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Christianity Among Other Religions

A Discussion of Tim Keller’s book, The Reason for God, Part 3

July, 2010

What’s really unique about Christianity? Is Christianity just another religion? Is one religion just as good or helpful as another? In Tim Keller’s book, The Reason for God, he believes there is a tremendous difference between Christianity, and other religions. He writes: There is a profound and fundamental difference between the way that other religions tell us to seek salvation and the way described in the gospel of Jesus. All other major faiths have founders who are teachers that show the way to salvation. Only Jesus claimed to actually BE the way of salvation himself. The difference is so great that, even though Christianity can certainly be called a religion in the broader sense… we will use the term “religion” … to refer to “salvation through moral effort” and “gospel” to refer to “salvation through grace.” Religion operates on the principle “I obey—therefore I am accepted by God.” But the operating principle of the gospel is “I am accepted by God through what Christ has done—therefore I obey.” In Christ I could know I was accepted by grace not only despite my flaws, but because I was willing to admit them. The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself or less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less. I don’t need to notice myself—how I’m doing, how I’m being regarded—so often. This means that I cannot despise those who do not believe as I do. Since I am not saved by my correct doctrine or practice, then this person before me, even with his or her wrong beliefs, might be morally superior to me in many ways. It also means I do not have to be intimidated by anyone. I am not so insecure that I fear the power of success or talent of people who are different from me. The gospel makes it possible for a person to escape oversensitivity, defensiveness, and the need to criticize others. The Christian’s identity is not based on the need to be perceived as a good person, but on God’s valuing of you in Christ. What's your take on religion? Worthwhile? Or waste of time?

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