Immanuel: God with Us?

Everyone has to say something about Jesus Christ. Any worldview would at best be incomplete if it did not respond to his claims. Perhaps other spiritual leaders can be ignored, but not the one whose life we measure the years by; not the one who claimed to be the beginning and the end. He is too prominent a historical figure and too effective a moral teacher to be disregarded except with the most extreme effort and clever obfuscation. Even trying to plead indifference requires great conviction.

Some say he was a prophet, some say he is a god, and some say he is the one and only God. Others say he was just a good moral teacher. And still others all but deny his existence, saying that the Jesus of the Bible is a myth concocted for propaganda purposes by power-hungry religious leaders.

So how do we choose among these views? The trouble in navigating them is that they all lay claim not to opinion but to history.

To be sure, there are strong opinions about the Christmas story. Some read it with contempt, such as in Thomas Paine’s version: "The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene. It gives an account of a young woman engaged to be married, and while under this engagement, she is, to speak plain language, debauched by a ghost, under the impious pretence, (Luke 1:35,) that ‘the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.’"1 Others agree with the young Mary when she said, "My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior…He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed." (Luke 1:46-47, 53).

But laying opinions aside, how do we examine the evidence for the various claims on the historical record? Even when we do strive to rise above bias we are still confronted with radically different accounts of past events. So in comparing and weighing them it is entirely appropriate to ask not only what they say but also, just as important, their grounds for saying it. That is, in keeping with the old investigator’s motto, "just the facts." Upon what do we base our interpretation of Jesus’ life?

As to this basis—as to the facts—it is, from any point of view, astonishing how similar most religions are in their approach to understanding historical events, especially when compared to the radically unique approach of the Biblical writers. Perhaps nothing sets Christianity apart from all other world views more than this. For it alone lays claim not to mystical revelations or to supernatural insight or even to presuppositions, but simply to eyewitness accounts. Of course none of the accounts can be proven, but believing them verses believing others illustrates the difference between reasoned faith and blind faith.

The feature article below, What Has God Done?, draws this to the fore by examining the different approaches to understanding the who Jesus is/was and what he did. The articles that follow give broader comparative introductions to the major world religions.

Feature Articles

What Has God Done?
Matt Connally
What actually happened in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago? Each major religion has a place for Jesus. Christianity places Jesus in a very unique position. How does each religion answer the question of Jesus?

Do all Paths Lead to the Same Destination?
Keith E. Johnson
Is it possible that Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and other religions represent differing, yet valid, paths to the same destination? This article examines arguments for and against the claim that all paths lead to the same destination.

Resource Articles

These articles address various issues and doctrines of some of the most well-known religions and cults. In addition, an article about "World Views" is included.

Connecting with the Divine
Marilyn Adamson
An article that discusses Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and New Age; their main characteristics and perspectives on God, humanity and salvation.

Pat Zuckeran
For centuries, Buddhism has been the dominant religion of the Eastern world. Today it remains the predominant religion in China, Japan, Korea, and much of southeast Asia.

Rick Rood
Though Hinduism may seem far removed from our everyday experience, it's becoming increasingly important that we as Christians understand this mysterious religion from India.

What is Islam?
Rick Rood
It's not every day that religion appears as a front page story in today's newspapers, particularly on a regular basis. But over the past 20 years one religion has made the front page perhaps more than any other.

Unity School of Christianity
Russ Wise
The Unity School of Christianity is a classic new age cult. It has the appearance of being Christian; however, it holds pantheistic or new age beliefs at its core. Unity was founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore in 1889, and was later incorporated as a church in 1903 by the Unity Society of Practical Christianity in Kansas City.

Jehovah's Witnesses: Witnessing to the Witnesses
Pat Zuckeran
One of the most aggressive and fastest growing cults is the Jehovah's Witnesses. Today they have a worldwide organization that numbers about 3.5 million members operating in 205 countries. Several factors account for this rapid growth.

Mormon Beliefs About the Bible and Salvation
Russ Wise
Mormonism continues to grow, but there is much confusion concerning the basic doctrines of the faith.

Mormon Beliefs about Prophecy, Heaven, and Celestial Marriage
Russ Wise
Missionaries for the Mormon Church have converted millions of people to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by convincing them that the Book of Mormon is true and superior to the Bible.

The Christian Attitude Toward Non-Christian Religions
Rick Rood
Few facts have become more evident in our lifetime than the fact that we live in a pluralistic world and society.

World Views
Jerry Solomon
Many books have been written on the subject of world views from both Christian and non-Christian perspectives. Ideally speaking, only one world view can correctly mirror reality.

Other Articles (Off-site Links)

Liar, Lunatic, Lord?
Marvin Olasky
C.S. Lewis argued that there were only three conclusions one could make about Jesus: He is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. Lewis maintained that from the Gospel accounts the only logical conclusion is that Jesus is Lord. Olasky examines Lewis' conclusion.

Slappy Holiday
Gene Edward Veith
Veith believes we should take the Santa Claus tradition a little further.