The Christian Distinctive
By Fred Zaspel–
What distinguishes Christianity from all other religions is that it is a revealed religion. Christianity is not about our search for God or our means of finding him. Christianity is not a religion that works its way upward. It is all about God coming to us — God in grace making himself known to us and making a way for us to enjoy fellowship with him.
And so at the very heart of Christianity is, simply, a message — a message from God to us about what he has done to bring us to himself.
If Christianity is distinctively revealed religion, then it is also uniquely authoritative. It does not offer itself as the best and highest of human thinking about God or even the best or most successful of human efforts to know God. It professes to be nothing less than the unique word from God, his very own self-disclosure and the record of the actions he has taken in Jesus Christ to bring us into fellowship with himself.
One of Rudyard Kipling’s characters declares, “The heathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone; He don’t obey no orders unless they is his own.” That is to say, human religions lack authority — they form their own ideas and “discover” their own beliefs.
By contrast the Christian is “under orders,” because unlike human religions Christianity is a revealed religion — divinely revealed. We Christians are not our own touchstone of truth, and we do not confuse our ideas about God with His own self-revelation. We learn truth about God not from “inner lights” within ourselves but from God’s own objective Word.
And apart from this external authority there is no Christianity. This, at bottom, is Christianity’s leading distinctive.
And so we Christians prize Scripture as God’s Word. We joyfully submit to it. And we enthusiastically proclaim its message of grace in Jesus Christ to the world.
Fred Zaspel holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently a pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also the interim Senior Pastor at New Hyde Park Baptist Church on New York’s Long Island, and Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He is also the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2010) and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel (Crossway, 2012).