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 andywrasman.com

Charles Colson – Against the Night #1 – The Ideas that Brought the New Dark Ages

I started reading the late Charles Colson‘s book Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages.  This book was written in 1989, and I’m sure Colson would have far more to say if it were written today.  He writes about the setting sunset and our entrance into the “new dark ages.”  What makes our times dark?  It’s moral decay!  We’ve lost the fundamental truths upon which absolute morality is established.  The age of relativism is bringing down Western society as we know it.

In the first chapter of my soon to be published book, Contradict – They Can’t All Be True, I address this same problem, but my focus is on religious pluralism more so than moral relativism, but the two go hand in hand.  I trace the origin of this “new dark age” in the West from its religious origins of Hinduism’s influence on Western culture from the transcendentalist movement that began in 19th century through authors such as Whitman, Emerson, and Thoreau. Colson begins earlier in 1610 with the French philosopher Rene Descartes.  Descartes came to the conclusion that the one thing he knew was certain was the fact that he doubted.  He could not doubt that he doubted, which led to his classic statement, “I think, therefore I am.”

Colson sees this teaching as the root of our current age of moral decline and loss of truth:

Descartes’s now-famous postulate led to a whole new premise for philosophic thought: man, rather than God, became the fixed point around which everything else revolved; human reason became the foundation upon which a structure of knowledge could be built; and doubt became the highest intellectual virtue. … Men and women could not order their lives according to what they could see for themselves through reason, and the fetters of faith and tradition fell away.  … For centuries people had established their moral standards according to the discerned will of God or by appealing to Aristotelian concepts of virtue.  Now Enlightened thinkers sought to root morality not within a transcendent authority or classical conceptions of virtue, but within the mind and heart of man.  Moral judgments would be measured by what men and women could know or feel for themselves.

René Descartes
René Descartes – Is this the man we can blame for our current state of moral decay and loss of the belief absolute truth within our culture?

I find it interesting that Colson traces the problem back to a philosophy that ultimately strips God from the picture and makes Man the end all, be all of determining reality, and I traced the problem back to a religion that says everything is divine and thus each of us is God!  The two go hand in hand.  One reached the mind through philosophy and the other spoke to the heart through an Eastern religion that is experiential.  The one, two punch combo that has knocked us down.  Are we going to get up?  Are you we going to fight back?  We must reclaim absolute truth, not for ourselves, but for all of mankind who needs a saving relationship with God.

2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises.  He is patient!  He desires that no one perishes, but that everyone comes to eternal life through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.”

Daoism – What is it, who believes it, who practices it, and how does it compare to Christianity?

My goal is to create group discussion guides for each religious symbol within the Contradict logo.  So far, I have one made for Hinduism and one made for Daoism.  I create a leader’s guide that gives suggested answers and Bible verses to be read for each question.  My goal however is to have participant’s be able to provide great answers on their own because all the questions are compare and contrast questions between Daoism and Christianity.  All the questions are very open ended and could go anywhere.  I hope that after such a small group discussion all the participants will be able to recognize Daoism’s influence in Western culture and to be able to share the Gospel and the truth of God’s Word in connection to themes and practices of Daoism whenever they arise in day to day life.

Here are the links to the Daoism guides:

Leader’s Guide

Participant’s Guide

I’d love to hear feedback on these guides, especially if you use them to guide a small group discussion.

To close here is a Daoism video that can be used to introduce the discussion:

What is Wicca?

A blog called CA Psychics wrote about Wicca.  The opening line of their blog says, “In 1990, the American Religious Survey found 8,000 people who identified themselves as Wiccans. In 2001, that number was 134,000, an incredible growth!” http://blog.californiapsychics.com/blog/2011/01/the-growth-of-wicca.html/

I first met a Wiccan when I was in high school.  I forget how it came about, but I met him sitting around a campfire.  I knew nothing of the religion, besides what was mentioned about Wicca in the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The guy referred to himself as a warlock and said that he did practice magic.  He also was a palm-reader.  He explained to me that he believed everything in the world was connected through a divine energy, and that it was the harnessing and directing of this energy that was the practice of magic.  I asked him if it was like the Force in Star Wars.  He said that was a good description.  So I asked him if I and the fire were connected if I could magically extinguish it, or if I wanted another drink, I could just open the cooler and have one float to me like Luke Skywalker.  He laughed and told me no.

