If Christianity is true, why are there so many different religions? There are things about the Christian faith that I find winsome and attractive, but I can't bring myself to accept it all. It's difficult to take a step like that in the modern world, where we know so much about so many other belief systems, many of which seem equally valid. What sets Christianity apart from the rest?
Why are there so many religions? For the same reason that there is so much diversity in art, architecture, philosophy, language, poetry, and music. "Religion" as such is just another facet of human culture. It's an expression of man's desire to know the unknown and see the unseen. It grows out of his longing to touch the mysterious world that lies beyond the veil of visible reality. The problem is that, since the fall, human beings have had to pursue this quest in darkness (Genesis 3). After the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11), they were also obliged to do it in isolation from one another. As a result, they've come up with many different answers to the same basic questions. Those answers include everything from the ridiculous to the sublime.
It's a little bit like the old Hindu parable of the blind men and the elephant. One blind man touched the elephant's trunk and came to the conclusion that an elephant is something like a snake. The second felt a leg and decided that an elephant must be a kind of tree. The third laid his hand against the elephant's side and pictured a creature resembling a wall. In one sense, each man was right. But in another they were all completely wrong because they did not have eyes to see the truth in its fullness.
The Christian Gospel claims to give us eyes. In this way, it claims to be something other than "religion." The God of the Bible is not a god who can be found by searching or spiritual experimentation. Instead, He shows Himself to us on His own terms. We can know that He is there because He has told us so. We can understand what He is like because He has taken the initiative to explain Himself. He speaks through His prophets and apostles and in His written Word. He acts and intervenes in human history. Ultimately, He assumes human nature and walks the earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Christianity, then, is not just another "religion." Christianity is a revelation.
To put it another way, Christianity is not simply a body of ideas put together by a group of sincere people trying to find answers to life's deepest questions. It would be more accurate to describe it as a phenomenon. If you study the relevant documents, you'll see that the Christian church arose almost overnight. What's more, it arose in direct response to a remarkable series of actual events. A man appeared who claimed to be God. He spoke and acted in a way that seemed to validate His claims. He paid for His bold words by dying a gruesome death on a Roman cross. He rose from the dead on the third day. It's not so much what the man taught or what others said about Him that has left such an indelible mark on the course of human history. It's who He was and how His continuing presence impacts the lives of those who believe in Him. That's what makes all the difference.
If you want solid answers to your questions, it might be a good idea to begin by examining Christianity in terms of these events. Don't look at it as a "religion" to be evaluated on purely "religious" or philosophical grounds. Instead, focus on Jesus Christ. If you're interested in studying the evidence for the historicity of the New Testament documents, we'd suggest that you check out a book entitled The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel. This resource is available through our ministry and can be ordered via Focus on the Family's Online Store.
In the meantime, if you'd like to discuss this subject at greater length with a member of our team, call us. Focus on the Family has a staff of pastoral counselors who would love to speak with you over the phone.
Christian Research Institute