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I remember once saw a Youtube video of some Christian priest mentioned about a specific difference between Christianity and other religions, namely in all other religions the messengers or founders had won battle with Satan, but only Jesus Christ as God transformed human flesh died and crucified for Satan (or by Satan, I cannot clearly recall), thus Satan would always fight back.

I'm not entirely clear about the implication of such narrated difference. Is there any well known conclusion or school of thought of Christianity discussed this topic in depth?

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  • I don't know what you saw, but a somewhat similar idea has been expressed like this: in every other religion, God is the ruler of the world. The problem with that is that all the bad things in the world must be God's fault. In Christianity, Satan is the (temporary) ruler of the world, and God is leading us in a kind of rebellion. In the words of CS Lewis: "Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage."
    – workerjoe
    Jan 11 at 15:32
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    Welcome to Christianity Stack Exchange. We are somewhat different to other question and answer sites. Please take our Tour to see what we look for, and what to avoid: christianity.stackexchange.com/tour
    – Lesley
    Jan 11 at 17:37
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    Okay, I'm going to upvote this just because the downvoting seems unnecessarily harsh.
    – Matthew
    Jan 11 at 17:57
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    There's something worthwhile in this question, but I think it needs a bit more focus and the "someone once said" opener is a bit too broad in scope. Jan 12 at 1:39
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    @KorvinStarmast gracia for your suggestion, however, by now I saw most answers have already been correctly focused on the specific difference of Christianity which is resurrection after crucifixion on the issue of satan. So imo the scope is quite clear and likely not too broad. Of course scholastically speaking any scope could be expanded indefinitely further to become too broad. There's some rightful complaint about unsourceness which I've tried my best to search the internet with no avail.
    – imbalance
    Jan 12 at 6:31

4 Answers 4

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Rather than thinking the specific difference is that “in all other religions the messenger or founders had won the battle with Satan” but because Jesus Christ died “Satan would always fight back”, it would be more accurate to say that it is by the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ that Satan has been defeated. No human in history has overcome death except for Jesus Christ. That is what makes Christianity unique. Here is an extract from an article that explains why no other religious messenger or founder could ever defeat Satan:

After Jesus was crucified, the disciples ran and hid. But when they saw the risen Lord, they knew that all Jesus had said and done proved that He was indeed God in flesh. No other religious leader has died in full view of trained executioners, had a guarded tomb, and then rose three days later to appear to many people. The resurrection is proof of who Jesus is and that He did accomplish what He set out to do: provide the only means of redemption for mankind. Buddha did not rise from the dead. Muhammad did not rise from the dead. Confucius did not rise from the dead. Krishna did not rise from the dead. Only Jesus has physically risen from the dead, walked on water, claimed to be God, and raised others from the dead. He has conquered death. Only in Christianity do we have the person of Christ who claimed to be God, performed many miracles to prove His claim of divinity, died and rose from the dead, and claimed that He alone is “the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6) and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.

At the resurrection of Jesus Christ Satan was defeated. Yes, he still rages like a lion, seeking to devour humanity and drag people into hell with him, but he is (as Anne put it) a dead demon walking.

The same article also shows another important difference between Christianity and other religions, namely, that all other religions exhort man to reach up to God and grasp hold of Him through their own efforts whereas Christianity is the only religion where God reaches down to man.

