Rev. David Holwick B Jesus and Other Faiths
First Baptist Church
Ledgewood, New Jersey
January 10, 2016
I. East meets West.
A. The largest Hindu temple in the world.
1) The current Guinness Book of World Records holder for the
world's largest comprehensive Hindu temple is a
59-acre complex New Delhi, India.
But not for long - the world's largest Hindu temple is
near completion in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
The Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha
(BAPS) temple, known as a mandir, is a 162-acre complex
which broke ground in 2009 and will be done in 2017.
According to THE TIMES of India, 2,000 artisans in India
are hand-crafting the stones in Italian and Indian marble.
It will have a youth activity center, visitor's center and
a food court.
There will be seating for 1,000 people. 
2) Hinduism is now mainstream in America, and is the second
largest faith in the states of Arizona and Delaware.
B. Hinduism has struck a chord with the new generation.
1) Recent movies highlighting the faith are EAT, PRAY, LOVE
with Julia Roberts and THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL.
a) Not to mention 1982's epic movie GANDHI.
2) The Beatles probably started the ball rolling.
In 1968 the group realized that material success was not
enough to fill the void in their lives.
They decided to explore spirituality.
They traveled to India and met with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi,
the man who developed Transcendental Meditation.
He emphasized meditation and lots of sex.
He was quite popular with jet-setters.
So the Beatles wore flower necklaces and hummed mantras.
The Beatles finally got fed up with the Maharishi and left
and the meditation center in India has fallen into ruin.
But the popularity of Hindu religion continues to grow
C. Most of us don't know much about Hinduism.
1) My own understanding is probably superficial.
a) Even if you practice yoga, you only think you know.
b) Much of the way Hinduism is practiced in America is a
heavily commercialized version.
c) Baptist leader Albert Mohler got in trouble for
criticizing yoga as a Hindu religious practice.
Legions of Christians said they benefited from it,
but he was actually correct - the origins are for
religious insight and not physical fitness.
2) I expect Hinduism to continue to grow.
a) More immigrants are coming from India.
b) Your neighbors may be dabbling in it.
c) How should you respond to them?
II. Know what Hinduism is about.
A. The religion is tremendously complex.
1) It covers a wide range of beliefs and practices.
2) Some Hindus believe in one god, others in millions of gods,
and a few in no god at all.
3) There are two main approaches:
a) Popular Hinduism, worshipping gods through offerings,
rituals and prayers.
b) Philosophical Hinduism, studying its complex belief
system through ancient texts, meditation and yoga.
B. Its timeline has parallels with the Old Testament.
1) Most scholars believe Hinduism began with the mixing of
Aryans and local people around 1750 BC, around the time
of the Old Testament patriarchs like Jacob.
a) The earliest worship focused on the forces of nature.
b) Later they developed the idea of personified gods like
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
2) The oldest Hindu religious writings are the Vedas.
a) They were written around 1000 BC, about the time of
King David in Israel.
b) The most important scripture for them is the
1> It was written around the time of the Exile of
Israel, around 500 BC.
2> These scriptures are not like the Bible or Qur'an,
but more varied. Many are very long poems.
III. Key religious concepts in Hinduism.
A. Brahman is the ultimate god and fills the universe.
1) It could be said that the universe IS Brahman.
a) All the other gods are aspects of him.
2) A little of Brahman (=god) rests in every human.
a) The goal of Hinduism is to discover the god in you.
b) As you gain insight and knowledge, you eventually
become complete and one with the universe.
1> This is known as Nirvana.
2> What keeps you from Nirvana is not so much sin,
B. Salvation is gained by cycling through multiple lives.
1) Dharma: the law of the Moral Order.
2) Kharma: the law of Moral Consequences.
a) Good much come from good, and evil from evil.
3) Reincarnation: repeating life cycles until you get it right.
a) A key component of reincarnation: the caste system.
b) Each person has a status in life and must keep within
1> If they do well, they move up and eventually reach
2> If they do badly, they move down, perhaps to an
3> You may require millions of reincarnations to
C. The three paths of salvation.
1) The Way of Works, or religious duty.
a) Some of the duties would be familiar to us, like
attending services, but other are very extreme.
2) The Way of Knowledge.
a) Coming to understand you have no existence as an
b) Meditation and self-discipline help you arrive at this.
3) The Way of Devotion.
a) You can be devoted to the gods, and also to your family.
b) Love of the god is the primary motivation for it.
IV. Why Hinduism is attractive to many in the West.
A. Reverence for life.
1) Many Hindus prefer a vegetarian diet and none eat cows.
a) The concept of non-violence against all life forms
including animals is important to many.
b) They believe in methods of food production that are
in harmony with nature and that are compassionate.
2) Strict sexual ethic.
a) This may surprise some, because Maharishi Yogi and
others have promoted what seems like promiscuity.
b) Most Hinduism is actually very puritanical.
1> There is no kissing or nudity in Indian movies.
2> Purity is important to them.
3> Violating sexual standards can lead to harsh
punishment, even death.
B. Emphasis on the inner life.
1) Meditation -- not so much to connect with god, but with
2) New Age Movement has adapted many of these ideas.
1) It is an eclectic faith - no sin for them to have a
Christmas tree in their house.
a) Jesus can be just another god in their pantheon.
2) Life is a series of cycles rather than a linear line from
birth to death to judgment.
1) Hinduism is full of ceremonies and pilgrimages and colorful
characters: sleeping on beds of nails, etc.
2) Colorful festivals and temples.
V. Hinduism has a downside.
A. Much of its content is based on idols.
1) Hinduism comes the closest to classic idolatry.
a) Their temples are filled with carved images that are
b) By some estimates, their faith has 330 million gods.
