Friday 18 December 2020

What is Christianity's USP?

USP = Unique Selling Point - that which distinguishes Christianity, in a good way, from all other religions. 

Regular readers will probably know my opinion on this question (which is the same as the Fourth Gospel, as I understand it) - but I would like readers to put forward what they think is Christianity's USP?

Be brief - a USP needs to be concisely expressed as well as clear - something comprehensible to the unconverted. 


ToTheRightRon said...

The Bible story is in harmony with what is written in our hearts and is observable in the world.

David Smith said...

John 14:15 - "If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."

The offer of becoming a co-creator and actor in sync with the way that the Creator organized creation.

I, for one, have gotten tired of butting my head against reality.

William Wildblood said...

It's Christ. The incarnation of the divine being in the world.

Joel said...

The struggle that Christ leads for the heart of every man is (should be) clearest for Christians. (John 15:5,15-17)

That is a "selling point", as it means that we get to participate in the struggle with open eyes. But it's also dangerous, as it makes the consequences of failure more severe. (See John 15:22, Matthew 12:45, Romans 2:9-10,29)

A said...

Good wins. Everything else seems like a compromise or acceptance of varying degrees of evil.

Ron Tomlinson said...

Christians are required to be honest both with each other and with non-Christians.

Mike A. said...

USP For Mormonism: You are a child of God. You have divinity in your spiritual DNA. He loves you. Everything in this life has a purpose. There is a plan for you to learn, act, and grow and eventually return to the presence of God where you will be like HIM (and HER).

Tobias said...

I do not feel qualified to answer about the spiritual but I will anyway. And my theology is sparse. And maybe I am just talking about my sense of the Middle Ages. Anyway, I just looked at the Wikipedia entry for 'Abrahamic religions' and neither the word 'lamb' nor the word 'sacrifice' appears. Which to me is shocking.

What I always loved about Christianity was how it preached neither sacrifice 'the lamb' nor your neighbor. Why? Because Christ already sacrificed himself. As in "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

John said that when the pressure was on, I think. Maybe it still is the UPS.

Avalon John said...

A loving God that offers personal salvation for merely accepting Him.

Anonymous said...

God Our Father loves each and every one of us so much that he sent his Son to rescue us from our prisons, and He sent His Holy Spirit to comfort and assist us. All we have to do is ask, and be willing to accept Him by opening our hearts to Him.

From my personal experience, it was only when I was at my deepest lowest point in life that I cried out for help to God, and he did deliver me step by step from the imprisonment and despair. It's not an easy process but the struggle is worth it because I know am valuable in God's eyes, as we all are. He provides the comfort and strength we need to overcome obstacles even in our deepest darkest moments.


TJ said...

The USP is the type of afterlife on offer. If you desire wholesome family and community living for eternity with no death, disease, vice, or confusion to ruin the experience, then you may want to consider Christianity. Heaven is human life minus the evil.

Sasha Melnik said...

I give this thought fairly often in terms of trying to focus deeper meaning...

The example of Christ's behaviour and sacrifice and _love_ are paramount. Telling the disciples that they would betray him and telling him he still loves them. His Speaking Truth to Power.

Before returning to God I didn't really care for the Virgin and Child motif but as I've grown (and become a father) I now view it as a unique image for parenting. That the virgin's feet are touching the ground but the child is held high, safe. The perspective of the image is that of the painter or father, and in some sense it's an image with many parallels - is the perspective that of a man, caring for his wife and child ? But equally is it the perspective of God caring for mankind and his son ? All interpretations seem positive. Looking at the image I see the power of it. All of it is good and pure.

Ego Sum Victor said...

It is the Christ Logos, the Word of God, which descended to the earth and incarnated into the physical body of a man. The Divine Christ became the Ideal Human, what we should all strive to be. It established the Holy Standard against which we should all compare ourselves and our behavior.

fitzhamilton said...

Christianity is essential (sacramental) communion with God in his Triune (infinite) nature through God's incarnation in Jesus Christ. This means that each human person is made by Christ Pancreator as an icon of himself, and can achieve intimate union through him with God the Father (the Godhead, source of all being) through grace and love of the Spirit, who personally permeates creation and through grace and love calls every human being into union with the Triune God in his divine essence.

I'm just a knuckleheaded layman, and that's probably formally heretical in several ways..

