Is it really that hard of a decision?


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    181 replies to "Difference Between Christianity and Other Religions in a Nutshell"

    • Stan McCullars


      It really is that easy!

    • Fitz

      Love it, love it, love it!!!!!

    • BEK

      The thing that bothers me about this kind of representation of Christianity is that it separates it from the God and the plan of the Old Testament. Your explanation about other religions would seem to rule out the validity of the Old Testament. Didn’t Abraham have a revelation from God; that God talking to him and making promises to him? Didn’t Moses go to a mountain top and communicated with God? Christianity is the continuation of something that started long before the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He did not start a NEW religion.

    • Andy

      I hear BEK’s question though, and thought some about that, also (when defending the Truth, you tend to see the questions coming). But on the other hand, God backed up all these people in the OT. Also, every time somebody tries to disprove the Bible (new or old testament), they end up finding more evidence of its Truth.

      Following you on twitter. You may see my posts up occasionally, also. Love your ministry bro, keep it up!

    • Aaron

      As a former believer, I appreciate a lot of why you write here, with your irenic approach to discussing theology. But I have to say his doesn’t make much sense to me. 
      Box 1: No argument here. 
      Box 2: This is nitpicking, but don’t the Gospels make a point that Jesus was buried in a private tomb, to contrast with the public tombs for the masses of the poor?
      Less nitpicking, in what way can the Resurrection possibly be thought of as public. Nobody witnessed the actual event. All the ‘witnesses’ came to the tomb in small groups after the fact.
      Box 3: Jesus did not show himself to the public. According to the various Gospel accounts, Jesus showed himself to Mary Magdalene, Simon (Peter?), two disciples on the road, and small groups of the disciples (small because they could all fit into a room). A passing reference to 500 people in Paul’s letters doesn’t seem convincing to me, as we have no account of this or names of the people…

    • Aaron

      Even if we did, 500 doesn’t seem like the ‘public’ anyway, at least on the scale of Jesus’ reported ministry. 
      Box 4: Very similarly, it is not the public, but a small group of followers that told everyone. 
      This issue is important to me because it’s one thing that caused me to question my faith. If Jesus had appeared publicly after his death, as he did before it, Christianity would be much more convincing.

    • Ed Kratz


      There are two period of major public revelation that God appeals to to call people to remember and believe:

      1. In the OT it was the time of the Exodus. In the OT God is continually pointing people, not to private revelations of individuals, but the epic public deliverance of Israel from the Egyptians.

      2. In the NT (and since) it is the resurrection of Christ. We look back for verification of our beliefs to the epic public crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

      Once these are established, they indirectly proclaim the reality of many of the private encounters of God’s men such as Abraham.

      However, we could make this comic more complex by adding the prophecies concerning Christ (which make the event a public anticipation) and the life of Christ.

      The resurrection of Christ proclaims the reality of all of the Christian witness.

      This comic rules out Islam, Zoroastrianism, Mormanism, Hinduism, etc because their is no real reason to believe their central claims.

    • Tom

      @Aaron – Just one point about the 500 witnesses mentioned by Paul (unfortunately the end of your comment got cut off, so I’m responding based on what I see).
      At one time, I used to be skeptical about the 500 witnesses, too. I thought, “we don’t have 500 witnesses, we have one witness saying there were 500. He could have said 5000 or 5 million – how would we know?” The problem is that I was looking at it from a 21st century perspective. Paul’s letters were circulated widely during his lifetime. When the original readers read those letters, they would have been in a position to question the 500 witnesses, many of whom Paul states were still alive. So if Paul was just making up a number, his story could easily have been falsified. He would have been foolish to claim that there were many witnesses (and 500 in that day was a substantial number) if in fact he could not produce them. The Jews and pagans both offered many arguments against Christianity but none said Paul was lying…

    • Ed Kratz

      Aaron, the idea is the it is historically public (i.e. not in some mythical place or city which no one has heard about). Therefore, it was not beyond the examination of the public.

      Christ appeared for 40 day, as Luke say, showing himself risen by many convincing proofs. Paul just accounts to him appearing to over 500 AT ONE TIME.

