||2015-02-25 16:25:19, 조회 : 1,439, 추천 : 238
| Jesus Among Other Gods: The Uniqueness of Christianity|
Hello everyone! Today we are at the second to last chapter of our book “what’s so great about Christianity?” While most of the book has been seen through the binoculars of a secular perspective, today’s topic will be seen through the eyes of a Christian. For the past chapters we’ve learned about Christianity’s role in society and how it has molded it. Today we will be learning about what makes Christianity so different from other religions and the last chapter will discuss the way our lives change when we become a Christian.
D’ Souza explains to us that there are two types of people that claim that “all religion is the same”. The first being religious believers “although not of the very fervent kind”. These people adamantly say that “all religions are equal pathways to heaven”. Thus, there is no point of persuading other people to convert to your religion because all religions lead to heaven. The second types are atheists. Atheists are convinced that all religion are false and that they are “equally pernicious”
While both types claim that all religions are the same, when looking at religion in depth actually suggests otherwise. Many religions “make exclusive and uncompromising claims about God and the human condition. As these claims are often incompatible, there is no way that all religions can be true”. While many religions may have similar “elements” of the truth, not all of it can be true. Many people like to believe that “all religions have different ways of comprehending the same truth”; however D’ Souza claims that this is an “erroneous view”. He notes “monotheistic religions attempts to worship the one God and therefore the same God. They differ, however, in their understanding of why man needs God and how man can find Him”. We can distinguish religions even by the way basic ideas are interpreted differently. For instance, the word “Martyr” is used most commonly in Christianity and Islam (but absent in Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism). It derives from the Greek language, in which it means “witness”. D’ Souza explains that “In Christianity, the martyr voluntarily gives up his life rather than his God”. However in “Islam, a martyr takes up the cause of jihad and loses his life fighting for Allah”. Some additional differences throughout the major religions are:
1) Buddhism does not believe in a afterlife or God
2) Islam considers Moses and Jesus as prophets
3) Muslims understand the concept of Christ’s virgin birth, but do not regard Christ as messiah
4) Muslims do not believe Christ was crucified or resurrected.
D’ Souza explains to us that all religions “are an attempt to solve the dilemma Pascal outlined in the Pensees”. Pascal explains that while man has showed “great intelligence” to solve “basic problems” in life, he has yet to answer some of the most crucial issues. For instance “we want to have peace in the world. We want to live in harmony with one another. We want to raise our children well. We want our lives to matter. So why haven’t we solved any of these problems?” Atheists like Dawkins and Harris simply say that it’s because “man is ignorant, and science is the way to dispel that ignorance”. However, the religious person understands that this is only partially true. While science can answer many questions, it itself has its own limits. To subject science as the sole answer for life’s entire questions “is to condemn man to ignorance about the things that matter most in life”. So how can we understand the issue of good and evil? Pascal states that perhaps “man is simultaneously heroic and wretched. He is capable of noble and wonderful thoughts and deeds, yet he also plots and performs horrible actions that are unworthy of even the lowest animals.” Or we can say that while man has a very high standard, he is always falling short of it. “He knows what is good, but he will not do it. He is captive to selfish and evil desires, and he give in to those desires because his will is weak”. All religions believe that to fix this issue, man must have a set of codes and how to overcome these temptations in order to come closer to God. D’ Souza says that “Religion in general is man’s strategic manual for how to reach God”.
However, Christianity then in a sense is not a religion; because “Christianity holds that man, no matter how hard he tries, cannot reach God. Man cannot ascend to God’s level because God’s level is too high. Therefore there is only one remedy: God must come down to man’s level”. Christians believe that God has sent down his son in man form in order to “assume the burden of man’s sins”. Jesus Christ being the person that dies for our sins is what Christians have to believe in order to “inherit God’s gift of salvation”. This is the “essence of Christianity”. While it may seem simple, D’ Souza notes that there in this “simplicity, there is considerable depth and richness”.
The first principle we must look into is the “sin in man’s nature”. Sin which is: selfishness, acquisitiveness, lust and greed. This is what’s in every human being on earth. Darwin had a similar idea of sin as the Christian doctrine of original sin. D’ Souza says that “Darwin understood that man is closer to the beasts than to the angels. In some ways man is worse than the animals because they simply do what comes naturally, while man sins willfully and deliberately”. Thus man has to pay the “wages of sin”. This leads us to a second principle of Christianity. “The Bible equates death in the biological realm with sin in the moral realm”. While many people find this cruel or unsympathetic, D’ Souza shows us why this is necessary. For instance, sin is what navigates us through our life (thoughts, personalities, behavior). While we may notice that we are sinning in some instances, most of the time we do it unthinkingly. So should sinning be given a treat? “Should God, who is eternally just and holy, compromise justice and holiness and offer us salvation despite our hatred for Him and our desecration of His laws?” It is only right that we should pay for our sins, which means that “sinners cannot enter the kingdom of God”.
So how must we receive salvation? Firstly, we must like Hinduism suggests “recognize that the self is the core of the problem” and we do this through “disciplined self renunciation”. Judaism and Islam suggests a more elaborate rituals, thus treating God like a “lenient tradesman”. However, just recognizing oneself as the problem isn’t the only thing, we must also be perfect. D’ Souza says that “Christianity raises the bar even higher than other religions by insisting that in order to enter God’s kingdom we must be perfect. Not good, but perfect. Being good is not good enough”. Thus the only to do this, is to “die to ourselves” and become different people. No other religions can understand the concept of Christ’s crucifixion. In fact, when the Aztecs were first introduced the Christian doctrines, they stated “In a universe accustomed to seeing men sacrificed to the gods, nothing amazed the Indians more than the sight of a god who had sacrificed himself to men”. Richard Dawkins writes that “atonement, the central doctrine off Christianity, is vicious, sadomasochistic, and repellent”. While this may seem so to many people, Christians look at atonement as a “beautiful sacrifice”. C.S Lewis writes “Christ offers us something for nothing”. The difficulty that many people have with this doctrine is realizing that we are in fact sinful, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. D’ Souza says that the “obstacle in other words, are those of human pride”.
The Bible shows us that salvation is the gift off God. D’ Souza notes “Many people- even many Christians- understand this to mean that God is offering us salvation as a gift. But the Bible doesn’t say that salvation is the gift from God. Rather, it says that salvation is the gift of God. God Himself is the gift”. Being righteousness is not enough, like Nicodemus. We must be born again. Once we realize that we do not deserve anything for our heavenly reward, and God reaches out to us, “all we have to do is take it”. This is what makes Christianity so unique and beautiful.
1) What tow types of people say that all religions are basically the same? Why do they say this? How would you respond to each type of person?
2) What is the universal problem, outlines by Pascal, that all religions seek to address?
3) How do Judaism and Isalm seek to cross the enormous chasm between man and God?
4) What makes Christianity so unique?
5) What does it mean to say that salvation is not the gift from God but rather the gift of God? Why would we want such a gift?
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