I'll just say that I believe through Christ we are all created, made like unto him, and by his own incarnation in human flesh through the assent of the Virgin, he became one of us, and he by his love and Parousial grace is divinizing the human race, drawing us eternally into his own utterly intimate indivisible union with the Father.

Through Christ we shall not merely be "as gods" like we are now (as Satan falsely promised, as we already were when he lied to us) but become one in consummated union and being with God.

John Goes said...

Christianity offers everyone who wants it the chance to be an adopted son of the Creator, our Father; to become an embodied god, to create, to explore, to live, with family and friends, for eternity. In short, all of your wildest dreams may come true.

Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks for these! - a very interesting set of responses. Moves things on further, but I don't think gets us where we want to be.

Looking across them, I think we can see how difficult it is both to be brief, and also to use langue and concepts that would have meaning to a person who is not alreay a Christian. For example, non-Christians don't know what 'salvation' is, so a definition that depends on that knowledge would not work for this purpose.

But, on the other hand, if too many words/ sentences are used - then people will lose the thread of the statement.

Furthermore, I think we would need to state Christianity in positive terms, in terms of what it *adds* to life; esepcially given that tmodern people do not understand sin, damnation and other such negatives.

So, double-negative offers are less effective - eg Christianty saves us from something bad.

What is needed IMO is a clear, concise and comprehensible positive statement of what Christianity gives us, uniquely.

So, a work in progress...

Anonymous said...

Christianity gives hope when life is hard. Christianity gives humility when life is good. Christianity teaches us that we aren't alone, that God, Christ, the Holy Spirit is always with us. That we are neither the largest nor smallest thing in the universe. That things that are unseen can be seen by God so what we do really matters. Only through Christ can we be free.
-yvette s.

Bruce B. said...

When I saw your title/question on a blog aggregator my immediate response was "resurrection"

fitzhamilton said...

A question - isn't the idea of "selling" in this context faulty?

Orthodox Christianity can't be separated from the historical (anthropological and ontological) fact of the Incarnation, and the Incarnation explicates - as much as is humanly possible for a paradox like this be understood - the Trinity.

Speaking for myself, it was only after taking the idea of the incarnation seriously that my faith and prayer life began to really deepen. The idea of God is not real. Philosophical proofs or theological explanations never gave anyone faith. This is why scholasticism - nominalism - ended up in endless reformation, blind enlightenment, and collapse of faith: trying to intellectualize the ineffable is idiotic. Ritual and aesthetic experience (art, poetry, story) leads more directly to - inspire more - prayer than philosophy does.

If Christ is God, the mystery itself must be inescapable. To me it now is. But explaining it with words - let alone "selling" or convincing anyone - is not really possible. You have to want to know in order to know.

I think "knowledge of God" is agnostic (experiential) not gnostic (intellectual) : of the heart before the mind, the will (desire) before the intellect.

You can say by way of preface something like : Christ God. God is love. Love created you in his own image. Do you want proof of this?

Pray. It will prove to you that Christ, love, is real. God's reality can't be explained, only experienced.

Christ himself spoke to the people in parables, and then explained the mystery to his disciples for hours, even days. But they did not believe because of what he said, but because they encountered him. His mystery is ultimately infinite, all signs pointing toward him are just invitations, not the encounter itself..

Jesus is God, and the implications of this are endless, and endlessly mysterious. I tell people if they want proof of this, all they have to do is sincerely ask God for it. They'll encounter him.

Bruce Charlton said...

@fitz - Fair points, call it evangelism if you want. But in modern life, as a Christian, one sometimes gets asked (perhaps by a child, perhaps at work) a very general question like 'What is Chrstianity?' or 'What do you believe?' - at such times, if the answer is a good one - a seed may be planted. This is why the 'selling' idea can be a valuable discipline.

However, the window of opportunity is brief, and if you say the wrong kind of thing then it can set people off down a long diversion at right angles; or lese they get bored and tune-out (thinking that your answer is too vague or evasive).

For example - In my opinion, saying anything about The Trinity as a first response is a disasterously missed opportunity. Yet, this is often the very first statement on web pages by churches in the 'what we believe' section.

In general, it is of course best to be able to infer what the asking person needs - for example, they may be crushed by a sense of sin and need forgiveness; yet that is actually very rare nowadays (unfortunately!) so to focus on sin often entails first trying to convince somebody that they are a sinner. Which is a bad start.

