2. All Religions teach the same thing. When people say this, they are usually referring to a series of platitudes: Be kind to one another. Help the weak and needy. Respect the other person as a person. Tell the truth. These are indeed common to all religions because they are part of the moral law.

Jesus himself taught that universal moral law. "You know the commandments..." But he did not come to give new moral teachings. In fact, everything he taught, including the Fatherhood of God and universal love of ones brethren, can be found in the Old Testament, as well as the other great religions.

However one aspect of Jesus teaching is startlingly unique: What he revealed about himself. Some of it he did by actions: forgiving sins, calling off the fast and abrogating the Sabbath. These actions speak for themselves, but just in case anyone doubts their meaning Jesus declared: Before Abraham came to be, I AM. By revealing himself as equal to God, He earned a death on the cross.

Clearly Jesus has upped the ante. We cannot say. "Jesus is a wonderful teacher, but I do not believe He is God." If He is not God, he is the most evil (or the most deluded) man who ever lived. Those who crucified him gave him less than he deserved and the millions he deceived should join the crowds shouting, "Crucify him." There is no middle ground. As the medievals said: Aut Deus aut homo malus. (Either God or an evil man.)

In that sense--and that alone--we must say Christianity is radically different from all world religions. Its uniqueness flows from Jesus' divinity. It explains, for example, why we have a Christian Church, but no Buddhist or Mohammed Church. Why that Church has a set of teachings, a creed, will be explained in response to the fifth misleading slogan: Dogma Divides. For now it is enough to note (as the Holy Father does in "Crossing the Threshold of Hope") the remarkable similarity of all religions and at the same time the drastic division of Christianity from all the others.

For more on the struggle between watered down Christianity (dissent) and the full-bodied version (orthodoxy) see my review of Flawed Expectations.