A Christian Teen’s Guide to Other Religions
Understand the key aspects of other faiths, and what makes Christianity different.
Christianity is not the only religion out there! It may be the biggest in the world, but other religions have millions or even billions of followers. Some of your friends and neighbours may even follow other faiths, so it’s important that we understand these other religions.
In this article we’re going to take a look at what the Bible says about other religions, the key facts of other faiths, and why knowing these things is relevant to us.
What the Bible says about other religions
The Bible recognises that people follow other religions, however the Bible claims that only God is true
The Old Testament and the New are full of stories of people following other religions and believing in other gods. But the Bible makes the bold claim that the God of the Bible is the only genuine god.
Check out what 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 says:
We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
The Bible demonstrates the truth of God over other false gods
There are many stories of God displaying his power over the false gods of other religions. For example, when He rescued the Israelites from Egypt, the plagues that God sent actually represented His power over several of the Egyptian gods.
Furthermore, the story of Elijah records God demonstrating his power over the false god Baal.
Jesus claims to be the only way to God
In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is a big claim for Him to make, that He is the only way to God! But if this claim is true, it has huge implications for all humanity.
Let’s get practical
The question of other religions is a big one for us to dig into, but there are lots of practical implications for us!
What are the core truths of Christianity?
To start with, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about the core truths of Christianity.
As Mike Dicker outlines in this article:
- Christians believe in one God
- Christians believe God created all things and that those things are not evil.
- Christians believe that at a particular point in world history God became a human (in the person of Jesus), that he was born of a woman, lived, suffered, died, and was raised again to new life never to die again.
- Christians believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah from the Jewish scriptures (the Old Testament).
- Christians believe that at the return of Jesus, they and all creation will one day be transformed from this present brokenness and made a new and perfect physical creation where the relationship with God and with each other is untainted by sinful rebellion.
What do other religions believe?
Mike Dicker goes on to explain what the differences are between Christianity and other major world religions:
Hindus believe in tiers (or levels) of multiple gods (hundreds) with one supreme "being" called Brahman. All things are part of Brahman, but the world as we know it has been separated from him and is therefore evil. All people need to escape the physical world by reaching enlightenment and be rejoined with Brahman. Enlightenment is reached through lifelong dedication to one of the many gods. The 2 most popular gods are Vishnu and Krishna. If enlightenment is not reached in your lifetime, you will continue to be returned to the physical world after death by reincarnation. If you lived a good life devoted to your god then you are reincarnated to a better position, if you lived a bad life you will reincarnated to a worse position.
Buddhism is a philosophy that rejects the existence of any deity (god) and is therefore essentially an atheistic religion. Like Hinduism, Buddhism is about trying to remove yourself from the suffering of this world through enlightenment. Enlightenment is reached by emotionally distancing yourself from the world and others. All feelings, whether happy or sad, are evil because they lead to suffering. If enlightenment is not reached in your lifetime, you will continue to be returned to the physical world after death by reincarnation.
Muslims believe in one God (like Christianity & Judaism) but reject the claim that Jesus is God or anything more than a prophet. Islam believes that God (Allah) is a supreme and perfect being who is distant from this evil world - though he is in control over it. It is therefore deeply insulting to Islamic belief to suggest that God would became a frail human and live and die in this evil world. A supreme and perfect being cannot do such a thing.
Jews believe in one God (like Christianity & Islam) but also reject the claim that Jesus is God or anything more than a prophet (like Moses or Elijah). Judaism therefore, is still waiting for and expecting the coming of the promised messiah.”
Why is Christianity right?
As Tim Clemens explains in this article, “Christianity is unique amongst the world’s religions because it is the only one that claims God stepped into human history in a tangible way and performed miracles to back it up. Every other major religion hinges on the words and experiences of men; Christianity hinges on the belief that God revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ.
When Jesus was asked by one of his disciples to show them God, this was his response:
Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. (John 14)
Jesus claimed that anyone who had seen him had seen God and then suggested we look at his miracles as evidence that he was telling the truth. The ultimate miracle was his resurrection from the dead.
So how does this compare with other religions? Neither the Buddha, the Persian nomads nor Muhammad ever performed any miracles, yet each claimed to know the truth about the higher power.
Jesus not only claimed to actually be the higher power, he also demonstrated it through his miracles. In fact even Jesus’ enemies acknowledged he possessed supernatural powers. For example the Babylonian Talmud (a Jewish Law book) describes Jesus as a ‘sorcerer’, and Josephus (an ancient Jewish historian) called him a ‘doer of wonderful works’. The point is, Jesus claimed to be God and then did things that only God could do. Christianity is not a collection of morals and advice dreamed up by a first century Jewish peasant, it’s a robust allegiance to a man who rose from the dead and now reigns as Lord of the universe.”
Mike Dicker also explains, “The question "why are we right and they wrong?" is probably not the most helpful question to ask because it involves a measure of arrogance and makes the focus of the question more about human pride than seeking a truthful answer… Nevertheless, why does Christianity stand out as more convincing than other religions? Because Christianity makes an historical claim that is open to the process of historical investigation.
That central claim is that God walked upon this earth in a specific place, at a specific time in history, which means that you are able to test Christianity by historical processes. And the evidence is compelling, that Jesus said what he said, did what he did, and is who he claimed to be.”
How do I help my friends of other faiths turn to Jesus?
As is explained in this answer to a question on Fervr,
“It is a difficult thing to talk to someone about Christianity when they hold onto other beliefs with great strength. This is even harder when the religious beliefs also have a cultural aspect to them. In such cases, asking them to turn to Christ is actually asking them to turn their backs on their culture, family and friends. In such cases rational arguments do not have much success.
However, there is still plenty that you can do.
Firstly you can pray. As a Christian we believe in a God who has control over the hearts and minds of all people. This is what we mean by him being sovereign. So you can pray that he may lead your friend and turn his heart towards God and save him. You can also pray for yourself that you may live the kind of life and say the kind of things that would make Christianity appealing to them.
Secondly, talk about your own experience of God rather than trying to engage and challenge them. It’s a “softly softly” approach that they cannot take offense to. Take every opportunity to talk openly about how you became Christian and what it means to you. Try to make it natural rather than forced. After all God is now the centre of your life and it makes sense that you talk about it naturally and openly.
Thirdly, live a godly life before them. A godly life is one that is characterised by loving other people, seeking their good before your own, being quick to forgive and slow to take offense and so on. Such a life is very appealing to those who live for themselves. It makes you stand out as being different and people notice that. More importantly it shows that you take your Christian belief seriously, that you have integrity and that you are not asking them to do something that you yourself are not willing to do.
When you do have a conversation with them, do not be afraid of what you are going to say or of not having an answer. You have God on your side and he will give you that right words to say (even though they might not feel like it at the time). If you try your hardest and seek to honour God in what you say then you have done right. If you don’t know an answer then let them know that you will try to find out, then find it out and tell them.
Finally, be patient and faithful to God. It can sometimes take many conversations, many experiences and many people all coming together over time to bring someone to God. You may have a small part to play or a big part and you may never know what effect it has had till many years later if at all. But God is in control and can use all these things, even the small things you do, to bring someone to him.
In the end it’s God’s responsibility and role to make people Christian. Our responsibility is to present the message of Christ to them as best we can and to pray for them.”
Questions to think about
- What stands out about Christianity compared to other religions?
- Why do you believe Christianity is true?
- How would you explain Christianity to a friend who doesn’t understand it?
- Do you have friends who follow other religions? Spend some time researching what they believe, and then pray for them.