is the best selling book of all time (it is estimated that over five billion copies have been sold world-wide excluding online downloads). The numbers are so staggering that the Bible has to be excluded from the bestseller’s list on a consistent basis. If the numbers are these high, perhaps that says something about the uniqueness of Christianity in the midst of all other world-views.
Note that this is not an article that tries to convince the reader about the truth of Christianity. It only attempts to show that Christianity is not just one of many paths or world-views, it is radically different from anything before or after it and stands out like the lion among beasts.