Reconnect 14. Hinduism/Christianity – Compare and Contrast

Episode 14 –  Click Here to Listen! (Right click to save)

Listen to Reconnect on iTunes – Click here.

Finger of Brahma2
How does Hinduism compare to Christianity?  Do they have any similarities?  What about their differences?  Two bright high school seniors (that graduated a few days after this recording) from Crean Lutheran High School tackle these questions as Andy leads them through a free Contradict Movement discussion guide.

Episode links:

“What do Hindus Believe and What is OM?” Video

Hinduism/Christianity – Compare and Contrast Participant’s Guide

Hinduism/Christianity – Compare and Contrast Leader’s Guide

Hinduism Blog Posts Andy Wrote on his OC Apologist Blog

Hinduism Blog Posts at

Hinduism – Connecting Hindu Beliefs to the Gospel of Jesus Christ #2

Paul spent time in the market place, observing and interacting with the Athenians.  When he was asked to address their questions about the message he was sharing, he first began by praising their religiosity.  He acknowledged the gods they worshipped and used an idol they had built to the unknown god as a connecting point to present Jesus, “the unknown god.”  He then quoted one of their poets, not Scripture, to make another connection to the Gospel.  He started with them, where they were at in their relationship and knowledge of God, addressed their questions and concerns, and built a bridge to the Gospel.
About 500 BC, there was a big shift in Hinduism.  It was during this time that the Upanishads were written, as a collection of meditations and teachings based on the Vedic texts.  Upanishads means “sitting near.”  This gives the image of a pupil sitting near a teacher learning.  I relate the Upanishads to the Jewish Talmud.  The Talmud consists of a massive quantity of writings from Jewish priests and teachers on traditions, history, and interpretation of the Scriptures.  I also liken the Upanishads to the footnotes in many Study Bibles – an explanation of the text and a backdrop to the history and traditions of the time the texts were written.  However, the Upanishads take more liberties for personal interpretation than the Talmud and Study Bible notes.
It’s from the Upanishads that some key teachings of Hinduism arise and take root.
Brahman – Brahman is the divine essence that is at the heart of all things in the universe.  This teaching ultimately says that there is only one divine reality and that we are all united in it, in fact we consist of it.  This one divine reality also means that there are not many gods, just Brahman.  I like to think of this as the Force in Star Wars – it’s all things.  Hindus compare Brahman to salt in water.  It’s there, but you don’t see it, and it’s in all parts of the water and can’t be separated from the water (but it can be, right?).
Atman – At the same time that all things are one, we still maintain our individuality.  Brahman at the individual level in humanity is called Atman.  Atman can be compared to our soul – that which makes us unique.
Maya – This word means illusion.  The reason we don’t see and grasp the divine oneness of all things is because of Maya.  It’s just an illusion that we see ourselves as separate from one another.  This illusion is what brings rise to selfishness, pain, and suffering.
Samsara – Samsara is the cycle of death and rebirth.  When our bodies die, the divine within us does not.  Our soul is reborn into a new body.
Karma – This is the moral law of cause and effect.  Karma determines the direction of our rebirth according to Hinduism.
Moksha – This is liberation from Samsara and the yoke of Karma.  When a person reaches Moksha, they are no longer reborn but are completely united with Brahman, once and for all.  Little is said about how to obtain Moksha in the Upanishads.  It’s essentially up to the individual to discover self-realization of their oneness with Brahman, thus escaping bondage to worldly existence.
Making the Connection between Hindu Beliefs and the Gospel of Jesus Christ
At first glance, it might be difficult to envision how a connection from these Hindu concepts can be made, but it can be done.  I’d like to be adamant that these connections, in no way mean that Christianity and Hinduism have the same teachings!  That is far from the truth.  All I am doing is pointing out similarities, which can then open the door for presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For example, it’s very easy to say, “Oh, Christians hold a similar belief.  We believe the same thing concerning ___________, but we don’t believe ___________.  Instead, the Bible teaches _________.”
Hindu Teaching:
Brahman – Brahman is the divine essence that is at the heart of all things in the universe.  This teaching ultimately says that there is only one divine reality and that we are all united in it, in fact we consist of it.
Christian teaching:
Acts 17:28 In this verse, Paul is recorded as having said, “For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.”
Connecting to the Gospel of Jesus
Christians hold a similar view as Brahman in that we believe that it is from God that we live and move and have are being.  Colossians 1:17 even teaches that Jesus holds all things together.  However at the heart of each and every one of us, Christians disagree with the Hindu understanding that all is divine.  Christians however recognize that all things in the universe have come from God, but that all things do not consist of God, because God created the universe out of nothing by speaking it into existence.  This however does not mean that we believe God is far off from us.  Paraphrasing what Paul shared in Acts 17, God is still at the heart of all our lives; we have our being because of him, and he determined the times set for us and the exact places that we should live.  In this way, Christians agree with Hindus that God is at the heart of all things, but we certainly would not say that all things are God.
Jesus is very near. Everything that lives and breaths, because of him. In Christianity, God is at the heart of all things; Christ holds all things together. However, this does not mean that all things are divine as Hinduism teaches.
This still has not made a connection to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The connection to the Gospel will come in the next blog post by connecting Karma, the cosmic law of the universe in Hinduism, with the Law of God, and Moksha, the liberation from Samsara, with the pardon from the penalty of breaking God’s Law found in the Gospel of Christ.

