How Is Christianity Different Than Other Religions?

Dr. Craig von BuseckBy Dr. Craig von Buseck12 Minutes

In 1966, in the midst of the Cold War, the Viet Nam conflict, and the cultural revolution, TIME magazine published its famous – or perhaps infamous – cover asking, “Is God Dead?” The provocative cover caused a firestorm around the world. Yet despite the dire predictions, religions of all kinds continue to grow and influence events around the world.

From 1970 to 2013, the following religions have all seen tremendous growth*:

  • Christianity grew from 1.2 billion to 2.3 billion.
  • Islam grew from 463 million to 1.6 billion.
  • Hinduism grew from 463 million to 982 million.
  • Buddhism grew from 235 million to 510 million.
  • Judaism grew from 14 to 15 million.

Religion is alive and growing on planet earth. But what do the major religions believe? And how is Christianity different than other religions? Let’s look first at Christianity and then compare it with the essential beliefs of some of the world’s leading religions.


  • Adherents believe in an all-powerful God, who is also personal and loving.
  • For Christians, the Bible is the book of final authority.
  • The New Testament teaches that there is one God who exists in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • Christianity teaches that people are born with ‘original sin’ – a fallen nature that leads to sinful behavior.
  • The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, who lived a life on earth – fully God and fully human.
  • Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of all the people who have ever lived.
  • Three days after his death, Jesus rose from the dead and later ascended into heaven.
  • The New Testament declares that Jesus will return to earth for a final judgement for all people.
  • The Bible says that God’s people will then live with Him in a new heaven and a new earth for all eternity.


  • Adherents believe that Allah is God and that Muhammad is his prophet.
  • For Muslims, the Qu’ran is the book of final authority.
  • Islam teaches that salvation is dependent on a person’s good works and attitudes.
  • Islam does not teach the possibility of salvation through the work of God, but does encourage followers to follow God’s guidance in the path of life.
  • Acts of worship are embodied in the Five Pillars of Islam.
  • On the final judgment day, every person will give an account for what he or she has done and their work will be weighed on the scales of Allah – and there must be more good than bad works done throughout life.


  • Adherents believe in millions of gods or incarnations of gods.
  • Hinduism teaches that the universe is an unconscious extension of the divine.
  • The goal of salvation is to escape from the cycle of reincarnation and to be joined with Braman – the spiritual essence of all.
  • Four means of attaining salvation include: 1. Jnana yoga – the way of knowledge – to comprehend the unreal nature of the universe; 2. Bhakti yoga – the way of devotion through emotional worship of a divine being; 3. Karma yoga – salvation by performing works without regard to personal gain; and 4. Raja yoga – known as “the royal road,” it uses meditative yoga techniques.


  • Adherents believe there is no personal god.
  • To the Buddhist, life is a continuing cycle of reincarnation filled with both good and bad, joy and pain.
  • Reality is in a state of constant change and shift – nothing is permanent.
  • Instead of sin, the Buddhist believes ignorance is the hindrance to spiritual maturity.
  • The doctrine of Buddhism is summarized in what are called the “Four Noble Truths”:
  1. Life is primarily an experience of suffering;
  2. This suffering stems from personal craving or desire;
  3. Ending the craving is the way to ending the suffering;
  4. The way to end the craving and to escape continual reincarnation is when a person attains nirvana, the extinction of individuality and entrance into the cosmic universe.
  • In Buddhism, individuals progress by dropping all worldly attachments, emphasizing extensive meditation, strenuous physical exercises, and other means of denying self.


  • Adherents believe in one god who created the heavens and earth – and created mankind in His image.
  • God created the man and the woman and placed them in a garden. The only thing forbidden to them was to eat of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” When they disobeyed, they were cast out of the garden and sin entered into the world.
  • God gave mankind a detailed list of what to do and what not to do – known as the law of God.
  • While there are many sects of Judaism, with widely differing views, the largest group of Jews – Reform Jews – believe in one God who forgives all. Entrance into an afterlife will be attained by those who have been kind to their neighbors.
  • The emphasis in modern Jewish life is living an ethical life.


There are basically two approaches to religion in the world. The first is a religion that is based on your own good works – and nearly every religion in the world is based on this premise. The second is a religion that acknowledges that no one can be good enough to gain salvation, and so God must somehow provide it – Christianity is the only religion based on this premise.

The first time you did something that you knew was wrong, you were disqualified from heaven. The Apostle Paul explains the fallen and hopeless state of mankind when he declares:

As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one…’ (Romans 3:10, ESV)

In contrast to all other religions, the Bible teaches that due to mankind’s sin nature, not only do we commit sin, but it is our character to do so. This inherited sin nature separates each of us from God and results in being under God’s judgment, rather than in relationship with God.

If you are honest, you would have to agree that there are times that you do things that you don’t want to do, and sometimes you don’t do the things that you’d really like to do. That is the sin nature in action. The Apostle Paul describes it this way:

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:19-20, ESV)

Later in the same chapter, Paul cries out in anguish for the state of mankind under the sin nature.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24, ESV)

So what hope do we have? Paul answers his own question in the first verse of the next chapter:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, ESV)

Condemnation and judgement come to use as the penalty of our sin — and this separates us from God. But Paul is explaining that if you are “in Christ Jesus,” then His sacrificial death on the cross paid for the sins of all mankind. If you accept this sacrifice for yourself by putting your faith in Him, then you to will be freed from sin!

That is why Jesus boldly proclaimed:

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, NLT)

So you see, Jesus is our only hope for salvation, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, NASB) When someone asks the question, “Why can’t I get to God through other religions,” the answer is this:

  1. Mankind is sinful.
  2. No one with sin can achieve salvation.
  3. There must be a bridge between sinful man and a holy, or perfect God.
  4. Mankind is helpless to gain salvation through any kind of good work.
  5. Mankind needs a Savior.
  6. God loved the people of this world so much, that he sent Jesus to live as a man so that He could die on the cross to pay the debt for man’s sin.
  7. The only thing you have to ‘do’ to receive this gift of salvation is to believe that Jesus is God and that He died for you.

It is this personal, loving God, who desires to be in your life – to care for, guide, protect, and empower – that makes the Bible different from any other religious book. Jesus is not only the God of all the world, but He desires to be a personal God in your life as well. Would you like to know how to invite Jesus into your life?

Pray this prayer:

Heavenly Father, I thank you for sending your Son to die in my place. I ask you to forgive me for my sins. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that you raised Him from the dead. Come into my life and make me new. Help me to live for you. Thank you for your love, in Jesus name, amen.

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