Board index Hinduism

All paths don't lead to the same place. Christianity and Hinduism are different in so many ways. But flavors of Hinduism are very popular in America. Let's talk about it.

Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby High Fidelity » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:35 pm

> Yes it would. Christianity is a trinitarian monotheism and is grounded in propositional truth.

I realise this is the Christian position and what you believe. Maybe this is based on other essential things I’m not aware of. But my idea was that we could take the I am the way and the truth etc idea and interpret it the way Hindu’s see Sri Guru. I thought this Bible verse was the major motivation for the exclusive salvation idea.

So why do you not see that Sri Guru idea as viable/acceptable? You said it was because propositional truth is one, cannot contradict etc, but even if that is right, what reasons would we have that it must be YHWH/Jesus exclusively rather than the way I presented it? We still retain the idea that the truth is unchanged/one, but recognise that our perception of this unlimited absolute truth is necessarily limited.
Is there something I’m misunderstanding about your point that Christianity is grounded in propositional truth? I realise it is grounded that way, but I don’t understand why that is essential to Christianity, what is it that forces the Christian to commit to that exclusivity?

I realise that not everything every religion says can be true at the same time, they even have different goals and I’m greatly oversimplifying things. But I just mean the idea of Jesus as the only way. I don’t know if I communicated it very well, but I don’t see my religion as being at odds with Christianity. Obviously there are a great many things we disagree about, but for the essential substance, love God with all your heart etc, we’re in complete accord. We just go about it differently.

> At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not and accordingly, of defining life’s purpose.

I tried to explain the way I see it, and I wouldn’t call that an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining God. I mean there is with (general) monotheism an uncompromising commitment to one God, absolute, omni etc by nature of what we are referring to as God. But otherwise I was trying to show how we can see God in many different ways, and our perspective is what we see, not that God is different, but no one is seeing the complete truth about it.

And again with defining life’s purpose this can still be seen generally as knowing God, but I’m not sure why we then have to say, only one is right and all others are wrong. What would your objection be to saying, all of them are partly right, partial understandings, some details are accurate, maybe others wildly off, and many partial understandings?
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:49 pm

> what reasons would we have that it must be YHWH/Jesus exclusively rather than the way I presented it?

Jesus did something "impossible": He physically rose from the dead and walked around on earth. I have been at lots of funerals. Nobody comes back. The person who predicts he will rise out of his own tomb and then does it gets my attention and garners my respect. And Jesus says, "I am the eternal one. I have lived in heaven. I am God, and I am the only God. I have power over life and death." That's what makes me committed to exclusivity. He who has been there to tell us about says "there aren't any other deities; there is only one way, and it is through me, the true and only God."

> What would your objection be to saying, all of them are partly right, partial understandings, some details are accurate, maybe others wildly off, and many partial understandings?

I generally agree with this. All religions have truths through them. They all have truths in them. I don't think anyone can deny that. Some are wildly off, others have plenty of respectable teachings. But because of Jesus's resurrection, I believe that provides evidence, and historical evidence at that, that Jesus is the true God and the only God.

It's interesting that the Hindus revere Jesus, as do the Muslims. But how can you revere him as one form of Sri Guru, and yet you don't believe the most important thing he said: I am God, and there is no other. Was he lying? Delusional? How can he be one form of Sri Guru, and yet be so wrong?
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby High Fidelity » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:44 pm

> But how can you revere him as one form of Sri Guru, and yet you don't believe the most important thing he said: I am God, and there is no other. Was he lying? Delusional? How can he be one form of Sri Guru, and yet be so wrong?

Well I’m not very familiar with the subject, which is why it goes on my (long!)I wonder why.. list. From the (limited) research I’ve done it’s usually justified with that only, way and the truth verse and that Sri Guru interpretation I suggested reconciles those things, so it didn’t trouble me hugely.

Also, some Christians have explained that Christ like behaviour is the actual substance of accepting Jesus, rather than belief in Christian doctrine. So I associate that with charity, compassion, worship God and the general Christian ideals which are mostly in harmony with my tradition. That’s basically where I’m at with it.

So when you say, “And Jesus says, "I am the eternal one. I have lived in heaven. I am God, and I am the only God. I have power over life and death.", could you point me to more specific things? Is it other Bible verses, or some other theological considerations? I realise the resurrection is vitally important, but is this something Jesus himself said while on Earth or should I look into visions of the resurrected Christ?

I’ve never looked into the resurrection in sufficient detail since it’s a large research undertaking. If I don’t know where to begin or how to productively approach it, I just go with whatever is on my I wonder.. list that sparks my interest. My wonder list is horribly long. The more I learn the longer it gets, which is annoying sometimes. I’m forced to prioritise based on how much research is involved vs how interested I am.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Mar 18, 2018 3:59 pm

> From the (limited) research I’ve done it’s usually justified with that only, way and the truth verse and that Sri Guru interpretation I suggested reconciles those things, so it didn’t trouble me hugely.

