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How is Christianity Different? | Dave Mann

Transcript

How is Christianity different to the other religions?

Well – When many people think of religion they think of a set of rules and regulations, traditions and obligations. What we uniquely find in Christianity is a God who wants something much deeper and more personal than that.

Christianity is based on God’s love and kindness. The Christian God loves me and you – and He is willing to go to great lengths to show it. 

Significantly – this means that my friendship with God is not earned by my own efforts. This is the key area in which Christianity is unique among the religions.

In all other religions our ‘salvation’ and ‘good’ are earned through what we do – through our efforts, and the fulfilling of religious duties or rituals.

In Hinduism I am saved by overcoming karma and escaping endless incarnations by good works.

In Islam I am saved by belief in Allah, Muhammad his prophet, and good works.

In Buddhism it is about getting rid all desires through the eight-fold path.

But in Christianity I am saved by faith alone in Christ alone.

It is about what Christ Jesus has done – not what I do!

To explain that a bit: In love, at the cross, Christians believe God was present amongst us in Jesus. Jesus then died to take the punishment for OUR wrongs, so that we could be restored to a living, real relationship with God – who is over all.

–        So our access to God and heaven doesn’t come from following a bunch of rules and regulations 

–        Nor from busying ourselves with rituals or habits, or being good.

–        Instead –friendship with God is a gift from God – given to us despite the wrongs we have all done. With no catch other than the fact that we must choose to receive the gift.

Of course, after that, the Christian should do good. But the key point here is that good works are about us showing our love back to God because we’re so grateful for what he‘s already done – already given us. The good works aren’t what earns us the friendship – they are evidence of the friendship we already have.

Now – before finishing, there are certainly other areas in which Christianity is unique. In particular, this faith changes peoples lives in a really unique way.

Many religions people have spiritual experiences – but if you make a study of the testimonies of Christians – beyond the experiences – you’ll find that people’s lives somehow change significantly.

The pattern is remarkable. It also follows that, wherever there has been a sustained Christian influence in a nation or society, that amazing Christian values like charity, equality, tolerance and freedom have come into those societies, making them – not perfect, but surprisingly good places to live.

This certainly includes our own nation, which is built upon this same Christian foundation, in terms of the values we embrace as New Zealanders.

So – how is Christianity different amongst all the religions?

Beyond its unique impact – the main thing is in how we get to God: It’s about what he has done, not about what we must do – that’s the difference!

What Good Has Christianity Done for the World? | Dave Mann

Historian, Paul Maier said  “No other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation, or movement—has changed the world for the better like Christianity. 

Clearly”, he said, “it has had its shortcomings but they are heavily outweighed by its benefits to all mankind”

What are those benefits?

When Christ came to earth society was divided and male-dominated. Women were men’s property with few rights. One out of four people were slaves; Killing children was legal and even celebrated – Pedophilia was unashamedly practiced.

The poor, hungry, sick, and dying were often mistreated. Compassion was not common.

In contrast Jesus preached and practiced that all people were equal, – regardless of sex, race, health, age or status. His message was to love and honour, even those considered insignificant- like the women, children, various despised races, slaves, and the sick.

 The unparalleled teachings of Jesus went on to inspire his followers to pursue justice for all.

Early Christians helped to elevate the status of these various despised people groups. They encouraged men to faithfully love and honour one wife.

They protected and supported widows. They bought slaves in the market place simply to set them free.

Outraged by the molestation and killing of children, they banned their followers from these practices – and began to stand within society for social change.

Over the centuries that followed Christians were pivotal in seeing many things change around the world – including the practice of burning widows in Asia made illegal;

in seeing child sacrifices abolished in many countries; in implementing Child labour laws so children weren’t forced to work in atrocious conditions;

and in seeing the international slave trade abolished, freeing thousands of slaves.

There was no minimum age of consent for sex until William Booth of the salvation army campaigned for it in England to stop what we would all consider today to be the widespread abuse of children. 

And then after protecting life, they worked to improve it, working with the poor, mistreated and sick. The establishment of the first hospitals and orphanages was due to Christian efforts – and then spread to all continents of the world.

The first attempt at education for all – including male and female, wealthy and poor – was by Christians, and schools around the globe were then established, yet again, by missionaries who were working to improve the conditions and opportunities of the local people.

At a tertiary level, many respected universities globally, like Oxford, Harvard and Yale, began as Christian institutions.  

This isn’t to mention a wide range of other areas in which the followers of Jesus have significantly impacted the world:

For example, large numbers of the modern sciences’ founders were Christians including Kepler, Pascal, Louis Pasteur, Isaac Newton and Ernest Rutherford.

In the Arts there’s been enormous and surprising Christian influence – inspired by the amazing concept of grace that Christianity brought to the table.

Christian writers such as C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Shakespeare, Dickens, have all impacted the world.

Renowned musicians of centuries gone also pioneered in the area of music, in ways that it is difficult for us to understand today – because we assume what they established – including Bach, Handel and Vivaldi’s – all Christians who worked to honor God. 

Bach use to sign all his works with the words Soli Deo Gloria (“Solely to the glory of God”).

There have also been phenomenal architectural buildings, paintings and sculptures created by people acknowledging God as their inspiration.

Michelangelo – widely considered the greatest artistic genius that ever lived – believed his art was divinely inspired by God and reflected His Glory.

To close with a quote from Broadcaster James Kennedy, he wrote, “…All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life.”

Has Christianity brought good to this world? More so than we can comprehend!

I’m Dave Mann from Shining Lights Trust for Thinking Matters.

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Finding Truth by Nancy Pearcey | Book Club | June 2020

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