Among all the world’s religions, how do we know Christianity alone is true? This question represents one of the greatest apologetic challenges of the twenty-first century. If we Christians hope to share our faith with other people, it is crucial that we fully understand what we believe about Jesus Christ and why, and that we can articulate how Jesus compares to the other religious leaders.
The first step in this pursuit is to examine who Christ is and how he stands apart. Jesus of Nazareth claims and demonstrates both the authority and the power to:
- Forgive sins (Mark 2:5)
- Accept worship (Matthew 28:17)
- Hear and answer prayer (John 14:14)
- Raise the dead (John 5:21)
- Judge humanity (John 5:22)
The second step is to acknowledge and affirm the important commonalities that we Christians share with people of other faiths and then comment on how Christianity uniquely addresses the human predicament.
Here are some easy tips on how to bridge the gap and approach a fruitful faith conversation with a Buddhist, Confucian, Hindu, or Muslim friend.
Emphasize common ground. When talking to a Buddhist, acknowledge and affirm the important commonalities that Buddhists and Christians share, especially moral values. The Buddhist instinct to follow moral precepts is what the Bible says can be expected of people made in the image of God.
Share that salvation is a gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Buddhists rely on moral exertion to conform themselves to the challenging standards of the Noble Eightfold Path. Share with your Buddhist friend clearly and carefully that salvation is not earned by human effort, however morally good, but is a divinely imparted gift through Jesus Christ.
Emphasize common ground. Grant and affirm the critical common ground that Confucians and Christians share: the high value of ethical living. The Christian perspective is that morality flows from God’s personal and ethical moral nature.
Highlight the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ.
Confucianism is in many respects a tolerant and inclusive religious philosophy. Share with your Confucian friend that Jesus Christ offered his life for all people but also makes exclusive claims to truth.
Emphasize common ground. Acknowledge and affirm that both Bhakti Hindus and Christians agree that human beings have a deep desire to know and love God and, in turn, to be known and loved by God. Both believe that a relationship with God should take priority in one’s life.
Describe Jesus Christ as the ultimate savior through grace. Christianity affirms that salvation comes by God’s generosity alone. Explain to your Hindu friend that they don’t have to work to achieve liberation from reincarnation because God has already secured their place in eternity through Christ.
Emphasize common ground. Acknowledge and affirm the important common ground that Muslims and Christians share, especially concerning monotheism. You can refer to several verses that affirm the Christian belief in one God, including Romans 3:30 and 1 Corinthians 8:6.
Then show how Jesus differs from Muhammad. Explain to your Muslim friend that Jesus Christ is more than a prophet—he’s God in person, the great self-sacrificing Savior and Lord.
To place Jesus alongside the spiritual sages is helpful because, in doing so, we can make clear that the most extraordinary people who have ever lived pale in comparison to the Lord, the Christ, the Savior, the Son of God.
Adapted from God among Sages by Kenneth Samples
Science and the World’s Religions
Buddhists believe the absolute universe is infinite as well as beginningless and endless.
Confucians tend to look to other religious philosophies for answers about metaphysics, God, and the cosmos.
With their belief in reincarnation, many Hindus accept an oscillating universe and macroevolution.
Muslims view Allah as the divine craftsman who stands behind the world’s complexity and design.