“ 2/14/14 Adam and Ethan, both about 19
Why do you think your beliefs are any better than all the thousands of other religions and gods out there? What makes Christianity so special?” Ethan, a student who identified himself as an atheist, asked me this question in a conversation that had gathered around us a crowd of his friends because we were near the entrance to the dining hall on the IIT campus. I knew their attention span wouldn’t tolerate a long answer, but I really appreciated his question because the only way to provide an adequate answer was to share the Gospel! The good news of forgiveness through faith in Jesus is truly like no other religion in the world. What makes biblical Christianity unique? I began by talking about what all religions, and even our modern cultural misunderstandings of Christianity, have in common. They all view religion as a way to improve one’s lot in the next life. They all teach, in some form or another, some sort of moral or ethical code, and acknowledge that we break that code, but that by doing good and/or religious deeds one can, in effect, bribe the judge to look the other way from our just punishment and gain a better after life. I described how this general knowledge of good and evil is confirmed by the Bible – we all have a conscience. We know right from wrong whether or not we have any Christian background, despite Ethan’s insistence that there is no such thing as absolute right or wrong. I went on to explain how only Christianity allows God to perfectly demonstrate His seemingly opposing attributes of love and justice. Would a perfectly loving God punish sin? Would a perfectly just God forgive sin? But in Christianity, God did both. He did this at the cross, demonstrating both the ultimate justice for our sins, and the ultimate love in our forgiveness. I believe the best way to understand this is to experience Jesus in the words of Scripture and in the life of His Church. But when one only has a few minutes, I did the next best thing for Nathan and his friends. I gave them a theological road map to comprehend the Gospel. C.S. Lewis described theology as a sort of map that helps give the overall picture of the ocean of experience we can find in Jesus. Ethan may have thought he had made his atheistic point that Christianity is just one religion of thousands, no more unique than any other, but he didn’t count on Jesus, and he didn’t count on the cross.