THE SUPERIORITY OF CHRISTIANITY
The question is often asked, "Why is Christianity superior to other religions?" Even in the United States where we have, literally, hundreds of "Christian" religions as well as other varieties of religion, we hear this. In the world beyond our borders where the number of religions multiplies into the thousands, the question is even more pertinent. Those of us who claim to be Christians in the sense of the New Testament need to be able to answer that question. 1 Peter 3:15, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" obligates us to this.
Before getting into this study, I think it will be helpful to define some terms as I am using them. First, "religion"---this is a compound word, "re" meaning again, and "legion" meaning to tie or bind. Since this again-tying implies a previous one, I use this in the sense of being rebound to God or some kind of spiritual Deity. Second, "Christianity" in quotes refers to all religious organizations and sects that claim the Bible as their guide in matters of morals and religion. The use of Christianity without quote will be apparent as this article develops. I will explain the meaning of all individual names or classifications as each of them comes up in this study.
I propose to compare these religions/religious classifications on by six characteristics as they apply. These are: METHODS, CLAIMS, REVELATION, FRUITS, PROMISES and PRIESTHOOD. These religions are: Atheism, Agnosticism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Muslimism, Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Moronism, Cultism, and Christianity. On some of these, I will make comments on evolution, liberalism and modernism as they affect the religions. In each of these, the law of consequences (cause and effect) is evident. Many of the consequences are obvious and predictable. More than that, the law of unintended consequences also comes into play, to the sorrow of those who are religiously wrong. One final comment here: As with all proper law, we do NOT break it when we fail to comply. We violate it, and as a direct result, suffer the penalty the law extracts, whether it be God's law, natural law, or civil law. We do not break law: we are broken on law when we violate it!
It is, most literally, a non-religion or a denying-religion. It has neither revelation, promises or priesthood. Its methods are denying religion by ignoring any evidence to the contrary or trying to argue it away by pseudo-scientific arguments. Most of those who hold this "belief" also accept evolution rather than fiat creation as the means by which life came about. Evidence of atheists' willingness to ignore evidence is in statements by such men as Dr. Gaylord Simpson, a leading U. S. evolutionist. He has stated that "...evolution is neither proven nor provable, but the only other alternative, special creation, is unacceptable." With this predisposition, any evidence against evolution and for creation is disregarded or sneered out of consideration. Its fruits are the spreading influence in our nation today of mans' inhuman treatment of man. That is to be expected: If man is convinced that he is only a high-grade animal, he will soon degenerate into an animal and it won't be very "high-grade" either. Might becomes right, and orderly society disintegrates into anarchy and chaos. Abortion and euthanasia are its natural consequences. "Society" becomes responsibly and personal accountability is denied. It is the total putting self in the driver's seat and rejection of any authority higher than man. The proper name for this is rebellion. To admit there is a God would demand obedience to that God, a condition atheists tirelessly reject. Probably the worst thing of all is that it offers no promises, no hope. Atheism teaches that when man is dead, he is dead all over, like Rover; that the only life is this one, and we'd better enjoy it while we can. It would be difficult to imagine any more bleak view of life. Life becomes nothing more than a period of vanity, a useless existence between the twin peaks of birth and death. Those living that life are increasingly subject to despair.
This is nearly precisely parallel to ATHEISM. The only significant difference is that these folks claim they accept some sort of power higher than man, and "permit" us to call this power "God" if that pleases us. Its methods, claims, revelations, fruits, promises and priesthood are the same as those of the atheists.
SHINTOISM, HINDUISM, BUDDHISM
I lump all these together. Basically, they all follow the same pattern, with some differences significant to the specifics. Their methods are basically benign in that their efforts to convert others are not aggressive. In their claims they tend to emphasize either no specific gods or a plurality of gods, a "force" rather than a revelation, and fruits that show up in characteristics such as good citizenship, principled conduct, humanitarian deeds, respect for authority and for ancestors. Their promises vary somewhat, but generally offer an end of earthly suffering, possibly a rebirth into a higher/lower form of life until there is a merging with the universal life. There is also a gross backwardness in health and a degrading of the value of human life by venerating animal life. I have seen cattle wandering through grain fields in India, eating to their hearts' content, while in the home of the owner, his children starve. Shintoism has an interesting side-effect. If one dies a particularly heroic death, he has the promise that when reborn within 40 days, he will be reborn a Samurai, a man in the exalted warrior class in Japanese culture. Some of these have a form of priesthood of a "lower" variety. The priests do not teach or lead religiously, but (as a rule) lead a contemplative life, often begging for their daily food. Their priests or prophets do not claim authority or deity.