Hinduism – Connecting Hindu Beliefs to the Gospel of Jesus #1

It is good for Christians to spend time studying other religions.  Christians are commanded by Jesus to go and make disciples.  If Christians are to expect other people to listen to the message of Christ because we hold it to be true and the only way to salvation, it would greatly show other people that we truly care about them, by first knowing what they believe.   I will attempt to start with Hindus, their beliefs and practices, and try to make connections to the Gospel of Jesus Christ from their beliefs, as Paul did with the men of Athens in Acts 17.  
Hinduism originated in India.  Its roots go back over 4000 years ago.  The Harappa culture was an ancient civilization in the Indus River Valley before 2000 BC.  They were very advanced in some ways.  Many symbols from this culture exist in Hinduism, so it is suspected that aspects of Hinduism arose from this culture.  Around 2000 BC there was an immigration of a group of people called the Aryans from modern day Russia.  It is here during this time that a melting pot effect took place.  The gods of the Harrapa culture and the Aryan culture began to blend and mix.  They had many, many gods, some of them are still worshiped today, but many of them are not.  Worship of these gods took place at fire altars where sacrifices of grains, milk, and animals were made, as well as the use of sacred chants.
The sacred chants of this time were later written down, forming what is now called the Vedas.  The Vedas are the only revealed scriptures of Hinduism, meaning that the authors did not create them, but they only heard them and passed them down to later generations.  The good questions to ask here is, who exactly revealed these and who exactly first received them?  These answers when compared to the Gospels do not have historical reliability.  The Vedas consists of four collections of writings – the oldest of which is the Rig Veda.  If you go to Barnes and Noble or Borders and check the Hindu section you will certainly find this book.
The Rig Veda contains an account of the formation of the world, claiming that the universe, as we know it, was formed from the sacrifice of the God Purusha.  This means that the universe itself was made from a divine substance, thus in Hinduism, all things are at their deepest level divine.  The universe consisting of Purusha’s body is therefore eternal.  From this sacrifice, the other gods were then formed, or evolved.  It’s all very unclear in Hinduism how all of this unfolded.  In fact, the account of Purusha’s sacrifice of himself as the formation of the universe is even questioned by the Vedas themselves, because the Rig also recognizes that no one was there to witness and confirm its genesis.
Still none of this initial information about Hinduism has touched on the core teachings of the religion, simply its formation and its explanation of the universe’s existence, but connections to Jesus can still be made in conversation with a Hindu from these teachings alone.  It can be noted that Christians also believe in the special nature of the universe, that Genesis teaches that all things was created by God and that their original state was “very good.”  However, it was not formed from God’s divine nature.  Instead, it was created by God out of nothing through his spoken Word.  Although, Christians don’t believe that God sacrificed himself in the formation of the world, we do believe that there was a sacrifice made before the creation of the world.  Revelation 13:8 refers to Jesus as “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”  Instead of saying that God sacrificed himself to create the world, Christianity teaches that God in the person of Jesus Christ sacrificed himself to save the world before the world was even created.  This of course is possible because God is outside of linear history, unrestrained by the fourth dimension, time.
Christians certainly agree with Hindus that the divine was involved in the creation of the universe and that a sacrifice on the part of God was made from the beginning.  Christians however believe that this God has revealed Himself clearly through his Word delivered through the prophets and apostles of the Bible, and through the person of Jesus Christ, so that there isn’t any doubt about who God is, who we are, and what God has done for us.
Rig Veda - The universe was created from the cosmic sacrifice of Purusha.
Rig Veda – The universe was created from the cosmic sacrifice of Purusha.
Christianity – Before the foundations of the world, Christ was slain.