Given the fact that there are various religions, some of which claim to be ‘the only true religion’, the question arises whether Christianity is ‘true’. Before we can give an answer, we need to explore what we mean by ‘true religion’.
The first thing would be that the claims of a religion are true. Some basic claims of Christianity are that there is a God, that He created the universe, and that humans have become corrupted. These are not presented as legends or moral stories, but as factual truth. So if those claims are false, Christianity is not true.
But there is more. Christianity is not just a collection of historical facts that can be true or false. It is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the only Savior who can bring us back to God. The Christian faith claims to be the only way towards salvation (see e.g. John 14:6). So if faith in Jesus Christ does not save, or if there are other options to be saved, then Christianity is not true.
We also need to define what we mean by ‘Christianity’. If we take everything any Christian has ever said, we can be sure to find errors or outright lies. After all, Christians are not perfect. Therefore, we restrict ourselves to the Bible and its teachings, since these are the core of the Christians faith.
Source of information
Christian’s ultimate source of information about the world and about God is the Bible. This book (or rather, this collection of books) claims to contain the truth (John 17:17, Revelation 21:5). Therefore, it is of crucial importance to know whether the Bible is reliable and ‘true’. One possible ‘check’ is to look around and see whether the biblical account fits with your own daily experiences. Are there reasons to think this world was created indeed, instead of it having developed spontaneously? Seeing people’s behavior, do they indeed turn out to be sinful, as the Bible says? Does the biblical world view make sense?
Another possible ‘check’ is to see whether the historical details in the Bible are true. There are many of them, and we can’t find external evidence for all these facts, since there simply are not that many other sources about events that happened thousands of years ago. But let’s take the most striking example of Jesus Himself: the Bible claims that Jesus Christ was crucified and arose three days later from the dead. That sounds pretty unbelievable. And yet, there is good external evidence that the biblical account is right! This is just one example, but there are many more. The Bible indeed is a reliable and trustworthy source of information.
Truth, trust and faith
The Bible also stresses, however, that bare facts alone won’t convince us of the truth. We humans are sinful, which means among other things that we are blinded from the truth. Therefore, we need God’s Holy Spirit to guide us: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13, 1 Corinthians 2:12–13, Ephesians 1:16-18).
There are so many claims in the Bible that can’t be proved or disproved by archaeological research or other sources — take for example the promise that “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28). I personally believe this to be true. I even experienced some examples where I could see God’s provision in my personal life or in the lives of people around me. But I can’t ‘prove’ this in a scientific way.
My conviction is based on trust and faith in the God who promised this. Ultimately, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), and we know only partially (1 Corinthians 13:12). Our world view is based on a personal trusting relationship with God our Father. But this is not blind faith. It is backed up by “true and rational words” (Acts 26:25). For example, the many prophecies and promises of God in the Bible that have already come true, are good reason to believe his promises for the future, too. Read more about this here, here and here.
As to the claim that the Christian faith is the true and only way of salvation, please read Is there salvation in other religions?
Try it yourself
The best way to find out whether Christianity is ‘true’, is to try it yourself. If you are searching for the truth, read the Bible and ask God to enlighten you with his Holy Spirit. He will give you the ability to understand. As Jesus promised: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).