MUSLIMISM This is essentially an Arabic religion in all its forms, with some non-Arab adherents. Its methods are violently aggressive and war-like. Even today, its revelation, the KORAN, insists that the infidel be put to the sword. The Iranian Ayatollahs in their blood purges are doing nothing but following their "understanding" of the KORAN. Historically, Islam has used its aggressive drive to conquer huge areas of the world. It would do so again if it had the opportunity and the "right" leaders. It's claims are basically that it follows the Old Testament, that Jesus is just another in the series of prophets beginning with Abraham, and that Mohammed is the final prophet. Initially it accepted both the Jews and Christians, but this no longer is true. For its revelation, it has the KORAN, produced in the 7th century. It does not claim that Mohammed is deity even while claiming him as its sole prophet. Its fruits are generally the rejection of all that western civilization calls progress, the subjugation and degradation of women, backwardness in health, lack of individual freedom, and the acme of male chauvinism. Its promises include going directly to paradise if killed in a holy war, there to be greeted and to own 70 beautiful virgins, fed from the most wonderful fruits in the land, and an eternity made up of the best of earthly things. Mohammed is its prophet.
Based on the Old Testament, today's Jews claim their religion is the forerunner of the still-to-come Messiah. Today it is divided into six major groups, with several claiming to be conservative and close believers in the Old testament law. They don't, otherwise we would see Temple worship and animal sacrifice, and three times a year, all male Jews twelve and older would have to travel to Jerusalem to worship. It claims the Old Testament is its revelation, honoring Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and the Old Testament Prophets, but does not listen to their messages any more than the Jews in Jesus time did. They are still looking for the coming Christ, and the reestablishing of God's kingdom on earth with Jerusalem as its headquarters. Its fruits are a world-wide dispersion of the Jews for rejecting Jesus when he was here on earth. Its promises are basically earthly, looking for the earthly kingdom and their personal and national benefits under it. Their priesthood originally was with the Levites. After the destruction of the temple records when the Romans razed the temple in 70 AD means that no Jew today can know for sure what his lineage, thus cannot know what his heritage is, nor know who is/isn't a Levite, and thus eligible to be a priest. The present Rabbis are simply teachers, mostly who support themselves in secular work.
Roman Catholicism is a conflict of terms. Rome is local, catholic is universal. Actually, it is neither, although it claims half a billion believers, and that figure is probably close to the fact. In earlier times, Catholicism was very aggressive, employing forced conversion under penalty of death or confiscation of wealth and property, reaching its peak in the several-centuries long Inquisition. Today it does not employ these methods because it cannot do so. Napoleon first, then Garibaldi reduced the Vatican's political power, rendering it without ability to continue to propagate itself by force. But Pius the XII in an official Church document 1870, stated that "...in happier times, the Church would exert its rights" after earlier stating that in these times, it had no choice but to accommodate itself to what was termed "Americanism." Catholicism claims to be God's functioning organ earth, and demands all people bow before this claim, whatever their religion. Many Protestant groups acknowledge this to some degree. The Pope claims to be the direct religious descendant from Peter, whom it claims was the first Pope. In actuality, the Roman religious organization paralleled the Roman Empire Governmental structure, and did not emerge in its structured form until Boniface the 3rd declared himself to be the Universal Bishop in 606 AD. Catholicism's chain-rattling falls (even if this tracing of to origins had any validity, which is doesn't) in that even today, there are three distinct "lines of descent" with some Popes declaring others to be anti-Popes. Catholicism also claims to be the inspired interpreter of what the Bible, especially the New Testament, means. This is interesting, in that if its claims to longevity are correct, it has had nearly two thousand years to explain difficult doctrine. But nothing I have ever read or heard argues against the fact that the total "ex-cathedra" (out of the chair of Peter, thus authoritative) statements of doctrine since Peter number twelve or less. While saying it believes the Bible, Catholicism places greater emphasis on its Cannon Laws and other Church-originated documents. In its Old Testament, instead of the 39 books universally accepted world-wide as its total, Catholicism includes nine other whole books, and additions to five more. Non-catholic call this the "Apocrypha" which means "that of doubtful origin." To put it mildly. Its fruits are repression of individual freedom, attempts to breed itself to a majority, rigid rejection of other "Christian" religions and among all western nations, a general backwardness of human progress. This latter includes medicine and health, individual liberty, government control of education (i.e. ---according to Catholic desires), and an overall rejection of woman as equal before God no matter what their verbal claim. Actions speak louder than words, and Catholicism's actions tell the story of women occupying a secondary place in their kingdom of the Lord. Its promises are heaven when this life is over but only after a purging (for an undefined period of time in a hell-fire that is supposed to purify their souls from sin before entry into heaven), limbo for unbaptized (by sprinkling) children, hence their intense drive to baptize even still-born children, and a heaven in the far-away bye and bye if one has obeyed the priests in this life. Catholicism's priesthood represents more a political hierarchy, with absolute authority including that to forgive sins vested in them. Their priests are carefully trained in their religious schools. The training, while not directly rejecting the Bible, does so indirectly by its emphasis on other concepts to the virtual exclusion of the Bible.
