Is it really that hard of a decision?

cta-free-28min-video-of-apologetics


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"

    • Allan Ebdrup

      Atheism is the way to go if you apply this ratinale of only believing what the most people have whitnessed – nothing, no god.

    • Hodge

      Allan,

      Who has witnessed the metaphysical presuppositions of atheism? I’d like to meet this god.

    • Ian

      The decision IS easy: Atheist.

    • Tim

      There may be a God, but religion is phony.

    • Roland

      If you want to truly open up your religion to historic inquiry: History in Genesis is obviously wrong. Case closed.

    • Ed Kratz

      I don’t start with Genesis in confirming my faith. I start with the resurrection. Key: what is Christianity built upon? It all starts with the resurrection. If it happened, Christianity is true. If it did not, then it is false. So lets stay there as the OP does.

    • Michael T.

      CMP,
      Great point. The central defining moment in Christianity is the resurrection. What one thinks about the Genesis story, the flood narative, the behavior of God in the OT, or anything else is ultimately irrelevent. Christianity lives or dies based upon whether or not Jesus was alive on Easter Sunday, nothing else.

    • Mike H.

      A burning in the bosom is just one way the Spirit testifies. The disciples on the road to Emmaus testified they had felt this witness as the resurrected Lord testified from the scriptures in Luke 24:

      27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

      28And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.

      29But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

      30And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

      31And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

      32And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

    • Seth R.

      Michael, I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to repeat this for you.

      The foundational events for Mormonism are CHRIST’S life, death and resurrection.

      Not anything about Joseph Smith.

      Now, will you please either disagree with this statement or acknowledge it so we can move beyond this?

    • Michael T.

      Seth,

      Historic Christianity lives and dies at the resurrection. No matter how much you claim otherwise Mormonism as a religion lives or dies based upon the resurrection yes, but also upon whether or not the Book of Mormon is a divine text divinely revealed to Joseph Smith. If there is no Book of Mormon there is no Mormonism.

    • Muhammed

      Praise Allah!!!!!!!!! lalalalalalalallala

      but suriusly, how is one mythology telling people to do good different from another? And you can’t answer that until you you’ve actually familiarized yourself with other mythologies, seen that they speak good, etc etc etc etc etc

    • Joshua J

      Michael,

      The value of an event being public is that you can obtain multiple independent sources of testimony that can corroborate the event. But it helps nothing to say that an event was public unless you actually have record of these testimonies; without them, you now merely have two unsubstantiated claims.

      Paul may give an account of post resurrection Jesus appearing to 500 people, but without the testimony of those people his account is no more convincing than if he had claimed Jesus appeared to him alone.

    • Ed Kratz

      I am glad you see the value of it being public. So many of the others here just can’t admit to such.

      We don’t need the testimony from each of these. Multiple attestation is great, but what we need is that the claims of its foundation to have said to have been done in the public eye. That way, we can understand its rise (if it really happened) or its fall (if such claims are wrong). Because the claims of the resurrection are that it happened and it was public (i.e. “go examine for yourself”) the very fact of its survival attests to its reality. For such claims would quickly find their end if they were fabrications. The early flourishing of the Christian faith, along with its claims that the resurrection was public is the reason why the OP is a solid portrayal of the way I think we should view things.

      One written account within 100 years of the event would then be enough to make someone consider the resurrection. But Christianity has much more than this.

    • Ed Kratz

      In short, if the resurrection happened, we have exactly what we would expect to have. If it did not happen, we have to take leaps of faith to explain why the first century turned out the way it did.

    • mbaker

      Seth,

      With the exception of my husband, his one sister and his grandmother, his entire family is Mormon. My husband got out of the Mormon church when he was 14.

      We recently got a letter from his sister telling us she wanted the family to reunite in the LDS church, because the early Christian church got the gospel all wrong, and it had to ‘be restored again correctly’ through the prophet Joseph Smith.

      So I think Michael’s OP is correct, since there is no one who actually saw Moroni, God, or Elijah or Jesus as Joseph Smith claimed, and as you know the claims have been changed over the years at least three times as to which of them was actually present when Smith was given the new revelation.