I don't have a sufficiently terse and lucid sentence, or couple of sentences, that would serve - but I feel that the essence of what I would want to communicate is about what happens after death, for those who choose to follow Jesus: resurrection into Heaven, there to become full Sons and Daughters of God - and to live in loving families engaged in the divine work of co-creation.

The second part of that sentence is - I realise - rather specifcially Mormon, and therefore perhaps over-explicit for general Christian usage; but nowadays something is needed to explain what we *do* in Heaven, because the usual understanding of mainstream modern people, makes Heaven sound very dull, indeed unenjoyable.

We need (as happens often through the Fourth Gospel, in relation to 'water', 'meat', 'bread' etc) to comunicate the idea that Heaven is not just a (negative) matter of not-dying, and leaving-behind sin and evil; but that Sons and Daughters of God means a qualitative enhancement and transformation of the all the good 'things' of mortal life.

Also, I feel that we need to get past the idea of 'believing in Jesus' having an 'or else' threat behind it. I prefer 'following' Jesus (after death), in a very literal sense - which is only possible to those who love and trust Him. And that this is a gift which we can accept or not - it is a chance of enhancement.

One problem is the misunderstanding (IMO) that Hell is the natural default - whereas the natural default is Sheol: to become witless ghosts who lack self-awareness (do not know who they are). Hell, by contrast, is chosen.

However... having said that , it does seem that in these End Times, Hell has almost become the default, at least in The West; because so many people have chosen to adopt, embrace, defend the value-inversions of the Global Establishment.

Here and now - in 2020 - we are closer to the straight choice between Heaven and Hell than at any point in world history, so far. This is why evangelism has become so difficult - there is very little shared basis of assumptions from-which a Christian can argue.

David Earle said...

God coming to rescue his people. Not coming to make bad people good, but to make dead people live (or blind people see). God creating a stairway FROM Heaven, so to speak.

These things are what stands out to me when it comes to Christianity.

Epimetheus said...

To go to sleep like a child, excited for the warm infinity of tomorrow.

Justin said...

Christianity represents the only possible way this experience can be equitable or meaningful.

Hamish said...

Gods love is real and we should love him in return and his creation by following in the foot steps of Jesus

The Continental Op said...

I have noticed that what motivates people differs from person to person. Is it any surprise, then, that the answers here vary as well, because God has multiple ways to reach into a man's heart?

Yes, any of these things can get a man's attention--they're a true part of the message--but typically there's that "one thing" that really sticks.

Looking for a "one size fits all" answer here is, I believe, simplistic.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CO - My conclusion is rather different; it is that it is actually very difficult to answer this question in the terms set forth. Yet those who ask expect that they are asking a reasonable question.

I have often said that it is almost impossible to convert someone from atheist to Christianity without an intermediate stage, or stages. Most obviously theism - believing in a personal god (this was an intermediate for CS Lewis, and also for me); although even theism may be too much, too fast.

Perhaps a first step could be to start with creation - meaning and purpose in reality; something as basic as that?

The problem is that the intermediate step does not answer to our heart's desire, and so can seem futile.

Certainly we can see why conversions are rare nowadays, and why the End Times - once established, are difficult to reverse.

jas said...

Jesus loves you

Ilo said...

God comes to man, rather than man going to God (all other religions).

Charlie said...

To me one selling point, not the primary one but a key one nonetheless that might appeal to potential believers, is the moral bankruptcy of the alternatives.

Atheism leads to a sense of meaningless, ennui, moral relativism, and depression.

Atheism also often leads to the worship of false Gods like the State, the Climate, the "Science," etc.

Some atheists insist that a strong moral code does not require a belief in God. And that might even be true for some of them individually. But at a societal level it is demonstrably not true. As the practice of organized religion has declined in America over the past 65 years, we've seen we have seen a corresponding decline in moral behavior and the resulting negative effects of that on society. The integrity of our institutions has declined, family values have declined, drug use and suicides have increased, etc.

This is the "non-negative" pitch, which is not sufficient. I get that what we need is a simple, positive pitch. But still, there is something to the idea that a world where people DON'T believe in God is a colder, meaner, less hopeful, worse world. Belief in God helps a society lean against negative forces.

One positive pitch might be: In many ways. Forgiveness. Everlasting life. But also He inspires us through his example and through his teaching and through his love to want to repent, to want to sin less, to want to be better. And a society of believers just ends up being a more moral society.

Charlie said...

*One positive pitch might be "Jesus takes away the sins of the world."