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  • 1. THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION PRESENTED FOR THE HINDU MIND-SET A Thesis of the Professional Project Presented to the Faculty of the Grace Theological Seminary Winona Lake, Indiana In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Ministry Track: Intercultural Studies by Dale Sanders Doron WINONA LAKE, INDIANA DECEMBER, 2007
  • 2. CONTENTSINTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................... 1Statement ........................................................................................................................ 1Attitudes ......................................................................................................................... 1Purpose ........................................................................................................................... 4Scope .............................................................................................................................. 4Need ............................................................................................................................... 5Development................................................................................................................... 6THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION......................................................................... 8Introductory Statements and Development of the Subject................................................ 8Old Testament Roots: God’s Method of Salvation........................................................... 9 The Garden of Eden .................................................................................................... 9 God’s Covenants ....................................................................................................... 12Christ-- The Lamb of God: God’s Provision for Salvation............................................. 14 The Coming of Christ............................................................................................ 14 The Question of Righteousness.............................................................................. 15Paul’s Revelation: God’s Way of Salvation................................................................... 17 Introductory Statements............................................................................................. 18 Definitions ................................................................................................................ 19 Definition Compilation.............................................................................................. 21 Definition without the Mathematics........................................................................... 22 Elements of Emphasis ............................................................................................... 22 Hebrew and Greek Words ......................................................................................... 27 Two Major Aspects of Justification ........................................................................... 28 iii
  • 3. The Great Solution: The Gift of God ......................................................................... 29 Paul’s Explanation of Justification in His Letter to the Romans................................. 30 The Theme Stated (Rom. 1:1-17)........................................................................... 31 Righteousness Needed (Rom. 1:18-3:20) ............................................................... 32 Righteousness of Christ Imputed (Rom. 3:21-5:21) ............................................... 33 Insights and Considerations Pertinent to the Understanding of the Doctrine ofJustification with Hinduism in Mind ............................................................................. 39 1. Transgression against God’s Standard of Righteousness ............................ 40 2. Self-help vs. God-help ............................................................................... 41 3. Reincarnation............................................................................................. 42 4. Finality ...................................................................................................... 43An Overview of Justification by Faith........................................................................... 43The Statement of Justification in its Basic Essence:....................................................... 44The Gospel for All Nations ........................................................................................... 44HINDUISM: THE HINDU MIND-SET ........................................................................ 46A Brief Summary of the History of Hinduism ............................................................... 47The Scriptures of Hinduism........................................................................................... 49 The Vedas ................................................................................................................. 50 Upanishads................................................................................................................ 52 Law of Manu............................................................................................................. 53 Mahabharata.............................................................................................................. 54 Ghagavad-Gita .......................................................................................................... 54 The Ramayana .......................................................................................................... 55Major Teachings of Hinduism....................................................................................... 56 iv
  • 4. The History of the Teachings of Hinduism ................................................................ 56 Brahman.................................................................................................................... 57 Atman ....................................................................................................................... 58 Maya......................................................................................................................... 59 Karma ....................................................................................................................... 60 Dharma ..................................................................................................................... 62 Samsara..................................................................................................................... 65 Moksha ..................................................................................................................... 73Major Elements of Hindu Thought Considered in Presenting the Doctrine of Justification..................................................................................................................................... 76 Brahman.................................................................................................................... 77 Emanation from Brahman ......................................................................................... 78 Desire to Return to Brahman ..................................................................................... 78 Dharma ..................................................................................................................... 79 Reincarnation ............................................................................................................ 80 Karma ....................................................................................................................... 81 Caste System............................................................................................................. 82 Inclusivism................................................................................................................ 83 Humanity .................................................................................................................. 83The Statement of the Doctrine of Justification............................................................... 84The Gospel Contextualized for the Hindu Mind-Set ...................................................... 84APPROACHES FOR TEACHING THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION................ 86Felt Need Approaches ................................................................................................... 86 Dharma Approach ..................................................................................................... 86 v
  • 5. Setting................................................................................................................... 86 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 87 Application............................................................................................................ 87 Caste System Approach............................................................................................. 88 The Dalit Approach................................................................................................... 88 Setting................................................................................................................... 88 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 88 Application............................................................................................................ 89 The Higher Caste Approach ...................................................................................... 89 Setting................................................................................................................... 89 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 90 Application............................................................................................................ 90 Peace with God Approach ......................................................................................... 91 Setting................................................................................................................... 91 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 91 Application............................................................................................................ 91 Worship/Pleasing God Approach............................................................................... 92 Setting................................................................................................................... 92 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 92 Application............................................................................................................ 93Theological Approaches................................................................................................ 93 Emanations from Brahman........................................................................................ 94 Setting................................................................................................................... 94 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 94 vi
  • 6. Application............................................................................................................ 94 Karma – Works ......................................................................................................... 95 Setting................................................................................................................... 95 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 95 Application............................................................................................................ 95 Reincarnation ............................................................................................................ 96 Setting................................................................................................................... 96 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 96 Application............................................................................................................ 97 Judgment/Evaluation................................................................................................. 97 Setting................................................................................................................... 97 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 98 Application............................................................................................................ 98Discernment.................................................................................................................. 99 Warnings................................................................................................................... 99 Posture of Humility ............................................................................................... 99 Soft spots .............................................................................................................. 99 Time.................................................................................................................... 100 Invitation vs. Pressure ......................................................................................... 100 The Relational “Probe”............................................................................................ 101 Relational Acquaintances .................................................................................... 101 Relational Receptivity ......................................................................................... 101 Timing ................................................................................................................ 102 Gospel Adhesiveness........................................................................................... 102 vii
  • 7. EVALUATION .......................................................................................................... 104 The Evaluation of Rev. Joy John, Academic Dean of the Seminary ................. 104THE WAY OF WORKS ............................................................................................. 115Karma Marga.............................................................................................................. 115Karma Yoga................................................................................................................ 115Definition.................................................................................................................... 115History........................................................................................................................ 116Practice ....................................................................................................................... 118THE WAY OF WISDOM........................................................................................... 119Jnana Marga................................................................................................................ 119Jnana Yoga ................................................................................................................. 119Definition.................................................................................................................... 119History........................................................................................................................ 120Practice ....................................................................................................................... 120 The Sankhya System ........................................................................................... 122 The Yoga System ................................................................................................ 122 The Mimansa System .......................................................................................... 122 The Vaisheshika System...................................................................................... 123 The Nyaya System............................................................................................... 123 The Vedanta System............................................................................................ 123THE WAY OF WORSHIP.......................................................................................... 125Bhakti Marga .............................................................................................................. 125Bhakti Yoga................................................................................................................ 125Definition.................................................................................................................... 125 viii
  • 8. History........................................................................................................................ 125Practice ....................................................................................................................... 126 The evaluation of Dr. Joy George, president of the Evangelical Theological Seminary of the Asian Christian Academy....................................................... 129 Summary of the Evaluations from the Faculty Members of the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Asian Christian Academy of Bangalore, India .......... 133CONCLUSION........................................................................................................... 134BIBLIOGRAPHY....................................................................................................... 137 ix
  • 9. ABSTRACTTitle: THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION PRESENTED FOR THE HINDU MIND-SETAuthor: Dale S. DoronDegree: Doctor of MinistryDate: Dec. 18, 2007Adviser: Dr. Tom StallterThe Purpose of this project is to bridge the great chasm between the spiritualunderstanding and perception of the Hindu and the Biblical concepts of the doctrine ofjustification by faith in Jesus Christ. The flow of the development of the subject beginswith recognizing the challenge of the Western mind-set of the difficulty in understandingthe concepts of Hinduism which molds so tightly the Hindu mind-set. The charge thatChristians often preach the gospel with out communicating much perceptible truth is thefoundation on which this project is built. The assumption is that in order to communicatetruth to any effective level the communicator must not only understand his own messagewith great clarity he must also thoroughly understand the mind-set of the receptors of hismessage. This is particularly important when the same spiritual terms appear in twodifferent religious systems such as Christianity and Hinduism but have differentmeanings . Great effort has been taken to the define terms both in Christianity and inHinduism so the communicator can speak truth that is understood in the Hindu mind-set.Chapter one explains the need for carefully understanding the teachings of Hinduism as itforms a mind-set for the Hindu to interpret all spiritual truth. Chapter two analyzes thedoctrine of justification by faith with many of its implications of the works salvation ofHinduism in contrast to a faith salvation of Christianity. Special attention is given toPaul’s explanation of justification in Romans three. Chapter three details the history,growth and main tenets of Hinduism. Also the major teachings of Hinduism that areparticularly troublesome for the Hindu to understand the faith based teaching ofjustification are selected. These are given special attention in the next section. Chapterfour is a group of ten suggested approaches of presenting the truth of justification withthe Hindu mind-set clearly in the mind of the presenter. The first six are of a felt needsnature. The last four are from a theological perspective. Chapter five is the summary andresponse to the evaluation of the Indian faculty of the Evangelical Theological Seminarynear Bangalore South India. Chapter six is the conclusion and implications of the study.Unless the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the understanding of a Hindu, or any one else forthat mater, all human attempts to be clear, understandable, and persuasive will in the endbe futile. Knowing that only the Lord Himself can ultimately draw men unto Himself,however, does not exempt us from striving to present a clear, understandable, andpersuasive presentation of the truth that alone can save men eternally. x
  • 10. INTRODUCTION Statement This study analyzes Hinduism to discover the heart of Hindu thought that keepHindus from understanding and accepting the biblical doctrine of justification. In thatregard, the doctrine of justification is analyzed and stated in its most essential terms.Next, the elements of Hindu thought, which present barriers to understanding andaccepting the doctrine of justification, are identified and examined. Then, a statement ofthe doctrine of justification is offered in a contextualized presentation for the Hindu.Also, suggestions are presented of how that presentation may be approached mosteffectively in teaching and preaching. Attitudes The writer has great apprehension and deep humility as he offers thesesuggestions as a way to explain the heart of the Gospel, the doctrine of justification, tothose of a Hindu mind-set. He is initially and will continue to be open and receptive toany insight or criticism that would make the goal of communicating the foundation of thegospel to Hind more achievable us. The writer’s sensitivity is generated from several sources. First is the vastness ofHinduism. The acclaimed oldest religion of the world is the third largest. Hinduism’smassive collection of scriptures and writings set forth and explain its origin, history,sects, tenets, practices, and personalities. It is presumptive of anyone to attempt anexhaustive survey, study and research of such an overwhelming amount of material inorder to speak with absolute authority on the Hindu mind-set. 1
  • 11. 2 Second, and maybe most significant, is the historical record of those who havecome from the West with the gospel to India. They often have made glaring errors intheir naïve attempts to present the gospel clearly and persuasively to Hindus. Initially,gospel carriers of the West have the timeless, universal message of redemption in Christin a Western wrapper.1 Effort was not exerted to extract the essential gospel from itsWestern practice and its local forms.2 Nor was effort exerted to learn the forms andshapes of Indian-Hindu thought patterns to “rewrap” and package this good news forpresentation to the people of India.3 The good news packaged in a Western style, notdistinguishing the message from its form, was often presented as God’s timeless messageto India.4 Many times it was insisted and even demanded that Christianity in India shouldlook the same as it does in the West.5 This egotistical, superior attitude not only is wrong, 1 Paul Gupta, Breaking Tradition to Accomplish Vision (Winona Lake, IN: BMH, 2006), 11, 12.Lingenfelter details how missionaries have imported a Western style of training national leaders. He callsthis a “tragedy” because most nationals do not recognize how they imitate Western patterns and lose theirvision to equip leaders for church planting. 2 H. L. Richard, Following Christ in the Hindu Context (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library,1998), 19, 20. In contrast to the normal, arrogant ways that Western missionaries usually behave,understanding neither the culture of India nor the religion of Hinduism, N. V. Tilak’s conversionexperience was refreshingly different. He met a European missionary on a train who offered him a seat,was extremely polite and gentle, discussed Indian poets and poetry, was familiar with Sanskrit literatureand slowly turned the conversation to Tilak’s opinion of Christianity. 3 Gupta, Breaking Tradition, 22. Gupta is emphatic that, though formal education and evenaccreditation do have their place, they are “ill suited and cannot effectively equip evangelists, churchplanters, and apostolic leaders for ministry.” 4 Richard, Following Christ, 51, 52. In a “most confidential” letter to a friend V.N. Talikconfessed, “I am really tired of Missions and Missionaries. These with their agents form an institutionwhich is day by day degenerating. They are guided by selfish motives; they are slaves to self-sufficiency,pride and the world. Expecting those who join the flock and live in and for worldly motives, no otherperson can do anything for their country as long as they depend on these petty lords and their satellites.There is no end to their underhanded dealings; there is no end to their dependence on their flatterers…” Tothe missionaries he said, “How long are you going to spoon-feed us? Let us stand on our own feet. Do notinterfere. Let us try. Let us battle the waves; let us die, but let us learn to swim.” This “missionary failing”was captured in his poetic description. “You have set up for yourselves a kingdom of slaves; do not call it akingdom of God. We dance as puppets while you hold the strings; how long shall this buffoonery endure?” 5 B. V. Subbamma, New Patterns for Discipling Hindus (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library,1970), 37, 38. This remains a prominent problem in India today. The pressure to leave one’s caste andcustoms and accept the forms of a Christian church in another caste is described in detail by Subbamma. 2
  • 12. 3anti-biblical, and anti-gospel it is most offensive to the sensitive Hindu who is very muchin touch with the limitations of human perception and authority. “Good news carriers”should have come originally in the spirit of humility and let the authority be seen and feltin the message of the gospel and not in the messengers and their forms. Doubtless theimpact of the gospel on India would have been a great deal different from what it istoday.6 Third is the awareness that truth has not really been communicated until thereceptor genuinely understands what has been said.7 The writer is of deep conviction thatthis area has been vastly overlooked, neglected, and grossly misunderstood by the bulk ofmissionaries during the history of global missions.8 The meaning of a term in the mind ofShe gives numerous illustrations of the same dynamic existing among Lutheran, Baptist, and nationalIndian churches. 6 Ibid., 50, 51. Subbamma argues that when independence in India took place, the church was nolonger identified with foreigners, particularly the British. This was a barrier that kept many Indians fromcoming to Christ. She predicts that the opportunity now exists for “tremendous growth.” 7 Eugene A. Nida, The Theory and Practice of Translation (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1969),1. Nida, in answering the question, “Is it a correct translation?” gives this explanation: “Correctness mustbe determined by the extent to which the average reader for which a translation is intended will be likely tounderstand (italics mine) it correctly.” The goal of all communication is that the receptor understandscorrectly the message communicated. Everett M. Rogers and Thomas M. Steinfatt, Intercultural Communication (Prospect Heights, IL:Waveland Press, Inc., 1999), 113. Rogers defines communication: “Communication is the process throughwhich participants create and share information with one another as they move toward reaching mutualunderstanding” (italics mine). David J. Hesselgrave, Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally (Grand Rapids: ZondervanPublishing House, l991), 40, 41. Hesselgrave follows the model of Aristotle of explaining communicationconsisting of “three points of reference: the speaker, the speech, and the audience.” The speaker/sourcemust “encode” the message and the audience/respondent must then “decode” the message. Later, hedistinguishes between “inherited” meaning and “imparted” meaning, pp 65, 66. He explains thatwords/symbols have no intrinsic meaning but only that which is imparted to them. Thus, for truecommunication to take place, the imparted meaning of the speaker encoding the message and the receptordecoding the imparted meaning must be similar for understanding to happen. 8 David Filbeck, Social Context and Proclamation (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1985),2, 3. Filbeck cites a number of examples where a proclamation of the gospel was given by a missionary butbecause of previously held worldviews, the receptor did not understand the intent of the message at all andarrived at a wrong conclusion. 3
  • 13. 4the speaker and in the mind of the receiver must have a large overlap of commonmeaning before any serious communication can take place. The fear is that this may havebeen a large area of failure in the past.9 Purpose The purpose of this project is to state as clearly as possible the core concept of theonly way God has established for a man to become right with Him in such terms andforms that Hindus will clearly understand the issues upon first hearing it. This is not tosay that a clear explanation will result in acceptance initially. It does, hopefully, precludeany misunderstanding of what the real issues are for becoming right with God presentlyand eternally. Scope The hope of the writer is to suggest to Indian Christians, pastors, teachers, orprofessors some ways to present the doctrine of justification to unbelieving Hindus and toexplain this theological truth to new or untaught converts to Christianity. It is also hoped that the suggestions of this project reflect serious thinking in theright direction, grappling with the basic issues in understanding how to explain to aHindu the heart of the gospel, the doctrine of justification. A second aspect of the scope is the limitation of its intended use. The suggestionsare not given as a beginning point to present the gospel to a Hindu. Certainly there areother points of contact with Hindus that are far better in appealing to their spiritual needthan to begin by explaining the doctrine of justification. The history of evangelism inIndia and gifted evangelists could suggest much more effective ways of getting Hindus to 9 S. Devasagayam Ponraj, An Introduction to Missionary Anthropology (Chennai, India: MissionEducational Books, 2004), 14, 15. I base my conclusion on the pandemic struggle that Indian missiologistsseem to be having today in attempting to identify an effective contextualized presentation of the gospel forIndian cultures. Ponraj is just one of a number of Indian missiologists actively addressing this need. 4
