Op-ed misunderstands Christianity

May 18, 2010

Stephen Prothero's article "The Religious Unity Myth" (May 18) was interesting and made many valid points, particularly with respect to how world religions differ from one another. I agree with his assertion that the belief that all religions are legitimate paths up the same mountain is "dangerous, disrespectful and untrue."

However, the professor makes a serious error in reference to Christianity. He correctly notes that the "problem is sin" but then goes on to say that the "technique for achieving salvation is some combination of faith and good works." This is absolutely untrue.

It must be noted that "religion" is man's attempt to reach a deity of his own making. By that definition, Christianity is not a religion — its foundational belief is that God has condescended to reach us in the person of Jesus Christ. We, being tainted by sin, are incapable of saving ourselves — it was Christ who took our deserved punishment upon himself to save us. Salvation is not "achieved" — it is granted only by God's grace when we accept Christ as our personal Savior.

And no measure of "good works" apart from God's unmerited favor can achieve salvation for us. We as sinful humans bring absolutely nothing to the table. We are of course called to do good works, but this is in response to God's immeasurable gift, not to achieve some kind of right standing with the Almighty. Ephesians 2:8-9 states this unequivocally — "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works so that no one may boast."

John Crooks, Baltimore

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