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  • Thanks for your answer with dedicated reference. The Bible says that Jesus “was put to death in the flesh but made alive [resurrected] in the spirit.”​—1 Peter 3:​18; Acts 13:34; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 2 Corinthians 5:​16. Once resurrected in a non-flesh spiritual form, then does it seem not that different from all other religions since religion is mainly about spiritual realm with various worldly interpretations after re-reading?
    – imbalance
    Jan 11 at 22:02
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    Lesley can answer for herself but mainstream Christianity has always maintained that it was the resurrected, glorified body of Christ that some 500 believers saw between his resurrection and visible ascension, till clouds hid him from sight. That text in 1 Peter says he was made alive BY the Spirit. This has been thrashed out on Hermeneutics. The translation you quoted said 'in' and did not capitalize 'spirit'.
    – Anne
    Jan 12 at 9:19
  • Most Christians believe Jesus "was put to death in the flesh but made alive BY the Spirit" meaning the Holy Spirit. Very few Christians claim Jesus' physical body disappeared and what came out of the tomb was a spirit. Jesus himself said "I am no ghost". You should ask a new question about this or search on CSE and on Biblical Hermeneutics. It is the bodily resurrection of Jesus that is unique to Christianity, but which detractors reject. Two interesting answers here: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/27741/…
    – Lesley
    Jan 12 at 11:09
  • @Lesley Grateful again for your pertinent link and hermeneutic clarification! IMO the most distinct thesis of Christianity may lie upon the choice of a single word 'in' vs 'by' and some capital letter in Peter 1 3:18 seems to only add skeptical doubts or disbelief for me here. Of course I don't doubt there're several other places literally depicting it's Jesus's body resurrected on the third day such as from the book of Luke, but we also see in 2 Corinthians So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer which imo
    – imbalance
    Jan 12 at 21:59
  • assuming these books are consistent, it mainly 'proves' worldly bodies are both in and ultimately caused by the Holy Spirit, which is nothing but the perennial thesis of idealism against atomic materialism that any body even a crucified dead body could be recombined in and by the Spirit (not arbitrary lower level spirits) alone. Thus we only need this saving faith of this special spirit by this revealed way of Christ. But there're other ways to 'prove' idealism in other religions or even sciences, ie, Buddha's constant half-closed eyes to always remind disciples not to attend to bodily forms.
    – imbalance
    Jan 12 at 22:34
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Without a reference or a link to what you think that Christian priest said, there is no way an answer can be given as to "why Satan always fights back". I have never heard of any school of thought on this, though if someone has, I hope they answer.

However, what I can contribute by way of an answer as to "a specific difference between Christianity and other religions" is what scholar C.S. Lewis said on that matter. His answer was extremely succinct, yet profound. Here is what I copied many years ago from one of many web-sites, or books, re. this Christian:

There was once a university debate about what made Christianity unique among all the world's religions. Passing by, hearing the debate, Lewis enquired what it was all about. Upon hearing it was to know what made the Christian God unique, he said, "Oh, that's easy. It's the grace of God."

Now, if you form a new question on the significance of the grace of God, you may be able to pursue this line of answer.

As to the matter of Satan, Christianity shows that he's a dead demon walking, knowing he has a limited time from being cast out of heaven with his demons, till they are hurled into everlasting torment in the lake of sulphuric fire. The disparity in the portrayal of exorcisms between the Old and New Testaments. Why is there such an imbalance? shows my more detailed answer to that.

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  • Gracia for your perspective from my unreferenced question to reveal the key concept of 'grace' or simply the good old 'goodness' (God is good/great). I tried hard to find the YT video reference but lost track without luck unfortunately. Lewis's argument from reason as rational causes was heavily criticized by Anscombe and he accepted her critiques. Personally I feel grace or goodness can still be reduced to something deeper as they're very subjective judgmental concepts.
    – imbalance
    Jan 11 at 23:16
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    Just to add that God's grace is far more than his 'goodness' or 'greatness'. People forever try to bring God's qualities down to their level of understanding. The problem is that God's grace is so awesome, we cannot grasp the magnitude of it. It is God coming down (as it were) to move people into places of well-being, like Noah and his family, and all the individuals who he brings to spiritual newness of life (John ch. 3). The Bible shows the objective of God's provisions of unmerited grace, to all sorts of people - it is for his glory, which is the radiation of his character.
    – Anne
    Jan 12 at 9:27
  • Maybe we can never grasp God's awesome grace but I'm sure the authentic feeling of any sentient being has a say in it as you mentioned the so-called well-being of Noah's place was definitely felt and defined by Noah, and I'm certainly grateful for your response. Suppose 1000 people are simultaneously bestowed God's coming down provisions of grace via his character radiation, then these 1000 radiated lights must be his 1000 sons as Jesus Christs since the scripture famously asserted the Way as the Saving Faith can be attained only through Jesus Christ. But the scripture also asserted that
    – imbalance
    Jan 13 at 0:27
  • Jesus Christ is God's only son, so how to resolve this paradox of arbitrarily contemplated 1000 incarnated sons of God simultaneously? Recall that the scripture somewhere mentioned saving faith is all about the person Jesus Christ, not about any of his particular character or words or some other processes. @Ken Graham mentioned in his answer it's the 'good will' even of pagans effective for exorcism, so God's grace may be reduced to the 'good will' manifested by 'born-again' humans defeating Satan, though here 'born-again' is personified not literal, with alternative ways to resurrection.
    – imbalance
    Jan 13 at 1:04
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    @imbalance As you are new to this site, I would encourage you to look at this link, christianity.stackexchange.com/tour to see why prolonged comments must not develop. A question is not to be used by the OP (or answerers) as a launching pad for explaining their views. That is why I will make no further comment. Once you are familiar with why this site is different to most others, you should be able to stick to one point (question) at a time, then post fresh questions if you want to expand the issues raised.
    – Anne
    Jan 13 at 10:47
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Christianity was not founded by one man like other religions, Christianity is founded upon a nation that God chose by calling one man who happened to be their ancestor. It's a religion that has had over one thousand witnesses each living in different eras.