  • 14. 5listen to the gospel and in drawing them to the Savior than giving a theological lecture onthe doctrine of justification. However, somewhere in the process of a Hindu’s hunger for deliverance and histhirst for righteousness or in the process of explaining how God’s plan works there willarise the crucial need to explain the doctrine of justification. At that point, hopefully,these suggestions will be most helpful. Need If there is one biblical truth that challenges and exposes the inadequacies ofHinduism, it must be the doctrine of justification. Of course there are many areas ofHinduism that do not coincide with revealed Biblical truth, but with respect to mankind’seternal relationship with his Creator, the doctrine of justification is highly significant. Thefollowing are some of the salient reasons for its importance in knowing God personally,intimately, and eternally. 1. It (the doctrine of justification) explains that man is created by God and separated from Him not emanating from God. 2. It explains that man sinned against God, offending Him and breaking the original relationship that existed between God and man, and for which man is accountable. 3. It explains that there is no way that man alone can repair the relationship that is lost and be able to return to God even in all of his efforts in countless reincarnations or innumerable rituals (works) performed. 4. It explains that the merciful God designed only one plan, not three ways of deliverance (as Hinduism teaches), that man can be restored into relationship with God immediately and eternally. 5
  • 15. 6 5. It explains that God took the initiative, designed the plan, provided the Redeemer, and designated the only acceptable path: faith in His Provision--Christ’s complete payment for the offense of all mankind! 6. When a convert to Christ comes from the orientation of Hinduism, he will need to experience a basic reorientation to the biblical truth of justification by faith. Perhaps more than any other, the doctrine of justification by faith helps Hindus understand the purpose of the incarnation of Christ.10 Development The development of the paper follows.Chapter One – Introduction This section gives the purpose and explanation for the paper.Chapter Two – The Theological Foundation This section includes the theological statement of each aspect of the doctrine ofjustification and what elements need to be emphasized. It shows that Scripture is the basisfor the doctrine. The doctrine of justification is viewed biblically and historically with anemphasis on those aspects that will be troublesome for Hindus to understand or accept itsteachings.Chapter Three – The Theoretical Foundations In this section a brief history and development of Hinduism is given. Next, themajor teachings of Hinduism are stated. Then, some of the elements of Hinduism thatmake it difficult for a Hindu to understand or accept the doctrine of the justification by 10 Right With God, ed. David A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 13. Carsonsuggests that having brought up the question, “How shall anyone be right with God?”… presupposes that itis desirable and possible to be right with this God.” 6
  • 16. 7faith are selected and explained. Finally, the contextualized presentation of the doctrine isproposed.Chapter Four – The Implementation The plan of presenting the teaching or preaching of the doctrine of justification isgiven. Several approaches are suggested as starting points that ultimately end with apresentation of the doctrine. Some of these approaches reflect a felt need. Others aremore theological. They begin at the point where a Hindu is thinking or has been taughtconcerning Hinduism.Chapter Five - The Evaluation The plan for evaluation has been the submitting of the project to the facultymembers of the Asian Christian Academy (graduate level seminary) of Hosur, TamilNadu near Bangalore, India, for their evaluations of the accuracy of understanding theHindu mind-set and the potential effectiveness of presenting the contextualizedstatement.The writer’s evaluation will be based on the feedback from the ACA faculty.Chapter Six – The Conclusion 7
  • 17. CHAPTER 2 THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION Introductory Statements and Development of the Subject The doctrine of justification of the believer, through faith in Christ’s finishedwork on the cross, is not just a few clever insights of the apostle Paul to be found in theNew Testament after the Gospels’ record of the life of Christ. Nor is justification anaddendum to the gospel of Christ as a pleasant afterthought or postscript to the biographyof a great religious martyr. Justification by faith in the cross work of Christ is the heart ofthe Gospel.11 Indeed, there is ultimately no gospel, no good news, for the world if thewhole point of Christ’s great sacrifice was not to make men right with God and to makepeace with God.12 Otherwise, the only good news of Christ’s resurrection was that Healone had conquered death for Himself. But what about the rest of humanity? No one elsecould ever qualify to achieve what He, the sinless man, had achieved. Emphatically, the teaching of the entire Bible is that to get right with God onemust be justified by faith in the completed substitutionary cross work of Christ, whichincludes His death and His resurrection.13 Before stating this truth in its most essentialcomponents, an attempt to show that justification by faith was introduced by God in theOld Testament will be presented. Further, it will be shown that God never deviated fromHis plan or purpose throughout all of human history. God’s designing and allowing the 11 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 722. 12 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1986), 345. 13 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 729. 8
  • 18. 9crucifixion of Christ was the goal and heart of His plan of redemption for the entire race.Thus justification is neither new nor added to God’s way of salvation but intrinsic fromthe very beginning. In order to present the gospel to Hindus, or to any man, the doctrineof justification must be communicated clearly and contextually. Men without hope needto understand with deep comprehension the heart of the message of the gospel. Old Testament Roots: God’s Method of Salvation The purpose of God’s revelation of Himself to man is much more that justimparting unknowable data about God’s attributes and His actions. His revelation is notmerely a giant answer book on all you always wanted to know about God but were afraidto ask. The theme that seems to run through the Bible from Genesis to Revelationaddresses the relationship between God and man. The Garden of Eden The record begins with an announcement of God’s eternal preexistence andalmost immediately explains man’s non-preexistence by virtue of his creation by God.This simple, clear but profound information establishes the facts concerning man’sorigin. He was created by and is separate from God, not an emanation from God, yet manbears some image of or likeness to God, Gen. 1:26, 27. The creation account also communicates that the relationship between God andman was initially very good. This relationship apparently continued for an indefiniteperiod of time, Gen. 1:26, 31; 2:1-25. But it was not to remain that way. God had giveninstructions for man’s behavior. He set boundaries and limitations and consequencesshould these boundaries be transgressed. 9
  • 19. 10 The Lord God commanded the man, “…from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” Gen. 2:17. Man’s willful, rebellious decision to disobey God’s instruction created a breechbetween God and himself. That breech was serious and had eternal implications. Fromthat point men have been asking the question, “How can man be right with God?” God actually gave the answer before man ever asked the question the first time,Isa. 65:24. In the first statement of God’s justice He, also, included the first statement ofhope for re-establishing a relationship with Himself. “He shall bruise you on the head,and you shall bruise him on the heel” Gen. 3:15. This bit of information is a reference toChrist and the redemption that He was later to complete on the cross. On the cross Christaccomplished the defeat of Satan, the defeat of his death grip on humanity, and therelease of the human race. Based on this most significant event of all human history, Godultimately justifies all men who will put their faith in Christ’s substitute payment of theirpenalty. God neither gives nor will He accept any other method for reconciliation withHimself This exclusiveness of God opposes the legion of suggestions, systems, andmethods of salvation and reconciliation (including Hinduism) that men throughout historyhave invented. Only God has the right and authority to create and establish a method ofreconciliation. But His grace and compassion motivated Him to do it. Compared to men’sattempts at reconciliation however, a glaring distinction blatantly stands out betweenGod’s plan and all the other plans of men’s inventions. God comes to man! In the course of history the promise of God is repeated and expanded. The God who intervenes with his word of promise also bridges the gulf by mighty acts of deliverance. No Babel tower of man’s building can avail to join earth to heaven and to determine where God should descend. God came down his own stairway at his 10
  • 20. 11 own time to make Bethel the house of God, the gate of heaven (Gen. 11:4; 28:12- 17).14 “In the fullness of time God sent His Son” (italics mine) Gal. 4:4a. In God’s plan of justification by faith in His work, God takes the initiative ofcreating the plan and its terms, providing the only acceptable substitute, and setting thetime and the means. Thus He receives all the glory from start to finish for it is all of Him.Man only responds. Man gets no glory, cannot boast, has no basis for self-pride. The planis for all. There are no exceptions, substitutes, or mixing plans or alterations for anyonefor any reason. “God is just and the justifier of all who believe,” Rom. 3:26. But in this seed promise of salvation (Gen. 3:15) initiated by God there is a“suspended” sentence. Human history is set under a suspended sentence, but a sentence that awaits a time of judgment and of final restoration….Just as God is the judge whose verdict is final and just, so God is the Savior, the only one who can provide deliverance from the penalty of his own judgment. The great theme of the Old Testament is that ‘salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9).15God gave many indications that His final judgment was pending. Though scatteredrandomly through Scripture, taken together, these indications are a solemn reminder thatGod is still in charge and has not forgotten His word of judgment. The following aresome examples. • God’s immediate judgment fell on Adam and Eve. (Gen. 3:13-24) • All mankind dies physically. (Rom. 5:14) • A whole generation of mankind died in the flood of Noah’s day. (Gen. 7:21, 22) 14 Carson, Right with God, 24. 15 Ibid., 24. 11
  • 21. 12 • Sodom and Gomorrah burned to the ground. (Gen. 19:24, 25) • Israel spent 70 years in captivity. (Jer. 25:11, 12) • The temple in Jerusalem was burned and the stones scattered in 70 AD. (Matt. 24:2) • World empires have been judged and destroyed according to the prophetic Word of God. (Dan. 7:1-28; 8:1-27)16 In contrast to God’s keeping His word with regard to His promise of judgment, Godalso has kept His word with regard to restoring man to relationship with Himself. Hedemonstrates throughout the Old Testament that the restoration process does not dependon man’s wisdom or effort but on His grace and choice. “God chooses not Cain, but Abel; not Ishmael but Isaac; not Esau, but Jacob; not Reuben, but Judah; not Eliab but David; not Amnon, but Solomon.”17 God is the initiator and pursuer of the restoration process. It is based on Hiscompassion, His grace, and His plan. God’s Covenants God sprinkles His covenants down through history. Each one gives insight intoGod’s character of longsuffering with the human race. God’s patience and forbearanceexplain why his final judgment has not yet fallen in human history, Rom. 2:4. God had asHis goal the restoration of the entire race (though not necessarily each individual in therace). But He chose to accomplish that through One man. That One would come througha certain individual, even Abraham, Gen. 12:1-3. Thus, God makes a covenant withAbraham, Gen. 17:1-21. From Abraham comes the nation of Israel. God’s choice of 16 Ibid., 24. 17 Ibid., 25. 12
  • 22. 13Israel was not because of anything good in them but because of His own goodness,namely the promise that He made to Abraham and His desire to bless the nation, Jer.29:11. At this point in Israel’s history God introduces His law and another covenant, theMosaic covenant, Exod. 19:1-8. The Ten Commandments are the heart of the statementof His law. On the surface one might quickly conclude that God was giving His people abehavioral plan to earn their way back to God and to keep in relationship with Him.However, nothing could be further from God’s intent for His law. God set forth Hisstandard of acceptance. But the fact is no one could possibly meet that standard. But evenif one could, there would still remain the sin nature that would continue to produce sin aslong as the individual existed. Nothing in the law was designed to give a new nature. Thatsin nature would remain, disqualifying anyone from establishing an eternal, restoredrelationship with God. To fellowship with God requires cleanness and purity. The sacrificial system ofthe law provided and dictated how that could be accomplished temporarily. Complyingwith that system one could offer his worship acceptably to God. But it is to be noted thatthis temporary relationship was not a permanent one and would have to be repeated asoften as sin was committed. Something remained unchanged in the heart of theworshipper that was deep and part of his being that had not been corrected. He needed anew heart. The law served several purposes in God’s economy. It obviously declared God’sstandard of righteousness. It served to teach that no man could produce his ownrighteousness by keeping the law. Probably the highest achievement of the law was tobring men to Christ. Only He, of all men, could and did keep the law. The righteousness 13
  • 23. 14which Christ produced in keeping the law, God made available by imputation to all whobelieve in Christ. Again God took the initiative and promised to give a new heart, Ezek. 36:26. Nowa new covenant can be established with Israel that will be kept, Jer. 31:31-34. Upon thisbasis an eternal relationship can be built. To get right with God something right(righteousness) had to be done for man. He was totally unable to do anything pureenough, clean enough, or holy enough that would be acceptable to God. A righteousnessneeded to be produced on man’s side for the basis of a relationship to be established orsustained with a righteous God. Christ-- The Lamb of God: God’s Provision for SalvationThe Coming of Christ In the final analysis, of all the events of Christ’s human life and experiences, theprimary purpose of His coming to earth stands out loud and clear. He declared, “I camethat they might have life and have it abundantly,” John. 10:10. He explained His activeinitiative of the process, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that whichwas lost,” Luke. 19:10. This simple but profound statement says it all. He came on amission…. “to seek the lost”…with an intended goal…“to save them.” The means toaccomplish His purpose was clearly articulated by John the Baptist.. Said John, “Behold,the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John. 1:29. At that point no onebut the Savior Himself had any clue that the accomplishment of that prophetic statementmeant the cross for Him. Jesus was focused on His agenda to carry out His purpose. He made a specialeffort to explain His actions and intents along the way. Christ knew what He was doing 14
  • 24. 15and He was in complete control of His life. What, to an observer, may have seemed likethe whims of human response to Christ and His claims were carefully orchestrated byGod the Father. These responses to Christ, which ultimately resulted in His death,accomplished the provision of salvation and provided the means to get right with God.The Question of Righteousness 1. At the very outset of Jesus’ public ministry He prevailed over John’s resistanceto baptize Him with the explanation that His baptism was necessary to fulfill allrighteousness, Matt. 3:15. Though theologians have haggled for centuries over theprecise meaning of what Jesus meant by that statement, one thing is crystal clear. Jesuslinked His ministry to righteousness, being right with God. All that He would do from thefirst day of His public ministry would be tightly tied to righteousness. 2. In fact when, later in His ministry, Jesus was talking to the chief priests andelders in the temple, He reminded them of righteousness as it was linked to John’sministry. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believehim,” Matt. 21:32. 3. Jesus recognized and instructed those who lacked righteousness and knew theirdeficiency. Those who longed to possess righteousness were exactly in line for that gift.He confirmed, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shallbe satisfied,”( italics mine) Matt. 5:7. The profoundness of this statement verified whatHe was about to accomplish with His life and sacrifice. Not only was righteousnessneeded, but it would be provided by the Father’s perfect provision of His Son. However,it would take the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost to explain the significance ofGod’s control. Peter detailed the sovereign control of God over those events, 15
  • 25. 16 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know, this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power (Acts 2:22-24). Peter expounded the sovereign control of God again to the crowd that watchedhim heal a man on the way to the temple. This time he highlighted the righteousness ofChrist’s life. Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One (italics mine) and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses (Acts 3:12-15). 4. Jesus constantly focused on righteousness, reminding the people that God’sstandard of righteousness was higher than anything they had observed in their experience,especially that demonstrated by the scribes and Pharisees. Repeatedly He warned, For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20). 5. In fact, Christ emphasized righteousness in his ministry. His very instructionsuggested that there were three aspects of the people’s perspective on righteousness thatneeded correcting. First, they had not made righteousness their priority for He said, “Seekfirst,” implying this had not been their priority. Second, their commitment to righteousness was lacking, for He said, “Seek…”The imperative tense and the strong action word “seek” suggest they had not been puttingeffort toward the pursuit of righteousness. 16
  • 26. 17 Third, the most significant and most important aspect of Jesus’ instruction is inthe phrase “His righteousness.” Jesus was not telling the people to produce their ownrighteousness. That is very significant. Jesus knew their righteousness was not goodenough, not acceptable. The scribes and the Pharisees were doing their best and their bestwas not enough. In fact, no man’s righteousness is enough or acceptable to God. Jesusplainly, clearly, emphatically instructed the people to seek God’s righteousness. This kindof focused seeking implies that having found God’s righteousness, there might exist somehope for them. Hope that God would give to them some of His righteousness which aloneis acceptable to Him. God might be pleased in His grace to do that for them. Christ putsemphasis on being headed in the right direction and having the right attitude. Getting offto the right start and on the right road, God would lead them in the way. In fact, He hadgiven them the law as a school master to lead them to Christ. He would surprise them intheir pursuit by giving (imputing) righteousness to them, the righteousness Christ hadprepared for them. Paul’s Revelation: God’s Way of Salvation “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness” Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness, My beauty are, My glorious dress; ‘Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head. Bold shall I stand in Thy great day, For who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully absolved through these I am, 17
  • 27. 18 From sin and fear, From guilt and shame. Lord, I believe Thy precious blood, Which at the mercy seat of God Forever doth for sinners plead, For me, e’en for my soul, was shed. Lord, I believe were sinners more Than sands upon the ocean shore, Thou hast for all a ransom paid, For all a full atonement made. Text: Nicolaus L. Zinzendorf; Translation by John Wesley18 Introductory Statements A right understanding of justification is absolutely crucial to the whole Christian faith. Once Martin Luther realized the truth of justification by faith alone, he became a Christian and overflowed with the new-found joy of the gospel.19 Thus far, the primary and consistent truth of God’s justifying men by faith alonein His plan has been seen in the Old Testament and in the focus of Christ’s becoming aman and coming to the earth. Now, the focus will be on the apostle Paul who of allScripture writers best explains the ramifications of the doctrine of justification by faith.He explains, illustrates, and defends the doctrine in its final and fullest form. Though hementions the truth in his epistles to a number of the churches he started, he develops thetheme in his letters to the Romans and the Galatians. Two aspects of this teaching makeup the core of the truth. One is God’s subtracting sin and its guilt from the believer, basedon Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice for man. The other is God’s declaring the believerrighteous, based on His placing Christ’s righteousness on the believer’s account. Thesetwo aspects will be considered more closely in the unfolding of Paul’s statements of the 18 The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, ed. Tom Fettke (Waco, TX: Word Music, 1986), 193. 19 Grudem, Systematic Theology. 722. 18
  • 28. 19events of justification. Definitions A number of definitions are given to get a full feeling of all that is involved in thedoctrine of justification. Authors emphasize different aspects. An important point issometimes missing in some definitions. Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight.20 By justification we mean that act of God by which, on account of Christ, to Whom the sinner united by faith, He declares that sinner to be no longer under condemnation, but to have a standing of righteousness before him.21 To be justified means to be declared righteous. Because of our position in Christ, whereby Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, God declares us righteous because we are clothed with righteousness.22 To justify means to declare righteous. Both the Hebrew (sadaq) and the Greek (dikaioo) words mean to announce or pronounce a favorable verdict, to declare righteous. The concept does not mean to make righteous, but to announce righteousness. It is a courtroom concept, so that to justify is to give a verdict of righteous.23 Justification is there declared to be an act of God, accomplished by one single divine volition, completed by one single act in each instance. It is declared also to be an act, a forensic act; that is, an act of a Judge, not an act of God as Sovereign.24 Paul’s thesis is that God justifies sinners on a just ground, namely, that the claims of God’s law upon them have been fully satisfied. The law has not been altered, or suspended, or flouted for their justification, but fulfilled by Jesus Christ….On the 20 Ibid., 723. 21 Emery H. Bancroft, Elemental Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1960),215. 22 Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications,1995), 203. 23 Ryrie, Basic Theology. 343. 24 A.A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976), 295. 19
  • 29. 20 ground of Christ’s obedience, God does not impute sin, but imputes righteousness to sinners who believe, (Rom. 4:2-8; 5:19).25 In the New Testament, justification is the declarative act of God by which, on the basis of the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning death, he pronounces believers to have fulfilled all of the requirements of the law which pertain to them. Justification is a forensic act imputing the righteousness of Christ to the believer; it is not an actual infusing of holiness into the individual. It is a matter of declaring the person righteous, as a judge does in acquitting the accused.26 Justification is the act of God whereby He acquits the gospel believer of the divine verdict of condemnation and declares him to be righteous.27 Imputed righteousness is the ground of justification. God declares the one justified forever whom He sees in Christ. It is an equitable decree since the justified one is clothed in the righteousness of God. Justification is not a fiction or a state of feeling; it is rather an immutable reckoning in the mind of God.28 Justification may be defined as that act of God whereby He declares righteous him who believes on Christ.29 A man is said to be justified in the sight of God when in the judgment of God he is deemed righteous, and is accepted on account of his righteousness….Thus we simply interpret justification, as the acceptance with which God receives us into his favor as if we were righteous; and we say that this justification consists in the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.30 Taken collectively these definitions contain the following twenty-five elements indefining the doctrine of justification. The number following each element refers to the 25 George J. Zemek, A Biblical Theology of The Doctrines of Sovereign Grace (Little Rock, AR:B.T.D.S.G., 2004), 171, 172. 26 Millard J. Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, ed. L. Arnold Hustad (Grand Rapids: BakerAcademic, 1992), 318. 27 Floyd H. Barackman, Practical Christian Theology (Bible School Park, NY: Practical Press,1981), 267. 28 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Major Bible Themes, ed. John F. Walvoord (Grand Rapids: ZondervanPublishing House, 1974), 200. 29 Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology (Chicago, IL: Wm. B.Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973), 362. 30 John Calvin, Institutes of The Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge (Edinburgh, England:T and T Clark, 1869), 37, 38. 20
  • 30. 21number of times that particular element is specifically cited in the collection ofdefinitions. Definition Compilation Justification is the single (4) Immutable (1) Eternal (1) forensic, legal (4) decree (1) (an act) of God (11) Who is acting as judge (1) whereby a sinner (3) under just condemnation (2) who by faith in Christ’s (4) atoning death (1) comes to be in Christ (2) and has his sins forgiven (2) and is thus declared by God (14) announced (Hebrew and Greek words) (1) righteous (4) by virtue of imputing Christ’s righteousness to him (6) not made righteous or infused with holiness (2) but acquitted (2) as accused (1) because the demands of the law (3) 21
  • 31. 22 have now been satisfied (1). Definition without the Mathematics Justification is the single, immutable, eternal, forensic, legal decree (an act) ofGod. God is Judge whereby a sinner under just condemnation, who by faith in Christ’satoning death comes to be in Christ. He has his sins forgiven and is declared righteous byGod by virtue of imputing Christ’s righteousness to him, not made righteous or infusedwith holiness, but acquitted as accused because the demands of the law have now beensatisfied. Elements of Emphasis Of the 25 elements or aspects identified in this definition, nine have been chosen.They are chosen because their importance to the basic concept of justification andbecause of their relevance to communicating this truth to the Hindu way of thinking. Inchapter 3, we will discuss in depth these and other aspects of justification as it relates toHinduism. The purpose here is only to show the link and the importance of the focus.Those nine aspects of justification are: 1. It is God. God takes the initiative and creates an acceptable way to restore man.31 Initially and ultimately God is pursuing man, not the reverse. All religions, including Hinduism, present man’s attempts to placate and to pursue God. Their attempts are always on their own terms and by their own methods. The total concept of justification is just the opposite. 2. It is a forensic, legal act. This is a court case. God has a required standard of behavior.32 He gave consequences should that standard be violated.33 God now 31 Ryrie, Basic Theology, 344. 32 Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, 324. 22
