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Religion Vs. Christianity

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Religion vs. Christianity: What’s the Difference?

Religion vs. Christianity: What’s the Difference?

“Why are you Christians always sending missionaries overseas?  People have their own culture, their own religion, why don’t you just leave them alone?!”  This is one of the most common statements we hear as we lecture on college and university campuses throughout the United States and around the world. Students and faculty often jeeringly ask us, “What is so special about Christianity, different from every religion in the world?”  To be sure, this is a very significant question; and probably one of the most significant questions that any Christian could ask themselves: what is so special about Jesus Christ?
Our family has a close friend named Lou. Lou grew up in the nation of Thailand and he was a Buddhist for the first 20 years of his life until he met some Christian missionaries who introduced him to Jesus Christ. If you were to ask Lou today, “What is so special about Jesus Christ and Christianity different from every other religion in the world?”  Lou would share with you the following story:
“When I was a Buddhist I felt like I was in the middle of a large lake. I was drowning and I didn’t know how to swim. As I struggled to keep my head above water, I looked out towards the shore and saw Buddha walking up to the edge of the lake. I was going under for the third time, when suddenly Buddha began shouting out instructions to me, teaching me how to swim. Buddha shouted, ‘Kick your legs and paddle your arms.’  But then Buddha said, ‘Lou, you must make it to shore by yourself.’  As I desperately struggled to follow the instructions of Buddha, I looked out towards the shore again, but this time I saw Jesus Christ walking towards the edge of the lake. However, Jesus did not stop at the edge of the lake. Jesus dove into the lake and he swam out and rescued me!  And once Jesus had brought me safely back to shore, then he taught me how to swim, so that I could go back and rescue others!”
You see, this is the key difference between Christianity and every other religion in the world: Christianity is not a religion!  What are religions?  Religions are about human attempts to make our lives right with God, through our good works, sacrifices, rituals, and money. However, Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is about God entering human history to graciously save men and women through His Son Jesus Christ. It is only by placing our faith in Jesus Christ and submitting to his Lordship that we will be saved.
A relationship with God will never be found in any religion, because religions only offer swimming lessons to people drowning in the sea of sin. And it doesn’t matter how sincere or devout you are in your religious faith and practice, because the sea of sin is eternally immense. The only hope for men and women drowning in the sea of sin is Jesus Christ. God entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ; he dove into the sea of sin in order to save desperate and drowning people. If you’ll allow him to take you there, he’ll hold you in his loving arms and bring you safely to shore. And after arriving safely to shore, then your swimming lessons begin, so that you can go back and rescue others!
By Jason Carlson and Dr. Ron Carlson of CMI

What does Jesus say about Religion?

Mark 7:6:
Mark 7:6–9 NASB95
And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.

What about other denominations?

Denominations Comparison Baptist Churches

Baptist Churches

When was it founded and by whom?

1612: John Smythe and other English Puritans form the first Baptist church.

1639: The first Baptist church in America established in Providence, Rhode Island.

How many adherents in 2000?

100 million worldwide (including families);

25-30 million, USA.

How is Scripture viewed?

Scripture is inspired and without error, the sole, final, totally trustworthy rule of faith. The standard Protestant canon is accepted. (Mainline churches vary in the extent to which they continue to view Scripture as without error.)

Who is God?

The one Creator and Lord of all, existing eternally as the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

Who is Jesus?

The eternal Son incarnate, fully God and fully human, conceived and born of the virgin Mary, died on the Cross for our sins, rose bodily from the grave, ascended into heaven, and will come again in glory to judge us all.

How are we saved?

We are saved by grace alone when God imputes to us his gift of righteousness through faith alone (sola fide) in Christ, who died for our sins. Good works are the inevitable result of true faith, but in no way the basis of our right standing before God.

What happens after death?

The souls of believers upon dying go immediately to be with Christ; and, at Christ’s return, their bodies are raised to immortal, eternal life. The wicked will suffer eternal punishment in hell.

What is the church?

The church (universal) is the body of Christ, which consists of the redeemed throughout history. The term “church” usually refers to local congregations, each of which is autonomous, whose members are to be baptized believers and whose officers are pastors and deacons. Churches may form associations or conventions for cooperative purposes, especially missions and education.

What about the sacraments?

Baptism is immersion of believers only as a symbol of their faith in Christ. The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic memorial of Christ’s death and anticipation of his return.

What are other beliefs and practices of note?

Most Baptist bodies emphasize evangelism and missions. Church and state are to be separate. Baptists include both Calvinists (dominant in the Southern Baptist Convention) and Arminians (dominant in mainline bodies and the Free-Will Baptist bodies).

What are the major divisions or trends today?

Southern Baptist (15 million), a conservative body, are the largest Protestant denomination in the USA. American Baptists (1.5 million) and the National Baptists (5-8 million) are mainline churches.

Churches of Christ

When was it founded and by whom?

1801: Barton Stone holds his Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky.

1832: Stone’s Christians unite with Thomas and Alexander Campbell’s Disciples of Christ. They have different beliefs in some areas.

How many adherents in 2000?

Perhaps 5-6 million worldwide;

3-4 million, USA.

How is Scripture viewed?

“Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” Churches of Christ view Scripture as the inerrant word of God; Disciples of Christ generally view Scripture as witness to Christ but fallible. The standard Protestant canon is accepted.

Who is God?

The one Creator and Lord of all. The creeds are rejected, but most conservatives accept the idea of the Trinity.

Who is Jesus?

The Son of God, fully God and fully human, conceived and born of the virgin Mary, died on the Cross for our sins, rose bodily from the grave, ascended into heaven, and will come again in glory to judge us all.

How are we saved?

Churches of Christ: A person must hear the gospel, believe in Christ, repent, confess Christ, be baptized, and persevere in holiness to be saved.

Disciples of Christ: God saves human beings (possibly all) by his grace, to which we respond in faith.

What happens after death?

Churches of Christ: Believers immediately go to be with Christ and at his return are raised to immortality; the wicked will suffer eternally in hell.

Disciples: Most believe in personal immortality but not hell.

What is the church?

Churches of Christ: The church is the assembly of those who have responded rightly to the gospel; it must be called only by the name of Christ. Only such churches are part of the restoration of true Christianity. Each local church is autonomous and calls its own pastors.

Disciples of Christ have a similar form of church government but are ecumenical, and thus do not claim to be the sole restoration of true Christianity.

What about the sacraments?

Baptism is immersion of believers only, as the initial act of obedience to the gospel. Many Churches of Christ recognize baptism in their own churches only as valid. The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic memorial.

What are other beliefs and practices of note?

Many but not all Churches of Christ forbid the use of instrumental music in worship. International Churches of Christ teaches that its members alone are saved and is widely reported to strongly influence its members.

What are the major divisions or trends today?

Churches of Christ (about 2 million) are conservative, some militantly and others not. Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (about 1 million) is the mainline church body.

Denominations Comparison Pentecostal Churches

Assemblies of God (2.5 million USA, historically white) and Church of God in Christ (3 million USA, historically black) are the largest church bodies. “Oneness” churches reject the Trinity.

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