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.

Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby High Fidelity » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:50 pm

What is inconsistent, not true to life or true about Hinduism that led you to reject it?

From a curious but respectful Hindu.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:28 pm

I would enjoy a respectful dialogue with you. As an outsider (since I am a Christian), Hinduism seems very complex and difficult to understand. But I am always anxious to learn, and will look forward to some discussion.

RELATIVITY. Hindus seem to believe in the relativity of truth. They can believe that there is one god, 330 million gods, or no god at all. Or they believe that we are gods or can be gods, or that god is in each of us, and each of us is a part of god. As a believer in objective truth, these can't all be true. They contradict each other, and it is inconsistent to me.

And yet Hindus seek after truth to discover ultimate reality. I sense a disconnect and a contradiction. The Upanishads, where mystical experience and intuition override reason and even cast doubt on the possibility of knowing ultimate truth, is inconsistent to me. Hinduism doesn't seem to be a commitment to propositional truth or to the world as an object of reason.

Ghandi said, "God is truth and truth is God." What does that mean? It doesn't say whether the existence of God is true or false.

NATURE AND CREATION. If the universe is not the creation of a personal God, but is rather a sort of unconscious emanation from the divine, then we have no legitimate subject-object relationships, no particularity, but only a blank unity. In such a view there can be no foundation for knowledge, love, morality, or ethics. Without an absolute personality, there is no diversity or distinction basic to reality at all. Ultimate reality is a bare unity about which nothing may be said.

EVIL. If Hinduism teaches that evil is an illusion that can be overcome by meditation, to me that is inconsistent with reality. I have found evil to be very, very real.

SUFFERING. Compassion motives me to do what I can to alleviate the sufferings of other people, but if suffering is paying back one's karma and we should just ignore the suffering in other people, to me that is callous and inhumane. And if all human suffering is deserved, are there no good people, truly spiritual people who escape it?

Hinduism sees life as basically painful and full of distress, and yet the supreme Brahman has no part of this sorry universe. It seems cruel to me. It seems fundamentally anti-social. Its inherent caste system designates some people as outcasts because they were born into the wrong family. There is no vision where we show compassion to humanity, try to right wrongs, heal hurts, or even overcome injustices or inequalities. There is no apparent concern for humans as real persons.

AFTERLIFE. We are to seek the self (Atman) behind and within the body and the senses, but then we are supposed to dissolve all personality into the unimaginable abyss of Brahman. So I don't get it: are we to find ourselves or dissolve (full renunciation) ourselves?

MORALITY: It seems (and please correct me) that morality is to be found in denying oneself all forms of material, emotion, and even spiritual rewards and property. To me that is not morality. Morality, instead, is active goodness combined with passive restraint.

SPIRITUAL PROGRESS. One progresses in spiritual depth by good works, hoping to improve one's karma. To me the idea of earning one's way into God's favor is simply a losing proposition, especially if there are no good people on the earth, if evil isn't real, and if morality is denial of self.

PERSONALITY. Since humans are personal, it makes sense to me that we have a personal source, a personal Creator, not an impersonal Brahman of ultimate reality.

UNION WITH THE DIVINE. In Hinduism we are to seek union with the divine, but a Hindu can't tell me who are "we," who is the "divinity," who is the "self," or how real any of this is. Why union with the divine if I'm already part and parcel of the divine universe? My deluded self is supposed to cease to be deluded so that I emerge as the real self. At the same time the god ended up in embryonic form while I became full grown, so that I will give him the privilege of birth and lose my humanity to find my divinity. No wonder I'm confused. Union with the impersonal absolute defies language, reason, and existential realities. It doesn't satisfy any longing for relationship. It doesn't seem either philosophically or theologically coherent. But all the while I'm supposed to deify myself while diffusing myself.

SCRIPTURES: I'm supposed to move to the supreme truth that I am identical with God, but Hindus point to their Scriptures as truth. But Hindus can't claim that all ways true for the simple reason that other religions deny the eternal truth of the Vedas. Even some Hindus do.

In addition...
- I find the sexual playfulness of Krishna and his exploits with milkmaids to be problematic.
- I read that some respected Hindu philosophers and thinkers consider it to be one of the most contradictory system of life's purpose ever expounded.