Miracles that have happened in the Bible such as walking on water and people surviving a burning furnace cannot be found in those other religions.

And the other difference is that no one in the other religions ever rose from the dead but Jesus Christ did

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    I heartily agree with your last paragraph, but the other 2 could also be said of Islam; claimed to be founded on the patriarch Abram, the nation arising from his son Ishmael; millions of global followers; claims to miracles as in their Qur'an and other texts they revere. But yes - Christ's resurrection from the dead is unique to Christianity.
    – Anne
    Jan 11 at 14:34
  • @Anne, Islam is one of the Abrahamic relgions and we share a lot except confession of the sonship of Jesus as the Son of God, so as long as they profess Abraham then they are half way there because the Torah is also important, I meant the world relgions such as Taoism and Budhaism. Those are completely lost unlike Islam Jan 11 at 17:13
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    Just to add that God saves individuals, not religions or denominations. Being 'half-way there' still means being outside of the Kingdom of God. One is either 'completely lost' or 'completely saved' by God's grace. But for as long as people trust their religious systems instead of trusting solely in what Jesus has done, they remain lost. Hence the need to keep pointing people to who Jesus really is, and what he has really done!
    – Anne
    Jan 12 at 9:04
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A specific difference between Christianity and other religions?

It is true that only in Christianity, did it’s founder freely became man, and was crucified, died and rose from the dead! No other religion can claim anything even remotely.

Nevertheless, other non-christian religions can claim a certain amount of victory over Satan, but nowhere near that of the Christian religion.

Only the Christian Faith believes that their God destroyed the effects of sins that affected mankind which were brought about under the guise of Satan in the Garden of Eden. Christ restored mankind to a life of grace which no other religion or religious founder there of can claim.

The closest reasonable answer to your question is a multifaceted response of grace from God.

Not all Pagans are hell-deserving. There were naturally good pagans who lived before the Incarnation and there are equally those who through no fault of their own never heard the Christian message, or who met it only in an incomplete and distorted form. The Holy Spirit can at times work through the good will of non-believers.

To give an loose example of where I am going is to be found in the sibyls of old, who were female prophets or oracles in Ancient Greece and foretold the birth of Christ.

Long before the Savior was born of the Virgin, and up to around the time of His first Advent, there are said to have lived wise women who inhabited shrines, temples, and caves, and who, being blessed "by the gods" with the gift of prophecy, read the signs of nature in order to foretell the future. We call these seers "Sibyls," after the Greek word for prophetess ("sibulla").

Our knowledge of the origins of these women is obscured by the mists of myth and time, the first written record of them coming from Heraclitus, who wrote of one -- perhaps the only one at the time -- in a fragment dating to the 6th century before Christ. It reads:

The Sibyl, with frenzied mouth uttering things not to be laughed at, unadorned and unperfumed, yet reaches to a thousand years with her voice by aid of the god.

The number of these Sibyls is reckoned differently throughout the ages, with Heraclitus and Plato mentioning one, the Greeks mentioning nine, the Romans and early Christians mentioning ten, and medieval Christians enumerating up to twelve. Whatever their number, the Sibyls most often came to be referred to by the places they inhabited. The Christian apologist, Lactantius (b. ca. A.D. 250) listing ten Sibyls, describes them thus in Book I, Chapter VI of his "Divine Institutes". - The Sibyls

Sybil is a woman who prophesied, while in a state of frenzy, under the supposed inspiration of a deity. In the Jewish sense of persons who felt themselves spiritually impelled to speak to the people in the name of God, prophets were unknown to the ancient Greeks and Romans, among whom prophecy was limited to the deliverances of the sibyls (σίβυλλαι). The ancient sources differ as to the number and nativity of these sibyls. Plato speaks of only one sibyl, while Aristotle and Aristophanes mention several, and Varro (in Lactantius, "Divinarum Institutionum," i. 6) enumerates ten, including a number from the East.