  • 32. 23sits as Judge.34 He is righteous. He demands righteousness.35 The accused ischarged with unrighteousness which carries the death penalty. Will the guilty becondemned or acquitted? How? Why? There is but one judgment with no reviewsand no second chances. Hinduism lacks the perspective of a broken divinestandard and judgment. Also, Hinduism suggests, by virtue of its teaching ofunlimited reincarnations, that if you don’t get it right this time there is alwaysanother opportunity.3. Justification is declared, announced. The pronouncement of the RighteousJudge is always right and final! He makes a value judgment and He has Hisreason.36 In fact, he wants men to know Who is that reason. His Son made thepayment on our behalf. His Son, our substitute. His righteousness, our sin. Hisdeath, our life. His pain, our peace. His efforts, not ours. All religions, Hinduismincluded, suggest that our efforts will win favor with God and somehow make usacceptable again, or merged back into the essence of God. The presence andmagnitude of our sin are either forgotten, or minimized or not recognized at all. 374. It is by faith in Christ…The Biblical distinction between faith in Christ ascompared to faith in a guru, a prophet, a religious leader, or a holy man isenormous. In Hinduism, one is free to mix and blend the instructions and insightsof others. One is even encouraged to mix and blend instructions. Not so with faithin Christ. He claims to be the only way. He alone is pure, holy, and acceptable to33 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 723.34 Ryrie, Basic Theology, 343.35 Ibid., 344.36 Ibid., 345.37 Barackman, Practical Christian Theology, 268. 23
  • 33. 24God. He is the only way to God. One cannot mix or blend the impurities of thethings or people of the world that are under condemnation with the purity andholiness of Christ. This exclusiveness of Christ, as the only way with no mixturesand excluding all others, is the hardest truth in Christianity for Hindus tounderstand and accept. For the Hindu, this is arrogance at its worst, lacking thehumility of understanding the reality of human limitations. How can man know itall? How can he know absolutely the final answer without doubt, particularlywhen spiritual matters are being addressed?5. It is in Christ. Faith in Christ results in a union with Christ that is bestexplained in the New Testament as being “in Christ” (a doctrine not addressed inthis paper). This relationship with His Son is precisely what allows God to beholy and just and compassionate in light of our guilt and pending eternaljudgment. In fact, in union with Christ, i.e. in Christ, the Father now can treat usas He does His guiltless, holy, righteous Son! Hindus continue to struggle withtheir dharma (duty) which is endless, ultimately undefined and having no absolutestandard of measure to know if one has totally satisfied the requirement or not.6. Justification is because of Christ’s righteousness. Jesus, the second member ofthe trinity, possesses the eternal attribute of righteousness. Anything he does is anact of righteousness.38 It is pure. It is holy. It is right. When He became a man andbegan to perform acts and deeds on the earth, each one was righteous. He alwaysdid what pleased His Father, Jn. 8:29. His life was pure, perfect. He became thespotless Lamb of God. Therefore He could become a sacrifice, the first perfectsacrifice ever offered. This One could, because of His purity and His deity, offer38 Ibid. 24
  • 34. 25an adequate sacrifice for all mankind. A deeper truth is here. How could one manstand in the place of all men? The explanation of how another single individual,Adam, could cause the death of all men helps us understand how that conceptworked with Christ. This concept will be examined more closely later in thischapter. Hindus, along with many others, cling to their attempts to please andplacate god. They think they have God figured out and attempt to get to Him bytheir own inventions of worship and service. Few, if any, have taken the time oreffort to ask what way God will accept. Does He already have a way in place thatwill enable one to get right with Him? The answer is an emphatic “Yes!” The wayis Christ’s righteousness imputed to our account.7. It is imputed. Christ’s righteousness is a gift given to each one who believes,who will receive what He did for him.39 The transaction is awesome to behold.The perfect, sinless, pure One is willing to suffer the pains of death for others (allthe race). They have no hope, no possible way of escaping the certain eternalsentence of hell’s torment and eternal separation from God. God then is willing toaccept His Son’s perfect sacrifice, not just for one but for all mankind, thuspaying their penalty and erasing their sin and impurity. Though cleansed,however, they are still without righteousness. Again, God accepts His Son’sperfect, pure record of righteousness and puts that on the now clean but emptyaccount of the ones who by faith are “in Christ.” God accepts no other way. Hedid all the creating and making. He has the right to be absolute and exclusive! Heshall receive all the glory for He has done it all, from planning, to providing topursuing, to declaring the repentant, believing sinner righteous in His sight!39 Ibid., 269. 25
  • 35. 26Hindus work hard, even a whole lifetime, to produce a righteousness that will notmeet the perfect, pure, holy standard that God has set. But the good news is thatGod has already provided a way that allows His standard to be met in His Son.His provision is available to all through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness,to all who will offer only His work and not theirs to God.8. Justification is not being made righteous. The one who carefully reflects on theexactness of what God did may raise the point: All this was done on behalf of thebeliever. But it was not done to the nature of the sinner-believer. That is true.God’s acts of declaring righteous and making righteous are two distinct activitiesof God. The second, making an individual righteous, is not within the scope ofthis paper to discuss at length. Hindus put an emphasis on the right performanceof a deed with little or no understanding of the need of a character that producesonly righteousness. They see the act as a requirement to be learned and performedas a duty. The new nature that God produces in a believer is the outflow of Hislife and character in His children, not the demand of rituals or the duties to familyand society.9. It is immutable. God’s decrees, pronouncements, and declarations are eternal,immutable, and unchangeable. He never gives His word then retracts it. He neverpromises what He cannot keep. He always knows what is ahead so He is able tokeep His word. In short He planned that all future sinful acts of men would beadequately covered by the payment of His Son forever.40 Thus His declaration iseternally permanent. All who come to Christ, Hindus included, can rest secure inGod’s declaration of justification.40 Ibid. 26
  • 36. 27 Hebrew and Greek Words The best way to understand the concept of righteousness and the act of declaringone righteous is to look at the basic words used in the Old Testament and the NewTestament. The concept is based on these terms and their meanings. The Hebrew andGreek terms, righteous and righteousness, appear approximately 545 times in the Bible.41They are used in various ways with regard to God and man. The main Hebrew word is qdc. The word means, “rightness or righteousness.”42It refers to what is right, just, normal; rightness, justness in weights,measurements, government, causes, speech, ethical issues, and controversy.43 The termprecludes a norm, a standard or a law by which the action is compared and measured.44Then judgment is passed based on its acceptance.45 The main Greek word is dikaiosunh. The word means, “uprightness, justice as acharacteristic of a judge, or as required of men by God in a moral or religious sense.”46The New Testament word gets much of its meaning from the Old Testament word usageand meaning. The focus of this paper is on Paul’s use of the term. The starting-point for an understanding of what Paul means by the dikaiosunh qeou is provided by legal righteousness. According to Rom. 9:30 the Law is a nomos dikaiosumhs because it demands righteousness. Paul has a strong forensic use of 41 Edward W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger III, The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 959, 960. 42 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 724. 43 Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of The OldTestament (Glasgow, Scotland: Oxford University Press, 1907), 842, 842. 44 Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 318. 45 Ryrie, Basic Theology, 343. 46 William F. Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament(Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1957). 27
  • 37. 28 justification. Forensically does not mean “as if” he were righteous, since the sovereign sentence of God is genuinely pronounced. Nor does it mean that moral rectitude (character) is attained. What it does mean is that the man who has dikaiosunh is right before God.47 Two Major Aspects of Justification Among a number of very important facets of the doctrine of justification, twoseem to be the focal point in the need for justification. One is the sin problem that man has, which makes him hopelessly guilty beforeGod.48 Man has never been able to deal with his sin record and the guilt it has causedhim.49 The record is indelible, irremovable, and unpayable. He cannot reduce it, changeit, alter it, or escape it. Three phases continue to drive nails into his eternal coffin. Heinherited some of it, he personally has produced some of it, and he helplessly continues togenerate more of it. He is doomed by what he didn’t do, by what he has done and by whathe continues to do, but can’t stop doing it. His debt and doom grow daily without anyhope or insight to change his condition or nature. Over the history of his race he hasattempted many ways to escape the justice hanging over his head, to ease the ache of hissoul, and to remake the nature of his being but all have desperately failed. There is nopeace with God. His soul knows only constant pain. And his nature only continues toproduce lawlessness and rebellion. His sin problem is literally and eternally killing him.He has no hope. The second major aspect is his need for righteousness. Everything man does istainted with sin and impurity. He just can’t meet God’s high standard of absolute 47 Theological Dictionary of The New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley(Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1964), Vol. II, 202, 204. 48 Barackman, Practical Christian Theology, 268. 49 Addison H. Leitch, Interpreting Basic Theology (Great Neck, NY: Channel Press, Inc., 1961),99. 28
  • 38. 29holiness. By men’s standards some may pass. But by God’s standards “there is nonerighteous, not even one.” Rom. 3:10. These two major needs are the focus of the doctrine of justification. Man’s recordof guilt and his inability to change his nature have left him in a pending state of eternaljudgment. The doctrine of justification changes all of that and more! Hindus need to beconfronted with these facts and the explanation of the remedy. They may be totallyunaware of their condition and this desperate situation. This lack of awareness certainly isbecause of a lack of information. Also, they have been focused on their dharma (duty),not realizing that all their efforts are totally incapable of changing their condition orfuture. The Great Solution: The Gift of God Not until one understands the seriousness of the condition can he totallyappreciate the enormity of the solution. People often do not even recognize a solutionuntil they realize what the real problem is. An old adage states, “You have to get a manlost before you can get him saved.” The sentence of death is upon the whole human race. God’s compassion hascaused the exercise of his abundant grace to supply the gift of His Son’s sufficient work.He has produced righteousness enough for us all. Again let it be noted that God has takenthe initiative, devised the plan, provided the cure, and extended the offer to the entirerace.50 No amount of human effort and no blend of human works will be acceptablealongside God’s single, holy provision. God’s supply is in the righteousness of His SonJesus Christ. This provision is applicable only to “those who receive the abundance ofgrace and of the gift of righteousness through the One, Jesus Christ,” Rom. 5:17. Hindus 50 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 729. 29
  • 39. 30will begin to realize the enormity of the provision only when they begin to understand theseriousness of their spiritual condition. Paul’s Explanation of Justification in His Letter to the Romans This deeper explanation of justification is given for the following reasons. First,the need to understand the essence of justification in its basic concepts .This involvesstripping away any of its historical cultural trappings picked up along the way in Europeand in the West. These trappings would impede understanding for Eastern thinkingpatterns, namely the Hindu mind-set. Second is the need to be alert for aspects of the doctrine of justification thatparticularly must be emphasized or highlighted for the Hindu in light of hismisunderstanding of reality. Hindus are unaware of having transgressed God’s standard,indeed that God even has a standard of expected behavior. They, as well as all people, areguilty of not having measured up to God’s standard. Third, one must work systematically through Paul’s presentation of the doctrineof justification to answer the logical questions of why, what, and how such a radicalanswer is the final solution to man’s universal question: How can man be right with God? Though Paul referenced the teaching of justification to almost all the churches heplanted, his most serious explanations are given in his letters to the Galatians and to theRomans. The letter to the Galatians targets particularly the attack by Jews who insistedthat keeping the law together with of what Christ had accomplished on the cross werealso necessary. “Yes, Christ’s sacrifice was necessary initially,” they argued, “but law-keeping was necessary to continue to stay right with God.” Paul’s argues not only is thatwhat Christ did was not only sufficient initially and throughout their lives and for finaljudgment but that to add anything to what He had done was indeed another gospel and 30
  • 40. 31should come under God’s curse, Gal. 1:8. Paul’s purpose in writing of justification to the Roman believers, however, ismuch broader. Here he explains the whole concept of justification with great detail toteach the total truth of justification and particularly its centrality to the Gospel. Withoutjustification there is ultimately no good news for man. That is to say, if Christ died androse again only to prove His power over death, what benefit does that offer for the rest ofthe human race? They are not righteous. They are still guilty of sin. Paul shows thatGod’s method of justification is the only divinely certified way back to God.The Theme Stated (Rom. 1:1-17) From the moment of man’s creation he has been in need of righteousness tocontinue a relationship with his Creator. Man was created perfect and pure. But Godwanted to establish a continuing relationship with man based on his responsive obedienceto Him, thus creating righteousness in man. Up to that point man was pure, clean butwithout righteousness, i.e. doing right acts, measuring up to God’s standard of conduct.Theologians refer to this state or condition as unconfirmed holiness. He was pure butuntested. Tested. The “test” is the key event and pivotal point in man’s relationship to hisCreator. When the test was given, man failed to produce righteousness. Severeconsequences requested from that failure. Man’s failure separated him from God,including death physically and spiritually. His failure caused an eternal separation,including death and torment that he had no ability to reverse. He was in desperate need ofoutside help. Enters the gospel. Paul shows that in the gospel revealed the righteousness ofGod, Rom. 1:16, 17. All men, including Hindus, have striven to produce their own 31
  • 41. 32righteousness in order to be reinstated with God. Paul’s revelation is that it is only God’srighteousness that is acceptable, and that righteousness has been made available.51Righteousness Needed (Rom. 1:18-3:20) The availability of God’s righteousness stands out even more greatly whencontrasted with His wrath against unrighteousness, (1:18-27). God reveals His wrath, butHe reveals His righteousness, Paul describes the enormity and universality of God’s judgment from threeperspectives. First is the insistent spiraling down of mankind against the attempts of Godto halt man’s downward direction. On three different occasions God finally gavemankind over to their rebellious desires (1:24, 26, and 28). Righteousness is neededbecause of man’s universal rebellion against God’s restraint. Second, righteousness is needed because those who judge others for unrighteousdeeds are no better off themselves. They are guilty of the same things. Understandingtransgression and criticizing others for their sin does not exempt one of his guilt. Thus, heneeds righteousness from some source other than himself (2:1-17). Third, righteousness is needed by those who do not follow and obey the law ofGod. Having the law does not exempt one. Doing the law does. But no one is able to dothe law completely, producing righteousness acceptable to God. All fall short, all areguilty (3:10, 23; 2:18-3:30). Hindus must be informed of the guilt of the world, theirs included, and that God’swrath is definite and pending. Therefore, they and all mankind are in desperate need of arighteousness that is acceptable to God. That righteousness is not to be found among anyof the attempts of the human race or among any of the religious systems of the world, 51 Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, 325. 32
  • 42. 33including Hinduism.Righteousness of Christ Imputed (Rom. 3:21-5:21) Paul makes the great announcement about the availability of God’s righteousnessto mankind. This is vital for Hindus to understand. The imputation of Christ’srighteousness is the only method available by which man can return to God. For this tohappen, an understanding of the issues and the significance of the divine provision isprerequisite. In Romans 1:17 Paul said God’s righteousness was “revealed”. In Romans3:21 Paul said God’s righteousness was “manifested.” First it is uncovered and then it isexplained. He makes several helpful statements about God’s righteousness. 1. This righteousness is separate from the law.52 The implication is that any attempt to keep the law, even if it were successful, would not be adequate. Why? Because performing a current requirement has no power to erase past sins. Law-keeping at its best can only establish one’s record from this point forward.53 But even that gave little hope, for Jews for centuries had attempted to keep the law. No one had succeeded yet. This was good news that righteousness apart from the law might have some future. (See Rom. 3:21.) 2. This righteousness was not a total surprise for it had been announced by the law itself and by the prophets.54 This righteousness had exposure in the Old Testament. God’s righteous character had been displayed on 52 Bancroft, Elemental Theology, 217. 53 Hodge, Evangelical Theology, 295. 54 Bancroft , 216. 33
  • 43. 34 numerous occasions. Others had been declared righteous apart from doing any law-works. The Messiah had been identified as “My Righteous Servant,” Isa. 53:11. See Rom. 3:21. 3. This righteousness was to be possessed by means of faith not by an achievement of works or any other effort on the part of man.55 The reception channel was faith, not doing.56 Through the ages a few seemed to have understood.57 But the bulk of the human race did not understand. Though it was not new it was being revealed that this is the way, the only way, man could achieve an acceptable righteousness -- through faith.58 (See Rom.3:22.) 4. This righteousness was in Christ.59 That was new. Never before had anyone understood that the only acceptable righteousness to God (right acts in response to His standard) was the righteousness which Christ had performed.60 (See Rom. 3:22.) 5. This righteousness was available to all who would believe.61 No distinctions were made, for all had sinned and were equally in need of this righteousness. This righteousness was adequate for all. No one’s need exceeded the quantity that was available in Christ. In fact, the degree of55 Ibid., 218.56 Zemek, A Biblical Theology, 171.57 Chafer, Major Bible Themes, 199, 200.58 Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 320, 321.59 Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 203.60 Chafer, Major Bible Themes, 199.61 Zemek, A Biblical Theology, 218. 34
  • 44. 35 guiltiness of individuals is not even addressed. (See Rom. 3:22, 23.) 6. This offer of righteousness resulted in a state of justification. Once the righteousness produced by Christ was made available and a person availed himself of it by faith in Christ, he was justified.62 God declared him righteous.63 This was God’s act, not man’s. Man’s character did not change, but his position and relationship to God did change based on what God declared64 (3:24) 7. This righteousness was a gift. Gifts are gifts! A gift cannot be earned or paid for.65 It does not require prior qualification. Anything within the recipient that smacks of merit disqualifies the item exchanged as a true gift. Otherwise, it becomes something given in exchange for merit, achievement, or wage. A gift is a gift! This gift of righteousness is totally undeserved and unearned. No one qualified for it by means of anything he may have done to deserve it (See Rom. 3:24). 8. This righteousness-gift was motivated by God’s grace.66 The compassionate, loving heart of God motivated the grace of God to provide this righteousness for the human race. God was not compelled to deliver man. But His grace moved Him to provide a plan that would not violate His justice or His holiness and yet would totally restore man at all levels. His plan would pay the debt for the entire race. His plan would impute62 Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 203.63 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 724.64 Chafer, Major Bible Themes, 200.65 Ibid., 203.66 Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 203. 35
  • 45. 36 righteousness to everyone who would believe in Christ. His plan would restore His relationship with individuals and the race as a whole. His plan would be eternally irrevocable.67 His plan would ultimately conclude with a nature in man with confirmed righteousness and the ability to perform righteously for all eternity. His grace generated all that and more. Amazing grace! (See Rom. 3:24). 9. This righteousness provided a propitiation to God’s wrath. God did not change the severity of His sentence. Nor did He settle for anything less than what He demanded. His demands were totally met. He was completely satisfied.68 He was pleased. He was at peace with mankind.69 Justice had been served.70 Judgment had been extracted (See Rom. 3:25). 10. This righteousness had been produced publicly. God put His Son on public display for all to see. At the crucifixion, no one, except the Savior, had a clue of what was happening. Eternal redemption was being provided for the entire human race. No one understood what was happening. Now for hundreds of years, man has been able to look back and relive that day with all of its significance, understanding deeply and in detail what God did with His Son on the cross. Righteousness was provided publicly. 71 (See Rom. 3:25).67 Bancroft, Elemental Theology, 219.68 Chafer, Major Bible Themes, 197, 198.69 Ibid.70 Ibid.71 Bancroft, Elemental Theology., 218-220. 36
  • 46. 37 11. This righteousness was provided through the blood of Christ.72 Christ gave His life and died in man’s place.73 Two important issues were part of Christ’s provision of righteousness. One, he offered a perfect life of obedience and herein lay the righteousness that man needed. Second, that perfect sinless life is what the Father so desired from the entire human race. Just obedience. In fact, just loving the Father, to the point of obeying His will, was the total passion of His Son. No wonder the Father has predestined all to be conformed to the image of His Son, the obedient One. He became the spotless Lamb of God that could be offered for all. His blood was shed publicly, recorded eternally, discussed, explained, preached, and appreciated continuously. In His blood is demonstrated His righteousness (Rom. 3:25). 12. This righteousness was demonstrated. First, this righteousness was revealed apokaluptetai (1:18). Then it was manifested pefanerwtai (3:21). Now it is demonstrated endeixin (3:25, 26). Each statement has in it an aspect of showing mankind the righteousness of God. First, it is uncovered, to be aware of its existence. Second, it is displayed, to be seen and observed. Finally, it is explained, to be understood. The public display of the propitiation was made so men could see that the demands of God for the penalty of man’s sin had been satisfied. The payment was made by Christ and accepted by the Father. This was a demonstration to behold, to go on record, to be studied, to be proclaimed (to Hindus).72 Ibid.,218.73 Grudem, Systematic Theology,727. 37
  • 47. 38 13. This righteousness came in response to God’s forbearance. From Adam’s sin until Calvary’s dark hour the pending judgment of God’s final eternal stroke against man’s sin had waited. But why? Why had God not immediately, on each man for each sin, extracted the exact penalty? Why had He waited? He waited for that hour on the cross when His Son would scream in victory, “It is finished!” God could wait and did wait until His Son had paid the debt for the human race in full. His forbearance, driven by His grace, fueled by His love, wrapped in his compassion, caused Him to wait. That patience of God had to be demonstrated for man to see the longsuffering of God until Jesus came and died for Hindus and for all (Rom. 3:26). 14. This righteousness was a just act by a just Judge.74 This public demonstration would let the whole world see God is just in every aspect. 1) He had not forgotten his promise of judgment on sin. Time had not changed His mind or His Word.75 He could be trusted for the bad as well as for the good. 2) He had not tampered with the sentence. Sin required the death penalty. Sin got the death penalty. 3) He had targeted man as the offender and debtor. He targeted Man as the payer of the debt. 4) His justice had been vindicated. 5) His holiness had been unspotted. He remained pure and holy in sentencing one for all. Further, God was seen as Judge. He presided over Calvary’s offering. He brought the offering of His own Son, the spotless “Lamb of74 Zemek, A Biblical Theology, 170,171.75 Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 318, 319. 38
  • 48. 39 God that takes away the sins of the world.” to the cross-altar.76 His predetermined plan raised the knife of slaughter for all. (O, Abraham, now do you see the fullness of the meaning of your obedience with your son, Isaac?) Yes, it was the Father who officiated, who was the Justifier. He passed judgment, He executed the sentence. Isaiah graphically captured the scene of what really happened when the Offering of all offerings was offered. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening of our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed, Isa. 53:5, 6. (See Rom. 3:27). Hindus need to understand the big picture of reality. God has a standard ofrequired behavior which has been transgressed. Hindus are, therefore, needy before God,as are all mankind. But they also must savor the details of God’s pursuing mercy andgrace, even His awesome provision of righteousness in Christ. Maybe the goodness ofGod and His patient longsuffering will draw them to the cross and to Himself. Insights and Considerations Pertinent to the Understanding of the Doctrine of Justification with Hinduism in Mind It is important to always to keep in mind the aspects of Hinduism that will affectthe understanding of the doctrine of justification. This is a particularly difficult taskbecause of the diversity of Hinduism’s belief system. 76 Ibid., 318. 39
  • 49. 40 Hinduism is perhaps the only religious tradition that is so diverse in its theoretical premises and practical expressions that it is like a compilation of religions with a history contemporaneous with the peoples with which it is associated.77 Acceding to philosopher Jeaneane Fowler, Hinduism can never be neatly slotted into any particular belief system--monism, theism, monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, panentheism--for all these systems are reflected in its many facets 78 However, after having identified the difficulty of labeling the teachings ofHinduism, some universal beliefs are held by most Hindus that should be kept in mindwhile working through the basic doctrine of justification by faith. 1. Transgression against God’s Standard of Righteousness Generally for the Hindu, sin is not understood to be transgression against therequired standard of a holy God. Sin is viewed as harmful acts against fellow men,resulting in an impeding of the progress of samsara79 (reincarnation) on the way tonirvana80 or realization back into Brahman.81 Knowing that the Hindu will be unaware ofthe significance of transgression against a holy God, or uninstructed clearly on thesubject, or rejecting its premise, care has been taken to emphasize the Biblical truthregarding transgression. 77 Subhamoy Das, “The Basics of Hinduism,” http://about.com:Hinduism (accessed September 1,2007). 78 Ibid. 79 Paul V. M. Flesher, “Hinduism Glossary for Introduction to Religion,” 1996,http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/religionet/er/hinduism/HGLOSSRY.HTM (accessed September 1, 2007). 80 Sabdavali, “Sabdavali Glossary,” http://www.himalayanacademy.com/resourcesbooks/ hbh/hbh_glossary.html (accessed September 1, 2007). 81 Ibid. 40