I hope that you sense my confusion and why I said that I find Hinduism inconsistent and not true to life. I look forward to your reply.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby High Fidelity » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:31 pm

Many of your ideas about Hinduism are common misconceptions Westerners have. The cultural conceptual divide is the primary cause. Hindu can be defined as accepting the authority of the Vedic scriptures which establishes Brahman as the absolute substance. Their differing interpretations are found in the relationship between Brahman (God), the individual souls, and the material world.

Most Westerners consider Advaita Vedanta = Hinduism. Advaita is the monist school that claims matter and our individual sense of self is an illusion (or more accurately, relative reality) and ultimately there is no distinction. The apparent distinction between Brahman, the souls and the world is ultimately an illusion.

But there are also many dualist schools. I can only speak knowledgably of my own dualist school, called acintya-bheda-abedha (trans-rationally the same and different). But for many of your points, the schools would be in general agreement so it shouldn’t be a problem.

RELATIVITY

Brahman is accepted by all. Brahman is sat, chit, ananda. Sat can be translated as eternal existence, reality, truth. So they definitely say God exists, he is Being itself, Truth, Reality. Chit means consciousness, ananda means bliss.

The conscious dynamic substance of Brahman can’t be impersonal, because it is conscious. Consciousness just is the subjective point of view, the person. Even Advaita we should call theistic, we could call it impersonal only in the sense of ultimately undifferentiated.

Now consider how it is that we know a person. Not with our intellect, but by a kind of exchange or meeting of our consciousness—a relationship. A king has different relationships with his subjects, his ministers, his friends, and his intimate family. Each will see the king differently, and their relationship is different according to that, but the king himself is one and the same person. This is similar to how Hindus see God. We choose how to approach God, and he reciprocates accordingly.

The Upanishads don’t reject reason. If there is contradiction in the scriptures, reason is the arbiter as a matter of principle. They don’t accept any interpretation which contradicts reason, and their philosophical topics of logic, epistemology and metaphysics are as sophisticated as the West.

It is often said that Hinduism is a mystical religion rather than philosophy, this is because of its holistic nature. Its rational and scriptural conclusion that Brahman exists means that the method to know Brahman is by perception, consciousness. Reason cannot gain direct perception of consciousness.

The mystical path (in combination with scripture) is therefore accepted as the correct pramana (means of gaining knowledge). This is similar to the Christian idea that knowledge of God is from faith and revelation. Practice of religion gives us the beatific vision and ideas like this.

Ultimate truth is dynamic. The Hindu would in turn see the Christian conception of God as too small and limited (no offence intended). He is not one person with certain static traits, instead he is the infinite expanse of consciousness engaged in various lilas (pastimes or plays). As an actor plays many parts, God takes many forms and has many activities.

EVIL.

Evil should be considered “ignorance,” specifically ignorance of God and our relationship to him. Evil is real, but it’s something like the idea that evil is the absence of good, so not ultimately real. God is good or bliss, without a connection with God, evil arises, just as when light is not present, darkness exists.

SUFFERING and KARMA.

Karma isn’t fatalistic, it doesn’t require lack of compassion or that suffering is deserved in the sense of punishment. It is something like seeing people as drug addicts, who through ignorant choices in their search for pleasure have become entangled in a drug and are suffering accordingly. But this doesn’t exclude charity, compassion or overcoming injustice or inequality. It is recommended in Gita “charity etc should never be given up, because they are purifying even for the great souls.”

The inherent caste system is by qualities, not birth. The system was corrupted by the British occupation. It is more a political theory than religion, although like everything in Hinduism it’s also tied to our highest welfare.

By performing our dharma or social duties without attachment to the rewards we avoid becoming entangled in karma. This could also be expressed as doing the right thing for the sake of it being right, rather than any personal benefits.

The Supreme Brahman has a very big part in this sorry universe. He continually incarnates into the world personally, he reveals the Vedic knowledge according to time, place and culture, and he is present in Sri Guru who is the means for gaining knowledge of God. On this view the Hindu can accept Jesus as Sri Guru (not precisely God himself, but imbued with the power of God) and Christianity as one method to take us closer to God.

AFTERLIFE.

Reincarnation is accepted by all, but for moksha (liberation) from the material world altogether, there are different views on what this consists of. The view you outline is Advaita Vedanta, we are immersed in the undifferentiated Brahman, conscious bliss, but don’t retain personal identity.

My dualist school accepts this as one form of moksha, but not moksha proper. Undifferentiated Brahman is like the rays of God’s body. From that position the soul can again be agitated and return to this world. Moksha proper then, is to attain a loving relationship with God, and once established that is never lost.

