Christianity is Unique: Three Points to Emphasize in Biblical Apologetics with World Religions

Introduction

People tend to stumble at the suggestion that we defend Christianity to those of other religious persuasions. Those of other religious persuasions have their gods, their scriptures, and their means of salvation. How then shall the Christian commend Christianity to the religious non-Christian?

The Real Problem

People fear that the question has no answer. But that’s not the problem. The problem is not that there is no answer to the question of how to engage with religious non-Christians. The problem is that there is no one answer to the question of how to engage with religious non-Christians. There are many answers. Obviously, we have our biblical parameters. For example, the Bible dictates that we engage with religious non-Christians. It dictates that we commend and defend Christianity to religious non-Christians. But again, many answers to the question of how to defend the Christian faith to religious non-Christians are available. Just one formulaic response will not do. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to apologetics. More on that some other time.

For now, it’s enough to know that while there are biblical parameters to follow during encounters with religious non-Christians, many biblical apologetic responses are still available to the Christian. That having been said, I would like to suggest three areas to highlight when dialoguing with those of other religious persuasions.

First, emphasize the doctrine of the Trinity.

Orthodox Christians believe that there is one God who eternally exists in three persons and each person is fully God. The Christian should be familiar with the doctrine of the Trinity and able to defend it in terms of progressive revelation, systematic theology, and scriptural exegesis.

When dialoguing with those of other religious persuasions, make sure to emphasize the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity to orthodox Christian belief. Contrast it with the ‘Trinitarian’ beliefs of the non-Christian religious adherent. World religions and cults are well-known for adopting the language of the Trinity while defining the doctrine differently or adamantly rejecting it. Contrary to the sentiments of some, clarifying doctrine is rarely harmful in an apologetic encounter.

Second, emphasize the doctrine of the Person of Christ.

Orthodox Christians believe that the Person of Jesus Christ exists as one person with two natures, one fully divine and one fully human. The Christian should be familiar with the doctrine of the Person of Christ and able to defend it in terms of progressive revelation, systematic theology, and scriptural exegesis.

When dialoguing with those of other religious persuasions, make sure to emphasize the importance of the doctrine of Christ to orthodox Christian belief. Contrast it with the ‘Person of Christ’ beliefs of the non-Christian religious adherent. World religions and cults are well-known for adopting the language of the Person of Christ while defining the doctrine differently or adamantly rejecting it. Contrary to the sentiments of some, clarifying doctrine is rarely harmful in an apologetic encounter.

Third, emphasize the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone.

Orthodox Christians believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone. The Christian should be familiar with the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone and able to defend it in terms of progressive revelation, systematic theology, and scriptural exegesis.

When dialoguing with those of other religious persuasions, make sure to emphasize the importance of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone to orthodox Christian belief. Contrast it with the ‘salvation by grace through faith’ beliefs of the non-Christian religious adherent. World religions and cults are well-known for adopting the language of salvation by grace through faith while defining the doctrine differently or adamantly rejecting it. Contrary to the sentiments of some, clarifying doctrine is rarely harmful in an apologetic encounter.

Conclusion

Each of the three doctrines mentioned above is specific to Christianity. When taken together, the three doctrines evidence the uniqueness of Christianity. No cult or world religion possesses what Christianity does in terms of the aforementioned interrelated doctrines. However, world religions and cults often adopt the language of the three doctrines described above. Nevertheless, the terms are defined quite differently from the way they are defined in orthodox Christianity. When adherents to various non-Christian religions are pressed, they typically make their rejection of Christian orthodoxy in the areas of the Trinity, Christ, and salvation explicit.

In general, it’s a good idea to approach those of non-Christian religions with heavy emphasis on the Trinity, Christ, and salvation. Not only will discussing these three areas of Christian doctrine make the distinctions between Christianity and other positions even clearer, but all three directly pertain to the uniqueness of Christianity and, most importantly, all three directly pertain to the gospel.

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