    • tudza

      While historians seem to agree that there was this Jesus person, they don’t seem to have any evidence of his being crucified. Not a surprise, why would anyone keep records for that long of the killing of yet another anti-Roman rabble rouser.

      I don’t recall the rising from the grave part being public at all. Didn’t they just come and find the tomb empty, in the story anyway.

      A dead person wandering around talking to people? That’s a really weird thing to believe.

      Credulous people telling other credulous people weird stuff and being believed? That I buy.

    • the_seeker_who

      Both are equally inadequate.

      It’s evolution.

    • Bueno

      How much objective/public evidence is there really? We have a book that SAYS “500” or “10,000” people saw this or that. But after all? A book can say anything.
      Many books say things that are not true. Since many books are false, their citations of “evidence” can be false too.

      So what would be REAL evidence? That would be, say, our pastors raising the dead, and walking on water, here and now today.

      Anybody see THAT?

    • Ed Kratz

      tudza,

      Existence is a pretty weird thing to believe. “Weirdness”, while a possible criteria for truth (in the sense that it does not happen today), does not really stand to historic scrutiny.

      “We don’t have any evidence that he was crucified”? Besides the 27 first century documents as well as those who claim to be eye-witnesses, we have dozens of accounts that attest to this. But if we only had the documents that make up the New Testament, this would be evidence wouldn’t it?

      Only fringe historian have ever said that Christ was not crucified.

    • Seth R.

      Michael T.

      That observation misses the point entirely. Would there have been a book of Jeremiah without Jeremiah? Isaiah without Isaiah?

      And it also is misleading about the nature of Christianity. Because Christianity – particularly Protestant Christianity – does NOT begin and end with the ministry of Jesus Christ.

      You’ve forgotten Paul Michael.

      What sort of view would Evangelicals have about the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ without Paul’s epistles? Paul put forth a radical interpretation of Christ’s life and death in his epistles that you simply would not be able to come up with without Paul’s writings. How much would you guys know about the Atonement without the Epistle to the Romans, for instance?

      No, Evangelical religion does not “begin and end” with Jesus. It also requires – yes REQUIRES – the ministry of Paul.

      In fact, I would posit that Paul is just as crucial to the Evangelical faith as Joseph Smith is to Mormons.

    • Ed Kratz

      Bueno,

      It is not “a book” but 27 first century documents which now make up the corpus that we call the New Testament. That is quit a bit.

      It is true that many books, newspapers, TV News can all be false. It could be false that the Jews were never killed in Germany. The possibility of alternative explanations does not mean that it is a probability.

      Christianity exploded in the first century based on a belief that Christ rose from the grave and that hundreds of people saw it. Is it possible that it was all a fabrication? Yes. Is it probable? I don’t think so. Sometimes the easiest explanation is the best (even if it takes faith—but it takes more faith not to believe).

      Modern reoccurance of the events does not add anything or take away from the HISTORIC foundational claims.

    • Seth R.

      And don’t even get me started on Augustine and John Calvin – whose interpretations of the Bible were every bit as groundbreaking and novel as Joseph Smith’s.

      Of course, Evangelicals will quickly point out that they do not view those men as prophets.

      To which I respond that considering how seriously you guys take their conclusions, they might as well be prophets.

    • Ed Kratz

      The seeker,

      Evolution is not even on the table for this post. Sorry, it does not add to or take away from what is being said.

    • Seth R.

      mbaker,

      I cannot vouch for the angle taken by every single Mormon in the LDS Church.

      As to your remarks about no one seeing the angel Moroni aside from Joseph Smith, I’ve already presented my evidence that other men besides Joseph did see him, and vouched for it. Not to mention visitations by Peter, James, and John, John the Baptist, Elijah, Moses, Elias, Adam, and others that were witnessed not only by Joseph Smith, but by others as well.

      As for your remark about contradictions in Joseph’s retelling of his “First Vision” of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the differences do not seem much of a problem to me. There is a consistency in Joseph’s multiple accounts – regardless of the difference in particulars.

