Someone was kind enough to give me a link to a text which is intended persuade people to covert from Hinduism to Christianity. It is interesting to see how full of holes and untruths this text is. I will show truth from the “conversion site” as indented italic coloured text, whereas my responses are full width and black. The text starts:
Question: “I am a Hindu, why should I consider becoming a Christian?”
Well, that is a very good question. I have provided many reasons why people should be interested in Hinduism in “What Hinduism has to Offer“. I will be interested to see what possible reason there could be to convert from Hinduism to Christianity.
Answer: Comparing Hinduism and Christianity is difficult, in part, because Hinduism is a slippery religion for westerners to grasp. It represents limitless depths of profundity, a rich history, and an elaborate theology. [continues with overview and claims that the text will show why Christianity should be given special attention]….
First, Christianity should be considered for its historical viability. Christianity has historically rooted characters and events within its schema which are identifiable through forensic sciences like archeology and textual criticism. Hinduism certainly has a history, but its theology, mythology, and history are so often blurred together that it becomes difficult to identify where one stops and the other begins. Mythology is openly admitted within Hinduism.
I see a confusion here by mythology and what was not intended to be taken literally. Christianity has its parables, and the Old Testament many mythological stories. These, like the Hindu myths, are not intended to be taken literally. So myths are not just found in Hinduism but Christianity also.
But, where a religion is not historical, it is that much less testable. It may not be falsifiable at that point, but neither is it verifiable. It is the literal history of the Jewish and eventually Christian tradition that justifies the theology of Christianity. If Adam and Eve did not exist, if Israel did not have an exodus out of Egypt, if Jonah was just an allegory, or if Jesus did not walk the earth then the entire Christian religion can potentially crumble at those points. For Christianity, a fallacious history would mean a porous theology.
This is an extraordinary claim that even many Christians would not make. Many Christians believe in evolution rather than creation of the world less than 10,000 years ago. Also note that much of what is put here is not testable. I would defy anyone to find archaeological evidence that Jonah was swallowed by a fish (a story that may have been copyed from Matsya and Manu), or that of Adam and Eve. You will find historical evidence of the exodus, and of some biblical events, but generally at a similar level to that for the Mahabharata. You will find a lot of scientific evidence against the earth being as young as the story of Adam and eve claims.
As I pointed out in my post “Quantum theory and Vishnu“, it is interesting that Hinduism fits very well with scientific theories, showing a universe that is millions of years old and is cyclicy destroyed and recreated. This is despite the fact that it is ultimately not important to Hinduism that observations in Maya should reflect spiritual truth. Some Christians on the other hand are obsessed with trying to show that scientific observation does not contradict the Bible, even though to do so they have to deny many scientific observations.
Well at this point by the author’s own criteria we have demonstrated that Christianity is a “porous theology”, but since this literal interpretation of the Bible is a view only of Christian Fundamentalists I will continue.
Second, while both Christianity and Hinduism have key historical figures, only Jesus is shown to have risen bodily from the dead. Many people in history have been wise teachers or have started religious movements. Hinduism has its share of wise teachers and earthly leaders. But Jesus stands out. His spiritual teachings are confirmed with a test that only divine power could pass, death and bodily resurrection—a fact which he prophesied and fulfilled in Himself.
Well, we know that Krishna appeared on earth before as Rama, Parashurama, etc. This is hardly a unique claim.
Moreover, the Christian doctrine of resurrection stands apart from the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation. These two ideas are not the same. And it is only the resurrection which can be deduced convincingly from historical and evidential study.
The only “historical” evidence presented by Christians is the Christian Bible. Christians claim that witnesses like St Paul were “hostile witnesses”, who had no interest in supporting Christianity. That might have been true when the resurrection occurred, but not at the time the events were written in the bible. Compare that with the numerous accounts and evidence for reincarnation. Now I am not trying to prove that the resurrection did not take place, just to show it does not have a higher level of evidence than reincarnation has.
Third, the Christian Scriptures are historically outstanding, deserving serious consideration. In several tests the Bible surpasses the Hindu Vedas, and all other books of antiquity for that matter. One could even say that the history of the Bible is so compelling that to doubt the Bible is to doubt history itself, since it is the most historically verifiable book of all antiquity.
I would dispute that. Consider the picture of Ram Setu (Rama’s Bridge) taken By NASA. Existence of this could not be proved until modern times, yet it is predicted in the Ramayana. As mentioned before the level of historical evidence for the bible is similar to that of the Mahabharata.
Consider the following.
1) More manuscripts exist for the New Testament than for any other of antiquity. 5,000 Ancient Greek Manuscripts, 24,000 in all w/ other languages.
Of course there are a large number of manuscripts in Hinduism, though I don’t know how many. I don’t consider the “say it many times and it must be right” argument valid.
2) The manuscripts of the New Testament are closer in age to its originals than are any other document of antiquity. All of the originals were written within the time of the contemporaries (eyewitnesses), in the first century AD.