  • 50. 412. Self-help vs. God-help In Hinduism a focal point is karma. This teaching in its simplest form is… Action, deed. One of the most important principles in Hindu thought, karma refers to 1) any act or deed; 2) the principle of cause and effect; 3) a consequence of ‘fruit of action’ (karmaphala) or ‘after effect’ (uttaraphala), which sooner or later returns upon the doer, What we sow, we shall reap in this or future lives. Selfish, hateful acts (papakarma or kukarma) will bring suffering. Benevolent actions (punyakarma or sukarma) will bring loving reaction. Karma is a neutral, self-perpetuating law of the inner cosmos, much as gravity is an impersonal law of the outer cosmos.82 The impact karma has on accepting the doctrine of justification may have several different effects on Hindus. 1. The Hindu does not realize the significant spiritual and eternal consequences that are generated because of transgressing God’s righteous law. 2. The attitude of “I can do it for myself, thank you very much.” Hindus have a deep sense of independence, being responsible for what one does. They accept the effects or consequences of their own actions. A Hindu may feel confident that whatever God requires he can perform given time and repeated opportunities. 3. The Hindu does not fully comprehend the absolute holy standard of God’s righteousness. He thinks, because of their emphasis on washings and purity, God will accept their attempts to come before Him as pure and holy. He thinks he will accept their attempts at meeting His requirements as acceptable. He does not realize God accepts only absolute righteousness, nothing less. 4. Since many think Brahman is an impersonal presence they may not feel a personal guilt for having transgressed a divine law. Therefore they would conclude their karma does not need to meet a divine standard. The whole concept of “being declared righteous” without actually producing that 82 Ibid. 41
  • 51. 42 righteousness for oneself will be difficult for a Hindu to accept.83 Of course, this struggle is not limited to Hinduism. It is universally difficult for any man to accept the fact that he cannot have any part of producing the only righteousness that God will accept. Somehow man’s mentality of helping to solve the problem he has created, at least doing a little bit to show his responsibility for causing it, is a mind- set man can’t seem to master.3. Reincarnation There is no second chance with God. Man’s sin put him in a guilty position of condemnation before his Creator. Man can not redo or undo or do anything that could affect his guilty position before the divine Judge. No amount of retrials could erase the original fault or remedy the possibility of future failures. It is an accepted axiom in the world of social science that it is “insanity to hope that in doing the same thing over and over again one will have a different outcome.” The teaching of reincarnation seems suspect by virtue of the lack of evidence of effectiveness. No living person seems close to a life of holiness or karma that would match and be compatible with the purity of Brahman. Even Hindu holy men are far from a life of absolute holiness. These reflections would suggest little practical hope for Moksha (deliverance from samsara) in the teaching of reincarnation. However, in the doctrine of justification the incarnation of Christ guarantees that there will never be a need for a reincarnated second attempt for any man who believes in Christ for His righteousness. 83 Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 319. 42
  • 52. 43 4. Finality Hinduism has a great appreciation for the immensity of God. Humanity cannotfully now God. Man is finite. God is infinite. But this does not preclude that on a givensubject God has given man enough information and direction. If man followed andobeyed His instruction exactly, man may be absolutely, finally sure of his standing withGod. That standing is declared as secure, permanent, unchangeable, and eternal.84 True,one may not understand all the details and ramifications of all that is involved in thedoctrine of justification. But one can understand that God has said He has justified allwho believe in Christ. This is His basis for restoring man to an eternal relationship withHimself. For the Hindu that finality presents a problem. An Overview of Justification by Faith The following is a flow or chronology of the doctrine of justification by faith. Itshows logic and the reasoning behind this core teaching of the gospel. These concepts arethe foundational truths of the gospel. For those who accept Jesus Christ only as a greatteacher or religious leader or a spiritual guru or a model human being, there is really nogood news in the gospel for them. The only good news is that God accepts Christ’srighteousness in man’s place and therefore he is restored to God. 1. God created a plan because of His grace to “pay” man’s penalty.85 Thereby He meets His own standard of righteousness for all mankind. 86 2. God elects some to respond to His offer of restoration. (The doctrine of 84 Barackman, Practical Christian Theology, 269. 85 Leitch, Interpreting Basic Theology, 106, 107. 86 Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, 324. 43
  • 53. 44 election is not explained in this paper). 3. He offers His payment to all.87 4. Those who accept (have faith in Christ) God’s plan, He declares righteous. That declaration results in a right standing (position) with Him. 5. The righteousness that God imputes to the believer is Christ’s righteousness.88 This is the main reason Christ was so focused on doing His Father’s will. His life’s acts and obedience became the righteousness that God imputes to any and all who believe in Christ.89 Up to that point in human history, 1) mankind had not been able to produce righteousness by the law or otherwise that was acceptable to God and 2) mankind was totally unable by reason of his fallen condition, under any circumstances, ever to produce an acceptable righteousness for God. Therefore the need for imputed righteousness is enormous. The Statement of Justification in its Basic Essence: The Gospel for All Nations God, acting as Judge in a single, immutable, eternal, forensic, legal decreedeclares righteous each condemned sinner who believes in Christ by imputingChrist’s righteousness to him because God’s righteous demands have been satisfied. 87 Ibid., 330. 88 Zemek, A Biblical Theology, 171. Grudem, Systematic Theology, 726. 89 Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, 322. 44
  • 54. 45 In the next chapter, Hindu thought will be considered at a deeper level. Theimpact that Hinduism has on making it difficult for Hindus to understand and accept theteaching of justification will be examined. 45
  • 55. CHAPTER 3 HINDUISM: THE HINDU MIND-SET Ambiguity may be the best word to describe Hinduism. The exact date of thefounding of Hinduism is unknown. The founder is unknown. Many of the authors ofHindu scriptures are unknown. There is no agreed upon list of teachings of Hinduism.90There is no single text of scripture. There is not a single institution or ecclesiasticalhierarchy recognized in Hinduism.91 Though difficult to define Hinduism as a religion, identifying a person as a Hinduis less difficult. The one criterion a religious Hindu has to meet is to fit into the traditional cultureof India. There are almost no restrictions on personal beliefs, but in order to qualify as‘Hindu”, his religion has to (1) regard the Vedas (the early sacred writings) as divinelyinspired and authoritative, (2) accept the caste system and (3) respect the veneration ofthe various levels of deities and spirits, including the protection of cows.92 It is obvious that these positions are loose, social requirements. Any enforcementof these standards is social rather than religious since no institution or organization existsto enforce them. One should not be surprised to find there are no absolute standards inHinduism.93 90 Christopher Augustus Bixel Tirkey, Major Religions of India (Delhi: ISPCK, 2001), 19. 91 The Religions of India in Practice, ed. Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (Princeton, N.J.: PrincetonUniversity Press, 1995), 5-8. 92 Winfried Corduan, Neighboring Faiths (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 1998), 189. 93 Bernard T. Adeney, Strange Virtues: Ethics in A Multicultural World (Downers Grove, Ill.:InterVarsity Press, 1993), 158. 46
  • 56. 47 A Brief Summary of the History of Hinduism Suggestions as to the origin of Hinduism vary from as recent as 1,500 BC to asdistant as 4,000 BC. Winfried Corduan writes, Around 1500 B.C. the Aryans moved in and began their slow, thousand-year process of conquering the entire Indian subcontinent. The religion that the Aryans brought with them was similar to what their cousins took to Iran, the difference being that it underwent no Zoroastrian reform.94 Joel Mathai states, Most scholars, both Hindu and Western, believe the history of Hinduism began with the arrival of the Aryans around 1,500 BC. Aryans came from Persia in the West and conquered northwest India and what is known as Pakistan today. Persians gave the name Hindu to these settlers because they lived in the Sindh (Indus River) region.95 Willard Oxtoby purposes a bit earlier beginning of Hinduism. Hindu traditions have grown from a fusion of the indigenous religions that existed in the Indian subcontinent with the faith of the Indo-European people (the Aryans) who migrated there, possibly between 1750 and 1500 BCE.96 Louis Renou suggests an even earlier date. The primitive foundation of Hinduism was in part of indo-European origin; the framework at least was such, while the content was largely indigenous or was modified on the spot. The Aryan tribes which invaded India during the second millennium before our era brought with them a body of religious belief which was 94 Corduan, Neighboring Faiths, 191. 95 Joel Abraham Mathai, Sr., Understanding The Hindu Mind As It Moves From The Hindu BeliefSystem to an Exclusive Faith in Jesus Christ (Winona Lake, Ind.: Unpublished D.Min Professional Project,Grace Theological Seminary, 2002), 17, 18. 96 Willard G. Oxtoby, World Religions Eastern Traditions, Second Edition; reprint, Don Mills,(Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2002), 16. 47
  • 57. 48 already well organized and which survived in classical Hinduism—at the cost of many modifications.97 Richard Waterstone concurs with that timing. During the 2nd millennium BC, the invading Aryans brought to India from central Asia beliefs shared with other Indo-European peoples. The arrival of Aryan warriors in the middle of the second millennium BC marked a new phase in the culture and beliefs of India.98 Thomas Berry also agrees with the same dating. Hinduism is still a living, changing process and must be seen as such. The three most significant changes were: (1) that effected by the arrival of the Aryan peoples into India around 2,000 BC….99 Hopfe and Woodward push back the origin of Hinduism to the third century BC. Perhaps the oldest and most complex of all the religions of the world is Hinduism. Whereas most of today’s active religions seem to have begun sometime around the sixth century B.C.E. or later, Hinduism traces the beginnings of some of its religious themes and forms to the third millennium B.C.E. It is probably the most diverse and varied of all religions.100 S. Radhakrishnan gives yet an earlier date for the beginning of Hinduism. From the beginning of her history India has adored and idealized…those rarer and more chastened spirits, whose greatness lies in what they are and not in what they do; men who have stamped infinity on the thought and life of the country, men who have added to the invisible forces of goodness in the world. This ideal has dominated the Indian religious landscape for over forty centuries.101 97 Louis Renou, Hinduism (New York: George Braziller, 1962), 16. 98 Richard Waterstone, India (Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Company, 1995), 6, 12. 99 Thomas Berry, Religions of India: Hinduism, Yoga, Buddhism (New York: The BrucePublishing Company, 1971), 4. 100 Lewis M. Hopfe, Religions of The World, Tenth Edition; reprint (Upper Saddle River, N.J.:Prentice Hall, 2007), 70. 101 S. Radhakrishnan, Eastern Religions and Western Thought (London: Oxford University Press,1940), 35. 48
  • 58. 49 Richard Davis estimates the origins also around 4000 BC. The textual history of Indian religions begins with the entry into the subcontinent of groups of nomadic pastoralists who called themselves “Aryas,” the noble ones. Originally they came from the steppes of south–central Russian, part of a larger tribal community that, beginning around 4000 B.C.E., migrated outward from their homeland in several directions, some westward into Europe and others southward into the Middle East and south Asia.102 The formation of Hinduism was over an extended period of several millenniumswith an exact date impossible to identify. In fact, historical data indicate that Hinduismdeveloped as a process introducing new teachings as the centuries slipped past. One canidentify several periods of development such as early Hinduism, classical Hinduism andmodern Hinduism just to name a few of its major ones. The Scriptures of Hinduism The Hindu scriptures, mainly written in Sanskrit, were composed over a period ofmore than 2,000 years. The name for the most sacred scriptures of Hinduism is Vedas,meaning “books of knowledge.” Another group of holy texts emerged called theBrahmanas, which focus on sacrifice and rituals. The Code of Manu, also called the “Lawof Manu”, appeared later and regulated daily living and social relationships includingcaste duties. One cannot over emphasize the importance of understanding the Hindu scripturesin order to perceive Hindu thinking patterns. The following will show origins, theconnectedness, and the contents of the Hindu scriptures. Generally, Hindu scriptures areclassified into three groups. They include the Vedas, the Upanishads, and theMahabharata.103 102 Lopez, The Religions of India, 7. 103 Tom Stallter, Understanding World Religions: Symbol, Ritual and Belief (Winona Lake, Ind.:Unpublished Course Syllabus, Grace Theological Seminary, 2007), 91, 92. 49
  • 59. 50The Vedas The Vedas, considered the oldest of the Hindu scriptures, are most authoritative,as the source of the majority of Hindu beliefs. Of the twelve documents, four stand outas the major and more popular ones. These comprise 100,000 verses plus a collection ofprose. The Vedas are the source for the Hindu understanding of the universe. Subsequentscripture often becomes a commentary on the meaning of the Vedas. The Vedas arereported to have been brought to India by the Aryans and compiled between 1500 BC and500 BC.104 There is much debate on the exact time of their origin, some suggesting they werecomposed as early as 2000 BC. The general agreement is that they began as an oraltradition and later were written. The original language was Vedic which is a pre-Sanskritlanguage.105 Each of the four major Vedas has four sections. The first contains a section ofhymns to the gods (mantras from a verb that means to think).106 They were memorizedand chanted to the gods. The second section contains ritual materials (Brahmanas) thatgive instructions to the worshippers in the proper way to perform their sacrifices. Thethird section is called Aranyakas (Forest Treatises). These are instructions for hermits intheir religious pursuits. The fourth section is called “Upanishads” and containsphilosophical materials. The mantras and Brahmana are considered the oldest with theAranyakas added later.107 104 Sabdavali, “Sabdavali Glossary,” http://www.himalayanacademy.com/resources/books/hbh/hbh_glossary.html. 105 Hopfe, Religions of The World, 76. 106 Waterstone, India, 98. 107 Hopfe, Religions of The World, 76, 77. 50
  • 60. 51 RegVeda (knowledge of sacred lore) is the most important of the Vedas. Thiscollection of ten books and 1,028 hymns to thirty-three Aryans gods gives theirmythology.108 The ten books contain 10,589 verses and each book is thought to have beenwritten by a family of seers.109 The RegVeda was composed with a view toward sacrificewhich is at the heart of early Hinduism.110 The RegVeda is the fountainhead of Hinduism and is appealed to as an authority by almost all Hindus. In practical terms, however, the RegVeda has as little influence on Hindu life and thought today as the book of Leviticus has on Christians.111 JayurVeda (knowledge of rites) contains a collection of verses and chants to berecited during sacrifice to the gods. (They include sacrifice for new and full moon,sacrifice for the shades of the departed, fire sacrifice, sacrifices for the seasons, somasacrifice and animal sacrifice.)112 The Yajurs are sacred formulas, invocations, and spellsmuttered by the priest who performs the sacrificial rites.113 SamaVeda (knowledge of chants) is a collection of only 585 single verses to bechanted by the priests while offering sacrifices.114 AtharvaVeda (knowledge given by the sage Atharva) contains rituals to be used inhomes, popular prayers, and spells and incantations to ward off evil.115 It is primarily a 108 Albert Schweitzer, Indian Thought and Its Development (Boston, Mass.: The Beacon Press,1936), 21. 109 Waterstone, India, 17. 110 Renou, Hinduism, 23. 111 Ibid., 16. 112 Schweitzer, Indian Thought, 21. 113 Waterstone, India, 17. 114 Schweitzer, Indian Thought, 21. 115 Stallter, Understanding World Religions, 91. Renou, Hinduism, 72, 73. Renou also quotes twotexts dealing with a prayer ending with a magical curse and a charm against a fever. 51
  • 61. 52book of spells for everything from success in love to the realization of other worldlyambitions.116 Various gods are mentioned in the hymns. The god, Indra, the god of thethunderbolt, of clouds and rain, and the ruler of heaven, receives the most attention with250 hymns addressed to him. Another popular god, Angi, the god of fire, is mentioned inmore than 200 hymns. The god Varuna, who presides over the order of the universe andforgives those who sin, is mentioned numerous times. Vishnu is mentioned briefly.Rudra, who later known as Shiva, is also mentioned in hymns. Yama, the god of thedead, supposedly the first man to die, is mentioned.117Upanishads Upanishads means “near sitting.” The verb root means “to sit down besidesomebody.” 118 They are actually the last part of the Vedas and are called the Vedanta(conclusion of the Veda). Apparently they came into being as teachers (gurus) andstudents reflected on the philosophical implications of the Vedas. Hinduism draws mostof its philosophy from the Upanishads. The basic philosophical assumption of theUpanishads is that only one reality exists, the impersonal god-being called Brahman, amonistic presupposition. The gods of earlier Vedas do not seem to be important.119Though most of the Vedas seem to teach that the proper way to worship is to sacrifice tothe Aryan gods, the Upanishads emphasize that meditation is the means of worship.120 116 Waterstone, India, 17. 117 Hopfe, Religions of The World, 77, 78. 118 Schweitzer, Indian Thought, 33. 119 Hopfe, Religions of The World, 79. 120 Ibid., 79, 80. 52
  • 62. 53 The Upanishads discuss a number of subjects, one of which is the assumedidentity between the atman, or the individual soul, and Brahman, or the “universalsoul.”121 It falls short of presenting a coherent Brahamanic doctrine of Universal-Soul-in-All-Things. Those who have described the Upanishads as chaotic are not altogetherwrong.122 More than any other Hindu text, the Upanishads…. rather than invoking external gods, look for a god within, so that the emphasis shifts from ritualized acts of sacrifice to the search for the sacred force (Brahman) that lives in all things.123 A noteworthy mantra the priest who leads in praise is to recite is, From the unreal lead me to the real! From darkness lead me to the light! From death lead me to immortality!124Law of Manu This literature reflects not so much religious teaching as a great deal of insight tothe philosophical principles of India at the time of its writing. Also, some of the roots ofmodern Hinduism can be traced back to these writings. For example the varana systemdivides Hindu society into four parts. They are given names: Brahman (priests),Kshatrilyas (warriors), Vaishyas (traders), and Shudras (manual workers). The first threeare called “twice born.” The fourth is “once born.” Each group is said to have its owndharma (duty). These are understood to be the roots of the caste system. 121 Ibid., 80. 122 Schweitzer, Indian Thought, 32. 123 Waterstone, India, 22. 124 H.L. Richard, Hinduism (Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 2007), 21. 53
  • 63. 54 The Law of Manu explains reincarnation. If a man performs only good actions, he will be born a god; if he performs mixed actions, he will be born a man; and if he performs only evil actions, he will be born a bird or an animal.125Mahabharata This huge epic of 90,000 double verses (some say 110,000)126 is the story of thestruggles between the leading families (cousins) from the beginning of Indian history.127Finally these two families come together in the battle of Kurushetra,128 between 850 and650 BCE. Just prior to this battle, one of the warriors, Arjuna, contemplates the battlebefore him and his fate. His charioteer, Krishna dialogues with him. That conversationbecomes the Ghagavad-Gita which is chapters 25-42 of the Mahabharata. The Mahabharata is eight times as long as the Iliad and the Odyssey combinedand 15 times longer that the Bible. It has been said that whatever is found in these versescan also be found elsewhere, but what is not found here cannot be found anywhere.129Ghagavad-Gita In the first of three parts of the Ghagavad-Gita (Song of the Blessed Lord), Arjunacontemplates the follies of war. In the second part Krishna reveals that he is an avatar ofVishnu. He communicates that he has come to help those who are struggling with thecrises of life. The doctrine of avatars, God’s descending and appearing as a man, iscentral to the Gita’s teaching. The human race is to respond to God with love and 125 Hopfe, Religions of the World, 82. As quoted from the Law of Manu, Scared Books of the East,vol. XXV, p 204. 126 Mathai, Understanding the Hindu Mind, 46. Lopez, Religions of India, 22. 127 Gitanjali S. Kolanad, Culture Shock! India (Singapore: Times Books International, 2003), 57. 128 Hopfe, Religions of the World, 86, 87. 129 Kolanad, Culture Shock!, 58. 54
  • 64. 55devotion. Hundreds of commentaries have been written on the Gita.130 The third part is acontinued conversation concerning the problems of life. 131 How does the Ghagavad-Gita justify activity within its world-view of world andlife negation? The world, says Krishna, has no meaning. It is only a play that God actswith himself. “By his magic power (Maya) he makes all living creatures spin round likemarionettes on their stage.”132 The message of the Gita can be summarized: “Do your caste duty and trust yourgod for the rest of your salvation.” With the Gita, Hinduism had become devotional andduty-oriented.133 The Ghagavad-Gita has been called the Gospel of Krishnaism.134The Ramayana The 24,000 double verse epic is the story of Rama and his wife Sita in exile untiltheir return to Ayodhya.135 References to Hindu conduct and morals can be foundthroughout the story. Sita exemplifies the qualities of a dutiful Hindu wife, and the Ramayana glories in an ideal world, where dharma triumphs.136 130 Richard, Hinduism, 26. 131 Hopfe, Religions of the World, 86. 132 Albert Schweitzer, Indian Thought, 185. 133 James P. Eckman, Truth About Worldviews (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004), 28. 134 Renou, Hinduism, 131. 135 Ibid., 155, 156. 136 Kolanad, India, 56. 55
  • 65. 56 How much of a historical core lies behind the Ramayana is a widely debated issue. In the earlier version Ram is clearly a human figure. However in later editions Ram is the highest divinity of all, through whom alone salvation can be found.137 Major Teachings of Hinduism The limited scope of this paper makes it impossible to present an exhaustive studyof Hinduism. Many important teachings and features of Hinduism cannot be addressed.However, those aspects which form the elements of the Hindu way of thinking areaddressed. First, the elements are defined in the context of the development of Hinduism.Secondly, some elements have been chosen which might cause the greatest struggles inunderstanding and accepting the doctrine of justification. Finally, the points ofjustification and the conflicting elements of Hinduism are considered together and“bridges” of explanation are suggested. The History of the Teachings of Hinduism Many Hindu teachings have their roots in the earliest history of Hinduism. Ancient Hinduism (2,000 BC). In this period we see the worship of half-personified forces of nature such as fire, wind, and rain, and a primitive conception of the Absolute, and the One. All things were a part of this impersonal One. Another important development of this period is the conception of a cosmic order of which the Hindu gods were the guardians. A professional class of priests became necessary to propitiate these gods with sacrifices.138 After the launching of Hinduism a shift away from external sacrifices to aninternal emphasis began. Statements about karma appeared. During this time the Upanishads were written, which turned the Hindu searchlight inward. The goal of Hinduism became to liberate the human divine spirit—the true end of man. At the end of this period in history, the gods and sacrifices faded into 137 Richard, Hinduism, 24. 138 Eckman, Truth About Worldviews, 28. 56
  • 66. 57 the background. What emerged was the focus of self, the law of karma, and the commitment to reincarnation.139 The Sutra and Epic Period (500 BC to AD 300). During this period theGhagavad-Gita became popular and very influential in shaping the teachings ofHinduism. During this time the Hindu pantheon grew and was established. The use ofimages, temples and pilgrimages increased. The main features of modern Hinduismemerged.140Brahman The most important concept of Hinduism is Brahman. Brahman is the unchanging, all inclusive unity of the universe. The term is derived from a root that means “to expand”. Brahman is infinite and unknowable. In the Upanishads two aspects of Brahman emerged. One was Nirguna Brahman which is the negation of the meaning of Brahman. Brahman has no body, no form, and no attributes. Brahman is impersonal and indefinable. The second aspect was Saguna Brahman describing a veil (maya) of Brahman. This hides the true reality of Brahman but explains the entire physical universe and the manifestations of Brahman. Hindus speak of Brahman Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. These gods and all their attributes and the universe and all its features are explained as manifestations (Saguna Brahman) of the unknowable Nirguna Brahman. The Avatars are the incarnations of the gods who have come to help man face his problems. 141 God in Hinduism is the Supreme Being that is the Impersonal Nirguna Brahman, a philosophical absolute beyond all impediments, either ethical or metaphysical.142 A very difficult concept to understand in Hinduism is the acceptance of both thepolytheism of many gods, 330 million, and the basic premise of the singleness of the one 139 Ibid., 28. 140 Ibid., 29. 141 Ibid., 30, 31. 142 Ibid., 31. 57
  • 67. 58Nirguna Brahman. But for the Hindu this is a rather simple matter. The explanation issomething like this: Because of the relative unreality of God himself in the theistic sense, the realization that all concepts of God are human and all creatures are Brahman, it seems to be only natural that the Hindu can tolerate the worship of any form of any kind as a manifestation of Reality. This is the framework that allows the most advanced Indian philosopher to feel that the most primitive animist, in living up to his best light, is on the path to the realization of Reality.143 Because of this position Hinduism has become a great religious sponge. It canabsorb any religion and yet not be changed.Atman Understanding Atman is one of the important keys to understanding Hinduism.Atman is said to be the same as Brahman in essence. Atman emanated from Brahman andis currently separated from Brahman. Atman is the living ‘soul’ in every part of creation.It moves from body sheath to body sheath at the point of the death of each worn outbody. Atman desires to reunite with Brahman in indivisible, indefinable eternal unity. Atman is an individual’s soul or self. The ultimate goal in Hinduism is to achieve moksha through the realization that one’s Atman and Brahman are the same thing. This is accomplished through different types of yoga.144 Atman is understood to be the spiritual or immaterial soul of all living andinanimate things. One of Hinduism’s most fundamental tenets is that we are the atman, not the physical body, emotions, external mind or personality.145 143 Ibid., 31. 144 No author given, Hinduism Glossary for Introduction to Religion, http://uwacadweb.uwyo.ledu/ religionet/er/hinduism/HGLOSSRY.HTM. 58
  • 68. 59 Atman is the all present expression of Brahman in all of creation. Atman is the self; the all-pervading soul in every creature, which is divine. The Panenthesit paradigm is known in the Sanskrit language as the Atman or Purusha, the real Self. In the Upanishads and the Gita, we find the one Atman is present within all creatures.146 Atman is never defined with qualities or attributes in Hinduism. Only its presenceis said to be in all of creation as an extension of Brahman though temporarily separatedfrom Brahman. Atman is a Hindu term which is difficult to define. It refers to soul or true self, the part of each living thing that is eternal. The Upanishads say atman is ‘that from which speech, along with the mind turns away-not able to comprehend.’ Oftentimes it is used synonymously with Brahman, the universal soul seeking mystical union together or moksha.147Maya Maya is a central concept in Hinduism. Maya actually encompasses everythingthat is not Brahman. It refers to the entire universe, the created world, all the gods, alltheir Avatars, all their attributes, and all humanity minus their Atman. The meaningcomes from a root that means “play” and is related to “magic.” The entire universe is amagical play caused by Brahman Nirguna. Maya can be likened to a dream. It has a levelof reality without enduring substance. All Brahman Saguna is like a magical play, adream, or a projected image of a movie projector. All physical things are temporary,without enduring substance and have only a temporary reality.148 145 Sabdavali, Sabdavali Glossary, http://www.himalayanacademy.com/resources/books/hbh/hbh-glossary.html. 146 Shivadas, http://Http://sivaloka.tripod.com/glossary_of_hindu_terms.html. 147 Josh McDowell, Understanding Non-Christian Religions (San Bernardino, Calif.: Heres LifePublishers, 1982), 24. 148 These same ideas are discussed with the same terms by Winfried Corduan, Neighboring Faiths,198. 59
