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13 Crucial Ways the Bible Differs from Other Religious Texts

  • Sue Schlesman Contributing Writer
  • Updated Sep 08, 2020
13 Crucial Ways the Bible Differs from Other Religious Texts

You have probably heard people saying things like, “Treat others how you want to be treated” and “Never loan money to friends.” Can you tell the difference between sayings from the Bible and sayings from other religious texts?

Do you know what the Bible actually says about race, gender, war, and marriage?

How does the Bible stand out from the other religious texts of the world? Here are thirteen important ways the Bible is unique:

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  • man with arms out wide celebrating Jesus resurrection

    1. Stories of Sin and Redemption

    The Bible tells the stories of sinful people to show how God’s love can change anyone. The Bible does not limit stories to a specific race, gender, age, or social/economic statue. Sin is always punished by God and obedient faith (not blind allegiance) is always esteemed.

    What makes the Bible unique in its subject matter is the clear labeling of right and wrong according to one almighty God. No prophet’s life or wisdom ever overrides God’s laws. (Romans 3:19-28)

    2. Greater than a Prophet: God Himself

    The Bible’s central figure—Jesus Christ—is called God Himself. Jesus is superior to a great prophet. Jesus calls himself the Son of God on numerous occasions, is present throughout the Old Testament in the Trinity and the Pre-incarnate Christ.

    The Bible is not a compilation of stories about various gods or philosophical literature about becoming a god, or at least the best possible version of yourself. The Bible is the story of Jesus. (John 17:3

    3. Eye-Witness Resurrection

    The Bible is the only religious text that contains and highlights the story of someone who predicted his own death and resurrection (and actually rose from the dead). Over 500 witnesses saw Jesus after his death. Jesus is the only religious leader with an empty tomb.

    Jesus’ resurrection also makes possible our resurrections, in this life and the next. (Romans 1:1-5, 1 Peter 1:3-4)

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    4. Equal Love for All

    The Bible is the only religious text in which God loves everyone equally, regardless of whether they love Him back. In fact, most other religions, particularly Eastern religions, do not consider any deities to be loving. God(s) are only to be feared or appeased, if they exist at all. The goal in Buddhism, for example, is to attain godly status and escape the cycle of reincarnation. (John 3:16-18)

    5. Unmerited Salvation

    The Bible explains faith and salvation as unmerited, meaning no one is good enough to please God. There is no sliding scale of evil or forgiveness. Because salvation by Jesus is an act of love and grace, it’s available to anyone, no matter how good or bad they are. Compared to God’s perfection, we all fall short of the mark.

    Because the Bible articulates a transfer of faith in Jesus without requiring any penance, obedience, alignment, loyalty, or good deeds, it stands out from other religious texts that espouse doing good deeds and becoming your best self (all very nebulous). (Romans 6:20-23)

    6. Many Genres, Books, Years—One Message

    The Bible is a compilation of 66 books of varying genres, written by over 40 authors from various backgrounds and cultures, over a span of 1,600 years; yet it contains one unified message of salvation through Jesus, even though the Bible itself.

    The narratives and histories during this time period were largely of oral tradition (no fact-checking). Logic would deem this literary masterpiece as an impossible accomplishment.

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    7. God Sacrifices Himself

    The Bible is the only religious text in which its God sacrifices Himself for a mortal, much less the whole human race (knowing most would reject Him). This gift is given regardless of their acceptance or acknowledgment of God. (Philippians 2:5-11

    8. Does Not Promote Racism or Favoritism

    The Bible, although written with the Jewish people as the main characters, does not promote racism, privilege, or favoritism by God of one group of people over another. Equality is easily recognized in the New Testament gospels and epistles but more disputable in the Old Testament because Israel is permitted and often commanded to fight and kill non-Jewish people.

    But if you examine the Old Testament as a whole, God’s favor rested on anyone who searches for truth, and the Israelites were instructed to take in foreigners who believed in Jehovah. The violence in the Old Testament is proof of God’s righteousness and justice against nations that continually opposed him. Consequently, the Bible is one of the most inclusive religious texts in history.

    Everyone has equal opportunity for redemption and blessing. (Romans 10:9-13)

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  • 9. One Authoritative Text

    9. One Authoritative Text

    Christianity claims the complete Bible as its solitary an authoritative text; theology about inspiration and immutability of Scripture will vary between denominations and even persons. This is unlike many organized religions that have multiple religious texts, which are written by a variety of prophets and spiritual leaders (i.e. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism). (1 Timothy 3:14-17)

    10. Second Chances

    The Bible presents a faith of second chances. While punishment and violence exist, God only sanctions these after repeated and blatant rejection of His love. He also uses punishment and suffering as a motivator to bring people back into relationship with Himself.

    Multiple stories show that the degree of a person’s bad decisions does not rule him out for redemption; his heart condition is the determining factor. (Romans 6:20-23, 2 Timothy 2:8-13

    11. Proven Prophesies

    The Bible contains over 600 prophesies about Jesus’ birth, life, and death, all of which have come true. This is remarkable mostly because many occurred hundreds, even thousands, of years before Jesus was born. Prophets lived in different countries and at different times and yet predicted the same things. (Romans 6:9-10)

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    12. Multiple Genres to Engage All Humankind

    The Bible is written in a variety of genres, which make a central message even more compelling and unusual. Storytelling is essential to the Bible. Stories range in detail, but characters are flawed and relatable. Biblical narratives take many the forms: histories, personal letters, genealogies, parables, songs, and eye-witness accounts.

    Also, varying genres speak to the importance of the message—God wanted to ensure that everyone could learn in a method that made sense to them. So writers use the following genres: letters, genealogies, parables, eye witness accounts, poetry, prophecies, songs, and prayers. (Hebrews 1:1-3

    13. Most Read and Published of All Time

    The Bible is the most read and most-published book of all time. The King James Version of the Bible alone is the second-most read book ever, after the Qur’an. Factor in all the other Bible versions, and you have an international bestseller that has been relevant and necessary to culture for thousands of years. That’s impressive.

    The only way to truly understand and appreciate the Bible is to read it for yourself. The Bible has been translated into over 2,000 languages. English-speakers have the luxury of choosing from more than 200 versions. Find a version you like and understand. Then start reading it.

    That’s the only way to know what the Bible actually says and doesn’t say.

    Recommended for You:

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    Are the World’s Religions That Different from Christianity?

    How Can You Be Certain That Jesus Is God?

    4 Beautiful Truths in the Angel’s Message ‘He Is Not Here, for He Has Risen’

    5 Things You Should Know about Old Testament Violence

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    new 2020 headshot of author Sue SchlesmanSue Schlesman is an author, teacher, podcaster, and church leader. With a Masters in Theology and Culture, Sue is active in teaching and writing about transformative faith. Her book Soulspeak: Praying Change into Unexpected Places won a Selah Award in 2020. Sue and her husband Shane co-host a podcast, Stress Test, which focuses on leadership health and tension.