Have you ever stopped to consider what makes Christianity unique from other religions? How many points of difference did you think of?
Theologian and author Pastor Timothy Keller got up to 12, in a thought-provoking Facebook post on the uniqueness of the Christian faith. Here’s everything the 71-year-old American apologist said.
Here are 12 unique attributes that Christianity offers that other world-views, philosophies, and religions do not. Enjoy!
1. Christianity offers a contentment and joy not based on changing circumstances. Our bad things will turn out for good (Romans 8:28) our good things can’t be taken from us (Ephesians 1:3) and the best things are yet to come (1 John 3:1-3).
2. Christianity uniquely offers a non-performative identity — not constantly ebbing and flowing based on your accomplishment and conduct (Philippians 3:4-9; 1 Corinthians 4:3-4).
3. Christianity offers a basis for morality and justice that avoids the twin dangers of relativism and oppression. (I freely admit that many Christians use secular moral foundations and themselves veer toward relativism or oppression).
4. Christianity offers a kind of freedom (embracing the right restrictions) that, unlike the secular definition (the absence of restrictions), does not undermine love relationships.
5. Christianity offers a unique hope for the world — not eventual nothingness (secularism) and not even mere spiritual paradise (other religions). It promises a renewed, perfect physical world — a new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
6. Christianity offers a resolution to guilt, shame, and self-laceration that avoids both minimising your own failures and allowing other people to ultimately define you.
7. Christianity offers a unique view of power. The incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus shows us power both voluntarily relinquished and yet deployed for service to others.
8. Christianity offers a meaning and purpose in life that suffering not only cannot take away from you, but can only enhance. It can enable you to face death without any fear.
9. Christianity offers a unique account of morality/truth. Not subjectivism grounded in culture or evolution (secularism) nor objectivism grounded in an impersonal transcendent norm (Greek-Roman; idealism). Rather it is grounded in an absolute Person — Jesus. See L. Ferry, H. Bavinck.
10. Christianity offers a unique view of salvation. We are saved by sheer grace and Christ’s work, not ours. We cannot contribute to salvation with moral effort, religious observance, prayers, transformed consciousness, etc. A finished salvation is received, not achieved.
11. Christianity offers a unique approach to repairing relationships. It neither privileges the forgiven (so that justice is not done) nor privileges the forgiver (so forgiveness is withheld). Without both we can’t maintain human social relationships (writing a book on this now).
12. Christianity offers a unique view of uniqueness. The claim of uniqueness plays into the human need to feel superior. But Christianity’s difference is the grace-claim: Saved Christians are NOT better than anyone. That particular uniqueness can subvert the dangers of claiming it.
For more from Tim Keller:
- Consider the way you live out your faith. What about this lifestyle strikes you as different from the world?
- Which of Pastor Keller’s 12 points challenged your faith or way of life? How might that transform your lifestyle?
- Based on what Pastor Keller shared, what is one hope you will hold on to for today?