  • 69. 60 The word (maya) is often translated ‘illusion,’ but this is misleading. For one thing it suggests that the world need not be taken seriously. This the Hindu would deny, pointing out that as long as it appears real and demanding to us we must accept it as such. Moreover, it does have a kind of qualified reality; reality on a provisional level.149 However, in some philosophical context the word is translated “illusion”. In theGhagavad-Gita maya is translated “creative power.”150 The doctrine of maya tells us that we fall away from our authentic being if we are lost in the world of empirical objects and earthly desires, turning our back on the reality, which gives them value.151 Fundamental to Hindu concepts of time and space is the notion that the external world is the product of the creative play of maya (illusion). Accordingly the world as we know it, is not solid and real but illusory. The universe is in constant flux with many levels of reality; the task of the saint is to find release (moksha) from the bonds of time and space.152 Maya means that the world is perceived as an independent entity, different from what it actually is, since it is only a manifestation of the one. We have already seen that the world is a manifestation of the one divine, and is created. This creation, however, is a ‘game’ (lila) of the gods. The world does not seem to be what it is. Although it is ultimately one with Brahman it seems to be separate from it. If the divine is pure bliss, the world is that least of all. The world originated from a magical act, as it were; it is maya. The term maya has been translated as ‘illusion,’ but then it does not concern normal illusion. Here “illusion” does not mean that the world is not real and simply a figment of the human imagination. “Maya’ means that the world is not as it seems; the world that one experiences is misleading as far as its true nature is concerned. At bottom, everything is one; but it appears in an actual multiplicity that is all too real.153Karma The basis of the concept of karma is built on the law of cause and effect. Every 149 Huston Smith, The Religions of Man (New York: Harper and Row, 1958), 82. 150 Richard, Hinduism, 56. 151 Radhakrishnan, Eastern Religion, 31, 32. 152 Waterstone, India, 122. 153 H .M. Vroom, No Other Gods (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1996), 56, 57. 60
  • 70. 61action has a cause that performs it and everything done will have some effect somewhere,sometime. This leads to the idea of compensation and retribution. The good deeds ofkarma will receive good rewards and compensations. The bad, evil, hurtful deeds ofkarma will bring bad results and retribution. The results of karma are not seen as moralpunishment for breaking a law, a standard, or a commandment. Bad Karma is not againstGod. God is not judge. Bad karma inherently has its own bad consequences. 1. In the general sense karma is good works; religious, moral and caste duties. (One of the three traditional ways to attain salvation.) 2. Karma is the principle that reward or punishment infallibly follows every deed. At times the recompense comes in the present life; always the situation and fate of the coming life are determined by one’s karma. (Often presented as an invariable law or as an expression of fatalism. But in fact there are multiple ways to affect and even manipulate karma.)154 The combination of karma throughout one’s life is the main factor of his nextreincarnation. Karma is “one’s actions, whose cumulative result is held to have a determining effect on the quality of rebirth in the future existences.”155 Karma is the ‘bookends’ of a Hindu’s life. His previous karma determines hispresent status in life and directly impacts the things he presently performs. The collectedrecord of his life’s karma will determine the main features of his next reincarnation. The word karma literally means action and has reference to a person’s actions and the consequences thereof. In Hinduism, one’s present state of existence is determined by his performance in previous lifetimes. The law of karma is the law of moral consequence or the effect of any action upon the performer in a past, a 154 Ibid., 54. 155 Oxtoby, World Religions, 118. 61
  • 71. 62 present or even a future’s existence. As one performs righteous acts, he moves towards liberation from the cycle of successive births and deaths.156 Karma may also have a negative effect on one’s next reincarnation. Bad karmacan push one backward in the process of trying to reach ultimate union with Brahman. Contrariwise, if one’s deeds are evil, he will move further from liberation. The determining factor is one’s karma. The cycle of births, deaths and rebirths could be endless. The goal of the Hindu is to achieve enough good karma to remove himself from the cycle of rebirths and achieve eternal bliss.157 The power of the doctrine of karma is its tie to the teaching of reincarnation. Thebondage karma has on a Hindu is that he sincerely believes what he does was caused bythe karma of a previous life. Furthermore, he believes what he does now will affect hisfuture life. Training the mind is necessary to perform good deeds. The world is seen as astage and life is a drama played out on it. Motives are seen as selfish. The secret of karmais to perform deeds for the joy of its own sake. The goal is perfection, which is to realizeataman.Dharma Dharma may be the most definitive term in Hinduism to explain what a Hindu isand does. Dharma is tied closely to the name of Hinduism. Dharma is the teachings of virtue and principle. It is a term by which Hindus refer to theirown religion.158 156 McDowell, Understanding Non-Christian Religions, 24. 157 Ibid. 158 McDowell, Understanding Non-Christian Religions, 32. 62
  • 72. 63 Hinduism in its simplest definition is dharma (duty). One of the names for Hinduism commonly used by Hindus is varnashRam dharma, which can be paraphrased as duty (to God) according to caste and stage of life.159 Dharma is a broad concept which is hard to capture by one word such as duty.The meaning also includes a moral sense and relates to the conscience of a Hindu thatholds him to actions in all areas of his life. Dharma translates badly into English, the best equivalent being “natural law” or “universal justice” or “duty.” Sva-dharma is one’s own moral code, something like our conscience. In popular terms, dharma means ‘Doing what you are supposed to do according to the position into which you were born according to your stage of life.160 The Hindu’s actions toward society impact its order and maintain it. “Dharma isduty, righteousness, and order, that which sustains society.”161 The complexity of the meaning of dharma is seen as it relates to every associationof a Hindu’s life, his personal habits, his family, his employment, and his religion.Though dharma does not rest on nor is it reflected in a ceremony or a rite, it determinesof all a Hindu’s activities. Piety and ethics have a great place and an importance which fall under Dharma, from the verb dhri, “support,” “make firm.” It means ‘foundation’ and is a cosmic principle. The term ‘dharma’ has complex significance. It stands for all those ideals and purposes, influences and institutions that shape the character of a person both as an individual and as a member of society. It is the law of right living, the observance of which secures the double object of happiness on earth and salvation, Dharma is ethic and religion combined. The life of a Hindu is regulated in a very detailed manner by the law of dharma. His fasts and feasts, his social and family ties, his personal habits and tastes are all conditioned by it. The eternal dream of human heart, the aspiration of the soul to come to its own, is the basis of the Hindu dharma. It assumes that the fundamental reality is the soul of man. While the 159 H. L. Richard, Following, 51, 52. 160 Kolanad, Culture Shock!, 42. 161 Richard, Hinduism, 54. 63
  • 73. 64 spiritual perfection of a person is the aim of all endeavors, the Hindu dharma does not insist on any religious belief or form of worship.162 Though dharma is not defined by a rite, all of life is seen as a ritual with nodistinct separation between the mundane and the sacred. Life is looked upon as a rite; there is no absolute dividing line between the sacred and the profane. In fact, there is no Hindu term corresponding to what we call “religion.” There are “approaches” to spiritual life; and there is dharma or “maintenance” (in the right), which is at once norm or law, virtue and meritorious action, the order of things transformed into moral obligation—a principle which governs all manifestations of Indian life.163 The doctrine of dharma blends all of life’s actions into one composite of requiredactivities. Dharma is religious law, custom, duty or truth.164 The teachings of dharma definethe right way to live as based in the Hindu Scriptures. Dharma is the righteous way ofliving as enjoined by the sacred scriptures; virtue.165 Dharma is one’s religious andsocial duty, including both righteousness and faith.166 In performing dharma one finds the harmony and balance of merging all thedemands and activities of life. Dharma gives coherence and direction to the different activities of life. It is not a religious creed or cult imposing an ethical or social rule. It is the complete rule of life, the harmony of the whole man who finds a right and just law of his living. Each man and group, each activity of soul, mind, life, and body, has its dharma.167 162 Tirkey, Major Religions of India, 127, 128. 163 Renou, Hinduism, 18. 164 Waterstone, India, 172. 165 Marvin Olasky, The Religions Next Door (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Homan Publishers,2004), 76. 166 Oxtoby, World Religions, 118. 167 Radhakrishnan, Eastern Religions, 353. 64
  • 74. 65 Spiritual freedom is experienced in practicing dharma. The dharma and its observance are neither the beginning nor the end of human life, for beyond the law is spiritual freedom, not merely a noble manhood but universality, the aim which ennobles the whole life of the individual and the whole order of society. Man’s whole life is to be passed in the implicit consciousness of this mysterious background.168 Each caste has its own accepted dharma which is different from each of the othercastes. A well known example of this concept is the experience of Arjuna in theGhagavad-Gita. Krishna instructs Arjuna concerning his dharma in battle. Considering your specific duty as a ksatriyas, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles; and so there is no need for hesitation. O Patrha, happy are the ksatriyas to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the doors of the heavenly planets.If, however, you do not fight this religious war, then you will certainly incur sin for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter.169 A deeper insight into Dharma is to be found in the commentary “purport” ofSwamiPrabhupada on this passage. Lord Krishna now directly says that Arjuna should fight for the sake of fighting because Krishna desires the battle. There is no consideration of happiness or distress, profit or gain, victory or defeat in the activities of Krishna consciousness. That everything should be performed for the sake of Krishna is transcendental consciousness; so there is no reaction from material activities. It is said, Anyone who has completely surrendered unto Krishna, Mukunda, giving up all other duties, is no longer a debtor, nor is he obliged to anyone-not the demigods, nor the sages, nor the people in general, nor kinsmen, nor humanity, nor forefathers.170Samsara The roots of reincarnation go back into the teachings of Yajnavalkya who taught 168 Ibid., 354. 169 A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, “Chapter Two,” in Bhagavad-Gita (New York: TheBhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1968), 32. 170 Ibid., 32, 33. 65
  • 75. 66that life does not end; that it continues to recycle. Only later was it given the idea of agoal and purpose of having a distant end in Brahman. This conclusion was based on theobservations of cycles in nature such as day and night and reoccurring seasons. Yajnavalkya (Upanishadic sage) was the first recorded spokesman for the notion of transmigration, which holds that upon death a person is neither annihilated nor transported to some other world in perpetuity, but rather returns to worldly life, to live and die again in a new mortal form. This continuing succession of life, death, and rebirth is termed samsara (circling, wandering) in the Upanishads. Samsara comes to denote not just the individual wandering of a person from life to life, but also the entire world process seen as perpetual flux. This cyclical worldview of the Upanishads grows out of an earlier Vedic concern with natural cycles of the moon, day and night, and seasons, but projects it in a new direction. 171 The question arose as to what determines the process of transmigration. What arethe conditions governing the return of the soul. Yajnavalkya explained that the actions ofone’s entire life were the basis of determining the place of its return. He redefined theteachings of karman into what is later known in Hinduism as karma. Although transmigration answers the question of beginnings and ends, it also raises two new issues. What determines a person’s subsequent form of rebirth? Is there anything other than eternal transmigration? To answer the first question, Yajnavalkya redefines the Vedic notion of Karman. Karman (derived from the verb root kor to do or to make, and usually Anglicized as ‘karma’) means action in a very broad sense; in the Vedas the term refers particularly to sacrificial actions, as the most efficacious kind of activity. In Vedic sacrifice, all ritual actions have consequences, leading to fruits (phala) that are often not apparent at the time but will inevitably ripen. Yajnavalkya accepts this extended notion of causality and gives it a moral dimension: the moral character of one’s actions in this lifetime determines the status of one’s rebirth in the next. Behave in this life as a god and you will become a god. But gods, in this view, are not immortal either, and may after a long period of heavenly hedonism be reborn as humans.172 The saga Yajnavalkya further suggested that the escape of this repetitive cycle could have a release which later became the basis of the Hindu teaching of moksha. 171 Lopez, Jr., Religions of India, 12, 13. 172 Ibid.,13. 66
  • 76. 67 Yajnavalkya also suggests an alternative to this endless cycle of becoming. The release from the cycle of rebirth is most often called moksha liberation or salvation. According to Yajnavalkya an individual may attain liberation through lack of desire, since desire is what engenders samsara in the first place.173 The definitions and teaching of what shapes reincarnation began to arise. Samsara or reincarnation is the belief in the transmigration of the soul. There is a cycle of rebirth after rebirth after rebirth of the soul. One could be reborn as a wealthy aristocrat or as an animal, a beetle, worm, vegetable, etc.174 Once the caste system began to form, the teaching of samsara was tied to it andhas been a strong support in perpetuating its practice through the centuries of Hinduism. Reincarnation is an important source of support for the caste system. No trace of this belief appears in the Vedas, nor is there any evidence of belief in reincarnation in the Iranian counterpart to early Aryan religion. Presumably this belief came into Hinduism in conjunction with the spread of the religion throughout India. Possibly the concept was assimilated from the religion of the original population.175 For the Hindu the major concept behind an expectation concerning death is thecertainty of reincarnation. Reincarnation is called samsara, which literally means “wanderings” or simply “existence.” It refers to a seemingly endless cycle of lives encompassing the entire realm of beings, from the lowest animals to humans. To die as one being means to come back as another being. What level of being one returns as is determined by the laws of karma.176 This process could continue for millions of years of repetition. After death, a person’s soul migrates to another body, a process called the Transmigration of the Soul. A person’s next life may be spent in a human body or in the body of an animal or insect. Until a person attains spiritual liberation, there is 173 Ibid. 174 Eckman, The Truth About Worldviews, 32. 175 Winfried Corduan, Neighboring Faiths, 195, 196. 176 Ibid., 196. 67
  • 77. 68 a continuous cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth, which may last numerous (even millions) of lifetimes.177 The effect of one’s bad karma not only injures his present and future but others’present and future, also. To interfere with the sufferings of someone is assumed tointerfere with their previous karma’s retribution. This seeming act of kindness couldmake situations worse. Therefore helping would be interpreted as shortcutting thesufferings of karma. Samsara and Karma provided the primary support for the caste system. A high- caste Brahmin must have merited such a fortunate incarnation by the quality of his previous lives. On the other hand, a Shudra must have done some bad things in his earlier existence, and so he must work them off by the present suffering. To shortcut the system and attain a higher standard of living would violate the structures of caste and thereby only incur worse dharma. Furthermore, if the Brahmin helped the Shudra, he would only make things worse for both of them by opposing karma’s dictates. Thus it is best for all people to live strictly within the rules of their caste, whether in comfort or in agony, and thereby merit a better incarnation. Thus the goal of Hinduism became finding release from samsara.178 Reincarnation has developed a practical fatalism in which no hope or alternativeexists. “Samsara is the cyclical transmigration or rebirth of souls passing on from one existence to another until release can be achieved.”179 The fundamental paradigm introduced is that of samsara, ‘the world,’ in which all phenomena are inspired by the existence of an unchanging soul (atman) that wanders from birth to death again and again, until it finds release (moksha) from the cycle. An individual’s destiny in samsara is determined by the action (deeds and thoughts) an individual performs.180 177 H. Wayne House, Charts of World Religions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), chart 58. 178 Corduan, Neighboring Faiths, 197. 179 McDowell, Understanding Non-Christian Religions, 33. 180 John L. Esposito, Darrell J. Fasching, and Todd Lewis, World Religions Today, 2d ed. (NewYork: Oxford University Press, 2006), 282. 68
  • 78. 69 The release from the cycle of reincarnation is now described as the atmanreturning back into Brahman. The doctrines…..of the union of all that exists in Brahman, and the dharma that sustains all things are systematically connected to the belief in reincarnation. The union, with one or two exceptions, is not realized in this life but later. Given the disorder that one sees, the world order is not realized now but only through many lives; karma ensures that one reaps what one sows. In this way the distinction between that which is real (sat) and ordered on the one hand and that which is not (real) and without order on the other is connected to the ideas of reincarnation and karma. Reincarnation is also connected to belief in Brahman; the belief that people are part of the great process of all that exists and that they in their essence are one with the divine, brings with it the idea that they are ‘indestructible.’ They have always been and always will be. Only their circumstances change, with each life different from the one before. In the end they will be emancipated and merge with Brahman. Thus human beings could be divided into at least two parts: a temporal part and an eternal part, the physical and the soul, which is connected to the divine. In their concrete life people are limited by ‘name and form,’ by the concreteness of existence. The physical aspect of human beings is the car that the soul drives.181 The teaching of reincarnation is further supported by the argument that actions,good and bad, that do not have their reward or retribution in this life, demand that anotherlife is necessary for that reward or retribution to be realized by the one who performedthe act. But the processes of this law (law of compensation) in connection with the affairs of our lives are extremely intricate and they generally involve a cycle of beginning, growth and maturity. This cycle may take a short or a long period of time to complete itself. A man may reap the result of compensation for his works either in this life or after death in another incarnation, just as now we are reaping the results of the works of our previous lives. If we deny pre-existence and reincarnation of the soul and admit that the physical birth is the beginning of our life and by death ends all, then the chain of cause and sequence will be broken abruptly and the process of compensation will be unexpectedly interrupted by death. Then, there will be no compensation for the wicked who commit crimes and apparently enjoy all the 181 Vroom, No Other Gods, 71. 69
  • 79. 70 blessings of life; nor for the virtuous who perform good unselfish works and do not get any return whatever during their life-time.182 In Hindu thinking karma and reincarnation go hand in hand and help explain eachother. The doctrine of rebirth or transmigration of Samsara is a corollary to the law of Karma. The differences of disposition found between one individual and another even at birth must be due to their respective past karma (deeds). The past karma implies past birth. Similarly, we notice that all our actions do not bear fruit in this life. Hence, there must be another birth for enjoying the residual karmas. Each soul has a series of births and deaths (e.g., 44 lakhs [100,000] jowani, i.e., births and deaths will take 44 lakhs 100,000 of times, and the soul will be identified with Brahma or will be dissolved with Brahma).To make it understandable, let us see, Like corn does a mortal ripen; like corn does he (soul) spring to life again.183 A further explanation of why bodies die but life goes on is seen in the openingchapters of the Ghagavad-Gita. As a person casts off worn-out garments and puts on others that are new, so does the soul cast off worn-out bodies and enter into others that are new. Again, we can see, As a caterpillar which has wriggled to the top of a blade of grass draw itself to a new blade, so does the soul, after it has put aside its body, draws itself over to a new existence, Gita, 2:22.184 Reincarnation is often referred to in Hindu references as a wheel that turns andturns. This migration of soul into a series of bodies is called samsara or bhavachakra, i.e., the wheel of existence. This transmigration of soul goes on till the cycle of karma is broken through and the soul attains release, consisting in its realization of Brahman or God.185 182 Swami Abhedananda, Doctrine of Karma (Calcutta: Ramakrishan Vedanta Math, 1944), 27. 183 Tirkey, Major Religions, 95. 184 A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupåada, Bhagavad-Gåitåa As It Is: With The Original SanskritText, Roman Transliteration, English Equivalents, Translation and Elaborate Purports, Complete ed., rev.& enl. (Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1983), 28. 185 Tirkey, Major Religions of India, 95, 96. 70
  • 80. 71 Though in a small minority, some Hindus, after spending considerable time incareful study of the Vedic scriptures, have not been convinced of the truth ofreincarnation. One example is N. V. Tilak who explains his study and the conclusions atwhich he arrived. Finally…I found a true patron. To this day I honor that worthy man as my father….he had spent thousands of rupees acquiring as much literature concerning the Hindu religion, especially Vedic and spiritual literature, as was available. For three years I was swimming in that ocean of imagination and spiritual knowledge. I delighted in study and I was given every opportunity by that good friend. At last I prepared the philosophical foundations for my new religion: 1. The Creator of the world is some particular, personal Spirit, and he regards all mankind as His children. 2. All scriptures are the work of men, and there is only one book giving knowledge of God–that book is the world. 3. There is no such thing as former births or reincarnations. The sorrow and joys of man are dependent on man’s heredity, his own spirit, and his attitude towards his duty in society. 4. Faith in God and brotherhood of men on this earth is the essence of all religion. 5. There is no sin equal to idol worship. The astonishing thing is that not even into my dreams did the Bible or Christ enter, the chief reason being the extremely simple language of the Bible. It has become the very birthmark of a Brahmin that he will only turn his mind to incomprehensible subjects or those which will exercise his utmost intelligence….I never met a Christian preacher….186 Another attempt to describe the validity of reincarnation is to compare it to thedaily cycle of man’s life. Day after day continues with breaks of night and sleep. Theconnectedness of the previous day’s activity projects into tomorrow’s work. The idea of dying and being reborn may be usefully compared to the daily experience of going to bed at night and the getting up in the morning. One life is like a day; death is like sleep and waking up the next day is like being born into 186 Richard, Following Christ, 17. 71
  • 81. 72 another life. Just like we start the next day at the point we left off the previous day, so is it with life. Just as what we do today or what happens to us today is connected with what we did yesterday or what happened to us yesterday, so does what happened to us in previous life connect with our present life. And just as what we do today will affect what happens to us tomorrow, so will what we do in this life influence what happens to us in the next.187 The administration of the transition or transmigration of the atman is explained invery general terms. No one seems to be in charge directing or determining by way ofevaluation or assigning what atman to is to be with what new body sheath. No spirit orgod or entity is assigned to or is in control of the transition experience. It is just assumedto happen. When the body decays and the mind withers away, the spirit moves on to the land of the dead and waits for another opportunity to unite with matter and return to the land of the living, to think and feel again. When the opportunity arrives, the qualities of the new mind-body sheath depends on deeds done in the past life. Circumstances surrounding the new mind-body sheath also depend on these deeds. The belief that every event is a reaction to something done in the past is Karma. Karma rotates the cycle of life.188 Reincarnation is Hinduism’s best attempt to explain the present condition of man.Hinduism assumes that man was created perfect but that flaws have occurred resulting insuffering, sickness, and death. However, the race continues much the same fromgeneration to generation. Karma explains the likeness of the actions of men so similar innature from one generation to the next. The doctrine of reincarnation has many advantages. It gives a rational explanation for the de facto inequality of human beings and the condition of their existence. As we have seen, at the beginning of the present age or cycle men and women were created by Brahma without any flaws and, according to one source, without caste differences. He did not create them to be unchanging automata, but as being endowed with freedom and the ability to learn and to forget. Thus the differences 187 Mathai, Understanding the Hindu Mind, 64, quoting from Classical Hindu Thought: AnIntroduction, p 10. 188 Ibid., 65. Quoted from Devdutt Pattanaik in The Goddess in India, p 7. 72
  • 82. 73 between one person and another gradually emerged during the course of countless rebirths as a result of the various sorts of karma that developed.189Moksha Hinduism identifies four goals or purposes of life. First is dharma to fulfill moral,social, and religious duties. Second is artha to attain financial and worldly success. Thirdis kama to satisfy desires and drives in moderation. The fourth is moksha to attainfreedom from reincarnation. Hinduism teaches three ways or paths to achieve release orfreedom from the endless wheel (cycles) of reincarnation. One is karmamarga--the pathof works and action. The second is jnanamarga--the path of knowledge or philosophy.The third is bhaktimarga--the path of devotion to God. These paths are sometimes referred to as karma yoga, janana yoga, and bhaktiyoga. Yoga in Sanskrit means yoke or union. The idea behind the term is discipline. Itrefers to an organized form of discipline that leads to a goal. This discipline usuallyinvolves practices of meditation, mental concentration, exercises of the body includingboth control and asceticism. In Hinduism, this goal is usually moksha, the release of thesoul from cycles of death and rebirth (samsara).190 The major concepts of moksha are release, continuous reincarnation, and goal oraim. Moksha means release or liberation from the wheel of samsara or rebirth inHinduism.191 Once the philosophical concept of the wheel of reincarnation is accepted andanalyzed a sense of being trapped is recognized. Then a desperate desire to escape 189 Ibid., 65, 66. As quoted from Hans Kung from Christianity and the World Religions: Paths ofDialogue with Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, p 127. 190 “Hinduism Glossary for Introduction to Religion” 191 Timothy C. Tennent, Christianity at the Religious Roundtable: Evangelicalism in Conversationwith Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 252. 73
