A Deeper Look- Hinduism
Someone once said that everything is within walking distance if you have the time. Maybe the point it that the world has gotten so much smaller in the last hundred years. With technology and transportation today the world is right next door. Quite literally, they may be our neighbors.
If you are a Christian you may be wondering why you need to know why looking at other faiths matters? As Christians, God doesn’t call us to simply want us to be grateful that we have been saved by grace and take rest in that, rather he wants us to share the faith we have. However when talking to people of other faiths, it is especially important to know what they believe, their experiences and their hopes.
I hope to look at many religions and compare them to Christianity. In regards to truth, there is no doubt some element of truth in various religions, however every religion is not equal and none agree on the core issues.
HINDUISM: More than 7 million people mostly are adherents to Hinduism. Approximately 1 million live in the United States. Hinduism originated nearly 2000 years before Christ. Hindu’s value unity of life. They believe in one essence or soul that encompasses the entire universe that included animals, people, nature, god and so on. This soul must endure a cycle of life, death and rebirth that is called “Samsara” better perhaps known as reincarnation. The goal is to work through “Karma” good and bad deeds. The goal is to have more good than bad.
DIETY: Hinduism is more of a Western term that is polytheistic. They have hundreds of millions of Gods! Hindus are united by a caste system that determines a persons social class for their lifetime. Thier most significant gods are first Brahma, who is their creator. Vishnu, who preserves the creation and Shiva who is the Destoryer.
SCRIPTURE: Texts that Hindus hold sacred are the “Vedas”, their earliest writings. These where a collection of hymns and prayers kept orally. Additionally, there is the “Upanishads” a collection of secret teachings. This contains the concept of Brahman or the Ultimate One. Finally, there is the “Bagavad Gita”, which is an epic poem.
SALVATION: If a person has enough good karma at the end of their life, they may move on to higher caste system or if they have more bad karma they may reincarnated to a lower cast or even as an animal. This salvation can be earned in one of three ways. First, works of ritual, fasting and sacrifice, Two, Knowledge gained by meditation and discipline of the sacred truths. Three, Devotion to one of the Hindu deities daily.
COMMON GROUND: They believe that Jesus truly existed. They seek salvation in the afterlife. They believe in one supreme god (just not the same one).
TOLERANCE: Hindus tolerate every most religion due to the concept of Brahman.
DIFFERENCES: To begin with the number of God’s is an obvious difference. They claim approximately 330 million and Christians believe in one God. Many Hindu’s live good lives, but it is to maintain or earn good Karma. Christians do so also however that is due to ignorance about their own faith. Christians need to realize that we do not need earn God’s love, so good works are a result of salvation. Hindu’s also see their god and the natural world as one in the same, while Christianity distinctly separates the Creator and the created as separate.
CONSIDERATIONS: All Hindu’s don’t believe the same things, so listen carefully to what it is they believe. Clarify terms, or just stay away from terms like “born again, saved”, etc. instead explain what those terms mean. Make sure that you see your Hindu friend as just that, a friend and not a project.
CONVERSATION STARTERS: (1) Do all paths lead to God? What do you think about the life and person of Jesus Christ? (3) If Karma works off debts for Past life, what were you working off in your first life?
CHALLNEGES: (1) Trying to get Hindu’s to see the uniqueness of Christ as the ONLY way to God will likely be the ultimate challenge. (2) Remember, your goal is NEVER to win an argument, but to win a friend. Sometimes, the biggest obstacle to sharing our faith, is not intolerance, not a lack of knowledge, a lack or skill, but it is the person in the mirror. Never backdown from the truth, but you are always commanded to share the truth in love.