Jesus's claims to deity really aren't very strongly in the "only, way, and the truth" verse, but in other places where he claimed not to be a messenger of God or a prophet of God, but God in the flesh. It's a brash claim that has to be encountered. And he didn't say he was one of many gods, but the One and Only God. On that foundation, I don't see how he could be one form of Sri Guru. Jesus's claim was radically exclusive.

> Also, some Christians have explained that Christ like behaviour is the actual substance of accepting Jesus, rather than belief in Christian doctrine.

The substance of accepting Jesus is (1) belief in him (John 1.12), (2) loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, (3) loving neighbor as oneself, and (4) obeying him. Only one of those has to do with charity and compassion.

> So when you say, “And Jesus says, "I am the eternal one. I have lived in heaven. I am God, and I am the only God. I have power over life and death.", could you point me to more specific things?

Sure. He said these things when he was on earth, as recorded in the Gospel of John.

- Jesus said "Before Abraham was, I AM" (Jn. 8.58). The implication is that Jesus is not one of a series of great men, one of the prophets, or even greater than Abraham. It means he saw himself as deity—a completely different order of being.
- In Jn. 6.32, 38, 41, 50, & 58, Jesus claims to have been in heaven before incarnating on earth.
- In Jn. 10.30, he claims to be of one essence with God.
- In Jn. 11.25-26, he claims to have power over death itself.

> I’ve never looked into the resurrection in sufficient detail since it’s a large research undertaking.

Yes, it is. There are a few things that are quite well accepted, if you'd like to start the discussion:

- Jesus's disciples taught he was raised from the dead and appeared to individuals/groups
- Jesus's disciples intended for us to interpret the resurrection as an actual event.

There is good evidence that the tomb was empty (or the "rumor" could have been easily quashed), which means the stone was rolled away (or they wouldn't have known it was empty), which means they looked inside (or they wouldn't have known it was empty. We are left then to explain these phenomena.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby High Fidelity » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:41 pm

> It's a brash claim that has to be encountered.

Ha, well said. It certainly is, and it looks like I’m being given the opportunity to do that. Our conversation is serendipitous, I’m slowly working through the history of Western Philosophy and just arrived at the section titled – Jesus of Nazareth.

Thank you for all those pointers, you’re saving me a huge amount of time and your ideas are clear and easy to understand. I enjoyed reading through the Book of John and those verses. But as you’re probably aware, I think in a pluralistic way (maybe too pluralistic for your liking, and for my own good). I distinguish between substance and form, and none of what I read is giving me any discomfort that we aren’t in harmony in the substance of our ideas.

But one thing I’ve become aware of recently is what I could call shapes of thought, or cognitive frameworks, something like the lens through which we see and understand the world. This is partly why Hinduism is so difficult to access, it takes a lot of work to penetrate the ideas so you can see them through the Hindu cultural lens, rather than interpreting them through our Western modes of thought. When I hear Westerners talk about concepts like karma, it becomes obvious to me that they’re viewing it with the wrong lens, so they misinterpret and misunderstand the ideas.

I’ll just show you what I mean with the verses you gave. Jesus is in a certain cultural context, there is a Jewish prophecy of a messiah etc. I know I need to keep that context in mind when I’m trying to understand what he’s saying, but I also know I have a very poor understanding of it. So when I read it, it’s through my lens. I’m wondering if by doing that, I’m doing it an injustice and not appreciating it correctly?

> Jesus claims to have been in heaven before incarnating on earth.

I haven’t got a problem with accepting this, I just don’t agree that entails he is God himself. In Hinduism, God himself incarnates all the time, and he is always accompanied by his entourage of liberated (residing in heaven) servants. Other liberated devotees may come alone at different times. God or his devotees mission is to save the fallen souls, but there would be no problem with saying Jesus is part of that.

> Jesus claims to be of one essence with God

No problem here either. In Hinduism there is a famous verse, Tat tvam asi—you are that. Essentially, you are of one essence with Brahman, with God. This is basically just saying, you are not a physical being, you are spiritual by nature – same ontological substance as God.
This is the one I wondered most about, because I need to know how Jesus understood it to really understand what he meant.

> he claims to have power over death itself (Jn. 11.25-26)

Still good for me, so does Sri Guru, he gives us liberation (moksha) which just is freedom from death.

> Jesus's disciples taught he was raised from the dead and appeared to individuals/groups ….Jesus's disciples intended for us to interpret the resurrection as an actual event.

First up there are all the accounts of miracles. I guess I’m not usually impressed by that sort of thing, although I would be if I witnessed it personally.