  • 83. 74follows. The chain is felt. Hopelessness sets in. Only a dim hope exists for release andthat is very far into the future for the average Hindu. Fatalism settles into the mindset ofthe entire population, which is like a perpetual cloud of gloom from which no one hasany immediate hope of deliverance. The Indian mind never gave up the hope of finding a ‘way’ (marga) to release (moksha) from this ceaseless round of action and rebirth. The aim of all Hindus is to escape from the wheel of samsara and karma. Moksha or Mukti, is variously translated as escape, release, liberation or emancipation. Salvation, in these categories, is a fundamental presupposition of all Hindu thinking. Unless the chain of cause and effect is broken, the bondage of the soul to the process of birth, death and rebirth continues. The Hindu longs for release from life that never ends. Moksha is release from both righteousness and unrighteousness. It is deliverance from the body soul bondage and from the universe of time and space, for both are governed by the law of karma. The Hindu assumption is that this release is ultimately possible for all.192 An alternative of hope and desire is not to have hope or desire. Yajnavalkya also suggests an alternative to this endless cycle of becoming. The release from the cycle of rebirth is most often called moksha, liberation or salvation. According to Yajnavalkya an individual may attain liberation through lack of desire, since desire is what engenders samsara in the first place.193 If this alternative escape is carefully analyzed one can see its inconsistency. Forinstance, if reincarnation is the opportunity of rewards and retributions and at any pointthat chain is broken, what happens to rewards that had not yet been received? Moreseriously is the question, what happens to the retributions not paid? If atrocities had beencommitted, one could escape, and if through the ability to mediate out of the cycles ofreincarnation, or by the enlightenment of knowledge, or by the devotion to a god, whereis justice served? Where is the effect that was caused in the previous or current life? 192 Tirkey, Major Religions of India, 96, 97. 193 Lopez, The Religions of India, 13. 74
  • 84. 75 In postulating an alternative state superior to worldly life and attainable through individual conscious effort, moksha is perhaps the most consequential of all Upanishadic ideas for later Indian religious history. In contrast to Vedic ideology of sacrifice, in which goals were as much social and collective as individual, the pursuit of moksha takes an individualist goal to be the highest attainment.194 The sixth century BCE was a watershed in the history of Indian religions, a period that witnessed momentous social, economic, and political changes. A major concept in the emerging new world was samsara, a category that provided the framework for understanding and evaluating human life. According to this new understanding, life is ultimately and essentially suffering, subject as it is to repeated births and death. The goal of human existence, therefore, should be to transcend this bondage to the cycle of rebirth and to reach the realm of total freedom and bliss called moksha. The religions sharing this world view challenged the society- centered ritual religion of the earlier Vedic period. The result of this confluence of two opposing worlds was a deep and lasting conflict within Indian religions between the value of responsible social engagement within the context of marriage and family and the ascetic withdrawal from society that was seen as the necessary precondition for achieving liberation.195 In prescribing a style of living that would have some hope to achieve moksha, adiscipline developed of separating from the evil things in the world. Each one has hisown personal responsibility to accept the lifestyle of discipline. If one strives for moksha, one stresses the maya character of the world. ‘Maya’ means that the world is perceived as an independent entity, different from what it actually is since it is only a manifestation of the one. People find salvation not in society but in their own moksha–emancipation from the bonds of illusion.196 This accounts for the presence of samnyasins. As in the tradition of Christianity, the depreciation of ‘this world’ in combination with a striving for personal salvation leads to avoidance of the world. Every person must go his or her own way through many lives. Whoever views life in this way calls others to turn from the corrupt world, which is the path that Hindu mystics take. 197 The ability to get one’s atman reunited with Brahman is the only prescribed 194 Lopez, The Religions of India, 13. 195 Ibid., 533. 196 H.M. Vroom, No Other Gods, 65. 197 Ibid., 65, 66, 75
  • 85. 76method of achieving moksha. Because atman is so indescribable the exact steps andaccomplishments are ambiguously elusive and indefinable as to what is necessary toreunite with Brahman. Consequently no one can have assurance or confidence his effortis absolutely on target, no matter how much effort he expends. The atman is invariably described in negative terms, as it cannot be defined positively: it is intangible and indestructible, it cannot suffer nor can it die, for it is immortal in a mortal body. Yet although the atman is beyond human reason, the Upanishads taught that it is attainable by means of meditation, asceticism and yoga. No longer could the Brahmin priests claim sole access to the Vedic gods and so to divinity, for the gods themselves could now be transcended by mystical experience. Rather than sacrifice, the main focus and goal of Hinduism was now moksha (release) –the ultimate freedom that comes with the knowledge that Brahman and atman are finally one and the same.198 Moksha: salvation by union with Brahman. Salvation is thought of in India as liberation from the limiting, confining world of time and an emergence into the more expansive world of the eternal and infinite. It is the extinction of phenomenal existence and absorption into Brahman. Clearly a later conception in Hinduism. It supposed a powerful attraction toward the absolute world and a feeling of discontent with the world of time came mainly from the non-Vedic and non-Aryan feeling of oppression with the visible and changing world of matter and time. Here the two traditions could meet and complement each other in a powerful fashion and seal the unity of the two traditions.199Major Elements of Hindu Thought Considered in Presenting the Doctrine of Justification Not all teachings of Hinduism are considered in this chapter. Only the elements ofHinduism which would seem to make it difficult for a Hindu to understand and accept thedoctrine of justification have been selected. In presenting the doctrine of justification to a Hindu the following order may notnecessarily be followed. What is suggested here is a logical, possibly a chronological 198 Waterstone, India, 124, 125. 199 Berry, Religions of India, 14. 76
  • 86. 77order, of understanding the concepts of justification by faith by the Hindu mind-set. Theapproaches of teaching or preaching this doctrine will be offered in the following chapter.Brahman Initially, the two basic contrasting worldview principles of Christianity andHinduism must be defined before any understanding or communication of the doctrine ofjustification can take place. Brahman, as has been previously explained, is thefundamental teaching of Hinduism. Succinctly stated, Brahman is the impersonal,unknowable, eternal, unchanging, inclusive unity of the universe. The basic implicationof that statement is that the universe, the creation, does not exist apart from God. All thatexists is part of Him. This emanated existence of the universe is known as pantheism.One would have to conclude that all that exists therefore would have to be good, flawless,and holy because it all comes from and is God. One of the major problems with such apresupposition is the presence of evil and sin. The reality is that not all is good and holy.Therefore God must not be all good and holy. This is unacceptable. Christianity understands God as a personal, holy, eternal, immutable, infinite,finitely knowable, Creator of the universe from which He is separate. If sin and evil exist,and they do, He remains holy and separate of any flaws in character or in actions. This basic fundamental distinction between Christianity and Hinduism cannot beover emphasized. Though it must quickly be added that in communicating a teaching asradically different as the doctrine of justification to the Hindu, this definitive differencemay not immediately be conceded by the Hindu. However, this underlying differencebetween the God of Christianity and the Brahman of Hinduism must be clearlyunderstood before any impacting perception of the doctrine of justification can emerge. 77
  • 87. 78Emanation from Brahman Hinduism teaches the human soul (atman) is part of the soul of the universe(Brahman). The tension is that atman has emanated from Brahman or departed fromBrahman and now desires to return to Brahman and escape all the pain of the createduniverse and the endless wheel of reincarnation. However, something major is missing inthis explanation of the separation or rift between God and man. The first major questionis why or what caused the separation from Brahman originally? Why, if atman desires toreturn to Brahman was there a leaving in the first place? Until this “ignorance” (avidya)is enlightened all other explanations of the process of return and the desire to return aresuspect. Until all the facts are on the table it is impossible to evaluate and validate theproposed solution. Christianity, on the other hand, explains clearly how the break and separationbetween God and man came to be. The standard of behavior that God had set forrelationship between God and man was blatantly rejected by man. This resulted in thepreviously described consequence given by God: eternal separation from Him and anaccompanying eternal punishment. The finality of this condition must be fullycomprehended with all its implications to understand its devastating impact on all ofmankind. This separation from God is not a stroll in the park followed by a desire toreturn home as evening draws on and it begins to grow dark. This is a hopeless, eternal,irreparable breech between God and man.Desire to Return to Brahman Hinduism teaches that man (atman) has a desire to return to God and enjoy unitywith Brahman again. However, that concept of desire does not seem to squareconsistently with the facts of the human condition and man’s actions. What seems to be 78
  • 88. 79driving man is a desire to escape from the pain and suffering he has created. Indeed,Hinduism speaks more of the escape of the endless wheel of reincarnation than the joy ofreuniting with God. The universal desire to escape from suffering and death isacknowledged by all men, religious or not. This is not a unique Hindu phenomenon. Theexplanation of reincarnation and the paths to nirvana and moksha are uniquely Hindu. Christianity reveals that mankind is not seeking after God, not one, or even a fewenlightened ones, much less the entire race, (Rom. 3:10, 23). The universal fact that mantries to escape the effects of the consequence of his sin and suffering is acknowledged byChristianity. The difference between Christianity and Hinduism at this point is that inChristianity man is exposed as still rebellious against God and seeks deliverance from hissufferings by his own methods. Hinduism confirms by the teaching of dharma that man’sattempts to get back to God are his own efforts. What is so pitiful at this point is thatHinduism does not understand the significance of having offended God and man’sinability to correct the hopeless situation now existing between God and man.Dharma Hinduism teaches that dharma is one’s duty to God and by extension to one’scaste and family. The problem with this emphasis is the presuppositions that this is whatGod wants of man or that man in his own strength can perform this task acceptably toGod. Hinduism teaches a brutally endless, demanding attempt to serve and please Godwithout knowing what God really desires of man. Christianity explains that God indeed does have prescribed standards of relationalbehavior between God and man and among fellow human beings. However, the firstpriority is the need to reestablish an initial and eternal relationship with God. Beforeworks can be offered to God which are acceptable to Him there must be the repair of the 79
  • 89. 80breech in relationship. That repair cannot be overlooked or ignored by reason ofignorance (avidya). Any attempt at dharma is useless until an acceptable “account” hasbeen established with God for an individual. Then and only then will human works(dharma) be acceptable to God. The only accounts that God accepts are those that havebeen opened in the name of Jesus Christ, the only righteous One, and those accounts areopened only to those for whom God has first imparted the righteousness of Christ (thedoctrine of justification).Reincarnation Hinduism teaches that man is trapped in an endless transmigration of the soul(atman) until he reaches (moksha) deliverance by merging back into the Brahman.However, several observable flaws present themselves when this teaching is examined. First, there is no examinable evidence that any soul of man ever had any pre-existent history or activity. If, indeed, the atman of each newborn human had alreadysuffered many reincarnations it would be logical to assume that he would bring eons ofmemory of learning and experiences back with him to draw on in this current life to helphim move forward. This prior knowledge and memory is necessary if the soul of man isatman, a part of Brahman, the all knowing, all perfect one. The point of the argument isthat atman would be diminished from true Brahman only in size or amount, not in qualityor character. Otherwise a redemptive necessity would exist, suggesting a relational sinproblem had developed between atman and Brahman. If each man’s soul came intoexistence at the time of his human birth, then the Hinduism teaching of samsara isflawed. Second, samsara has no explanation of the administration of the reincarnationprocess. For instance, where do departed atmans go? Who or how are their karmas 80
  • 90. 81judged or evaluated? What standard determines whether an atman advances or digresses?How are they reunited with another body-sheath? What is the overall reincarnationprogress score: the good and the bad? How far along the road to moksha has oneprogressed? Surely the atman-Brahman entity would be aware of that vital information(vidya). Third, there is the matter of effectiveness. Does samsara really work? Is it indeeda reality? Is there any knowable evidence that the soul of man is trapped in a repetitivebondage of rebirths from which he is powerless to escape? Does samsara really lead tomoksha? Who has really been delivered? Indeed if a few named famous enlightened oneshave reportedly made it through, what about the billions of humanity that have no idea ofwhat is happening? Is the system really effective? Is it reality? Reincarnation does not seem to pass the test of human experience. Christianity explains that it is appointed for man to experience one humanphysical death, and afterwards to experience a final judgment (Heb. 9:27). Christianityfurther teaches that men’s souls do not wander around the universe bodilessunadministrated. They are ushered immediately into the presence of God or detained inhell awaiting final judgment. Further there are no second, third, much less endlessrepetitive opportunities to get right with God. The overall effectiveness of God’s one-life-opportunity-plan is recorded in a prophetic picture in Revelation 7:9-12 showinguncountable millions from all the families and nations of humanity who had a one-life-opportunity and experienced justification by faith apart from dharma, and are nowworshiping in eternal relationship with God.Karma Hinduism teaches that karma is the result of the law of cause and effect. The most 81
  • 91. 82significant application is the effect it has on the next incarnation. The consequence of anyaction may have a present result but the ultimate reward or retribution will beexperienced in the next life. The major problem with the Hindu perspective of karma isnot the tie between actions and consequences but that one cannot rid himself or work offthe consequences and the stain of bad karma nor does good karma achieve ultimatelywhat Hinduism claims it achieves, liberation. Christianity reveals that Christ paid the penalty for man’s bad karma(unrighteousness). Christ’s good karma (righteousness) is freely given to man in responseto his faith (doctrine of justification). God then puts Christ’s nature in man so he canproduce acceptable karma. However the purpose, use, and motivation for karma arecompletely redefined in Christianity.Caste System The Hindu caste system creates a barrier to understanding and accepting thedoctrine of justification. Hinduism teaches that one migrates into a caste system by virtueof previous good karma. One is trapped in that caste during his present life. To attempt tofree one’s self from the caste of his birth during his present lifetime would create badkarma. It is cyclical reasoning but nevertheless very powerful and a strong deterrent toconsider seriously the possibility of total freedom in this lifetime. Jesus, however, taught that to know the truth is the road to total freedom (John8:32). He also said, “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (John8:36). Freedom from the bondage of sin and judgment is to be distinguished from therequirements within the caste, or the freedom to remain in one’s caste relationships, orfreedom to move out of the caste. 82
  • 92. 83Inclusivism Hinduism teaches the acceptance of all paths to God. In that tolerant posture onemajor flaw is obvious. Inclusivism must be compatible on both sides. That is to say thatif a position is so absolute that it cannot be absorbed without fundamentally altering allits basic principles, that position is not viable. Hinduism would be willing to absorbChristianity if 1) Hinduism would not have to make any radical changes in core values;and 2) Christianity would make a necessary change to become compatible withHinduism, namely concede its exclusive position. Christianity reveals that God had only one plan of release from sin and sufferingand the repairing of the broken relationship between God and man. The plan is notnegotiable and cannot be adjusted to comply with times, or sinful cultural values, orreligious incongruities. Jesus declared that He is the way, the truth and the life. TheFather announced and instructed, “This is My Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen toHim” (Matt. 17:5).Humanity Hinduism teaches that the body of man is like a garment that wears out and is tobe tossed aside and discarded. Subsequently another body-sheath is inhabited until itwears out and then it is discarded. The ultimate goal of Hinduism is that the bodilessatman of an individual merges indistinguishably back into Brahman. Christianity reveals that God created man initially body and soul designed for aunited eternal existence separate from God. Both God and man will sustain separateeternal identities but will exist in one indivisible relationship, a oneness with God. In summary and review, not all major teachings of Hinduism were contrasted withthe doctrine of justification. Only the points of the Hindu mind-set and worldview that 83
  • 93. 84present difficulty in understanding the concepts of justification were chosen andcontrasted. Justification is not difficult to understand. The philosophical Hindu mighteven criticize it as too simplistic for his serious consideration. However, the features andimplications of justification are more extensive than the limits of this paper allow forexplanations. Two aspects stand out far above all else to stretch and challenge the mostintellectual of the human race. One is the total inability of man to do anything that wouldbe holy enough and acceptable to restore relationship with an absolutely holy God. Evenapart from the revelation of that truth, man in his deepest, most objective moments ofreflection must come to that same conclusion: God is holy, he is not. Any other positionwould come from the weakness of self delusion. The second aspect is that it is solely the initiative of God seeking man, not manseeking God. The brokenness and rebellion of man only hardens his heart to God’sprovision that will make man acceptable to God. This refusal is the height of arroganceand pride. What karma could man ever produce and offer to God that would be equal orsuperior to God’s provision. True humility admits in prostration at the foot of the crossnot only man’s inability but God’s overwhelming grace-provision for his hopelesscondition. The Statement of the Doctrine of Justification The Gospel Contextualized for the Hindu Mind-Set God (the ultimate being of the universe, eternal, sovereign, with revealedattributes and personal) acting (on His own initiative to restore man whom He hadcreated to be with Him in eternal relationship) as Judge, in a single, immutable,eternal, forensic, legal decree (without violating any of His divine attributes, especially 84
  • 94. 85His holiness) declares (based on His evaluation of the sinner’s freshly altered accountnow complete with Christ’s righteousness) righteous, each condemned sinner (under aneternal humanly unalterable sentence of divine judgment with absolutely no ability torectify) who believes in Christ (by recognizing his own hopeless condition ofinescapable bondage and Christ’s totally sufficient provision) by imputing (but notaccepting any help or attempt of man to supplement God’s totally complete provision)Christ’s righteousness to him (individually and immediately) because God’srighteous demands (of restitution and restoration) have been satisfied. The bold type is the statement of the revealed truth in Christianity of the doctrineof justification. The parentheses address all the major teachings of Hinduism that wouldhinder a Hindu’s understanding of the concepts of the doctrine of justification. 85
  • 95. CHAPTER 4 APPROACHES FOR TEACHING THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION Several approaches are offered to present the doctrine of justification to Hindus.They are given in varied cultural or theological settings. The idea is to demonstrate placesin Hindus’ experiences that can serve as starting points to contextualize a presentation ofthe doctrine of justification effectively. Felt Need Approaches The first four approaches focus on the felt needs of the Hindu. The attempt is tosense the emotional load a Hindu may be feeling as he struggles with the demands of lifein light of his religious commitments. At some deep level questions may lurk in his heartthat causes him to think Hinduism may not square with reality. At least in this regard thedemands and pressures may be great to bear. Dharma ApproachSetting The heavy demands of one’s dharma can become so burdensome that life seemsalmost hopeless. All of life is regulated by the demands and requirements of dharma.This overload of requirements may lead to suicidal thoughts. Probably most, if not all,Hindus at some point in their lives have felt the heavy demands and their own humanness 86
  • 96. 87and inability to live up to the expectations of their dharma. Despair and not knowingwhere to turn may cause one to wonder if life is really worth all the hassles.200Bridge Assuming a prior relationship of trust is deep enough that one’s Hindu friend hasbeen comfortable to share his struggles, one may share the following approach. The omniscient, Creator God (of the Bible) knows our every struggle, frustrationand crisis. He also cares and is deeply moved by our concerns and needs. He carespersonally for His creation and His own people (Rom. 8:26). However, He does not force His comfort and help on those who do not want it orhave not asked for it. One must establish a relationship with God before he can expect toreceive the gracious offer to help in one’s needs. God, anticipating all of human needslong before they were ever experienced, set in place for all mankind a way to relate toHim in total holiness. Knowing that man first needed a righteousness that would beacceptable to Him, God determined to attribute Christ’s righteousness to those whowould believe in Christ’s work for them. (A fuller explanation of the doctrine ofjustification may be given at this point).Application One must turn to God, recognizing that the total provision for having relationshipwith God is in Christ alone. In that provision he can become one with God and a member 200 Uday Kuckian, “South India: Worlds Suicide Capital,” Apr 15, 2004http://view.atdmt.com/DWO/iview/cntxicdr0040000050wo/direct/01/256532043 Kuckian states that out ofevery three cases of suicide reported every 15 minutes in India, one is committed by a youth in the agegroup of 15 to 29. Kerala, the countrys first fully literate state, has the highest number of suicides. Of the 7reasons given for suicide 6 of them seem related to Dharmas demands directly or indirectly. Possibly all 7reasons are Dharma related. Kerala’s suicide rate is 32 per 100,000. The world-wide rate is 14.5 per100,000. 87
  • 97. 88of His family. From that point care for God’s child is overwhelming and unlimited. Oneneed only to ask for God’s care (I Pet. 5:7). Caste System Approach Two scenarios of the caste system are suggested. One is for the outcasts, theuntouchables, the Harijans, the Dalits. The other is for the higher castes. In the case ofthe Dalits, one’s station in life includes much suffering and persecution that must beendured by reason of being a member of the outcasts. This continuing, oppressivecondition cries out for relief and release. The second scenario is of a different, evencontrary, nature. It is the position of pride by virtue of being a member of a higher caste.Here the approach requires an entirely different scenario. The Dalit ApproachSetting All people suffer. But the continuing suffering of persecuted people is hard tocomprehend. To show sympathy and concern can bond people on an individual level thatopens up amazing channels of communication and compassion. It has often been said thatno one cares how much you know until he knows how much you care. This is universallytrue.Bridge Assuming a relational bond exists with a Dalit, one may share in the followingmanner. One might feel it wise to share that God did not create the caste system with all itsills and evils. Caste-thinking developed gradually over a period of time and was theinvention of men with evil motives. 88
  • 98. 89 God is concerned for all men. He hears the cries of the needy and the oppressed.God heard the cry of His people Israel, oppressed in Egypt by Pharaoh (Exod. 3:6, 7).God heard the cry of Hagar, when she was driven from her home with her son and theywere about to die of thirst (Gen. 21:9-21). God responded to David’s cry for help asrecorded in the Psalms. About forty times David records his cry for help and God’sresponse.Application God invites all people to come and find rest for their souls (Matt. 11:28). In fact, God announces that before His people call for help He will answer (Isa.65:24). When man needed to be restored to God and have an ongoing eternal relationshipwith Him, He provided the way. At this point the stage is set to explain the doctrine ofjustification. He hears before the call. He responds immediately. If He does not deliverinitially, He walks through the valley of the shadows with the person. He will never leaveor forsake those who call out, (Psa. 23:4; Matt. 28:20, etc). The Higher Caste ApproachSetting In the privileged classes of human beings, including higher castes of Indians, restsa hidden pride in their hearts. This feeling of superiority causes them to think they do nothave the same needs other men have. This pride causes a spiritual blindness of whichthey are not aware. Somehow they think that what they do is acceptable to Brahman andthat they really do understand him and have met his requirements. This smugness isolatesthem and hardens them from sensing their desperate need. 89
  • 99. 90Bridge Assuming a prior relationship exists with a higher caste Hindu one may feelcomfortable in the following approach. God has a word for that man who is proud about his spiritual status and spiritualknowledge: resistance. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James. 4:6).God is not impressed with an individual’s knowledge, accomplishments, or positions. Helooks at the heart for a teachable spirit. In fact, He withholds knowledge from those whodo not have a humble spirit. They think they see when they do not (Matt. 13:13-17). Nicodemus humbled himself and understood the only rebirth man needed (John.3:1-21). The Bereans humbled themselves and searched the Scriptures to verify the truththat was taught them, (Acts 17:10-12). Those who humble themselves at the feet of Jesuslearn great truths, Luke. 10:38-42. Those who humble themselves at the foot of Jesus’cross find eternal life, (Acts 2:23; I Cor. 1:18; Eph. 2:15, 16, I Cor. 1:26-29). What man could not do for himself God did for him. Therefore one’s pride shouldbe in God’s work for man not in himself or his works, (Gal. 6:14). (At this point thedoctrine of justification can be introduced and explainedApplication Humility is the basic requirement for understanding God’s truth, not intellect,spirituality, or position in society. God reveals His truth to humble spirits who are hungryto know Him. When one thinks he sees, he may be blind, needing spiritual eyemedication, (Rev. 3:17, 18). God planned only one rebirth for men. One needs great humility to see that truthand to apply it. 90