      It seems to me to be no more of a problem than the differences and contradictions in the Apostle Paul’s accounts of his own “private” vision on the road to Damascus.

    • Joshua J

      I see. So essentially your argument is that if Paul’s claim was false, then his contemporaries would have discovered the fact; thus, the lack of any challenge to his claim is reason to accept it.

      In that case, the logic of your argument is valid. The premises, however, I find questionable for the following reasons: one, it is not necessarily the case that any investigation took place, and his claim could well have been false without anyone knowing; and two, due to the lack of effective information transmission at that time, even if an investigation had taken place that cast doubt on Paul’s claim, it is not necessarily the case that the information would have propagated widely enough or quickly enough to affect the spread of Christianity.

      These two possibilities must be addressed in order to establish the truth of your premises, and thereby the truth of your argument.

    • Mike H.

      Joseph Fielding McConkie has pointed out that, “Many a pretender to the prophetic office has claimed to entertain angels or to have spoken with God, but who other than Joseph Smith introduced his angels to others? Joseph Smith introduced Moroni to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. He was never alone when priesthood or keys were restored…. He and Sydney Rigdon received the revelation on the degrees of glory together. Together they saw legions of angels, along with the Father and the Son (see D&C 76:21-23). Oliver Cowdery was with Joseph Smith when John the Baptist came to restore the Aaronic Priesthood, and when Peter, James, and John came to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood. Oliver was also with Joseph Smith when Christ came to accept the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, and Moses, Elias, and Elijah restored their keys, powers, and authorities.” (Sons and Daughters of God, pp. 194-195)
      http://www.mormontimes

    • Mike H.

      That 1000 character limitation cut off the link on my last meassage. See:
      http://www.mormontimes.com/article/19759/Mormonism-relies-on-historical-events

    • Mitch

      I have never seen anything so ignorant in my entire life.

    • Mike H.

      You’ll have to be a bit more precise Mitch. What are you calling ignorant?

    • EricW

      Hodge says: March 12, 2011 at 1:02 am

      Seth,

      You’ve won.

      Au contraire, Mr. Hodge. In the batting back and forth of the tennis ball with Mr. Seth, IMO you scored a perfect game-set-match. 🙂

    • ellere

      Uhhhhh… isn’t Jesus the “one guy” you disparage in the second example? The “one guy” who went and told people about the religion?

      So the decision that is so easy to make is that you must always be one step further removed?

      Derp?

    • Ed Kratz

      ellere,

      Not really. It is not simply one person’s words that we are talking about. It is what Christ did in public that demands public verification to warrant our belief. Christ rose from the grave and this tells us what he said was true. Anyone can go around as one man and say things. But can someone raise from the grave and then have his followers claim it happened underneath the public eye? I would say no since it would be quickly shown to be false, either through the production of the body or lack of eye-witness testimony (If only five or six people claim to have seen or examined the Christ story, I would not believe). But since it was public and it exploded in the first century, this is good evidence that it is true.

      Again, it is the resurrection of Christ that I am talking about.

    • Seth R.

      I didn’t miss the implied meaning there Michael.

      Mormonism has more than five or six witnesses to the miraculous.

      Try over one hundred.

    • Mike H.

      What happened after the resurrection during the 40-day ministry of the resurrected Jesus with his disciples?
      Why was it not recorded in the Bible?

      http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/transcripts/?id=109

    • Ed Kratz

      Act 1:1-5 collaborated with the testimony of the other Apostles in the New Testament, esp. 1 Cor 15. This along with the early rise of Christianity based on these things makes a compelling case. Or, in reverse, it is very hard to come up with a reasonable explanation for the early rise of Christianity other than that Christ rose from the grave. I have read dozens of alternatives. A clear testimony of their weakness is that the never stick due to their low probability.

      The most probable explanation is that Christ rose from the grave.

    • scdaddyo

      Big difference between Christ and the people that came up with this comparison.

      Christ loved all of us. This illustration was made out of hate by haters.