MORALITY

Morality for my school is whatever pleases God, or takes one closer to knowledge of God. That is the good. To achieve knowledge of God is to focus our consciousness on God, not on material enjoyment. So the renunciation is aimed at this. It’s not that the world itself is bad, it’s what we use it for that produces suffering.

> the sexual playfulness of Krishna and his exploits

This one is dear to my heart, the rasa-lila is considered the supreme and most confidential knowledge of God in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. It isn’t recommended for beginners because it will be misunderstood by imposing our material conception of “sexual playfulness”. This rasa-lila conception is something we are recommended to “hold high above our heads.”

The substance of this conception is found in the depth of surrender to God. The gopis (milkmaids) represent those who have sacrificed everything for their love of God. Their love is the most intimate and complete. They have sacrificed even family and social customs to unite with Krishna.

This uniting is not sexual in the material sense. Love of God is the supreme principle. This is the speciality of the personality of Krishna, a loving relationship with this form of God is the most intimate possible connection without losing our own individual identity.

While the outer form is very different, the conception of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (God’s avatar who takes the form of a renounced devotee or sanyasi) is almost identical in substance to that of the gopis. We find here God becomes “one” with the devotee. He takes the outer form of a devotee. But that is a very esoteric and complicated topic.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:37 pm

Thank you taking the time to patiently explain so many of your beliefs. As a non-Hindu, they sound very complex and confusing. When I read what you are writing, it's hard not to smile and think, "How does anyone keep all of this straight?" I find myself bewildered by all the philosophy/theology, not sure that I could ever grasp its intricacies. You seem to be indicating it's not all that mystical, but it seems totally mystical to me because it's not rooted in history but in a variety of esoteric thoughts and theories (theologies). It would take me not only a long time to process this, but also to thoroughly understand it.

> Many of your ideas about Hinduism are common misconceptions Westerners have.

That's odd because these observations and notes have come from Hindus. Hmm.


If you had to summarize Hinduism in just a few sentences, what would that be?
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby High Fidelity » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:39 pm

The word Hindu was imposed by outsiders, it has no good definition. Some people consider it a cultural designation. My definition of - accepts the authority of the Vedic scriptures is clearer for trying to define it as a religion, but still not very helpful except for a broad idea. And given the nature of their system, summarising it in a few sentences is almost impossible. Many Hindus would prefer to use the term sanatana dharma (the eternal duty or religion).

You’ll not only get people disagreeing on what Hindu is, there is also disagreement on what Hindu theology is. I tried to give a broad idea. While the ideas you outlined are certainly part of Hinduism, they aren’t accurately said to be equal to Hinduism, they are Advaita Vedanta. But most people have the misconception this is Hindu theology. Whereas the dualist Vedanta schools are at least as popular and certainly a very influential doctrine in Hinduism.

My school, for example, is very close to the ideals of Christianity in broad terms. God is a person, love of God is the ultimate goal of life etc. I also find Advaita Vedanta to be confusing along the lines of your initial post. I can’t really conceive of a undifferentiated Brahman except with analogies like rays of the sun or something like that.

When you said mystical I assumed you meant an experiential religious practice. But it sounds like you might have meant this as confusing concepts/system. No doubt Hinduism is very confusing and alien to Westerners. I’m actually a Western practitioner and have never been to India and have found it quite difficult to understand. But when you do understand the system it has an elegant simplicity and can in fact be given a popular level presentation.

I get a similar confused feeling about Christianity. There are so many doctrines, and they all say different things. The trinity is counter intuitive—how can God be three persons? Their metaphysics comes from Greek influence of forms and essences all of which takes a lot of effort to fully grasp.

The idea that God would be hung on a cross, that he would only send one prophet or saviour, that we have only one life which makes the inequitable circumstances of our birth rather mysterious, and that he would then send people to hell, are all very strange to me.

I find I can’t rationally accept the picture of God’s personality that Christian doctrine outlines. And if I have these intuitions, which aren’t malicious in their motivation, but only a product of the way I think and my life experiences, I find it hard to understand how this would attract the wrath of God and be punishable in some way.

I was interested to understand how Christians reconcile the existence of other religions. For the Hindu, there is no need to say other religions are wrong, or not true, all of them are merely paths which suit particular people, they are expressions of the character of their faith.