Protestantism is a direct offshoot of rebellion against the excesses of Catholicism. It began essentially with Luther's nailing of his 94 thesiss' to the door of the Catholic Church building in Wittenburg, Germany. Luthur did not form Luthurnism---his followers did. He attempted only to purge Catholicism, in which he was a priest, of its ills. From this beginning, other groups came out of Catholicism and out of those groups that came out of Catholicism. In violent reaction to the Catholic concept of salvation by works, Protestantism did and still does stand so straight that it leans over backward to avoid this, and in direct contradiction to plain teaching in the New Testament, teaches salvation by faith only, apart from any kind of works. Generally, it claims that each believer is his own priest, but woe betide the member of some groups if they disagree with the beliefs published in the various denominational documents outlining their "faiths." Protestantism was and is quite popular in the United States because of the basic individualism that build this nation. This individualism expresses itself more easily in the framework of Protestant denominationalism than in Catholicism. Protestantism claims the Bible as its revelation, but virtually without exception, each group publishes its own governing document, and control stems from this in areas where it disagrees with the Bible. It is worth noting here, that the very existence of these creed books testifies to two important conclusions: First, that they all disagree to some extent with each other (otherwise, there would be at least one fewer if two or more agreed totally); second, that all disagree in some respect to the Bible (else, if they agree, why have them, since we have the Bible?). Protestant denominationalism's fruits are division. The very word "denominate" means to distinguish, to separate. That is exactly what their creeds do. Its promise is a cost-free salvation (religion on the cheap) in emphasizing externals instead of the spirit of the heart. Its priesthood is a group of trained (mostly) men who are taught more about their distinctions from other groups than about the Bible. Generally, the priests/pastors/reverends (see Mt 23:09,10 on this) exercise power in a power structure that usually resembles to some degree the governmental structure of authority in our nation. Protestantism is generally limited to what are referred to as nations with western (Judeo-Christian) culture.
Moronism originated in the mind of Joseph Smith, in Elmira, New York, in the 1820's. He claimed Jesus appeared to him and dictated the Book of Mormon and instructed him that he was to work to establish the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, based on the idea that original Christianity has been lost, and it was necessary to reestablish it. When you can get its leaders to admit it, it claims that it alone is the pathway to what they class as salvation. In addition to the Book of Mormon, these people claim that the Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine And Covenants are also authoritative documents. The interesting thing about this is that they all disagree with each other to some extent, and indeed, even with themselves. Moronism claims that it accepts the Bible "...in so far as it is correctly translated." This is a dodge, pure and simple. I have repeatedly given my Bible to Mormons and asked them to point out any passage which they believe to be mistranslated, and have yet to have them show me a single passage that they can claim and show is mistranslated. The purpose is simply to direct prospects away from the Bible to their own religious documents. It fruits are an authoritative power structure that centers its efforts on "this-worldism." It generally teaches a high level of personal morality, but with a quirk. If a Mormon is not married in the temple, he is free to go there and be ritualistically "married" to anyone who meets his desire, the "marriage" to be consummated after his time here on this earth. They claim that Adam was once God (that Adam is the present God-whl), and that other Adams (i.e.--- God's) have come to other earths and established other races, and further, that any faithful Mormon can, in the end, become God Himself, and do the same. This is called the "Adam-God theory." Most Mormons I have talked to do not even know of it, but their writings contain this nonsense. Their promises are weird. What they amount to is that believers can select the "level of salvation" they want. If going to heaven (becoming God) is too much of a task, they have a sort-of rack of promises at a lesser level. The believer can choose one more in line with the effort he wants to put out. Their priesthood claims descendant from Joseph Smith (the real lineal descendant of Smith has formed his own alternate version of the current Moronism; his existence put the lie to the mainline claim). Power is vested in a council of twelve apostles who serve below the level of the President.
