Dinesh D Souza, The Greatness of Christianity: Table of Contents
Cf. Dinesh D’souza, What’s So Great About Christianity, at Amazon
“In the course of justice, none of us Should see salvation.” —William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
SO FAR THIS BOOK HAS EXAMINED CHRISTIANITY largely from a secular viewpoint. I have shown how Christianity has shaped our culture and our world. I have also sought to demonstrate that the central premises of theism in general, and Christianity in particular, are completely supported by modern science and modern thought. In the concluding section of this book I will delineate what makes Christianity different from other religions. Finally I will show how our lives change when we become Christians.
There are two types of people who allege that all religions are the same. The first group is made up of religious believers, although not of the very fervent kind. These well-meaning folks insist that all religions are equal pathways to heaven—a position that only one major religion, Hinduism, actually endorses. But there is a widespread sentiment in the West that religions are similar in that they are all human pathways to the divine. By this measure it doesn’t really matter very much which religion you subscribe to, and to go around trying to persuade others to adopt your religion is a mark of impoliteness, if not fanaticism.
The second group that considers all religions to be the same is atheists. This group views all religions as equally false, and some unbelievers also hold them to be equally pernicious. When I write about Christianity I often hear contemptuous responses to thiseffect: “Why are you so down on atheism? You too are an atheist as far as Allah is concerned.” Richard Dawkins himself makes this point in A Devil’s Chaplain: “When it comes to Baal and the Golden Calf, Thor and Wotan, Poseidon and Apollo, Mithras and Ammon Ra,” all modern theists are “actually atheists…. Some of us just go one god further.” Arguments that refute one religion are held by Dawkins to be equally telling against other religions. Revelation, from this point of view, is all a bunch of nonsense, so it becomes a matter of hair-splitting whether we are dealing with Christian nonsense, Jewish nonsense, or Zoroastrian nonsense.
But contrary to what these people say, all religions are not the same. At some level, we all know this. Most religions make exclusive and uncompromising claims about God and the human condition. As these claims are often incompatible, there is no way that all religions can be true. Certainly it is possible for several to contain elements of the truth. If one is comprehensively true, however, it follows that the rest must be false.
Even so, well-meaning people eager to avoid controversy commonly insist that all religions are different ways of comprehending the same truth. This is an erroneous view, although it contains an element of truth. As we have seen, there is a common morality that the great religions of the world share. Also, the monotheistic religions are attempts to worship the one God and therefore the same God. They differ, however, in their understanding of why man needs God and how man can find Him.
We can see that religions are not the same by looking at the way in which basic concepts are differently interpreted. Martyr is a term common to Christianity and Islam but largely alien to Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. It comes from a Greek word meaning “witness:’ In Christianity; the martyr voluntarily gives up his life rather than his God. The Christian martyr was the man the Romans placed in the lion’s den to be devoured for his refusal to renounce his faith. In Islam, a martyr takes up the cause of jihad and loses his life fighting for Allah. This is the sense in which Khomeini and bin Laden have called on Muslims to be true Muslim “witnesses:’ One term, but two different meanings.