The following story was told by Phillip Yancey in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace? (see here):
During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods’ appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death. The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”
Grace. The unmerited favor of God. God giving us blessings that we don’t deserved. As I mentioned in one of yesterday’s post, “grace is perhaps the most unique, marvelous, outrageous, and special thing to ever come about.” No other religion in the world includes such a concept as grace. Buddhism has the eightfold path, which explains that through practicing these 8 areas of mental and ethical development, one can reach a higher mental and spiritual state. It requires human action. Hinduism has karma, or the belief that “good begets good, and bad begets bad. Every action, thought, or decision one makes has consequences – good or bad – that will return to each person in the present life, or in one yet to come” (see here). It requires human action. Islam teaches that “at puberty, an account of each person’s deeds is opened, and this will be used at the Day of Judgment to determine his eternal fate” (see here). The number of good deeds must be more than the number of bad deeds. Islam requires human action. Judaism, of course, has the Old Testament Law, which requires ethical behavior and animal sacrifice in order for the human side of the Covenant to be kept. It requires human action. No other religion says that, by only the actions of God Himself, we as His creation may be saved. This is unique to Christianity
The uniqueness of grace is, to me and many others, the most compelling argument for Christianity’s authenticity. Humans, with our extreme propensity for pride and self-obsession, are always trying to work our way to salvation. Even after being presented with the gospel, which is the good news of God’s grace, and even after accepting it, we still spend much of our lives trying to work off our debt to God. I think that is why every other religion, which I believe are man-made, have the works-based principles that they do. Only Christianity says God’s grace is free, unconditional, and available to any and everyone. That kind of statement is outrageous, but it’s also comforting. It proves that God loves us, and if the most powerful being in the universe (or outside the universe??) loves little old me, I can’t help but to love Him back.