4 Ways Christianity Is Unique from Other Religions

4 Ways Christianity Is Unique from Other Religions

The school my children attended had students of many different religions, as well as students with no religious background. In thinking about what makes Christianity unique from other religions, it is important to respect the religious beliefs of others that are different from our own. We should also take the opportunity to listen, dialogue, and learn about other religions.

All religions are concerned about the relationship of human beings with that which is spiritual. It can seem like the similarities end there. Even the nature of belief in the divine can vary from one God to many gods, from that which is holy to the eternal essence or ultimate divine reality. But we can find common ground in the general revelation of other religions — such as doing good unto others, the concept of love, moral behavior, and belief in an afterlife.

Here, I want to focus on four aspects of Christianity that make it unique and stand out from other world religions.

1. God’s Plan of Salvation

The Bible gives God’s plan of salvation for saving sinful human beings from death and reconciling them unto Himself. This is accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some well-known verses sum up God’s plan of salvation:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).

These verses remind us that salvation is a gift from God. God gave His all — His beloved Son — and initiated our deliverance and rescue out of His goodness and love. Salvation is God’s work, through Jesus Christ, and is offered by His grace.

2. We Cannot Save Ourselves

In Christianity, nothing we do can save us. We cannot stand before God on personal merit. We are not rewarded with eternal bliss based on how we live our lives. We cannot achieve perfection on our own. Right practice, or taking personal responsibility to follow the right path, does not help our spiritual state. Obedience in our actions does not get us to heaven.

Titus 3:5a says “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”

The Bible’s story of redemption tells us how human beings are unable to please God; to do enough to live by God’s holy and righteous standards. We see this, in particular, in the Mosaic covenant of the Old Testament. Redemption of humanity is through Jesus Christ with the guarantee that we are saved by faith.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."

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3. God Comes to Us

Christianity is unique in that God comes to human beings. Christian theologian John Stott, in his book Basic Christianity says “In the Bible we do not see man groping after God, we see God reaching after man.” It is not what we think, do, or experience that gets us to God.

God’s action of not only coming down into the world, but saving humanity, is seen in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Stott continues, “The Christian good news is not confined to a declaration that God has spoken. It also affirms that God has acted. God has taken the initiative in both these ways because of the character of man’s need. For we are not only ignorant; we are sinful. It is not sufficient therefore that God should have revealed himself to us to dispel our ignorance. He must also take action to save us from our sins.”

In Christianity, God in His mercy reconciles human beings to himself through the work of Jesus Christ.

Even within Christianity we can fall into the trap of believing that rituals, high ethical standards, and right practice help us earn our way into God’s presence. Yet all that is required is faith. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” And: “It [God’s choice] does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:15-16).

4. The Incarnation of Christ 

Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the way to God and the exact representation of God the Father. In Christianity, Jesus is the Son of God — fully human and fully God. Hebrews 1:3a says “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” No other central figure in a world religion has claimed to be God.

When Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples, asked “show us the Father,” Jesus replied: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9).

As theologian David Wells says: “Christ has been seen as unique. He was the only incarnation of God in human flesh, who died for us on the cross. He did what no one else could do or has done: He bore our sins and rose again for our justification. There was no one else like him in his time, and there is no one else like him in ours. He was and is unique— without rival, peer, equal, or comparison. He is in a category by himself. He is God—the incarnate and sovereign Lord.”

Christianity is the only faith with an empty grave, whose leader came back from the dead and walked and talked with his followers.

Without the incarnation of God in the flesh and Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, we would not have Christianity, or our restoration to God and eternal life. Jesus said: “I am the one who brings people back to life, and I am life itself. Those who believe in me will live even if they die” (John 11:25).

The uniqueness of Christianity and the claims made by Jesus himself will make others feel uncomfortable, and even annoyed. They are controversial in our religiously diverse society. Yet, the Bible is clear that salvation is freely available to all people who believe that Jesus Christ took on humanity’s sin so we might be reconciled with God for eternity.

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Rachel Britton headshotRachel Britton is a British-born writer, author, and speaker whose passion is to help others become comfortable and confident in their conversation with God. Rachel holds a Masters in Religion from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Her blog “Praying Naturally” offers an extensive library of free prayer resources to help you deepen and develop your prayer life. Rachel is wife to Colin and mom to three young adults. She cannot live without a mug of English tea. Connect with Rachel on Facebook.