All are imperfect attempts, but the sincerity of the approach to God is all important. Just as a parent accepts a mud pie from their child although the object of the offering is useless and misguided, the parent accepts the love and sincerity with which it is offered and disregards the object itself.

But for Christians, given the singular nature of God’s plan for salvation in Jesus, it seems to be more difficult to accommodate the validity of other religions. Many Christians have told me I’m going to hell. Would you consider anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus exclusively as saviour to be a sinner, an offender who deserves some sort of judgement? What possible options does the Christian have to explain this? Or what would your particular flavour of Christianity say in response?
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:59 pm

I understand that Christianity can seem as confusing to outsiders as Hinduism to outsiders. I would think it's almost impossible to really comprehend a religion from the outside. I find Buddhism the most complicated and confounding of all religions, but Hinduism is also very difficult.

I don't know if you want to talk about Christianity, because I don't want to start explaining and write a long explanation if you were just saying, "Hey, I find Christianity as confusing as you find Hinduism." We can certainly talk about it, but I don't want to presume or dump on you.

You seem to be saying that some of it you find confusing (doctrines, hell, the cross, savior—and I'll not address those right now, but we can if you want), but other things you seem to be asking about. I'll try to focus my comments on what you seem to be asking about.

> I was interested to understand how Christians reconcile the existence of other religions. For the Hindu, there is no need to say other religions are wrong, or not true, all of them are merely paths which suit particular people, they are expressions of the character of their faith.

My problem with this is that the different religions are fundamentally contradictory to each other. Logically speaking, possibly none of them are true, but it's impossible that all of them are true. That would mean A can equal non-A.

> Would you consider anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus exclusively as saviour to be a sinner, an offender who deserves some sort of judgement?

We are all separated from God. I would think even the Hindus admit that we are not born as divinely fulfilled people, at one with Brahman. There is a separation that has to be bridged. In Hinduism that gap is bridged by one's own efforts and an almost eternal chain of lives to get it right. But (1) if all is god and god is all, there is ultimately no difference between good and evil, and a chain of reincarnations will never solve that problem. (2) if you can't remember what you did in a previous life (that you may be getting punished for in this life, how can you ever fix it? (3) if the purpose of karma is to rid humanity of its selfish desires over many lifetimes, why is there no noticeable improvement in human nature? In Christianity, by contrast, the problem of separation is solved by God, who himself offers a free gift of salvation on the basis of his own sacrifice. We don't need to earn it, but rather just accept it. Those who know about that but don't accept it are either denying the truth or are rebelling against it.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby High Fidelity » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:03 pm

> I would think it's almost impossible to really comprehend a religion from the outside.

Agree wholeheartedly, it takes a lot of effort even from the inside. It doesn’t seem to be a solely intellectual pursuit, nor can it be if we are dealing with theism. So we are almost forced to run with the version of religion that is in harmony with our existing faith—the one that inspires us. I see this as all of us are climbing the same mountain, but we have different abilities and starting points - religious pluralism.

> My problem with this is that the different religions are fundamentally contradictory to each other. Logically speaking, possibly none of them are true, but it's impossible that all of them are true. That would mean A can equal non-A.

This is a very Western/Christian way of thinking. It does have validity in certain contexts, but in the context of aiming for a relationship with a personal entity, we aren’t restricted to one true answer. The other possibility I tried to express was that all of them are partly right, on the right track, containing the essential substance of the same quest. Instead of religion being an objective scientific theory independent of subjective beliefs, a relationship with God is a subjective affair of the heart.

We should take this true/false dichotomy approach initially to the question of metaphysics, but you’ll find most major religions largely in accord about the conception of God as the absolute ground of being, omni-everything etc. So I don’t see major conflict between us on the essence, only in particular doctrines or practices. All of which we should recognise as merely tools to take us to the same goal. We can hold to these practical doctrines in a flexible agnostic kind of way, ready to adapt ourselves and accept new ideas all on the basis of their utility in bringing us closer to knowledge of God.

> We are all separated from God. I would think even the Hindus admit that we are not born as divinely fulfilled people, at one with Brahman. There is a separation that has to be bridged.

Agree, but I don’t think that means we are sinners or deserve punishment. I think it means we lack a particular perceptual ability due to our continued choice to focus on material things, ignorant that our true welfare and fulfillment lies in always focusing on God. Just as a drug addict is obsessed with a drug, arranging their life with that as the priority, their continual focus. When they realise their welfare lies in sobriety, they can be detoxed and cleaned up good as new. No crime has been committed by drug addiction. It is an unfortunate mistake which entangles us, caused by pursuing pleasure in an ignorant way.