The most interesting list from the Jewish point of view, however, is that of Pausanias, who enumerates the following four sibyls (x. 12): the Libyan sibyl; Herophile, the sibyl of Marpessus or Erythræ (said to have prophesied both in Asia Minor and at Delphi, and therefore frequently mentioned under various other names); Demo of Cumæ, the chief sibyl of Roman history; and the Hebrew sibyl, Sabbe of Palestine (known also as the Babylonian or Egyptian sibyl). A late source, the "Chronicon Paschale," which was composed in the sixth century of the common era, enumerates twelve sibyls (ed. Bonn, 108, p. 201), and expressly terms one of them the "Hebrew" sibyl, the same designation being used by Suidas and other late authors. - Sibyls: The Voice of God or Evil Spirits

It seems interesting that Pagans prophecies can foretell the Incarnation. If this be the case, that it stands to reasons that exorcisms preformed by non-Christians can be added by the Holy Spirit.

Invisible help by God can be given by those in need. The tentacles of God’s mercy extends even to the Pagans, especially those of good will.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has the following to say about exorcisms in ethnic religions:

In ethnic religions

The use of protective means against the real, or supposed, molestations of evil spirits naturally follows from the belief in their existence, and is, and has been always, a feature of ethnic religions, savage and civilized. In this connection only two of the religions of antiquity, the Egyptian and Babylonian, call for notice; but it is no easy task, even in the case of these two, to isolate what bears strictly on our subject, from the mass of mere magic in which it is embedded. The Egyptians ascribed certain diseases and various other evils to demons, and believed in the efficacy of magical charms and incantations for banishing or dispelling them. The dead more particularly needed to be well fortified with magic in order to be able to accomplish in safely their perilous journey to the underworld (see Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1899). But of exorcism, in the strict sense, there is hardly any trace in the Egyptian records.

In the famous case where a demon was expelled from the daughter of the Prince of Bekhten, human ministry was unavailing, and the god Khonsu himself had to be sent the whole way from Thebes for the purpose. The demon gracefully retired when confronted with the god, and was allowed by the latter to be treated at a grand banquet before departing "to his own place" (op. cit. p. 206 sq.).

Babylonian magic was largely bound up with medicine, certain diseases being attributed to some kind of demoniacal possession, and exorcism being considered easiest, if not the only, way of curing them (Sayce, Hibbert Lect. 1887, 310). For this purpose certain formulæ of adjuration were employed, in which some god or goddess, or some group of deities, was invoked to conjure away the evil one and repair the mischief he had caused. The following example (from Sayce, op. cit., 441 seq.) may be quoted: "The (possessing) demon which seizes a man, the demon (ekimmu) which seizes a man; The (seizing) demon which works mischief, the evil demon, Conjure, O spirit of heaven; conjure, O spirit of earth." For further examples see King, Babylonian Magic and Sorcery (London, 1896).

Without doubt some of these pagan exorcisms must have been successful or the subject matter would have faded into oblivion. Surely the Holy Spirit could have had a part in these successful liberations.

Amongst the Jews there is no instance in the Old Testament of demons being expelled by men.

Among the Jews

There is no instance in the Old Testament of demons being expelled by men. In Tobias 8:3, is the angel who "took the devil and bound him in the desert of upper Egypt"; and the instruction previously given to young Tobias (6:18-19), to roast the fish's heart in the bridal chamber, would seem to have been merely part of the angel's plan for concealing his own identity. But in extra-canonical Jewish literature there are incantations for exorcising demons, examples of which may be seen in Talmud (Schabbath, xiv, 3; Aboda Zara, xii, 2; Sanhedrin, x, 1). These were sometimes inscribed on the interior surface of earthen bowls, a collection of which (estimated to be from the seventh century A.D) is preserved in the Royal Museum in Berlin; and inscriptions from the collection have been published, translated by Wohlstein in the "Zeitschrift für Assyriologie" (December, 1893; April, 1894).

