Q: What distinguishes Christianity from other belief systems, such that it allows its adherents to believe in it and discount all the other believers of all the other religions? How do Christians know that Hindus, Zoroastrians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and the like are “wrong?”
There are many in this world who are religious. Religion comes from two words re meaning again and ligio meaning bondage. Jesus did not come as a founder of religion. He had one – and a great one – He was a Jew. Unlike the others Jesus came as God in the flesh to deliver us from the bondage of religion into the freedom of the sons and daughters of God. Thats why the religious people hated Him and tried to kill Him. But as was prophesied hundreds of years before He came here He gave up His life as the lamb of God slain from before the foundation of the world.
So what did we humans do about it? We made a religion out of it all called Christianity! But no one is born a Christian.
In Johns Gospel chapter 14 we see these statements:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. “If you had known :Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, Lord show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long; and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father… (John 14:6-9)
Christians are people who have come to know Jesus personally. We believe in Him because He has changed our lives. The Spirit of God now fill us in a wonderful way. We see the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit manifesting in our lives daily and we walk in fellowship with God the Father. Jesus said that He had come to do these things and He still does them today. I know there are many good people in the world. They truly believe in their religions and do many good works. The testimony of the New Testament is that it is not about being good or bad. Jesus did not come to this planet to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive. We are all born spiritually dead – even the best of us. The Holy Spirit comes into our lives to bring us eternal life and a whole new perspective. That human spirit we were born with comes alive as he fills us and the world is a different place. We now have the power over sin and we can work for His Kingdom of joy, peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit he speaks of. Romans 14:17 in the New Testament tells us that His Kingdom is not about religion but relationship.
The short answer is Jesus Christ. The long answer is found in the Bible and countless books on Christian apologetics. (e.g. Baker Encyclopaedia of Christian Apologetics by Norman L. Geisler; The Everlasting Man, by G. K. Chesterton; The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel; The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible, by Robert J. Hutchinson, A Christian Manifesto, by Francis A. Schaeffer as well as the book already mentioned, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell.) I have studied other religions at a couple of universities and frankly Christianity is the best deal in town.