> In Hinduism that gap is bridged by one's own efforts and an almost eternal chain of lives to get it right.

In my tradition, as in the bhakti (devotion) traditions, God’s grace is the final arbiter. We have no power over him. Just as I cannot know your mind unless you reveal it to me. The only way to know that is by your trust, your grace. Otherwise it is closed to me, fully dependent on your will to share it with me.

> (1) if all is god and god is all, there is ultimately no difference between good and evil, and a chain of reincarnations will never solve that problem.

Good is whatever takes us closer to God, evil is whatever takes us away from him. A chain of reincarnations is merely the result of staying away from God.

> (2) if you can't remember what you did in a previous life (that you may be getting punished for in this life), how can you ever fix it?

There is no need to make recompense for past mistakes, that happens automatically by the neutral law of karma which is merely a description of the cause and effect within the material world. Nor is it a question of something done in a past time long forgotten.

Today, right now, and only in the present moment, you have the free choice what you will focus your attention on, God or matter. Choose well and thoughtfully.

> In Christianity, by contrast, the problem of separation is solved by God, who himself offers a free gift of salvation on the basis of his own sacrifice.

But it’s an illusion that this gift isn’t permanent and your very birthright, who you are. Everything exists by God’s grace. His benevolence is unlimited, not available to some but refused to others.

> Those who know about that but don't accept it are either denying the truth or are rebelling against it.

I think this is a false dichotomy. My rejection of it isn’t malicious in any way. It is an expression of my faith, my consciousness, my understanding.

So this is the main problem I have with Christianity. If we commit to this conception of Jesus as exclusive saviour, it seems to commit us to saying this about people who are sincere both in their search for truth and for the Good. Even the atheists. I find it difficult to accept that an omni-benevolent God would be like this, it’s an imperfect conception. This is what I mean by too small and limited. I don’t mean to offend by saying that, it’s just a logical complaint.

I don’t want to impose on you, feel free to say whatever pleases you or nothing at all. Anyone who knows me never initiates a conversation about religion or philosophy without first having their escape route planned out, because they know I’m never the one who terminates the conversation short of an emergency requiring attention. It’s one of my character failings I’m try to improve on, but I always talk too much and struggle to keep replies short.

I just see this as interfaith dialogue, not a debate I’m trying to win. I don’t try and convert people, nor reduce their faith in their chosen path. I think this is God’s attitude as well. In Bhagavad Gita Krishna instructs his friend Arjuna in the relevant knowledge and finishes with, Now that you know what you need to know, do whatever you want to do.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby jimwalton » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:08 pm

> It does have validity in certain contexts, but in the context of aiming for a relationship with a personal entity, we aren’t restricted to one true answer.

But when the personal deity (Jesus) says, "I am the only way and I am the only true answer, I can't both follow Jesus and believe that we aren't restricted to one true answer.

> We should take this true/false dichotomy approach initially to the question of metaphysics, but you’ll find most major religions largely in accord about the conception of God as the absolute ground of being, omni-everything etc.

Yes, but after that we diverge greatly and contradictorily. Islam says it's impossible for God to have a son; Christianity says God's son is God. These are diametrically opposed. Hinduism says there may be many gods; Christianity says there is only one God. These can't both be true.

> Agree, but I don’t think that means we are sinners or deserve punishment.

Well, this is where there is a major contradiction in basic doctrine. In Christianity humans are neither born with a clean slate nor born good, but born with a sin nature. It is from this sin nature, without having to be taught, that children lie, are selfish, etc. To me this theology squares with the world as I see it.

> Good is whatever takes us closer to God, evil is whatever takes us away from him.

Another theological difference. In Christianity, evil is bad because it is evil. Some people get closer to God in the face of evil, and some get further away. Some people get closer to God as a result of blessing, and some people get further away (like people who get successful or rich and think they don't need God any more, for instance).

> If we commit to this conception of Jesus as exclusive saviour, it seems to commit us to saying this about people who are sincere both in their search for truth and for the Good. Even the atheists.

The Bible says that those who truly and honestly seek God will find Him. A great Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, said, "C.S. Lewis said, "Here is another thing that used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and have been able to believe in him? But the truth is God has not told us what his arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him."