      The point is to demonstrate the difference between a fabrication and the truth. If you were to fabricate a religious belief AND THIS WAS TO HAVE HISTORICAL EVENTS WHICH CREATE ITS FOUNDATION, the only way to do this is to say that these things happened in private. If you claimed it was public and it was not, it would die in no time (unless it was started hundreds of years later—but then that would disqualify its substantiation).

    • Rick

      As Thomas Oden writes, God’s revelation “occurs in events, not by spawning ideas.”

    • EricW

      As @6. Aaron has indirectly noted, the word is “publicly,” not “publically.”

      Misspellings and grammatical errors in tracts, handouts, displays and PowerPoints can negate or diminish their impact and the credibility of the author or designer.

    • Debbie

      Jesus was a Rabbi. He did exactly what was said that He would do. HE rebuilt the temple in 3 days. Christianity was begun by those that believed Jesus was THE Missiah. I consider myself a Christian. In fact I became a Baptised Catholic as an adult. But I will always be Jewish.

    • Seth R.

      Cute Michael.

      Are you including Judaism in that “other religions” category?

    • […] Michael Patton with a short cartoon on the difference between Christianity and other religions […]

    • Jeremy Myers

      Hmmm. Well, I know that Judaism and Christianity are not the same, but since we are founded upon Judaism, and Jesus was Jewish…. what do you do with Moses by himself upon the Mt. Sinai, and the prophets, by themselves out in the wilderness, and Noah getting a dream from God to build the ark, and so on?

      I see your point, I’m just not sure it’s applicable to any aspect of Christianity beyond Jesus. Of course, He’s pretty central….

    • Seth R.

      Well see Jeremy, that’s the thing.

      We Mormons don’t really have much problem with anyone who wants to claim Jesus was unique or central – because we believe that too.

      But we do take strong issue with Michael’s implied point that the OTHER ways of founding a religion, or bringing forth religious truth are invalid.

      If you want to claim that, you have to reject Isaiah and Elijah for starters.

      So Michael… you ready to reject Elijah’s prophetic calling?

    • Ed Kratz

      First, Elijah’s ministry was anything but private.

      Second, even if it was (I would use Abraham as an example—yet that does not REALLY work), as I said above, God’s movements are always epic when soteriological (salvation) history is involved.

      In the Old Testament, the Jewish epic and founding event that they were called continually to look back upon was the Exodus.

      In the New Testament (and since) it has been the resurrection.

      The point is that God is never silent when he makes his moves. He does not give someone an idea, special visitation, or a dream that is private or not substantiated by public ministry. This is the essence of the third commandment (otherwise ANYONE could CLAIM that they have had a visitation from God or an Angel). It is amazing to me that so many will follow when private revelation is the source.

    • Gary Simmons

      “It is amazing to me that so many will follow when private revelation is the source.”

      This, obviously, is what prompted this post. Well said, Michael. And well-drawn, too.

    • GoingBonkz

      According to Islam, Jesus was helped up to heaven the day before he was going to be executed and was replaced with something else. Also, in Islam it is said that the part where Jesus comes back to life is lies generated by Paul. The Bible has been modified so many times. Can it really be true anymore?

    • Steph

      I suspect that the gospel writers, canonized and not, wrote their accounts in private, though meditation and I’m sure some dreaming. After all, those are the only accounts we have- no twits or divine blogging.

    • Ed Kratz

      It is not about what is written down, but what is proclaimed. The proclamation of Christianity is that its basis in on historic events done in public. This opens it up to historical inquiry, both now and then.

      Private revelation dodges the inquiry bullet, but in the process makes belief in such completely unwarranted.

      It is rather naive to believe that a religion based on the historic claim that Christianity is based on would last 2000 year (much less 100) if it were not highly probable that the historic claims were true.

      But, then again, that is the point of the comic.

      Its a call for us to think.

      Christianity is not afraid of historic inquiry. In fact, the incarnation demands it!

    • bible

      U gotta love massive brainwash from childhood. It worked amazingly well, the victim even defense what they were taught.

    • Justin

      Except that panels 2-4 are inaccurate: only His followers were involved.

      Anyway, this is a very random way to judge a religion.

    • h4nd

      Oh, another version of us Vs them, and they’re all wrong (or inferior). Go crusades!

    • Seth R.

      Michael, that’s not a response at all because Muhammad’s ministry was “anything but private” as well. And plenty of religions can look back to big founding miracles in their history – my own being no exception (we happen to have our own “Exodus” story).