    • Ed Kratz

      Seth, it is not witnesses to the “miraculous”, but the founding events. Benny Hinn has thousands of witnesses to the miraculous as well.

      The reception of the book of Mormon is the/a founding event of Mormonism. It was a private gathering.

    • Ed Kratz

      scadaddy,

      That was a pretty hateful statement?

      The cartoon is simply a defense of Christianity against other religions and cults. It is odd that you might get offended by me saying that one is true and the others are false as you post implies that you think your ideas are true and those like mine are false?

      We are simply seeking truth and trying to speak the love of Christ. Christ came to reveal God’s love. In doing so he excluded all other beliefs.

      John 8:24:
      I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins.

      Those are Christ’s words.

      Then he tells us to go proclaim this message:

      Matt. 8:28
      Go therefore into all the world and make disciples…teaching them all that I command you.

      I hope you can somehow try to see that while there are people out there speading hate, preaching the exclusive Gospel is anything but hate.

    • Seth R.

      Sorry Michael, I’m having a hard time seeing a useful distinction here. Especially considering that so many other prophetic ministries in the Bible have been “private” as you put it in their miraculous impetus. Private visions, private callings, private miracles.

      You still haven’t addressed the private vision of Paul. Paul is just as much the crucial founder of modern Evangelicalism as Joseph Smith is of Mormonism.

      Edit: though I’m not even sure I should concede that much – since you’ve filtered Paul through Augustine and Calvin.

    • Val

      Um Michael, have you looked at all other major religions?

      I am struck again, and again with the parallels between Christ and Siddhartha Gautama. Like Jesus, his mother had a supernatural visitation, the names were Maya and Mary they had a miraculous birth (pain free, and born under a special tree) (Jesus, star). Important people came to visit the infants, when they were men (Siddhartha was still young) they left their families (carpenter and prince) and went to the wilderness (Jesus – fasts and is tempted, Siddhartha – joins the ascetics). Later, they come back and start a public ministry. Now Siddhartha gets his revelation while he is an ascetic – Saddhu- but their lives match right back up. Siddartha preaches the Middle Way, Jesus preaches the Kingdom.

      Both escape assassination attempts (Pharasees, fellow monks) and both predicted their own deaths.

      I know the teachings are different, but Buddha lived 500 – 600 years before Christ, and it was all written before…

    • Ed Kratz

      Val,

      Actually I have. It has been about three years, but after looking into this quite a bit there two things which make this argument (which has has resurfaced a slight bit among some fringe groups since the 1900s) fails:

      1. The supposed parallels are such a stretch in every case that to find them you would have to do some exegesis that is not unlike those who think Nostradomus is valid or the Bible Codes are good. You have to pick and choose elements of each story (and only small elements) and force them to be like the Christ story.

      2. Most importantly, they make no claim to historicity. In other words, they are of a completely different genre which does not demand or even allow for historic verification. All the events happen in private. Hence this post. So they actually support the two comics. There is simply no reason to believe them. There is neither internal nor external collaboration. This is not the case with the resurrection.

      Have you studied them? What sources?

    • Ed Kratz

      Here is a nice summary on the myths vs. Christianity. I don’t think it emphasizes enough the drastic difference in genre, but it does remind me of something I forgot…that most of these come about after Christianity. More than likely, they borrowed from Christianity (but not much as the parallels are so weak).

    • lyesmith

      @C Michael Patton March 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      Your argument fails because you forget that there are thousands of religions exist today. If you are a Christian than you have to assume that every other religion is based on false prophets, wannabe avatars-s, folklegends.
      You claim “If I were to suddenly make up these events and say t … that nothing like that ever happened.”
      But exactly this is what happened in Roswell in 1947. A meteorological balloon crashed and since then million of UFO believers claim that it is a genuine alien UFO site. Scientology arose from a Sci-Fi writer mind who wanted to make some money and started a religion from scratch. Bahá’í Faith started in late 19 century and now it has more than a 100 million followers.
      We know that charismatic people can start a religion. It has been done over and over before our eyes despite the fact that now it is much harder to start a religion than in 1st century when gnostic sects flourished all over the world.