  • 100. 91 Peace with God ApproachSetting Deep within the spirit of every man is an unrest that stems from knowingintuitively that all is not right between him and God. This awareness and disturbance ofspirit has as many degrees as there are men living. However, some men have a continuingunrest and longing for peace with God. All they have done, all they have learned, and allthey have read has not created peace with God in their spirits. These troubled souls maybe discovered in all levels of society--from the poorest to the richest, from the ignorant tothe educated, from least trained to highest skilled. They often have an open heart and arewilling to listen intently. The ache in their spirits may exceed their ability to put it inwords. Therefore, one must sense that seldom articulated need and ripeness for theGospel.Bridge God knows man’s longing and unrest and desires peace with each man, personallyand individually. The “war” is real. It does exist. It won’t go away. But the Good News isthat God took the initiative and created a peace between Himself and all mankind. Hisconditions for peace have been met. He desires us to accept His peace solution. Thesignature on God’s peace treaty reflects one’s faith in the provision of His Son’ssacrifice. (At this point the doctrine of justification may be introduced and explained.)Application The only peace conditions that God will accept are those He has put in place.There must be a humility that will agree to His plan as complete and final. 91
  • 101. 92 Worship/Pleasing God ApproachSetting Hindus are deep into puja (worship). The activities of worship are timeconsuming, requiring much attention and effort. Worship is carried out both in templesand in homes. Priests maintain and direct temple worship, performing some acts onbehalf of the worshippers who come. Home worship may be led by the male in charge ofthe household. Idols are washed, fed, dressed, and worshipped. Food offerings are givento the images. The ultimate offering of self to the deity is to become one with it.Bridge Assuming that a Hindu god has some essence or being, reducing its character andattributes to the features of a created idol must be the height of insult. The final andextreme insult is that the image is lifeless. Neither can it see, hear, eat, nor feed itself. Ithas no power of its own and must totally be cared for by the ones who are asking carefrom it. The true God who created all the faculties and functions of communication andcare absolutely forbids any attempt of man to create physical representations of Himself(Exod. 20:3-7). In fact, when His Word, contained in the ark, was set in a room with anidol, His presence toppled the idol and broke off its hands (I Sam. 5:4). God desires and demands all of man’s worship and devotion. He doesn’t needfood or dress or baths. The greatest insult to the Creator of all things is that man thinks oracts as though God has need of anything from man’s effort or supply. He created life andis Himself self-existent and eternal. He has no need of food. He has no need of dress forthat would indicate a need for covering. Rather, His splendid majesty needs to be seen inall its perfection, not covered. Man needs fig leaves, not God. The holy God has no 92
  • 102. 93impurities that need bathing. Only man needs bathing. But sadly, the bathing that heneeds is spiritual cleansing, and all the waters of the world, including the Ganges, cannotbegin to remove the impurities of the spirit. Only God can do that. In fact, He offers usspiritual cleansing, spiritual food, and spiritual dress. (At this point one may begin apresentation of the doctrine of justification.)Application The true God is seeking worshippers who will worship Him in spirit, not withfood offerings He doesn’t want and will not accept. He is seeking worshippers who willworship Him in truth, not those who gaze on attributes of their own making, but thosewho are worshiping Him in the infinite attributes He has revealed of Himself. He acceptsmaterial offerings dedicated to Him but used ultimately in ministering to the spiritual andphysical needs of mankind. The owner of the universe delights in the sacrifices of Hispeople dedicated to Him to be used in the lives of hurting, suffering mankind. That isacceptable worship. He also desires the worship of the lips, ascribing praise andthanksgiving to Him for His generous blessings to His people. Theological Approaches The next four approaches for presenting the doctrine of justification are from atheological starting point. The context of beginning is a particular theological topic. Thebackground and details of how the settings arise have been omitted because they areirrelevant. Actually, any number of possibilities could have been the occasion, from afriendly informal conversation to an academic classroom setting or a heated publicdebate. None of these formats should invalidate the suggested scenarios; however, one’sstyle might change radically, given the different contexts. 93
  • 103. 94 Emanations from Brahman In spite of the insistence of the pantheistic explanations of atman present ineverything, Hindus have a sense of being separated from God (Brahman). This separationis explained theologically by the emanation of atman from Brahman in the distant past.Setting The starting point of the scenario is that sense or feeling of being separated fromGod and the inability to do anything immediately to restore oneness with God. Thefeeling of separation from God is not imagined; it is reality. Awareness of separationexists within the individual because an offense of man’s sin. Until that sin is addressedwith each individual, the separation and its feeling will remain.Bridge The Good News is that God took the initiative to deal with that pending offense.Man indeed is helpless to address and correct the offense. The separation exists notbecause of a friendly emanating of atman from Brahman but because of a determinedrebellious act of the created, willful man against his Creator God. (At this point one mayfeel free to begin the explanation of the doctrine of justification.)Application Man must not only take responsibility for his present and past karma but for hisoriginal karma in Adam. The self-willed decision of man is the basis for the sentence ofjudgment. That sentence resulted in a human-history-long separation from God for theentire race. Man must recognize (and own) the cause and recognize (and accept) God’s 94
  • 104. 95solution. That decision will dissolve the separation and will merge man back intoacceptance and oneness with God again. Karma – Works The doctrine of Karma focuses on the law of cause and effect. This point seemsirrefutable and may well be. The basic problem lies not in the concept itself but in theresult of the effects caused by man’s acts.Setting Taking responsibility for one’s action is the correct thing to do. However, toassume, as Hinduism does, that the results of those actions determine in what life formones atman will return is the first flaw in the doctrine of karma. God revealed that afterdeath is the certainty of judgment, not a reincarnated return for an individual (Heb. 9:27).As serious as that flaw is, the second one is even greater. The assumption that man by hisown effort could ever remove the effects of bad karma is the most devastating error. Solong as man thinks he can erase his sins and misdeeds, he may be duped into an endlesseffort to accomplish a righteousness that is not acceptable to God. However, if he comesto the reality that he can never remove bad karma, he will begin to look for and be opento consider another way.Bridge The Good News is another way. God put a plan in place before the foundations ofthe world to do for man what he could never do for himself. (At this point one may feelfree to begin to explain the doctrine of justification.)Application 95
  • 105. 96 Owning one’s karma is commendable and correct. However, to be committed toendlessly trying to erase bad karma is insanity. But to commit one’s record of bad karmato God for His solution reflects knowledge (vidya) and wisdom in its highest form. Thisdecision is personal and must be made by the individual. One is just as responsible for thedecision he makes concerning accepting or rejecting God’s solution as he is for the actsof his karma. Reincarnation The seeming driving force behind the need to invent the doctrine of reincarnationis certainly understandable. Bad karma has left man sadly wanting and needy. Somethingmust be done if man will ever be able to become one with God again.Setting The burning question is, is reincarnation the ultimate answer to solve the problemof bad karma? Logic, reality, history, and the basic nature of man would indicatereincarnation is not the solution or even a good possibility. The entire history ofmankind’s effort to get right with God is deteriorating at an exponential rate. If Goddoesn’t step into the destructive torrent of human history very soon, mankind will totallyself-destruct.BridgeHistory does not vote in favor of reincarnation as the solution to man’s bad karma crisis.The basic flaw is that nothing has changed in man from one incarnation (generation) tothe next reincarnation (generation). Further, it is evident no improvement could possiblyever be made. One must not be deceived by the apparent progress in technological andfactual discoveries of nature and the universe. That progress has no parallel to progress 96
  • 106. 97into the spiritual, moral, or ethical knowledge in man’s relationship to God. The oppositeis the painful, frightenly strong, seemingly irreversible trend. Mankind as a race hasmoved further from, rather than closer to, relationship with God. The definable andarticulated position gaining momentum today is that mankind doesn’t need God, doesn’twant God and rigidly, violently is opposed to even the concept of God.ApplicationOne must conclude that reincarnation (if it actually exists) has made things worse notbetter. Indeed, if allowed to continue it will be the cause of the destruction of humanitynot the effect of restoration to oneness with God. Judgment/Evaluation The fear of death and judgment universally plagues the human race. Hinduism isno exception. To approach death with peace is certainly a God thing. The dread of deathcannot totally be explained by thinking of it as merely fearing the unknown. Hinduismteaches that at death atman is held until assignment is made for the next body sheath. Hiskarma determines the next level of incarnation. Yet this knowledge does little to erase thefear Hindus have as they face death. Hinduism does not teach a punishment after death,so why the fear?Setting Deep in the spirit of every man is some sense that his evil works deserve somesort of retribution. Hinduism’s teaching of karma’s law of cause and effect confirms thatto the Hindu. But without knowledge of who is judge or reviewer or what the charges orconsequences are, fear only increases. 97
  • 107. 98 The truth is that disobedience does bring judgment, and fear is the correct andnatural response to guilt. Apparently the spirit of man knows more intuitively about whathappens after death, regardless of religious teaching. The fact is if one does not correcthis relationship with God during this life, there remains a fearful looking forward to thatjudgment one must face (Heb. 10:27).Bridge The Good News is that God has made provision for man to establish animmediate and enduring relationship with Himself before he faces death. (At this pointone may feel free to introduce the doctrine of justification.) Further explanation of knowing God personally and intimately can remove thefear of standing in His presence for “review.” The character of God’s mercy and graceand His unfathomable love for His redeemed ones increase the peace that relationshipfosters. Getting to know God deeper daily dissolves the fear of facing Him. Thatrelationship, however, cannot exist until the truths of the doctrine of justification areunderstood and accepted.Application When one is initially introduced to the concepts of the doctrine of justification hemay need time to reflect on the implications of the Hindu way of facing death andjudgment contrasted with the provisions God has offered to mankind. One must choosebetween the weak, uncertain way of his own self-provision and the strong, certainprovision that God has offered each individual. The initial release from the fear of death, through accepting the conditions of thedoctrine of justification, brings a joy and liberation that is beyond words. But thecontinued impact of gratefulness and joy grows as one reflects more deeply on the 98
  • 108. 99implications of what God did in Christ through His plan of justification. Discernment These suggested approaches need to be used with a number of considerations. WarningsPosture of Humility When Christians have opportunity to present the defense of the hope within, aconcerted effort is needed to do it in gentleness and humility. Any insight one may haveis because of the grace that opened his understanding. That same grace must operate inothers if they are ultimately to be able to see and accept the truth, I Pet. 3:15. That samegentleness and humility must prevail in the presenter’s spirit as the powerful argumentsof truth devastate the opposition. That devastation may not appear to be a conqueringevent. The enemy fights the hardest when his positions are in the most jeopardy.Therefore, the most violent response may be the best sign of a crumbling position of theenemy. It is only human to respond by either retreating as though giving up, or plungingin for the kill. Neither is to be the response of the man of God, but with gentleness he isto correct those who oppose him, I Tim. 2:24-26.Soft spots One should firmly fix in mind that the truth is being presented against error. Thatis fact. That is the reality. Ultimately, it is not the ability of the presenter that determinesthe final outcome. Truth will stand because it is truth not because of the skill (or lackthereof) of its presentation. Therefore soft spots in the presentation do not reflect soft 99
  • 109. 100spots in the truth. Secondly, more vitally important, are the soft spots in the mind of the opposition.When a man holds untruth, at some point he questions his own position. That soft spot isan open door, an invitation to conquer. One needs the discernment of the Holy Spirit tosense what a man does not really believe about his own position. Of course, he will do hisbest to guard that area. It may even appear to be his strongest point. Sometimes, however,that point is the least guarded and invites attack.Time It is impossible to say too much about the time factor involved with respect toaccepting the truth. Generally, for most men, more especially Hindus (and also Muslims),considerable time is needed to move individually from untruth to truth. Much more is atstake in changing positions than mere academic or even spiritual allegiance. Social,family, and financial implications weigh heavily in the decision to accept and apply truth.Satan’s chains of bondage are strong on men’s souls. Waiting (and expecting) the HolySpirit to release a man from darkness takes a great deal of patience. On the other side of the time coin are those who are ready to decide. Starved,hungry souls are ready for good food now. Discernment to know the readiness of men’shearts is also the grace of the Spirit of God to the presenter of truth. One should neverwalk away from a starving man when he is ready to eat.Invitation vs. Pressure Calling and inviting people to Christ should always be the passion of everybeliever. The door of salvation should always be kept open wide for men who might havethe least urge to enter. That door of opportunity should never appear to be closed to thewanderer whose positions of untruth are not satisfying his hungry souls. “Come and dine” 100
  • 110. 101is the Master’s constant invitation and it should be every believer’s as well. In contrast to invitation is pressure to decide. Any pressure should come from theforce of the truth of the presentation and from the work of the Holy Spirit within on thespirit of the listener not from the clever psychological manipulations of the presenter. Noman is responsible for the decision of another man. The responsibility lies in clearlypresenting the truth to every man (Mark. 16:15, 16). The Relational “Probe” One final important aspect of presentation remains to be expounded. Thepresenter of truth needs to be developing his relational probing skills constantly.Relational Acquaintances God has a purpose for every acquaintance or relationship of a believer. Thatspectrum of divine purposes certainly includes evangelism with one’s unsaved friendsand associates. Understanding that responsibility should drive one to seek opportunitiesto share the Gospel.Relational Receptivity It is safe to assume that every person has some aspect of his personality orexperience that is more open or receptive to the gospel than appears at first sight toothers. Probably the person himself may not be aware of his potential receptivity to thegospel. A discerning believer will always be looking for those receptive areas in the livesof his friends, always ready to give witness when the time is ripe. (See below on Timing.) This receptivity may be a felt need or a theological openness such as describedabove. The receptivity may present itself as a psychological need of loneliness, orinsecurity, or depression, or inadequacy, or some other condition that makes that person 101
  • 111. 102open to hear and respond to the gospel. The receptivity may be in the form of a spirituallyhungry spirit looking for spiritual reality, one whose heart the Lord had prepared, as wasthe case with Lydia, Acts 16:14.Timing The posture of constant readiness to present the Gospel cannot beoveremphasized. Two aspects are important to consider. One is the prevailing attitude ofthe presenter. The second is that the occasion for presentation is seldom knowable aheadof time. When the opportunity presents, the presenter must be ready.Gospel Adhesiveness The gospel possesses infinite attractiveness to the desperate human spirit. Evenmore significant is the power of Christ to draw (elkusw) all men to Himself. Christappeals to something that is in every man. This assumption is based on the fact thatChrist is the perfect man which God desires every man to be like. Whatever any manlacks is completed in Christ. The same assumption holds true with the gospel. Whateverany man may feel he needs to approach and relate to a holy, righteous God is foundsupplied in the gospel. What then can be said to the fact that many have not seen in Christ what theymost need? Or what can be said to the fact that many have not seen in the gospel whatthey most feel they need to relate to a holy, righteous God? Could it be that believers donot know Christ intimately enough to describe Him fully enough for others to see Him inall His magnificence? (Phil. 3:10-14). Could if be that Christians do not empathize deeplyenough with their acquaintances that they know intuitively what Christ has to offer eachone personally? (Rom. 9:1-3). Could it be that Christians do not understand the gospeldeeply enough to be able to present it thoroughly enough for each man to see in it what 102
  • 112. 103he most longs for in the depths of his spirit? (Rom. 1:16, 17). 103
  • 113. CHAPTER 5 EVALUATION This project was submitted to the faculty of the Evangelical Theological Seminaryof the Asian Christian Academy near Bangalore, India upon the gracious invitation of theits president, Dr. Joy George. He and the faculty members returned their very helpful andinsightful evaluations which are the basis for this chapter.The Evaluation of Rev. Joy John, Academic Dean of the Seminary 1. There is a thorough explanation of the doctrine of justification by faith. 2. The attempt to draw a comprehensive definition of the doctrine of justification is outstanding. 3. (The) “Primary observation of the Hindu mind that it is self-help oriented hence the importance of justification before God can (not) be over looked, is a good evaluation. 4. The concept of sin is not dealt with in this project in detail. The concept of sin is understood variously by different scholars. To some it as aganana (ignorance) for others it is sinful to call a man (a) sinner. For (a) few Hindus sin is bad karma. The law of karma does not allow you to be good. You may do something bad now as the result of your bad karma in the previous incarnation. Since the concept of sin is not strong in Hinduism guilt of sin is never discussed or understood by the Hindus. No one is responsible for the way he/she acts. When a Hindu has this type of mentality, he does not want to accept a way of salvation because he is not a sinner in the first place! I feel that the thesis should have focused on this dilemma. This is a very good criticism. The definition of the actions of man (karma) that arebad, hurtful, and morally wrong and are against the will of God for mankind is sin. Theyare the transgressions against God, personally, and against His holy standard. This is not 104
  • 114. 105understood in Hinduism. Often when the idea is confronted it is opposed or rejected. It is true that a heavier focus should have been on this concept. In fact, Hinduism does not equate evil with sin as a transgression against God andthus punishable by separation from God and eternity in hell. At no stage of development were the demoniacal forms clearly individualized. They all form part of the simple principle of evil which is rather a double-edged principle never established as absolute evil. Literature describes hell and its graded spheres of terrifying tortures. Is there eternal condemnation? True hell is rather a return to earth.201 The author of the web sight HinduUnity.Org explains the Hindu view of sin andeternal punishment. In very simple words, sin is an act that takes one away from God even if it is for a sort period or for longer in relations to the seriousness of the deed. So the true devotee, even if he is a family man, will know and accept that all his karma is for God. His spiritual life is number one without which all the zeroes written on a page mean nothing. His number one is God and his life is a bhakti, in the truest sense. He sees God in all the clouds, rain, heat, mountain, flowers, seasons etc. He brings up his family in the awareness of God. Due to the karma so done, his children will obviously be good character and lead the life in love for God. A good soul also has the privilege of taking the birth in such a family to continue toward the final truth. Very rewarding indeed. The author further explains: Does God punish eternally? No. Unlike the Christian Islamic beliefs, God is kind and will always give a chance to a lost soul to come on the right path. In fact at every stop in this life there is a chance to go back. So much so that, even if one has lived his life in total sin, if (he) thinks of God at the time of death, He will accept the soul. Permanent and eternal punishment are always stressed in beliefs that have huge gaps in their philosophies. Brainwashing is the base of instilling fear and keeping the “flock together”. One cannot question any tenets of other beliefs just out of fear of severe punishment from God. 201 Renou, Hinduism, 39. 105
  • 115. 106 Hinduism is different, one is encouraged to meditate (think) many answers out for one’s self. This in fact develops the mind to much higher understanding than just reading and accepting what is offered in a book or a scripture. Though a paper of this limitation cannot deal with all the issues of Hinduism,some definitive statements concerning the nature of sin and the impact sin has on mancan be set forth. First, Hinduism fails to understand what sin is. It is not merely an act that takesman away from God. Sin is a decision before it is ever an act. To miss the origin andnature of sin is to miss entirely the significance of sin. Hinduism attempts to define whatsin does without understanding what sin is. Sin is not merely ignorance which has to beovercome by meditating through to some point of enlightenment. Sin is willful rebellionand transgression against God’s standard of holiness. A very basic review of the meanings of the words used to describe sin in the OldTestament and the New Testament helps to define sin without arduous meditating. Sin isnot ignorance but rather a very definite decision to oppose a possessed existingknowledge of God and His will. The following Hebrew words describe sin in the Old Testament. Apj means afailure or coming short. Hw[ means perversion or distortion of nature which is caused byevil, i.e., wrong. Lm[ means travail as in labor or sorrow. Liw[ means lack of integrity. Itis wrong doing and often translated iniquity. Rb[ means to transgress or to cross over theboundary. [r means to break up or to ruin. [cp means to revolt or refuse subjection torightful authority. [cr means wicked from the idea of tossing or confusion. L[m meansunfaithfulness and treachery. It is a breach of trust. Nwa means iniquity probably from aroot which means nothingness. Mca means trespass or guilt. The following Greek words describe sin in the New Testament. Amartia means 106
  • 116. 107missing of the mark. Anomos means lawlessness or iniquity. Ponhros means wicked orwickedness. Adikia means unrighteousness, unjust, or iniquity. Anosis means unholy orprofane.202 Sin in its origin is not ignorance per se. Indeed it does lead to and create anignorance of God. Thus man is not the victim of ignorance but the creator of his ownignorance. Second, the kindness of God in Christianity is superior any of the three ways ofdeliverance of Hinduism. The Bahaman of Hinduism sits idly by as atman struggles forendless reincarnations trying to find Brahman and reunite with him. In contrast, the Godof the Bible reveals, identifies, and defines the problem; sin. He sends the enabling of HisSpirit to convict and teach mankind concerning sin, righteousness and judgment, (John16:7, 8). God does not leave man to struggle and grope in darkness and in ignorance foreons to discover and experience salvation. The Brahman of Hinduism must been seen as heartless and unkind to allow suchsuffering and pain to continue so long without lifting a finger to help. Third, fear is not used to keep the flock together as Hinduism accuses Christianityof doing. Fear is for the lost! Lost men, not the flock of Christians, should fear theindescribable justice and judgment of God. Fear is a gracious gift of God for one whopersists to rebels and refuses the loving restoring offer of God. The current condition ofman separated from God and enduring all sorts of temporary pain is deplorable enough.But to meditate on the reality of eternal separation from God accompanied with eternaltorment should drive any man to extreme fear and ultimately to repentance. Such is thedesign of God’s kindness of fear. 202 Robert Baker Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm B. EerdmansPublishing Company, 1897), 76-86. 107
  • 117. 108 Fourth, meditation is a cruel tenant of Hinduism. For Brahman to force man witha weak, ignorant mind to struggle unaided without clear revelation to meditate toward anunidentified enlightenment is unthinkably cruel. History screams out in rage atHinduism’s record. How many of the millions and billions of mankind have supposedlyreached nirvana through meditation? Ten? Fifty? A hundred? A thousand? What hasHinduism done for rest of mankind? If every human represents an atman and everyanimal, insect, foul, and fish represent an atman whose karma condemned them to repeatanother reincarnation how good, how effective is Hinduism? How cruel is a system thathas nearly a 100% condemnation record? In contrast to Hinduism, Christianity reveals a God that loved man so much thatHis Son became a man, became the holy karma that God would accept for all mankind.God reveals truth to man, helps his weak, ignorant mind to be enlightened andunderstand, and strengthens man’s spirit to repent and believe all within one life time.That is worth meditating on. Joy John continues his evaluation: 5. Though the scriptures of Hindus which serve as the basis of their theology, are mentioned in the thesis, it also should be known that Hindus do not have a unanimous agreement on which scripture is authoritative for their theology. Popular Hinduism many no appeal to any so called holy writings. And a good number of ordinary Hindus value the epics and evaluate at par with the sacred books such as veda/upanishads/bhagavadgita etc. Professor John is correct in pointing out the lack of unity among Hindusconcerning the authority of their scriptures. In fact the lack of exact authority and unity iseven greater than Professor John has stated. This fact alone makes the analysis andevaluation of Hinduism even more difficult. To illustrate this phenomenon is the fact that 108
  • 118. 109Hindus admit the outdating of some scripture and expectation of new scripture appearing.An example of this instability of Hindu scripture authority is seen in the comment of theIndian teacher/writer of The Divine Life Society, Swami Shivananda. He states in an article entitled “Need For A New Law-Code: It is not possible to follow some the laws of Manu at Present time. We can follow their spirit and not the letter. Society is advancing. When it advances, it outgrows certain laws which were valid and helpful at a particular stage of its growth. Many new things which were not thought out by the old law-givers have come into existence now. It is no use insisting people to follow now those old laws which have become obsolete. Our present day society has changed considerably. A new Smriti to suit the requirements of this age is very necessary. Another sage will place before the Hindus of our days a new suitable code of laws. Time is ripe for a new Smriti. Cordials greetings to this age. From this current Hindu teaching one can easily observe three unstable viewsamong Hindus concerning their belief about their scriptures and the lack of agreementamong themselves. First is the inconsistency between the concept that scripture is eternal and that itcan become obsolete. In an article entitled, “Srutis,” Swami Shivananda declares: The term Veda comes from the root Vid, to know. The word Veda means knowledge. When it is applied to scripture, it signifies a book of knowledge. The Vedas are the foundational scriptures of the Hindus. The Veda is the source of the other five sets of scriptures why, even of the secular and the materialistic. The Veda is the storehouse of Indian wisdom and is a memorable glory which man can never forget till eternity. So, can they never be forgotten till eternity or do they become obsolete. Second is Hindu law binding or is it not law and not binding? 109