      So I still fail to see why your diagram doesn’t cast doubt on Elijah just as much as Muhammad, or Joseph Smith.

    • Seth R.

      And I wouldn’t classify either Islam or Mormonism as “private revelation.” Not only do both of them claim rather public miraculous manifestations, but both of them invite the worshiper to participate in the revelation and make it part of themselves. Which kind of kills the whole “private” angle.

    • Ed Kratz

      Seth, the basis for Islam is a private revelation given to one man in a cave. How can that be public?

    • Ed Kratz

      Its about the foundational basis. 1 Cor makes clear that if Christ is not raised, then our faith is in vain—even with the ministries of others taken into account. If the BASIS for your religion is on the validity of a private event, then the cartoon applies.

    • Seth R.

      And where, Michael, did Isaiah and Jeremiah get their revelations? How about David and his Psalms? Where did Abraham first experience the true God? Noah? Jonah?

      The same criteria you are dismissing Muhammad with dismisses half the Old Testament prophets.

    • Seth R.

      You’re also neglecting an important fact here – the existence of Mormonism does not stand solely on a private revelation of Joseph Smith. It stands on the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – as contained in the Bible.

      If you’re going to shoot my religion down because Joseph Smith received revelation in the same way Elijah and Isaiah and Jeremiah did, then how about we observe the founder of YOUR religion Michael

      John Calvin.

    • Ed Kratz

      Abraham and David are not the basis of my faith. They are consequences of the basis. The basis is the resurrection. They add nothing to it nor take anything away. Again it is about the BASIS. I don’t expect anyone to believe in private revelation of anyone.

      This issue is what is the warrant you provide for someone to believe your truth-claim. Is it private revelation that cannot be tested or is it public revelation that can be tested? That is the only thing on the table.

      If Christ did not raise from the grave, I would not care what Abraham and David or Elijah have to say. But since he did, their testimony is substantiated.

    • Seth R.

      That’s right. And Joseph Smith is not the basis of my faith either. He is merely an extension of the central message of Christ and HIS Gospel.

      There isn’t a faithful Mormon out there who views his or her religion as “adding something new.” We all view our religion as a restoration of something old that was had from the beginning, from Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, and so forth.

    • Seth R.

      Incidentally, Joseph Smith’s habit was to share his angels with other men and women. We have multiple accounts of others witnessing the same divine messengers, etc.

      We even had our own “Day of Pentecost” of sorts in Kirtland, Ohio – witnessed by hundreds in attendance.

      Edit: I’ve got to quit double-posting….

    • Ed Kratz

      Seth, if you are Mormon, that explains you line of reasoning. You cannot accept this comic above. However, the point still remains. “A bosom burn” is not warrant for a historic claim. I just can’t go there. Anyone can say they talked to an angel. In fact, many do.

      God is not a private God when it comes to his movements. He gives us every reason to believe what he say. I would just think about it my friend.

    • Hodge


      If I were to argue along the lines of what Michael is doing, I would answer you this way:

      Moses received his religion in front of the nation of Israel. He received it with many public signs and wonders. All revelation that is received privately, whether from Jeremiah, Isaiah, David, etc. is evaluated on the basis as to whether it is consistent with Moses’ revelation for the OT. Likewise, for the NT, the resurrection is public as Michael has been arguing. Smith does not accord with either Moses or Jesus. He does not receive his religion in a public manner. He, therefore, fits neither piece of criteria. Hence, those who receive their religion privately receive their validation when their revelation accords with that which is received in a public manner. This distinguishes biblical religion from the rest.

    • Seth R.

      Michael, I have never – not once in my life – experienced this “burning in the bosom” you are talking about. My faith is founded upon study of the Bible, prayerful consideration, study of human history in general, and careful consideration of the inherent power and truth of human ideas. I don’t know what this “emotional reaction” you are implying is.


      The problem is that Mormons claim a similar narrative to Moses – similar public miracles, similar sharing of divine manifestations, witnesses of the miraculous, shared revelations, faith healings, miraculous deliverance from our enemies, and so forth.

      Your standard faithful Mormon finds parallels with his own church history to be rife in Exodus and Genesis.

      Like any Christian, your average Mormon can legitimately say “these things were not done in a corner.”