There are many cults, and their history differ widely. Basically, they all represent a rejection of and a departure from some older, more staid form of mainline "Christian" religions. Usually, they claim they have discovered a "new way." I am immediately suspicious of any claim to "new" doctrine. After the New Testament has been around for some two thousand years, it is highly improbably that anyone is going to discover an item of doctrine not already known. As a rule they all accept the Bible in some form to some degree, allowing themselves the freedom to "interpret" (the word "interpret" actually means "to determine the meaning of," and NOT someone's opinion as to what it does or should mean) the Bible to accommodate their doctrine. Its fruits are a closeness and control stemming from this, exercising close authority over the lives of its adherents. Generally, cults appeal to those who are unsure of themselves in the outside world, tend to cloister their members, and brain-wash their prospects and members to surrender dominion of their lives to the central authority figure or his representatives. Their promises are varied also, but again, cluster around the idea of a better life here, and in some cases, as the cult (alone) is God's channel to heaven when this life is over. The priests of the cults are usually the most significant points of identity. Almost without exception (most if not all are men) claim to be charismatic individuals, able to sway with their rhetoric and influence with their appeal. In most instances, these leaders also have a hidden political agenda, and use their members to further this, under the claim that they are serving the Lord in so-doing.
In the early 19th century, men in the US began to plead for a return to pure New Testament Christianity, rejecting as man-made impedimenta and baggage that differs from the simplicity as outlined in the New Testament. It claims to be the only genuine, God-approved religion. It demands a locally-autonomous congregation exercise its control over the law of admissions for membership, five acts of worship, three congregational functions, organized on a plurality of elders in a single congregation and other distinctive features which separate it from both Catholicism and Protestantism. Its revelation is the New Testament. Christianity accepts the Old Testament in the senses of providing examples, guidance, and covenant continuity, plus the inspiring encouragement through the lives of great men of yore. Bible law is accepted in command (or direct statement of fact, its equivalent), approved apostolic example, and necessary inference only. Its fruits are a Godly life devoted to service to God and mankind (see Mt 25:31-46 on this). Its fruits also result in society improvements through the influence of Christians (Mt 5:12-16). Its promises are, essentially, two: a better (spiritually-speaking) life here, and life eternal in the presence of God in the after-a-while. Its priesthood is in Christ as our high priest, and individual saints (members) as priests before God. In all the religions considered, only the priesthood of Christ claims deity for its high priest, and only He ever accepted such honor while on earth.
In each of these religions, some conclusions are obvious. Note:
1. The law of consequences (cause and effect): backwardness in virtually areas of human progress results from false religion. Most of these consequences are unintended.
2. Each false religion attempts in some way to direct attention away from the Bible.
3. Most offer a hope that is substantially less than Christianity offers. It is religion-on-the-cheap. Even those with stringent requirements offer a hope that is different than that of the Bible.
4. Most do not demand a submission of self to an external authority. Those that do demand this subservience to humans rather than God even when they claim they are representing some kind or sort of god.
5. Its methods all require some kind of coercion.
6. All represent some kind of rebellion against the Jehovah-God of the Bible.
There are others, but these suffice to demonstrate the great distinction between all of them and Christianity. When historical evidence is available, all (without exception) religions can be traced back from atheism to polytheism, to mono-theism to worship of Jehovah-God. This demonstrates the fact that God did not leave them without witness (Acts 14:17; Rom 1:18-32).
All and all, good stands on an inverted pyramid. For example, Communism claims to be the sole interpreters of history by scientific methods." Thus is places itself in the position of doing all it can to force the world into its understanding of what the end-result must be. Right above this concept is the first segment of our figure. It is composed of "The Party." Those in it grasp to themselves the "right" to determine the destiny (and burden) of the remaining citizens in the Soviet Union and others caught up in this political system. Finally on top of that comes the communists world-wide, whose conduct is dictated by the same source controlling Soviet citizens. You may substitute in this figure any of the other religions, and get the same results.
Western civilization sits in the same kind of inverted pyramid. On the top is political freedom. Next, is economic freedom. The first cannot exist without the second. Below that is freedom of religion, upon which the other two absolutely depend. Finally, at the very bottom - - the very narrow point of our inverted pyramid - - is New Testament Christianity (see Mt 5:13-16 again).
The significant point of both figures is that the tip of the pyramid is the sustaining power. In the case of Communism, it is the hope of a better life here on earth (modified by communists' idea of what a better life is). At the bottom of the Christian pyramid is the hope of heaven. All evil seeks for some variety of Communism's hope. Christianity is the ONLY religion that in reality seeks something better, an eternity with a Creating, loving, and merciful God.
By Brian Beck, of Rosenberg, Texas,
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