2) Modern idols are no more effective than ancient ones.
Consider Isaiah's mockery of idolatry and this situation:
Southern Baptist missionaries in India watched from their
balcony as a 10-foot idol on a trailer was pulled
a narrow alley.
A low tree limb soon blocked the progress.
It took them 45 minutes to figure out what to do.
Finally, a child removed the top of the makeshift temple
covering, barely giving the idol enough room to pass
under the tree limb.
The missionary noted, "They're expecting this god to
remove obstacles in their lives, but he can't even
remove a tree limb. #36026
B. Caste system.
1) Institutionalized racism that creates social inertia and
perpetual poverty. Tied to concept of reincarnation.
2) Related - overly close ties with nationalism.
a) Atrocities at birth of nation of India.
b) Riots with Muslims and Christians.
3) Christians need to remember that our own racism has had
a negative impact.
a) Gandhi once tried to attend a church but they wouldn't
let him sit with the white people, so he left.
C. Works righteousness.
1) Back in 1980, a German businessman named Ray decided to
become a Hindu.
An Associated Press article said he completed his
initiation by piercing himself through the cheeks
with a 1/4-inch thick, 4-foot-long steel rod.
Then he pulled a chariot for 2 miles by ropes attached
to his back and chest by steel hooks.
Other initiates walked through 20-foot-long pits of fire.
Some put on shoes with inner soles made of nails.
Others hanged themselves in the air spread-eagle from hooks
embedded in their backs.
2) Christianity is not as torturous - for us.
a) We gain nothing from torturing our bodies in acts of
b) We gain everything by putting our faith in a God who
was tortured for us.
In the novel "Life of Pi" about a Hindu boy who
survives on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger, the boy
recalls hearing about Jesus for the first time.
He recalls how the Hindu gods came to earth "with shine
and power and might."
Then he says,
"This Son [Jesus], on the other hand, who goes hungry,
who suffers from thirst, who gets tired, who is sad,
who is anxious, who is heckled and harassed, who
has to put up with followers who don't get it
and opponents who don't respect him - what
kind of god is that?
It's a god on too human a scale, that's what."
This Hindu boy understands Christ better than most
VI. How Christians should approach Hindus.
A. Don't be judgmental or condemning.
1) (My sermon title might suggest this approach - "vs.")
2) It is best to keep a positive approach since they can
appreciate many Christian concepts.
B. Appreciate their emphasis on the inner spirit.
1) Too many Christians are cold in their faith.
2) Show Hindus that God's love is real to you.
C. Emphasize our personal God.
1) We do not become One with Nothingness - our personalities
will exist forever.
2) Our God is cares about us as individuals and seeks to
perfect us, not obliterate us.
3) Jesus came to deliver us from suffering and give us
eternal life, which we cannot gain on our own.
D. Many Hindus have discovered Jesus in a personal way.
Yash* was born in a Hindu village in India.
It was his desire from childhood to know who is his god.
He used to follow all kinds of Hindu rituals, rules and
At first, he wanted to know the real and true god, but he used
to think, "Who is that true god?"
On Thursday in his village, they would worship the banana tree.
They poured water on the roots of the banana tree and wrapped
the tree in clothes.
Then they would read religious books under the tree.
It didn't seem like the true god to Yash.
One day, a sadhu (a Hindu holy man) came to him and told him
to perform a ceremony with milk on the banana tree roots.
He did this for one month but it didn't seem to work.
One day a man who was totally blind and couldn't even walk
properly came to their village
He began to tell them about Jesus and telling them about idols.
He was saying that idols have eyes but cannot see, ears but
cannot hear, and mouths but cannot speak.
Yash questioned the blind man.
"Your hair is so long. Your legs are so weak. Your clothes
are so dirty. You have not taken a bath in many days.
How can you speak such good words from your mouth?"
Then the man told Yash to visit his church.
He went and saw them singing and praising God and preaching.
Yash liked it.
One night he had a dream.
The idol came and told him that he should not go to church.
Another day he had a dream, a vision in which he saw a fire.
In the midst of this fire, he saw Jesus Christ.
That was when he decided to become a Christian.
He became baptized and wants to go back to his village and
Yash wants many people to come to Christ through him.
SOURCES FOR ILLUSTRATIONS USED IN THIS SERMON:
 “World's Largest Hindu Temple Being Built in New Jersey,”
Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, NBC News; <http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/worlds-largest-hindu-temple-being-built-new-jersey-n166616>.
# 5871 “What Hindus Have To Do,” Roddy Chestnut Collection. No references
are given, but see "Man 'Initiated' Into the Hindu Faith,"
The Dispatch of Lexington, North Carolina, August 13, 1980;
It is attributed to the Associated Press out of Kuala Lumpur,
#24834 “I Worshipped Many Idols,” staff writers, Baptist Press,
July 31, 2007; <http://www.baptistpress.org>. “Yash” is a
pseudonym to protect the convert.
#28941 “God On Too Human a Scale,” Brian Mavis, www.sermoncentral.com
newsletter, December 20, 2004.
#30640 “Giving God the Silent Treatment,” Rev. Mark Brouwer, Bridgewood
Church (Christian Reformed) of Savage, Minnesota;
#36026 “He Can’t Even Remove a Tree Limb,” Marcus Rowntree (pseudonym
for missionary, Baptist Press, October 1, 2009;
#36217 “The Subtle Body — Should Christians Practice Yoga?”Dr. R. Albert
Mohler Jr., President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,
September 20, 2010; http://www.albertmohler.com.
These and 35,000 others are part of the Kerux database that can be
downloaded, absolutely free, at http://www.holwick.com/database.html
Copyright © 2017 by Rev. David Holwick
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