Question: : If you were to summarize or paraphrase Christianity for someone as it compares or relates to all other religions, what would you say? “Forgiveness of Sin” would certainly be in this phase right? Do other religions have this principle? Do any other religions have this principle of a sacrifice for our sin?
Answer: The main principle that sets Christianity apart from every other religion on the face of the earth is grace. Every other religion posits that in order to have a right relationship with God I have to earn it by being righteous. Christianity says I can’t be righteous enough (or even righteous period) and that if I want a right relationship with God He is going to have to take the first step and make it a gift, or I’m sunk. He’s going to have to pursue me and allow me to receive what He offers by faith, and He will consider that as righteousness. If I am in any way depending on my own works or ability to be good, I am missing out on what God has for me. I have overestimated myself and underestimated God.
There is a hint of grace in the Bhagavad Gita when it says, “Abandoning all duties, come unto Me alone for shelter. Be not grieved, for I shall release you from all evils,” xviii 66. But it does not explain how God can release someone from all evils without then being evil Himself. If our lives really do violate righteousness (and they do) then for God to just say, “Its okay, I forgive you,” means there is no real holiness in Him. Only Christianity offers forgiveness free (for us) at the cost of the death of God’s Son, Jesus. His death is the sacrifice that pays the penalty I deserve so that God can forgive me without being unrighteous. Though Israel used to offer sacrifices, they don’t any longer because they don’t have a temple. Even if they did offer sacrifices, they would be animal sacrifices which cannot really take away sin but were meant to point to the perfect sacrifice, Jesus.
Finally, Christianity is the only religion that sees God as a triune being, one God but three persons, each person sharing the one essence of God. Only this view of God explains how God can be a God of love (He has been in a love relationship for all eternity and expressed perfect love), and only this view explains why we are so desirous of individual uniqueness and community at the same time.