Armed for Battle



There we were, ten blokes eating lunch, taking shelter under a simple thatched roof during torrential rain in the highlands of Vanuatu. In between the munching and the clatter of raindrops, Bill* spoke up:

“Benny, really though mate, these Ni Vans (Vanuatu people), Aussies, Arabs, whoever it is, we all believe in the same God. All religions are basically the same. People have just gotta stop arguing with one another.”

If I was going to respond, I had to act fast. I thought, “Whatever I say, it had better be simple, persuasive and memorable.”

It was for these situations I created an acronym several years ago. God is pretty clear that we need to be ready for these questions:

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” – 1 Peter 3:15

Over the past 21 years I’ve been a Christian, I’ve heard the “All religions are the same” line trotted out about once a fortnight (that’s 541 times I’ve been in this situation).

By God’s grace, the acronym came to mind in the Vanuatu jungle.

I answered:

“When I think about different religions and whether they’re all the same, I zero in on Jesus. I ask myself “Is there anything unique about him compared to other leaders of world religions, like Buddha, Moses and Muhammad. There are three things straight off the bat:

  • He claimed to be a sin bearer, a scapegoat for man (Buddha never did that)
  • He claimed to be the God man, God in the flesh (Muhammad never did that, and he would’ve gotten smashed by his followers if he did.)
  • He rose from the dead (Moses never did that)

John Dickson says a funny line in his book, “A Spectators Guide to World Religions.” To say “all religions are the same” is a bit like saying “all Asians are the same.” You may say it, but no-one from Asia will agree with you.”

The acronym I use is S-I-R.

S = sin bearer
I = incarnate, God “In the flesh”
R = resurrection

It’s simple, persuasive and memorable. It helps you to remain calm when the line gets trotted out for the 542nd time and you’re in the heat of the moment. I’ve taught this acronym to my kids, my mates and my apprentices. Another helpful resource on the same topic is the Training Paper: Things to Say When You are Asked the Question of the Moment, used to teach and guide apprentices in understanding the questions that are asked and having an idea how to answer before they’re in the deep end.

How do you prepare for questions like these?

*Real name has not been used