The chief characteristics of these Jewish exorcisms is their naming of names believed to be efficacious, i.e., names of good angels, which are used either alone or in combination with El (=God); indeed reliance on mere names had long before become a superstition with the Jews, and it was considered most important that the appropriate names, which varied for different times and occasions, should be used. It was this superstitious belief, no doubt, that prompted the sons of Sceva, who had witnessed St. Paul's successful exorcisms in the name of Jesus, to try on their own account the formula, "I conjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth", with results disastrous to their credit (Acts 19:13). It was a popular Jewish belief, accepted even by a learned cosmopolitan like Josephus, that Solomon had received the power of expelling demons, and that he had composed and transmitted certain formulæ that were efficacious for that purpose. The Jewish historian records how a certain Eleazar, in the presence of the Emperor Vespasian and his officers, succeeded, by means of a magical ring applied to the nose of a possessed person, in drawing out the demon through the nostrils — the virtue of the ring being due to the fact that it enclosed a certain rare root indicated in the formulaæ of Solomon, and which it was exceedingly difficult to obtain (Ant. Jud, VIII, ii, 5; cf. Bell. Jud. VII, vi, 3).

But superstition and magic apart, it is implied in Christ's answers to the Pharisees, who accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, that some Jews in His time successfully exorcised demons in God's name: "and if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out?" (Matthew 12:27). It does not seem reasonable to understand this reply as mere irony, or as a mere argumentum ad hominem implying no admission of the fact; all the more so, as elsewhere (Mark 9:37-38) we have an account of a person who was not a disciple casting out demons in Christ's name, and whose action Christ refused to reprehend or forbid.

Josephus reports exorcisms performed by administering poisonous root (BA'ARAS) extracts and others by making sacrifices.

The Christian scholar Origen credits Jews with a special talent for exorcising demons (Against Celsus, book 4).

The first allusion to exorcism appears in the Bible, in the youth narratives of David (l Samuel). But while the biblical David seemed to be able to effect a temporary expulsion of Saul’s evil spirit using music, the book of Tobit contains the first explicit description of an (informal) exorcism. Josephus recounts incidents of possession and exorcism in his Antiquities of the Jews (2, 5, 8, 45-48). In his description, exorcism involved burning herbs and immersing the possessed person in water. The New Testament also reports Jesus to have performed numerous exorcisms of demonic spirits in first-century Palestine (Matthew 12; Mark 5, 6, 13; Luke 8).

Although true Christian exorcisms are without a doubt more powerful than those of other religions and there can be only three possibilities as I see it:

  • Some are successful and thus God has a hand in it somewhere.
  • Non believers are being fooled! Demons may not be able to drive out other demons, but that doesn't mean that *they can't pretend to do so. The Devil is a liar.
  • None are successful, which seems to be doubtful.

In the book Remembrances of a Journey in Tartary, Tibet, and China (1844-1846), Fr. Évariste Régis Huc, C.M. recounts witnessing several Buddhist exorcisms. Fr. Huc witnessed these exorcisms as a bystander and pointed out the only reason he could think of as to why these exorcisms were successful was because of the good will of some of the holier lamas. As the old phrase goes: God helps those who help themselves.

The book is fascinating and I would recommend it for it’s great missionary value.

Huc's works are written in a lucid, spicy, picturesque style, securing for them an unusual degree of popularity. However, his esteem for Tibetan manners and religion was not welcomed by his Church: "The late Abbé Huc pointed out the similarities between the Buddhist and Roman Catholic ceremonials with such a naïveté, that, to his surprise, he found his delightful 'Travels in Thibet' placed on the 'Index'." - Évariste Régis Huc

Christianity may have better exorcists, but Christianity does not have a monopoly on it! God can work in mysterious ways.

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  • Thanks for your information-rich response and in fact by your later part focusing on the merit of goodwill of pagans and exorcism in various religions, I'm led to believe more about the commonality of different religions instead of Christianity's crucial difference. It seems to me believing in resurrection of Jesus to defeat Satan once and for all is not the only way to get blessed, as you mentioned the 'goodwill' (even of pagans or Sibyls) is also a sure way to get blessed. Am I interpreting your thesis correctly?
    – imbalance
    Jan 11 at 22:31

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