3) The New Testament Documents are more accurate than any other of antiquity. John R. Robinson in Honest To God reports that the New Testament documents are 99.9% accurate
See above. I have no doubts about the accuracy of Vedic literature. Note also that the 99.9% accuracy refers to discrepancies between different historical bible texts. It does not imply that the story of the bible is correct, nor that there are not contradictions in the bible. In fact the bible contains many contradictions.
Fourth, Christian monotheism has advantages over pantheism and polytheism. … Polytheism and pantheism both have a questionable basis for their ethics. With polytheism, if there are many gods, then which god has the more ultimate standard of ethics for humans to keep? When there are multiple gods then their ethical systems either do not conflict, conflict, or do not exist. If they do not exist, then ethics are invented and baseless. The weakness of that position is self-evident. If the ethical systems do not conflict then on what principle do they align? Whatever that aligning principle is would be more ultimate than the gods. The gods are not ultimate since they answer to some other authority. Therefore there is a higher reality to which one should adhere.
Of course most forms of Hinduism are not polytheistic, so this is a bit of a wasted argument. Let’s examine it however. On this basis of God and a follower had moral principles that aligned, would it would mean that they must align on a principle higher than God? Of course not. Agreement is possible without imposition from a higher level.
On the third option, if the gods conflict in their standards of right and wrong, then to obey one God is to risk disobeying another incurring punishment. Ethics would be relative. Good for one god would not necessarily be “good” in an objective and universal sense. For example, sacrificing one’s child to Kali would be commendable to one stream of Hinduism but reprehensible to many others. But surely, child sacrifice, as such, is objectionable regardless. Some things by all reason and appearance are right or wrong, regardless.
Note how the author has picked an example of worshippers of Kali sacrificing Children. If this were a neuteral argument they should also mention Christian groups killing children accused of witchcraft and child abuse in Christian groups, as well as historic attrocities like those I documented in “The Cathars from a Hindu Perspective“. Anyway this argument again makes two assumptions that I have already dismissed; that Hinduism is polytheistic, and that agreement without a higher authority is impossible.
Pantheism does not fair much better than polytheism since it asserts that ultimately there is only one thing—one divine reality—thus disallowing any ultimate distinctions of “good” and “evil.” If “good” and “evil” were really distinct then there would not be one single indivisible reality.
Firstly, Hinduism in the form of Vedanta Advaita is closer to panentheism than pantheism, there is much more to God than the physical world. Secondly Hinduism certainly does have distinctions between good and evil – just read the Gita to see many references to this. Evil arises through avidya or ignorance.
The Hindu idea of a universe encompassing God is not that different from that of a universe which was created solely by God and over which God has complete power. In the Christian worldview it is also not easy to see the origin of evil. The argument given is a straw man.
.…. And even if such distinctions as “good” and “evil” could be made, the context of karma voids the moral context of that distinction. Karma is an impersonal principle much like a natural law such as gravity or inertia. When karma comes calling on some sinful soul, it is not a divine policing that brings judgment. Rather it is an impersonal reaction of nature.
Hang on so the author has just been arguing that everything is God so there can be no good or evil and now he is saying that Karma is not of God? Krishna clearly says that devotion to Him can make up for bad karma. Karma is a natrural law, but God is above this and can intervene. “Love, nonviolence, good conduct and the law of dharma define the Hindu path” (from Dancing with Shiva).
Fifth, the question remains “What do you do with your sin?” Christianity has the strongest answer to this problem. Hinduism, like Buddhism, has at least two ideas of sin. Sin is sometimes understood as ignorance. It is sinful if one does not see or understanding reality as Hinduism defines it. But, there remains an idea of moral error termed “sin.” To do something deliberately evil, to break a spiritual or earthly law, or to desire wrong things, these would be sins. But, that morality definition of sin points to a kind of moral error that requires real atonement. From where can atonement rise? Can atonement come by adherence to karmic principles?
Well, Swami Vivekananda says:
Advaita and Advaita alone explains morality. Every religion preaches that the essence of all morality is to do good to others. And why? Be unselfish. And why should I? Some God has said it? He is not for me. Some texts have declared it? Let them; that is nothing to me; let them all tell it. And if they do, what is it to me? Each one for himself, and somebody take the hindermost — that is all the morality in the world, at least with many. What is the reason that I should be moral? You cannot explain it except when you come to know the truth as given in the Gita: “He who sees everyone in himself, and himself in everyone, thus seeing the same God living in all, he, the sage, no more kills the Self by the self.” Know through Advaita that whomsoever you hurt, you hurt yourself; they are all you.
This to me is a real motivation for morality and atonement. The article goes on to say we should look to Jesus as a saviour, but as I already mentioned in “What Hinduism has to Offer“, it is in accepting the religion that the spiritual journey in Christianity ends. For Hinduism it is where it begins. Real atonement is to make amends and to act correctly in the future, not to punish yourself for the wrongdoing.