It was interesting to realise how big a part this played in Christianity and it was a prominent theme in the book of John. There were quite a lot of references to things like Jesus saying he did this sort of thing because otherwise no one will believe who he is. It was lovely to read John 11.38 where the Pharisees said - If we let him go on like this [giving signs], everyone will believe in him.

One of the things I have trouble with is that a lot of these sort of points are historically based. They rely on personal accounts from long ago, and we only have information from a limited number of accounts that have survived over time. This is mostly a complaint about the accuracy of any historical claims, but the historical sources are frustratingly incomplete and tales always grow in the telling.

The people who tell those tales put their own slant on them, perhaps with specific motivations. Historians do have tools to reconcile all this as best they can, but I guess I don’t give them a huge amount of weight as evidence because of all those factors.

I also have some discomfort that most of the historical sources are going to come from Jesus’s followers, which might slant the situation even more. How impartial is testimony from the God intoxicated mystics? And also, people are gullible. I’m often amazed at some of the things people tell me they sincerely believe. That is also part of my discomfort about the fact that tales growing in the telling.

Do you think this has any validity or do I need to do more reading because the evidence is strong enough to overcome these sort of worries? Could you point me to the best place to start? I was especially interested in Jesus’s appearances because I don’t really have any familiarity with that. I have read a bit about the empty tomb kind of ideas but the impression I was left with was those sort of historical concerns.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:04 pm

> But one thing I’ve become aware of recently is what I could call shapes of thought, or cognitive frameworks, something like the lens through which we see and understand the world. This is partly why Hinduism is so difficult to access, it takes a lot of work to penetrate the ideas so you can see them through the Hindu cultural lens, rather than interpreting them through our Western modes of thought. When I hear Westerners talk about concepts like karma, it becomes obvious to me that they’re viewing it with the wrong lens, so they misinterpret and misunderstand the ideas.

Very well said. Thank you, and so true.

> I’ll just show you what I mean with the verses you gave. Jesus is in a certain cultural context, there is a Jewish prophecy of a messiah etc. I know I need to keep that context in mind when I’m trying to understand what he’s saying, but I also know I have a very poor understanding of it. So when I read it, it’s through my lens. I’m wondering if by doing that, I’m doing it an injustice and not appreciating it correctly?

Even I read it through a Western 21st-c. lens. It was written, obviously, in an ancient Near Eastern and Palestinian middle-eastern environment, language, and worldview. I can't help but read it through my worldview, but through research we all hope to attain to a better level of objectivity to be able to understand the intent of the author.

> No problem here either. In Hinduism there is a famous verse, Tat tvam asi – you are that. Essentially, you are of one essence with Brahman, with God. This is basically just saying, you are not a physical being, you are spiritual by nature – same ontological substance as God.
This is the one I wondered most about, because I need to know how Jesus understood it to really understand what he meant.

Jesus, interestingly, spoke in such a way as to claim he was different from other human beings. As Hinduism believes that all humans share an ontological oneness with God, Jesus (Christianity) would say his oneness with God was unique, and that humans do not share the unity with God.

> One of the things I have trouble with is that a lot of these sort of points are historically based. They rely on personal accounts from long ago, and we only have information from a limited number of accounts that have survived over time. This is mostly a complaint about the accuracy of any historical claims, but the historical sources are frustratingly incomplete and tales always grow in the telling.

Yes, this is just the point. Christianity is a historical religion, not just a philosophical one. It is necessarily grounded in God's activity in history and his presence in history.

As far as the reliability of the accounts, since we have four of them (the four Gospels), to discredit them we would have to arrive at a reasonable evaluation of why they are inaccurate. What would lead one to that conclusion?

> frustratingly incomplete and tales always grow in the telling.

The stories of his resurrection were solidly in place within 2-3 years of the event itself—hardly enough time for legendary status. There were still plenty of eyewitnesses around. As far as his miracles, there is no ancient rebuttal to the writings about them. Roman and Jewish Palestine was known for its skepticism, and yet there is no rebuttal to the claims of Jesus's existence, his death, or his miracles.

> The people who tell those tales put their own slant on them, perhaps with specific motivations.

And this is true of the Gospels. Each writer writes to give a particular picture of Jesus. They each have an agenda. This, of course, doesn't mean they have been fictionalized, but only selected to make their particular point.

> I also have some discomfort that most of the historical sources are going to come from Jesus’s followers, which might slant the situation even more.

The problem with this is: I would expect anyone who knew Jesus and had witnessed his resurrection to be a follower. It would be very strange, otherwise, to have seen Jesus's miracles, to have seen his resurrection body, and to not be a follower.

> How impartial is testimony from the God intoxicated mystics?