    • Hodge


      I know Mormon history pretty well, and the things to which you are referring are not the same thing that Michael is talking about. Witnesses, most who later denied that they saw angels or the tablets BTW, are not witnessing God giving revelation personally through signs and wonders. Speaking in tongues, healings, etc. are all done by faith healers today, but that is not what Michael is talking about. When Mormonism can hang its hat on a sea splitting in half, the voice of God speaking to an entire nation, and the public miraculous ministry of a man who raises Himself from the dead and shows Himself to over 500 people, then I think you would have something equivalent.
      I also know that Mormons will CLAIM that the find continuity with Moses and Jesus, but that is a claim that doesn’t quite make the grade once we start bringing out what each taught. The only way the Mormon claim stands is to argue that the teachings we have from Moses and Jesus in the Bible we now have aren’t…

    • Hodge

      their teachings. Again, when continuity can be not only claimed but shown, without arguing away the original text, then it’s something with which we can agree Mormonism has in common with biblical religion. Until then, they remain completely different animals.

    • Seth R.

      Hodge, if you say the witnesses later denied their experiences, I’d say you were missing a few points of Mormon history.

      There were three witnesses who had the Gold Plates physically shown to them by an angel and all three reported such.

      All three at some point or other, apostatized from the LDS Church. Two returned later in life, one did not. But all three remained absolutely adamant throughout their lives and to their dying days that they saw what they saw and that Joseph Smith was (at least initially) the real deal.

      Like Paul, I guess that’s what you would call a “hostile witness.”

      Edit: And Hodge, it’s no good to claim that Mormons are “arguing away the text” of the Bible – because that’s exactly what WE think YOU guys are doing.

    • Hodge


      You never took the test in the Book of Mormon concerning the Burning in the Bosom?

    • Hodge


      I’m sorry, but that’s a Mormon revision of history. The witnesses to whom you are referring ended up admitting that they had never seen them physically, but via a dream or vision. That’s quite a difference, don’t you think?

    • Seth R.

      Hodge, this is a common criticism of the LDS Church based on certain statements of Martin Harris – one of the witnesses. This has been thoroughly answered by Mormon apologists and historians. See here:

    • Seth R.

      You have mischaracterized the “test” in Moroni Chapter 7. I don’t blame you for doing this, because many faithful Mormons make a similar mistake.

      The “test” you are referring to in the Book of Mormon is decidedly not to simply “pray for a feeling.”

      You can get that impression if you isolate one verse of that chapter. But if, like any good exegesist, you look at the ENTIRE chapter, it is plain Moroni is asking for far more than “warm fuzzies.”

    • Hodge


      “And Hodge, it’s no good to claim that Mormons are “arguing away the text” of the Bible – because that’s exactly what WE think YOU guys are doing.”

      This is the type of thing that gets you into trouble. It’s just outright dishonest. Not one of us argues away the text. We accept the text as we received it. Yet, Smith must argue that the texts are all corrupt. Originally he argued that the translations were just corrupt, but then when things were brought up to him from the original languages, he changed that to the manuscripts being corrupted. You may claim that our interpretations are off in some places, but honest Mormons have to agree that many texts speak against Mormonism. That’s why they argue that they must be corrupt in some way.

    • Hodge

      I never said it was warm fuzzies. I’m asking you if you ever took the test and had the burning in the bosom? Although I would say that you are interpreting much differently than every Mormon missionary and bishop I have ever met if you are saying it is not a confirming feeling in one’s heart.

    • Seth R.

      Absolutely not Hodge.

      I have never once in my days of witnessing for my faith ever resorted to the idea that “well that Bible passage is just corrupt” as an apologetic. Nor does the LDS Church officially claim to know which Bible verses are “wrong.” Most of the Mormon argument is more about things being lost or concealed by people and not making it into the Bible in the first place. We take every verse of the Bible quite seriously, and we don’t claim any particular revelation as to which verses are incorrect (and no – the Joseph Smith “Translation” is not evidence to the contrary on this).

      I have not yet found a verse in the Bible that could not be reconciled just fine with Mormonism. So I don’t feel like we are “explaining away” anything here.

    • Marius

      Poe’s law?

    • Seth R.

      Sure it’s about feelings Hodge. But it’s about a whole lot MORE than that too.

      What is the basis of your conviction in the Bible?

    • Wrong


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