Many people say, ‘Even if I believe in God, there are so many religions in the world – how do I decide which one is right?’
Well actually, the answer is much simpler than you might expect, and we’ll show how Christianity stands out from all the other major world religions.
So here's the answer: Christianity is different from all the other religions of the world because it is the only one that fully ties up with world history.
If you read through the Bible, you will find a lot of it easy to understand. And the reason for this is that much of it is simply history, telling the story of what happened to the Hebrew people and their ancestors from about 4000 BC up to the first century AD.
Many people think that the Bible is full of myths but if you look into it, you will find that it ties up with history. For example, Jesus was spoken about by the non-Christian Roman writers Tacitus and Josephus. 25 What’s more, the more archeologists discover, the more it confirms the accuracy of the Bible. For example, in the past, historians believed that the story of Abraham, who lived around 2000 BC, was largely mythical, but archeological discoveries showed that the historians were wrong and the Bible was right. As the Encyclopaedia Britannica says:
'The excavation of a royal palace at Mari, an ancient city on the Euphrates, brought to light thousands of cuneiform tablets (official archives and correspondence and religious and juridical texts)... which specialists utilized to show that, in the biblical book of Genesis, narratives fit perfectly with what, from other sources, is known today of the early 2nd millennium BC.' 20
Example cuneiform tablet from Mari 19
In other words, archeology tied up with the Bible, rather than disproving it.
The Bible gives an almost continuous history of the Hebrew people (later called Israel) from the beginning of time up to the first century AD. On top of that, almost all those histories were written either by people who were there at the time, or who knew people that were there at the time.21 So we can rely on the accuracy of the writing.
Another reason to believe that the history in the Bible is accurate is because, although it was written by Hebrew people, the story they paint of their own nation puts them in a bad light! It describes all the terrible things they did, both as individuals and as a nation. If it were a work of fiction, like many national stories, it would have shown them in a good light, a nation of heroes.
But what of all the other religions? Without any disrespect to other religions, we need to set out why they don’t stand up to the history test.
Many Jews across the world still practise what is thought of as the Jewish religion, or Judaism. Indeed the first two-thirds of the Christian Bible is made up of the Jewish Scriptures (which Christians call the Old Testament). In those writings it talked about the coming Messiah – the anointed messenger whom God was going to send into the world. We have already looked at some of these prophecies in the last question.
But the problem is this: when Jesus came, they did not believe that He was the Messiah, in spite of the fact that He fulfilled so many prophecies, down to the very date. So people who practise Judaism are still awaiting the Messiah, not realising that He has already come and it was Jesus.
One of the reasons why many Jews didn’t recognise Jesus as the Messiah was because they were expecting a national political leader who would deliver them from their enemies. So when Jesus came, and He spoke about God and spiritual matters, they rejected him. But it is impossible that all those prophecies could be fulfilled in anyone other than Jesus.22
So the Jewish religion was historical up to the time of Christ, but from that time their religion hasn’t kept up with events: the historical fulfilment of prophecies about the Messiah are not accepted.
(It should be pointed out that Christians are actually followers of the true Jewish religion – they are simply people who have recognised the Jewish Messiah as Jesus and followed him. The word ‘Christ’ and ‘Messiah’ mean the same thing – ‘the anointed one’.)
Part of the Jews’ religion involved making animal sacrifices for sin and they had to be done at the temple, but after Jesus had died on the cross there was no more need for sacrifice. Jesus was the final sacrifice that was needed. Because no more sacrifices were needed, the temple where the sacrifices were made was also not needed. So God allowed the temple to be destroyed in 70 AD and now no Jew on earth can properly practise their religion.
The Western Wall in Jerusalem – the only remaining part of the Jewish Temple. 23
Now if Judaism were correct, surely God would have kept the temple in place so they could continue making sacrifices as before? But since Jesus was the promised Messiah and sacrifices were no longer needed, God allowed the temple to be destroyed.
As we have seen Christianity traces its origins back to about 4000 BC. The Bible started being written from around 1500 BC through to the middle of the first century AD. As has been said, it is a very historical book, written largely by people who were there to witness the events or by people who knew these witnesses. It is very careful to give family trees and give detailed information about places, people and dates. Archaeology backs these up.
In contrast, the Muslim’s book, the Quran, was written 610–632 AD. Even though Muslims claim it to be the ultimate authority on Jesus, Moses, Abraham and others, it was written hundreds of years after the events, by people who obviously had not been there and lived in a different place.
In practice, Muhammed was living on a trade route where he heard stories from travelling Jews and Christians, as well as common fables from the time, and formed his own religion and holy book based on a mixture of what he heard.
One notable feature of the Quran is that it says that Jesus did not die and was not crucified (4:157). However, historians – atheists, agnostics as well as Christians – generally believe that the death of Jesus by crucifixion is one of the most indisputable facts in the whole of history, and was documented by non-Christian Roman historians such as Josephus and Tacitus who lived in the first century AD, as well as by the followers of Jesus. 25
Muhammed was born and established his beliefs in Mecca, nearly 1000 miles from Jerusalem. 24
Hinduism is not a single religion but is comprised of a number of different systems of philosophy, belief and ritual. The Supreme Court of India (95% of Hindus live in India) said:
‘Unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one Prophet; it does not worship any one God; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not satisfy the traditional features of a religion or creed. It is a way of life and nothing more. ’26
Some branches of Hinduism don’t believe in any god.
A lot of the teachings were passed down by word of mouth for centuries before it was written down; indeed it is said to trace its origins back to as early as 2300 BC. However, although the writings were composed from around 1500 BC, they are not written historically and do not claim to be. They contain myths and songs but although there are some snatches of history within the writings, they do not have the long historical narrative lasting millennia that the Bible has and which can be verified by archaeology.
As with most religions, amongst its many teachings it also promotes certain aspects of duty and good behaviour that will benefit anyone if followed.
Buddhism is a less ancient religion being founded some time around 500 BC. Buddhists don’t follow a supreme God and the nature of Buddism is more like a philosophy or way of life. It was founded by Siddharta Gautama but facts about his life are very difficult to establish. Buddhism expert Professor Rupert Gethin writes, ‘We can know very little of the historical Buddha with any degree of certainty.’ 27 The information given in ancient Buddhist writings are inconsistent and there is no support from external sources. There is certainly no long term historical account as you find in the Bible.
Sihkism is a relatively recent religion which was founded in the Punjab around the end of the 1400s AD. Although it has its own history as a religion, it has no ancient historical narrative of events and fulfilled prophecies proving it to be true.
For other variants of Christianity such as Roman Catholicism, please see FAQ.
A violent Muslim becomes a Christian.
A Jew becomes a Christian (Yeshua is the Hebrew form of Jesus).
A Hindu priest becomes a Christian
A top Jewish Scientist becomes a Christian.