    • lyesmith

      @C Michael Patton March 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      Paul started Christianity probably b/c he had some hallucinations. (Yes, a man goes to Damascus in summer, see a bright light falls down of his donkey and sees a man who he thinks a lot about anyway. It is not miracle it is a called heat stroke)

      And Peter ( probably not the discipline a man called Peter anyway ) because he wanted to make some money. Just go on and read Acts 5:1-10 . This is exactly how modern con artist use the faith and steal money. If its done today he would be locked down forever.

    • lyesmith

      @C Michael Patton March 14, 2011 at 1:06 am

      You should not do this. That article is pretty inconsistent. It is a fact that Christianity borrowed from mystic religions. Early Christians used Isis/Osiris statues as Maria/Jesus, We have the statues. They borrowed the priestly clothing and equipment from Mithras priests. They borrowed Jesus birthday from Mithras. (it is certainly not in the Bible). And so on. The article says that Christians were monotheistic while Greeks were polytheistic. It is like Christians were not Greeks in the same time. Most Christians lived in Greek cities and were Greeks. Parts of the New Testament was written in Greek. All the letters to Christians were written in Greeks since this was the language Christians understand. The word “Christ” is Greek.

    • lynn

      i took it like it was meant 2 be taken. basically the cult-like religions who claim god came 2 them in a dream,ect. if i’m wrong,whatever. btw i go 2 methodist church. i grew up cathlic and they add their own spin on it. i feel freer as a methodist! any ways we all have our own opinion on religion and which 1 we want 2 be associated with. it’s called freedom of religion.

    • Eric R

      Lyesmith #44

      This is all off topic but…

      1) Paul didn’t start Christianity. He was first a persecutor of Christians.

      2) Your reading of Acts 5:1-10 shows a lack of historical, bibilical, cultural, and philosophical knowledge.
      If one was to start a religion in the 1st century in order to make $$$ there are better ways to do it. Crucifixion was the most degrading form of punishment reserved for non-Roman citizens. One would not put up a crucified criminal as savior and expect anyone to think this credible.
      In Greek philosophical thought, the Epicureans and the Stoics believed that the body was corrupted, and that it was only the soul that would be saved. When confronted with the account of Jesus being resurrected (Acts 17:32-34) they scoffed at Paul.
      The point is just this, in the Greek culture, one would not start a religion based on the crucifixion of a jewish rabbi who was later resurrected unless he believed it to be historically true.

    • Saint Gasoline

      There’s a lot to dispute in this comic. Mark, the earliest gospel, does not depict a public viewing of Christ’s resurrection, or even any discussion of his resurrection at all in the original version. The original ends with the two Marys and Salome NOT seeing Jesus at all, leaving, and not telling anyone what happened.

      Not only that, but as someone else pointed out, the Old Testament likewise does not have very many public witnesses of God, and that is the foundation of Christianity.

      In the end though, this argument fails simply because it is wrong that everything was public. There are no accounts of the stories in the Gospels by actual eyewitnesses, as all of the Gospels are hearsay, and Paul’s letters don’t even mention most biographical points of Jesus’ life. Anyone could write a story CLAIMING the events were public, but that doesn’t make it so. And given the absence of contemporary nonchristian historical accounts, it seems unlikely these events were public.

    • […] don’t stop here… click either image above — or this link — to read the 150+ comments and discussion responses this has attracted.  (Comments which, […]

    • lyesmith

      Eric #47

      Well Jesus definitely did not started Christianity. Not the one you now call Christianity anyway. Paul wrote half the New Testament and happily contradicts Jesus wherever it is convenient.

      “reserved for non-Roman citizens” And for the enemies of the state. Jesus was crucified not because he was not Roman but because he claimed himself as the King of the Jews. Of course the religion that Paul hijacked was not started by Jesus but by his second cousin John the Baptist. And it was already very popular when, after the death of John, Jesus took over the “family business”. Jesus was a young martyr of that religion, not a degraded criminal.

Comments are closed.