Christianity however treats sin as moral error against a single, ultimate, and personal God. Ever since Adam, humans have been sinful creatures. Sin is real. And it sets an infinite gap between man and bliss. Sin demands justice. Yet it cannot be “balanced out” with an equal or greater amount of good works. If someone has 10x’s more good works than bad works, then that person still has evil on his or her conscience. What happens to these remaining bad works? Are they just forgiven as if they were not a big deal in the first place? Are they permitted into bliss? Are they mere illusions thus leaving no problem whatsoever? None of these options are suitable. Concerning illusion, sin is too real to us to be explained away as illusion. Concerning sinfulness, when we are honest with ourselves we all know we have sinned. Concerning forgiveness, to simply forgive sin at no cost treats sin like it is not of much consequence.
Hinduism agrees, there is a price for sin. Karma will ensure that everyone faces the consequence of the sin. When the karma is paid the sin is balanced. Christians really believe that if someone sins once in their life, make up for the sin and devote the rest of their lives to God and good work, the sin has not been made up for. They also really believe that the punishment of any sin should be eternal torture. To me the Hindu view corresponds more to what you would expect from a loving God. Remember the above sentence: “Sin demands justice”.
With Christianity, however, all sin is punished though that punishment has already been satisfied in Christ’s personal sacrifice on the cross.
If sin demands justice then is justice satisfied by punishing someone else? Also since Christians believe Jesus is God, what is described is an act of simple forgiveness of sin by God without consequence, just what the author says is wrong!
Hinduism requires correct action and says that we all face the consequence of sin. It also says that sin holds back spiritual progress. Christianity says that the most debauched believer is forgiven whereas the purest non-believer is condemned. It is clear to me which has the superiour attitude to sin, the one most likely to motivate sinlessness.
Finally, in Christianity we can know that we are saved. We do not have to rely on some fleeting experience, nor do we rely on our own good-works or fervent meditation, nor do we put our faith in a false God whom we are trying to “believe-into-existence.”
Is a God that condemns the good based on their belief whilst rewarding the evil based on their beliefs a true God? I am sure that true Christians can find God through their religion, but those who just convert to be saved and then progress no further will be as far from God after becoming Christians as they were before. Christianity does not do as much as Hinduism to ensure spiritual progress, and many see “being saved” as meaning “now I can behave as I like”; a cop-out from true morality.
Also what is this fleeting experience? To follow Hinduism is to try to Know God all the time in everything you do. This is no immediate reward, but something that needs to be worked towards.
So, what does this mean for you? Jesus is the ultimate reality! Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. God offers all of us forgiveness and salvation if we will simply receive His gift to us (John 1:12), believing Jesus to be the Savior who laid down His life for us – His friends. If you place your trust in Jesus as your only Savior, you will have absolute assurance of eternal bliss in Heaven.
As I said, Christianity encourages people to sign up rather than encouraging right living. Some people will take the spiritual cop out. Again and again, in life after life they will take it, perhaps feeling that they are missing something real. Eventually God and them will find eachother, but not through this type of religious belief.
If you want to receive Jesus as your Savior, simply speak to God, verbally or silently, and tell Him that you receive the gift of salvation through Jesus. If you want a prayer to say, here is an example: “God, thank you for your love for me. Thank you for sacrificing yourself for me. Thank you for providing for my forgiveness and salvation. I accept the gift of salvation through Jesus. I receive Jesus as my Savior. Amen!”
If you want to discover the reality of your divine nature it will take more than that. I cannot claim that just saying “I receive Shiva or Krishna” will give you instant salvation, it is just not true. You can start on the true path towards self realisation. A prayer will help you get started. I would suggest praying to Ganesh, the form of God associated with removing obstacles. Just let Ganesh know you want to find true meaning and to help you find your path. Your path may be different to mine; everyone has different karma and spiritual needs. Hinduism has many paths and I do believe that everyone can find spiritual progress in Hinduism.
Have you made a decision to trust Jesus as your Savior because of what you have read here today? If so, please click on the “I have put my faith in Jesus today” button below. If you would like us to contact you, please enter your email address as well.
If you realise that you are responsible (with God’s help) for your own actions and your own spiritual progress, and wonder whether Hinduism has the answers, I would look at http://hinduism.about.com/. You may have heard many incorrect things about Hinduism, so you might want to check out the “Frequent errors in media coverage of Hinduism” page of the Hindu American Foundation. A good move would be to visit a local Hindu temple and talk to the priest, but I know how difficult that can be. It took months for me to become courageous enough to do that (you can read about that here). I would also recommend that you sign up with Orkut, which has a lot of helpful Hindu groups, and join the “Converts to Hinduism -reloaded” group. You will find helpful advice from many people there, most questions on the forum get a reply within a day. You can join anonymously if you just want to “put your toe in the water”. Finally, you could leave a comment on this article and I will try to answer it!