What's So Different About Christianity?
Foundations of the Christian Faith
By Liz Selzer, PhD
In our diverse and increasingly global culture, we may find that we are frequently exposed to different faith systems. Muslim, Buddhist, Scientologist, Wicca. To effectively understand and discern the differences between these faith systems and Christianity, we must first understand the foundation of the Christian belief system.
The following is a summary of the basic tenets of the Christian faith:
The reality of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
(John 14:16-17, Matthew 28:19)
We believe in one God. But God is also Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three aspects of God that we encounter as we grow in our knowledge of him.
Jesus is fully God and was fully human.
(Matthew 1:18, 23)
Jesus is God: This is essential to our faith because if Christ wasnít God, he would be just another imperfect human trying to be good. He would not be holy and blameless, pure enough to be in Godís presence. Pure enough to pay for our sins.
Jesus chose to be human: This is critical to our faith because Jesus is a physical example for us to follow. I have not seen God, but Jesus lived among us. God gave us this gift so that we could more easily relate to Christ. He has been tempted by all the things we are tempted by, he has felt the same emotions as we have felt. As humans, we mess up a lot. As a human, Christ did not mess up at all. Because of this he could take on our sins and make a clear payment for them.
The Bible is the foundation of our beliefs, the word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and authoritative on what it teaches.
(2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Bible is one way we have access to God. Not only do we read the words, but God speaks to our heart as well.
We are redeemed by Jesus Christís sacrifice, death and resurrection.
(Romans 5:8-9, Romans 6:23, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
- God wanted to make a way for us to always be with him; he sent his son.
- Christ was sinless.
- He paid the price for us with his life.
- He was raised from the dead and is still living.
The result of this saving work of Christ is that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
(Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:8-9)
Salvation is through grace not through good deeds. Saving faith should inspire us to want to do good things, but it is not how we are saved or how we have life after we die. We are given grace as a gift of life from our loving heavenly father.
The Church (all Christians) has a role in Godís plan for the world.
(Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:11, Acts 24:15, Romans 6:23, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, 1 Peter 2:9, Revelations 20:15)
Even as flawed people, God chose us to carry out his mission to spread the news about him to others. Just as we as mothers love to watch our children stretch and grow, so our genuine attempts to follow Godís leading puts a smile on his face.
All of these beliefs provide a strong foundation for our faith. But our faith is more than just a list of beliefs. These beliefs lead us into an incredible relationship with a living God. An adventure of authentic joy:
- Joy in being a part of Godís plan which gives us all significant purpose
- Joy in being part of Godís community with the support and love it encompasses
- Joy in accepting Godís unwavering grace, regardless of what we do
- Joy in the privilege of communing with a personal God
Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
This article originally appeared in Connections magazine, January 2007, MOPS International, Inc.