Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jesus Among Other Gods: Book Review

Comparative Religion is normally the study of various religions to discover and emphasise their similarities. It's a particularly popular enterprise, particularly in these days of ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue and discussion. The basic premise for those involved is that all religions are basically the same and of equal merit, with the golden rule at the heart of them - do to others what you would want them to do back.

It was refreshing to read Jesus Among Other gods by Ravi Zacharias, which is a completely different exercise in comparative religion. Taking incidents from the Gospel according to Saint John, Ravi discusses the implications of what Jesus says and does, and then compares it with the leaders / founders / originators of religions can say and do.

The end result, Jesus wins hands down, because of his unique person, being, source, claims, promises and ability to deal with death. Jesus lives, Mohammed is lying in a grave. Jesus guarantees eternal life with Him, Buddha offers the uncertainty of endless reincarnations until 'you' cease to exist.

Allow me to quote a couple of short passages, just to give you the full force of what Zacharias declares about the Lord Jesus:

'His earthly sojourn was not an origination, but a visitation. Every other person who is at the heart of any religion has had his or her beginning either in fancy or in fact. But nevertheless, there is a beginning. Jesus' birth in Bethlehem was a moment preceded by eternity. His being neither originated in time nor came about by the will of humanity. The Author of time, who lived in the eternal, was made incarnate in time that we might live with the eternal in view. In that sense, the message of Christ was not the introduction of a religion, but an introduction to truth about reality as God alone knows it.' (p. 34)

Or this as he writes of holy places:

'The history of Christendom is not free from perversions. But Jesus sent a message loud and clear. We are His temple. We do not turn in a certain direction to pray. We are not bound by having to go into a building so that we can commune with God. There are no unique postures and times and limitations that restrict our access to God. My relationship with God is intimate and personal. The Christian does not go to the temple to worship. The Christian takes the temple with him or her. ' (pp. 72-73)

Reading this book can definitely restore a confidence in the person, words and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. No one else can compare, not now, nor in eternity. Amen!

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