At the Christian university I went to, I met two Wiccans living on campus.  I had some very interesting conversations with them.  Maybe they knew more about Wicca than the guy I spoke with in high school, or maybe I just knew more because I had studied it a little bit and knew better questions to ask.  The one shared that she did practice magic, and that the black magic comes back on you three-fold, so she doesn’t practice that anymore.  She only does white magic, and she claims it works.

Basically, Wicca seems to be a lot like Hinduism.  They believe in reincarnation.  There is a divine essence in all things.  They believe in a moral law of cause and effect that is similar to Karma.  Rituals can be practiced as the individual practitioner desires and sees most beneficial.

And I do believe there are connections with the growth of Wicca, the New Age Movement, and the many Psychic shops I see popping up around America.  It’s disheartening!

Here’s a video that shares a lot more of the Wicca religion that some students of mine created:

All Religions Teach the Same Thing.

Have you ever heard someone say, “All religions teach the same thing”?

I know I have.  Here is a response that I find helpful.  It comes in a few different segments.  First, it is good to validate the argument, you know, show that you understand where the person is coming from and that you can relate to why he or she might feel this way.  Don’t validate the argument, unless you will provide the appropriate rebuttal.  Here you can spoon feed the correct answer to the person, or you can ask a bunch of questions that lead the person the fault in professing that all religions have the same doctrines.  It’s good to know a few Scripture verses to support what you are saying from God’s Word and it’s always the goal to present the Gospel in any apologetic endeavor.

Symbol of the major religions of the world: Ju...
Symbol of the major religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Validation:

I think many religions agree on certain points, such as there is life after death, or that there is some sort of higher power or entity in the universe, and most religions have similar moral laws, so I can see where people can come to this conclusion.  I think the real reason people come to this conclusion is because they don’t want to exclude anyone from having the best existence possible after this life.  We don’t want to say anyone is wrong and we want to avoid drawing lines of division which lead to segregation, elitism, and at times hate and violence.

Answer:

It might be possible to squeeze the world’s religions into teaching the same thing on secondary, or superficial, levels, but on the primary, or fundamental, doctrines, they contradict each other.  For instance, Christians believe that Jesus is God and the Savior of the world, where as Muslims believe that Jesus is just a prophet who should not be worshiped, and Jews, at least conservative Jews, would say that Jesus was a false prophet.  These are just the views of three religions concerning one person in history!  Clearly, they don’t all teach the same thing and they can’t all be true due to their contradictory teachings.

Socratic Method:

“How do they all teach the same thing?”

“On what doctrine do they all agree?”

“Do they all teach the same thing concerning the afterlife?”

“Do they all agree on what mankind’s ultimate problem is and how that problem can be overcome?”

“Do they all agree on who, or what, God is?  Do they all even believe in an eternal, transcendent God?”

“How do Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism teach the same thing?”

Scripture:

1 Timothy 4:1 – “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

Acts 4:12 – “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name [Jesus] under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Back to the Gospel:

Let’s look at what Christianity teaches concerning the way of salvation.  Romans 4:4-5 says, “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”  In Christianity, salvation is free for men.  God steps into redeem and rescue mankind through the work of Jesus Christ.  None of us can save ourselves by our own work, or merit, because we are all sinful people who do evil.  In all other religions, people must work to earn a good afterlife.  In Hinduism, a person must practice yoga and have good karma.  In Buddhism, a person must follow the eight-fold path.  In Islam, a person must excel in the five pillars of the Islamic faith.  In Judaism, Jews have rejected Jesus their Messiah and have chosen to justify themselves through observance of the Law.  All religions do not teach the same thing.  In Christianity, salvation is free.  In all other religions, salvation, if they call it salvation is not free and must be earned through personal works.