I don't understand this comment or perception. Intoxicated? Mystics? Christianity is a historical religion, not solely a mystical one. Intoxicated? I don't even know how to comment about that.

> do I need to do more reading because the evidence is strong enough to overcome these sort of worries?

Being a Christian, I am convinced that the evidence is substantial and plausible. The four Gospels are the place to start. They are the story of Jesus. Each has a different writing agenda, though they have used a common body of material—the historical record, I presume. They are all fairly short, comparatively. It's best to pick a Gospel and read it through so you get the flow and the objective of the writer.

John gives the case for Jesus's deity. John approaches his Gospel like a court of law, bringing one witness after another.

Luke gives the case of Jesus as prophet who is the fulfillment of prophecy. He talks about about persecution, salvation, and Jesus's political and social impact.

Mark gives the case of Jesus as authoritative and suffering for it. In Mark Jesus confronts Satan and the religious authorities, and he suffers for it. His suffering and death are not tragic, though, but the means of salvation.

Matthew gives the case of Jesus in a Jewish framework: He is God's messiah, the new Israel, the new Abraham, the new Moses, the new David, the new temple, the new Law, the new kingdom of God.

Based on those summaries, you could choose which one to read, or in what order you want to read all four. I'll bet each one of them could be read in less than an hour.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby High Fidelity » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:27 pm

> Jesus, interestingly, spoke in such a way as to claim he was different from other human beings.

I think this is where the substantial issue is found. I can reconcile the specific nature of this ontological difference in my Hindu framework along the lines of the Sri Guru ideas. But to find out what Jesus himself meant, is going to take some work on my part. The complication doesn’t even stop there, because Jesus himself was Jewish, his shape of thought is framed within the coming messiah etc so the framework itself has be analysed. And placing yourself within a foreign framework and seeing through it’s eyes, is extremely difficult. Even if you can do that, it may not ultimately have a conclusive answer.

> What would lead one to that conclusion? …. The stories of his resurrection were solidly in place within 2-3 years of the event itself …. There were still plenty of eyewitnesses around.

Admitting the lack of sufficient knowledge on my part which will take some time to rectify, I only have general concerns and wouldn’t be coming to any firm conclusions at this point. For example, if early Christians are testifying to visions of the resurrected Christ, and then willing to die on that basis, it’s completely inadequate to casually hand wave at that with – hallucinations, end of story.

But the problem is, it all hangs on the interpretation of the facts available. The shapes of our thought, the cognitive lens = the interpretation.

We have some data about eyewitness testimony. We know that testimony is notoriously unreliable. But we can safely say, Paul etc experienced something that was profound and requires serious consideration. It’s filling in the something part that is the crux of it and may never be resolved so everyone agrees.

I was surfing a few websites and was amused by one Christian website’s phrasing that Christianity hangs on the resurrection of Jesus and if that is wrong, Christianity is false. I found that interesting in line with my original question of the essential foundation.

If we found strong evidence against the physical resurrection, it looks like I'd be the one defending Jesus. It seems to me that all we need to relinquish is a particular shape of thought, a particular way of interpretation which I could call propositional truth along the lines we were previously discussing.

We can’t throw the whole thing out on the basis of a minor ontological quibble. Perhaps I’m wrong about that due to lack of knowledge, but take for example the ideas around John 6.48… I am the bread of life … This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.

Now we can’t interpret that literally, he’s not talking about grain based bakery products. You interpret that one way, that Jesus himself was residing in heaven and descended etc. My framework would say the bread is a metaphor for spiritual knowledge of God, which must descend from heaven by revelation of some kind, and God’s grace descends in many different forms to tell us we are eternal beings and heaven is our home. That is what actually sustains us, not this material world. A perennial theme among all religions.

This whole idea has become more interesting as I investigate, but the general theme is much the same as my initial considerations.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Apr 05, 2018 1:14 am

> For example, if early Christians are testifying to visions of the resurrected Christ, and then willing to die on that basis, it’s completely inadequate to casually hand wave at that with – hallucinations, end of story.

Right. But since there are no such things as mass hallucinations—hallucinations are always only individual—the idea of so many people having the same hallucination is unrealistic and unconvincing.

> But the problem is, it all hangs on the interpretation of the facts available. The shapes of our thought, the cognitive lens = the interpretation.

All communication requires interpretation. All of it. It's unavoidable, but given the consensus about language, you and I are able to understand each other. There's no reason to think that because the facts have to be interpreted they are therefore unreliable.

> I was surfing a few websites and was amused by one Christian website’s phrasing that Christianity hangs on the resurrection of Jesus and if that is wrong, Christianity is false. I found that interesting in line with my original question of the essential foundation.

The source of this is the Bible itself: 1 Corinthians 15.12-19: "But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."


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