Isaiah 44:8-20      Jesus vs. Hinduism

Rev. David Holwick   B                           Jesus and Other Faiths

First Baptist Church

Ledgewood, New Jersey

January 10, 2016

                                                 Isaiah 44:8-20


JESUS vs. HINDUISM



  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. [1]


          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.

                                                                   #30640


             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

                here.


      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.

                                                                   #36217

          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

                    Bhagavad-Gita.

                  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,

                        but ignorance.


      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

                    its boundaries.

                  1> If they do well, they move up and eventually reach

                        salvation.

                  2> If they do badly, they move down, perhaps to an

                        animal form.

                  3> You may require millions of reincarnations to

                        reach Nirvana.


      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

                    individual.

              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

                yourself.

          2) New Age Movement has adapted many of these ideas.


      C. Toleration.

          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.


      D. Beauty.

          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

                    worshipped.

              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.

                                                                    #5871

          2) Christianity is not as torturous - for us.

              a) We gain nothing from torturing our bodies in acts of

                    devotion.

              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

                    Christians.

                                                                   #28941


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

            regulations.


         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

            preach.

         Yash wants many people to come to Christ through him.

                                                                   #24834



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SOURCES FOR ILLUSTRATIONS USED IN THIS SERMON:


[1] 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;

           <https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1734&dat=19800813&id=G5gbA AAAIBAJ&sjid=x1EEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4753,4579944&hl=en>.

           It is attributed to the Associated Press out of Kuala Lumpur,

           Malaysia.


#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;

           <http://www.bridgewood.org>.


#36026  He Cant Even Remove a Tree Limb, Marcus Rowntree (pseudonym

           for missionary, Baptist Press, October 1, 2009;

           http://www.baptistpress.org.


#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

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Copyright 2017 by Rev. David Holwick

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