> I just see this as interfaith dialogue, not a debate I’m trying to win.

I agree. I'm enjoying the dialogue.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby High Fidelity » Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:48 pm

I’ll leave aside the specific contradictions you mentioned and stick with just one that is of particular interest to me. For most of the others I see harmony where you see irreconcilable conflict. But to say why would require too many words to explain the Hindu perspective.

> But when the personal deity (Jesus) says, "I am the only way and I am the only true answer," I can't both follow Jesus and believe that we aren't restricted to one true answer.

Well, everything requires interpretation to place it coherently within the whole system. I’m quite interested in this exclusive salvation idea of Christianity and its implications. I sometimes wonder what would happen if we dropped it, or adapted it (stay calm!). Does the whole structure come tumbling down? Is it an essential part of the foundation or can it be adapted to a more inclusive understanding while still retaining the essential substance of Christianity?

For example in Hinduism, we have Sri Guru. The Sri is a term of address for the divine. So Sri Guru is both divine and human. Not in exactly the same way as Jesus, but pretty darn close in many respects. Sri Guru is as good as God from our present fallen position. Without him, we can’t find God. He gives us knowledge, then religious practices to attain the goal in line with that knowledge. He is human because he is an individual soul like us ontologically, but divine because he is the essential conduit which connects us to God.

Within my framework, I must respect Jesus as one form of Sri Guru. His teachings, his influence, his example, he is Sri Guru. But the different things people say about Jesus is another thing altogether.

Sri Guru would also say, "I am the way and the truth. No one comes to God but through me." And he is perfectly accurate in saying that, but he is not God himself. It’s inappropriate to make judgments of inferior or superior here. Sri Guru is God’s beloved messenger, making personal sacrifices so God’s love can be made available to those who are suffering in this world and require grace to save them.

Sri Guru doesn’t require saving, he is already liberated by his knowledge. His business transaction in this world is only for the benefit of others. He embodies the loving act of divine grace. I think you will be in harmony with these ideas, although on the surface we appear to have irreconcilably contradictory positions.

So when Lewis says, “We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him,” how will you reconcile this heart-felt Christian idea with your interpretation of the Bible quoted above?

If the Bible tells us that “those who truly and honestly seek God will find Him” then there is no basis for universal discrimination against other religions, although there is plenty of room for respectful debate about particular doctrines.

What those sincere seekers find, we can’t confidently proclaim from our present position. Perhaps we will find whatever form our individual relationship with God takes. Perhaps it is a dynamic reality and the outer form is determined by the movement of our heart, and love is the final arbiter.

Surely the supreme and unlimited Lord of all things can accommodate everyone’s individual and personal expression of love. And that expression will find its complete fulfillment in God alone. It’s not identical in everyone, nor can it be if we are to commit to the importance of the individual personal soul and their free choice to relate to God.

And that is an ideal central to Christian thought and one I think is their super-excellent contribution to humanity. The dignity and value of the individual person, regardless of their material circumstances is a central ideal in Western society today, although it’s source in Christian thought is often forgotten and unacknowledged.
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Re: Why do you reject Hinduism?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:02 pm

> I’m quite interested in this exclusive salvation idea of Christianity and its implications. I sometimes wonder what would happen if we dropped it, or adapted it (stay calm!).

This exclusive salvation idea is based in monotheistic theology and propositional truth. If there is truly only one God, and YHWH/Jesus is him, and truth cannot self-contradict (by definition), then it is impossible to drop or adapt a proposition, even if it is exclusive. I actually find that truth is, by definition and necessity, narrow and exclusive. 2+2=4, despite that there are an infinite numbers of other integers. Gravity holds us to this Earth, despite that there are other planets. Our consciousness is confined to our own personal identities, despite that there are billions of other personal identities. And there is only one Chicago, IL, despite that there are other cities in Illinois and other cities around the world named Chicago. True is narrow; it is exclusive. That is its nature. It is no different with religion than with math.

> Does the whole structure come tumbling down?

Yes it would. Christianity is a trinitarian monotheism and is grounded in propositional truth. Therefore it is at odds with all other world religions, as those world religions are at odds with each other. All religions, without exception, are exclusive. Worldviews begin by definitions. Definitions create boundaries. Violations of those boundaries elicit condemnation. That condemnation itself excludes. It is impossible to sustain truth without excluding falsehood.

All religions are not the same. All religions do not point to God. All religions do not say that all religions are the same. 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.
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