  • 119. 110Swami Shivananda teaches that it is impossible to follow some laws of Manupresently.(See above quote.) The reason given is that society is advancing. The law-giverswere notaware of the new things that have developed in our society. He concludes that it isuselessto insist on obeying these old obsolete laws. Admittedly this leaves Hinduism antiquated. It has and is becoming oldand non applicable to today’s world. If one meditates on this reality long he mustconclude that Hinduism, at best, has served its purpose and now should be forsakenas obsolete. Or Hinduism, at worst, has deceived mankind up to this point in historyand is now discovered as inadequate and obsolete. Selah! Of course, one would not expect the proponents of Hinduism to give upthat easily the bankruptcy of the system is becoming evident even from within itsown teachers. So, out of the blue, comes the declaration that a new Smriti isnecessary to meet the requirements to the present age. Another sage is expected toissue a new code of laws suitable for today. But these suggestions raise manyquestions. One is where does the knowledge come from that another Smriti is forthcoming? Does that statement have any trustworthy authority behind it? Anotherquestion is how long will this eternal law be binding before it becomes obsolete andneed a new replacement? A final question is who will determine that indeed it is asage that gives the Smriti and on what objective, authoritative basis will the newlaws be declared an official Smriti? 110
  • 120. 111 The third instability that is observable within Hinduism has to do with the concept that Swami Shivananda referred as “ripe.” What is “ripe”? Who determines this point? How much of the law of Manu must become obsolete to make the time “ripe” for a new Smriti? This whole nebulous concept seems very human driven and totally manmade. It smacks of a human inventiveness and has now apparent tie to the Divine. This appears to be the creation of man sensing the inadequacy of Hinduism to speak to current and ever changing needs of human society. So what is needed is a new revelation for the old is now obsolete. But as Professor John has pointed out that all Hindus do not agree on the authorityof Hindu scripture. Indeed he is right. Another Hindu viewpoint is presented fromSubhamoy Das with Manoj Sadasivan. He states: Although the Vedas are seldom read or understood today, even by the devout, they no doubt form the bedrock of the universal religion or “Sanatana Dharma” that all Hindus follow. The Vedas have guided our religious direction for ages and will continue to do so for generations to come. And they will forever remain the most comprehensive and universal of all ancient scriptures. Immediately one is struck by the arbitrary statement that the Hindu scriptures willremain forever. This obviously disagrees with Swami Shivananda’s teaching that theHindu scripture becomes obsolete and that it is useless to insist on obeying it. Professor’s John’s evaluation also notes, 6. I observe that while quoting the details of Hinduism the author quotes the western authors extensively. It may be good to quote Indian writers for the sake of credibility because many Indians think that the westerners have corrupted their theology and misrepresented through western interpretation! This is an excellent observation. The author immediately sees his flaw though he 111
  • 121. 112was unaware of the existing tension between East and West on this point. Part of theexplanation of this matter, but certainly not set forth as a defense, is not only the vastnessof the subject of Hinduism and the limited scope of this project but also the lack ofagreement even among western writers on the topic of Hinduism. To speak with anydegree of definitiveness on any aspect of Hinduism is virtually an impossibility. AsProfessor John as already pointed out that Hindus do no even agree among themselves onthe subject of the authority of the Hindu scriptures. (See point 5, page 107). Though itmight be difficult to prove in each case but the question arises that when the Hinducharges the Western author of misconstruing Hindu theology is the Western merelyquoting another Indian Hindu with whom the critic does not agree? In reality is hiscriticism valid, if indeed, the view already existed within the ranks of Hindu theologians? Professor John’s insight stands valid. Quoting Hindus on their own theology is theheart of evaluating Hinduism. Professor John’s evaluation continues: 7. I feel that the theology of Ghagavad-Gita should have been exposed a little bit, because Hindu theology in its popular form can be seen in the teaching of Ghagavad-Gita. Knowing where to cut back in a project of this brevity is difficult. The impact ofthe Ghagavad-Gita is hard to over emphasize. On the one hand popular Hinduism seemsto be moving away form the use of the Hindu scriptures yet on the other hand the storiesof the Ghagavad-Gita seem to a guiding light in popular Hinduism. Subhamoy Das in his article on “The Sacred Texts of the Hindus” explains: The Ghagavad-Gita (is) the most well known of the Hindu scriptures, called the “Song of the Adorable One.” Written about the 2nd century BC and forms the sixth 112
  • 122. 113 part of Mahabharata. It contains some the most brilliant theological lesson about the nature of God and of life ever written.203 Gyan Rajhans in writing on the importance of devotion in his article on“According to the Gita” makes the following declaration and then gives an example fromthe Gita. The Ghagavad-Gita, the greatest and holiest of Hindu scriptures, emphasizes the importance of “Bhakti” or loving devotion to God. Bhakti, says the Gita, is the only way to realize God. Arjuna’s Question In Chapter 2, Shlok (Verse) 7, Arjuna asks, “My soul is oppressed by a sense of frustration. My mind is unable to determine what is right. I am requesting you to tell me definitely what is for my good. I am your pupil. Teach me. I have surrendered myself to you.” Krishna’s Answer But, Lord Krishna does not answer Arjuna’s request until Chapter 18, Shloks (verses) 65-66 where He says, “Let your mind be constantly directed towards me; be devoted to me; dedicate all your actions to me; prostrate yourself before me; over and above the claims of all Dharmas (duties) is complete surrender to me and me alone.” However, Lord Krishna does partially answer Arjuna in Chapter 11, Shocks (verses) 53-55 after exhibiting His cosmic form, “It is not possible to see me as you have done through the study of Vedas or by austerities or gifts or by sacrifice; it is only by one-pointed devotion (Bhakti) to me and me alone that you thus see and know me as I am in reality and ultimately reach me. It is he alone who dedicates all his notions and actions to me with a knowledge of my superiority, my devotee with no attachment and who has no enmity to any living being that can reach me”. Bhakti therefore, is the only way to the true knowledge of God and the surest way to reach him. Bhakti: Unwavering Devotion and Love for God Bhakti, according to the Gita, is the love for God and love reinforced by a true knowledge of the glory of God. It surpasses the love for all things worldly. This 203 Das, The Basics of Hinduism.” 113
  • 123. 114love is constant and is centered in God and God alone, and cannot be shaken underany circumstances whether in prosperity or in adversity. Bhakti is Strictly Not for Non-believersIt is not for every one. All human being fall into two categories, the devotees(Bhaktas) and the non-devotees (Abhaktas). Lord Krishna says specifically that theGita is not for the “Abhaktas.”In Chapter 18, Shlok 67 Krishna says, “This (Gita) is not to be communicated toone who is not disciplined, or who in not a devotee, or who has not served thelearned or to one who hates me.” He also says in Chapter 7, Shloks 15 and 16: “Thelowest among men, those of wicked deeds, and the foolish ones, do not resort tome; for their minds is overcome by Maya (illusion) and their nature is “Asuri”(demonic), inclined to worldly pleasures, Four kinds of people of good deeds turnto me--those who are in distress, or who search for knowledge, or who desireworldly goods, or the truly wise.” The Lord further elaborates in the 28th Shlok ofthe same chapter “It is only those of good deeds whose sins are ended, and who arefreed from the spell of opposites that run to me with firm determination.” Who is an Ideal Devotee?Even those with Bhakti must have certain qualities to gain the grace of God. This isexplained in detail in Chapter 12, Shloks (verses) 13-20 of the Gita. The idealdevote (Bhakta) should….• not hate any living being• cultivate friendship and compassion• give up the feeling of “I and Mine”• be unmoved by happiness or misery• be forgiving• strive for self-control• always be content with what he/she has• have strong determination• surrender his/her mind and intellect to God.• not be afraid of anyone; and none in the world should fear him/her• desire nothing• be pure and efficient• be free from elation, anger, fear and turbulence of mind• be indifferent to what befalls him/her• be free from weakness of mind• free from the feeling that he/she is an independent agent• have no feeling of elation and enmity or desire• develop an attitude of mind which rejects good as well as bad things.• have no attachments and should accept pain and pleasure, honor and disgrace, 114
  • 124. 115 heat and cold equally as his/her portion • look upon friends and foes alike • not indulge in idle talk • not attached to any fixed abode • be steadfast in mind. It is such a “Bhakta” that is dear to Sri Krishna. And most important of all, those Bhaktas are most dear to God who love him with full faith in his supremacy. May we all be worthy of Gita’s Bhakti!204 From the above extended example it is clearly seen that the Ghagavad-Gita is a primary source of popular Hinduism theology particularly in the area of Bhakti. Professor’s observation is well taken. Familiarity with the Ghagavad-Gita is certainly important in understanding the Hindu mind-set. Professor Joy John’s next observation is 8. Before discussing the approaches for teaching the doctrine of justification (in chap 4) I would think that it would have been better to focus on the Hindu margas (ways) of Moksha in detail as well. (Such) as karma marga, raja voya, batti marga, gyan marga etc….). This will help a Christian to know what alternative Hindus have. Once again Professor John makes a valid observation. The following is a condensation of a larger work by the author dealing more in depths with the Margas of Hinduism. THE WAY OF WORKS Karma Marga Karma Yoga Definition The Way of Works, sometimes called the Way of Actions, is to achieve (moksha)release, liberation, salvation from (samsara) reincarnation and experience the (atman) 204 Das, The Basics of Hinduism,” http://about.com:Hinduism. 115
  • 125. 116merge back into the (Brahman) by following a disciplined obedience to the rituals andobligations of the Sutras and the Code of Manu. The rituals were held to be efficacious. When the observing of rituals becamemeaningless the Upanishads were compiled as official commentaries on the Vedas andwere referred as the Vedanta “supplement to the Vedas”205 The way of action (karma yoga) entails the path of unselfish action; one must do one’s duty, but it should not be done either for fear of punishment or hope of reward. The right action should be done without expectation of praise or blame. For example, one is to study or do good acts because it is correct to do so- because it is one’s duty (dharma) to do so, not because other people will reward and praise one for it.206 History The Way of Works began about 1500 BC. Its roots are in the earliest forms ofHinduism. When the Ayrans arrived in India it began to develop with little opposition.This is in contrast to what happened when the Ayrans arrived in Iran (Persia). There thereligious ideas of the Aryans were challenged by the teachings of Zoroastrianism. Theearly forms of Hinduism are shrouded in mystery because though many written recordshave been discoverer many remain undeciphered. 207 The Way of Works is based on the writings of the Vedas. Veda means“knowledge”. The Vedas is the knowledge of the wise men that was written down. Theseare a compilation rather than the ideas of a single individual. Four main Vedas are thesource of most of the practices of early Hinduism. They are the Rig Veda, the Yajur 205 Winfried Corduan, Neighboring, 197, 198. 206 Willard G. Oxtoby, World Religions: Eastern Traditions (Ontario, CAN: Oxford UniversityPress, 2002), 38. 207 Winfried Corduan, Neighboring Faiths, 190. 116
  • 126. 117Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda.208 The Rig Veda is a compilation of 1038 hymns of prayers address to the divas(gods). Though the concept of a supreme god is discernable a complex pantheonemerged.209 In fact, during this period the Hindu pantheon is highly developed.210 The Yajur Veda is a collection of short mantras chanted by the priests whileoffering scarifies.211 The Sama Veda is a collection of songs and chants for the priests to be usedparticularly with the sacred drink offering (soma). This was the drink of immortality.Soma was also the name of one of the deities.212 The Atharva Veda consists of magic spells and incantations reflecting the folkreligion of the common people. 213 The Way of Works is also associated with the terms Vedism and Brahmanism.Hindu scriptures continue to be forthcoming during this period. One did not seem to bemore authoritative than another. The authority lay in the Brahmans being the only onesthat could interpret them. During this time a discernable form of trinitarianism arose.Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver), and Shiva (Destroyer) emerged. From these, lesserdeities were manifested.214 Man is said to have an eternal soul (atman) which goes through many Ibid., 191. 208 209 Ibid., 192. 210 House, Charts of World Religions, Chart 57. 211 Ibid. 212 Ibid. 213 Ibid. 214 Ibid., Chart 59. 117
  • 127. 118reincarnations. Atman is same as Brahman but is thought to be separate from Brahmanwhile in the stage of transmigrations. The goal is for atman to merge back into Brahman.This is the ultimate liberation or salvation. Sin is often thought of in terms of evil actstied to the idea of Karma which is the law of cause and effect of man’s actions. Sin ismost often thought of in terms of ignorance rather than an offense against God.215 Salvation is achieved when the human soul (atman) becomes one with theUniversal soul (Brahman). Raja Yoga meditation techniques can aid in the process aswell the Brahman priests speaking mystical words for the individual. Early Hinduismtaught that at death the soul was absorbed back into the natural world. Later teachingswere that the atman returns with a different body, human, animal or insect.216Reincarnation (samsara) means “wanderings”. The goal o f Hinduism is the release(Moksha) from samsara. The Way of Works was initially prescribed to be completeobedience to the rituals and obligations to the Sutras and the Code of Manu plus fullsubmission to the authority of the Brahmans.217 Karma is the driving, enslaving force of reincarnation. Karma is best explained bythe concept of the law of cause and effect. What was done in a previous life “explains”the circumstances of this current life. What is done in this life will “affect” thecircumstances of the next life. This is not fatalism in its popular understanding.218 Practice The practice of the Way of Works includes “detailed observance of laws and 215 Ibid. 216 Ibid. 217 Corduan, Neighboring Faiths, 197. 218 Ibid. 118
  • 128. 119rituals governed by priests.”219 The Way of Works is practiced according to prescribed(dharma) or duty without an accompanying goal of either reward or fleeing punishment.To act with either of these produces karma (cause and effect). Either good or bad karmaguarantees another reincarnation to experience the effect that that act caused. Goodkarma has been called “golden handcuffs”.220 The goal is to be liberated or released from anything that has stress or conflict init. It is a withdrawal of all that is bad or good. Its aim is total detachment from all that isin the conscious realm. Liberated from bondage of ignorance, selfishness, and delusion, and having cut asunder the thread which binds the soul to birth and rebirth, he attains at last to the realm of eternal peace. This peace is considered as the highest ideal by every religion, and with its realization the aim of life is achieved. Having reached this condition, the soul regains its perfect freedom. Being no longer subject to the laws of nature, it is master, and can manifest those powers of omnipotence and omniscience, which are its birthright. They who now have attained this state are called ‘the Saviors of the world.” Such were Buddha, Krishna, Christ, Ramakrishna and others.221 THE WAY OF WISDOM Jnana Marga Jnana Yoga Definition Krishna also talks of the way of knowledge (Jnana yoga): through the means of attaining scriptural knowledge, one may achieve a transforming wisdom that destroys one’s past karma. 222 219 Ibid. 220 Oxtoby, World Religions: Eastern Traditions, 38. 221 Swami Abhedananda, Doctrine of Karma (Calcutta, India: Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1947),98, 99. 222 Oxtoby, World Religions: Eastern Traditions, 39. 119
  • 129. 120 History The Way of Wisdom began about 500 BC.223 It is also associated with the termsAdvaita Vedanata. The main scriptures used in the Upanishads. The Ghagavad-Gita isalso used as are the Vedas. The Vedas contains knowledge that the empirical sensescould not know.224 Brahman created the universe but is said not to change. The universe is inconstant change. Brahman is without attributes and cannot be defined. Nothing existsapart from him. The true nature of man is the human self (jiva) and is the same as atman.But atman is not an individual person because atman is part of Brahman. Suggestingdistinctions between atman and Brahman would jeopardize the possibility of getting backinto Brahman.225 Sin is suffering because of the bondage of reincarnations rising from ignorance ofmankind’s true nature. Salvation is breaking the bondage of reincarnation achievingdeliverance moksha. This happens when one understands his true nature. One whounderstands this before death is a jivan-mukta. If one does not understand before death heis doomed to repeat a reincarnation.226 Practice The practice of the Way of Wisdom includes “mystical recognition of Atman-Brahman identity, and withdrawal.”227 223 Ibid. 224 Ibid. 225 Ibid. 226 Ibid. 227 Ibid. 120
  • 130. 121 True knowledge is an insight into the real nature of universe, divine power, and the human soul. Later philosophers say that when one hears scripture, asks questions, clarifies doubts, and eventually mediates on this knowledge, one achieves liberation. Krishna tells Arjuna that just as the fire reduces fire-wood to ashes, so too does the fire of knowledge reduce all karma (actions) to ashes.228 Within Hindu tradition, the dharma, salvation is indicated in the realization of the true Self, the unity with the divine or with cosmic order.229 The Way of Wisdom is attractive to the wealthy and the intellectuals who havetime to study and reflect on the implications of the philosophers. Wayne House gives the following summary of the Way of Knowledge.230 The main scriptures are the Upanishads. The Brahma Sutras and the Ghagavad-Gita are also consulted. The Vedas provide knowledge about things that cannot be known by any other empirical means. Brahman cannot be identified with the universe because Brahman is beyond all change, whereas the perceived universe congtinuallly changes. To truly understand Brahman is to know Brahman to be devoid of parts, diversity, or attributes of any kind. The “individual” is thus not truly a person, since all is Brahman. Making any sort of distinction between the self and Brahman jeopardizes one’s attempt to attain liberation. People suffer from bondage in this life because they are caught in an endless a cycle of death and rebirth. Bondage arises from ignorance (avidya) of mankind’s true nature. Generally, when on speaks of the way of knowledge in Hinduism, one refers to the various systems of philosophy (darshan). These systems are Sankhya, Yoga, Mimansa, Vaisheshika, Nyaya, and Vedanta. All claim to be based on the Vedas, all aim at release, and all believe in rebirth and pre-existence. Although the number philosophical systems usually are limited to these six, many other lesser systems and variations exist within the six.231 A summary of each of these six systems gives insight to the issues and views of 228 Ibid. 229 Hendrik Vroom, No Other Gods (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,1996), 65. 230 House, Charts of World Religions, Chart 59. 231 Hopfe, Lewis M, Religions of The World, 93. 121
  • 131. 122the different facets of the way of knowledge or wisdom. Hopfe and Woodward havereduced these systems to their basic elements.232The Sankhya System The Sankhya system of philosophy is said to have been founded by the sageKapila, who lived during the sixth century BCE. Sankhya system recognized no personalgods and may be viewed as atheistic approach to life. It sees the universe as a dualism ofthe forces of spirit (purusha) and matter (prakriti). All that exist are these two forces, andfrom them springs all that we know in the world.The Yoga System This system is best known in the West where the emphasis is on the physical yogapractices. The root meaning of the word yoga is to “join” or “yoke” together. Thoughmany of the views of yoga are the same as that of the Sankhya system yoga teaches thatone should attempt to yoke or join the individual spirit to god, the atman, to Brahman. The main feature of yoga is meditation. Even the gods must follow the system ofyoga if they are to be released from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. There areseveral forms of yoga each emphasizing a different aspect. For instance, Raja Yogastresses mental and spiritual development. In this yogic discipline one works variousstages to free the mind of from anger, hatred, greed, etc. The Yoga Sutra has eight stepsfor the yogin to achieve trance or the superconscious level of Raja Yoga.The Mimansa System Purva Mimansa, the full name of the Mimansa system of philosophy, means“early examination” of the Vedas. The emphasis of the systems is on the Vedas and the 232 Ibid., 93, 94. 122
  • 132. 123Mimansa Sutra, written about 200 BCE. Leading advocates were Kumarila andPrabhakara, who lived in the eight century C.E. The main feature of the Mimansa Systemis the avoidance of rebirth. This is achieved by obeying the laws given in the Vedas andperforming the rites found in the Vedas. Early followers rejected the existent of gods, butby the eighth century BCE some philosophers of this system were known to offer prayersto Shiva.The Vaisheshika System The root meaning of Vaisheshika is “particularity.” The movement probably arosein the sixth century BCE. The founder was Kanada, who wrote the primary document, theVaisheshika Sutra. Vaisheshika, in contrast to the teaching of only one reality, Brahman,teaches nine distinct realities: earth, water, air, fire, mind, soul, ether, time and space.These elements are declared to be eternal and were not created. Therefore there is noneed for gods in the universe. Later, however, the idea of a Supreme Being was adoptedwho guides the universe.The Nyaya System The Nyaya System teaches a metaphysical scheme of the Vaisheshika System.Gautama founded the system in the third century BCE and wrote the Nyaya Sutra.Gautama is referred to as the “Aristotle of India.” He was atheistic and believed in thereality of the world. He believed that individuals can have a real knowledge of the world.The main practice of arriving at truth about the world is logical analysis.The Vedanta System The term Vedanta is often translated “end of the Vedas”. Most the ideas are fromthe Upanishads which were written at the end of the Vedic literature. Sometimes the 123
  • 133. 124term is translated “the acme of the Vedas” to indicate that the peak of the religiousteachings of the Vedas had been reached. A sage named Badarayana, who may have livedin the first century BCE and may have written the Vedanta Sutra, may have been itsfounder. The teachings of the Vedanta system are in stark contrast with the Sankhyasystem. Vedanta is monistic and teaches only one true essence in the universe which isBrahman. Nothing else exists. Everything is illusion. The world as it is perceived is basedon false knowledge (maya). The human problem is not wickedness, evil, or sin butignorance. The persisting dilemma of humanity is that they do not understand the truth ofreality that men are separated from Brahman. This ignorance binds them in an endlesscycle of birth and rebirth until they can achieve liberation through knowledge, thus theway of knowledge. Salvation is achieved by a discriminating knowledge of the final unreality of the world and by a consequent absorption of the individual self into the universal Self, that in Brahman.233 Josh McDowell and Don Stewart offer this summary of the Way of Knowledge: Another way of achieving salvation –in the Hindu sense—is the way of knowledge. The basic premise behind the way of knowledge is the cause of human suffering based upon ignorance. This mental error concerning our own nature is at the root of the mankind’s problems. “The error in man’s thinking is this: man sees himself as a separate and real entity. The truth of the matter, Hindus say, is this: the only reality is Brahman, there is no other. Therefore man, rather than being a separate entity, is part of the whole, Brahman. Self hood is an illusion. As long as man continues seeing himself as a separate reality he will be chained to the wheel of birth, death and rebirth. He must be saved from this wrong belief by the proper understanding that he has no independent self. This knowledge is not merely intellectual but experiential, for the individual reaches a state of consciousness where the law of karma is of not effect. This experience comes after much self discipline and meditation. The way of knowledge 233 Berry, Religions of India,, 58. 124
  • 134. 125 does not appeal to the masses but rather to an intellectual few who are willing to go through the prescribed steps.234 THE WAY OF WORSHIP Bhakti Marga Bhakti Yoga Definition The Way of Worship or Devotion is the way which is the one emphasized most throughout the Ghagavad-Gita. It is the one of a general amnesty offered to those who sin, to those who have karmic overload.235 History The Way of Worship began about 200 BC.236 The term associated with the Wayof Worship is bhakt (devotion). The scriptures used are the Ghagavad-Gita, Vedas andUpanishads. The writings of the Gurus and saints are included. There is more emphasison the devotions and less on the study of the writings than in other forms of Hinduism.237 Any one of the gods of Hinduism may be worshipped at any time. Some of thegods are associated with a certain locale.238 Mankind is viewed much the same as in the other ways of Hinduism. A lesseremphasis is put on the caste system.239 Sin is viewed mostly similar to the other ways of Hinduism with more focus on 234 McDowell, Understanding Non-Christian Religions, 28. 235 Ibid. 236 Ibid. 237 Ibid. 238 Ibid. 239 Ibid. 125
  • 135. 126the acts of evil. It is a more physical emphasis and less mental.240 The ultimate goal is union with God. There is an intense love expressed to godand surrender to him depending more on his grace rather than rituals. Mantras repeatingthe god’s name are emphasized. Feelings are important and rituals are minimized. Adistinction of merger into the universal is made from the view of an eternal resting placein the arms of a personal loving deity.241 Practice The practice of the Way of Worship includes “attachment” to one god or goddess.There are three main schools.”242 Devotion to God, puja, and devotional songs arepracticed. 243 The Way of Devotion is attractive because of the promise of Krishna to those whohave heavy sin. One who is engaged in devotional service, even if he commits the most abominable actions, is to be considered saintly because he is rightly situated. Very shortly does he become righteous and attain to lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee will never perish. Ghagavad-Gita 9:30, 31.244 “Ultimately, Krishna makes his promise to Arjuna: if one surrenders to the lord,he will forgive that human being all sins.”245 240 Ibid. 241 Ibid. 242 Ibid. 243 Ibid. 244 Swami Prabhupaka, Bhagavad-Gita (Bombay, India: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1972),160. 245 Oxtoby, World Religions: Eastern Traditions, 39. 126
  • 136. 127 “Give up all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall protect you from all sinful reactions. Therefore you have nothing to fear.” Ghagavad-Gita 18:66.246 In his commentary on this closing section of the Ghagavad-Gita SwamiPrabhupaka makes the declaration:It has been said that only one who has become free from all sinful reactions can take toworship of Lord Krishna. Therefore one may think that unless he is free from all sinfulreactions he cannot take to the surrendering process. In answer to such doubts it is heresaid that even if one is not free from all sinful reactions, simply by the process ofsurrendering to Krishna he automatically becomes free from them. There is no need ofstrenuous effort to free oneself from sinful reactions. One should unhesitatingly acceptKrishna as the supreme savior of all living entities. With faith and love, one shouldsurrender unto him. Devotion service to Krishna in full consciousness is the mostconfidential part of knowledge. This is the essence of the whole study of Ghagavad-Gita.247 Wayne House gives the following comparison of the different ways of Hinduismwithin its own system as follows: Scriptures include the Ghagavad-Gita, Vedas, Upanishads, and the writings of prominent gurus and saints. There is more emphasis on devotion and less on the study of Hindu scriptures that in other forms of Hinduism. Any one of the gods or goddesses might be worshiped at any given time for a specific purpose. Many of deities have histories associated with particular geographic regions of India. Views often are similar to those of other Hindu traditions, though there is a greater tendency to disregard caste distinctions. Views of sin often are similar to those of other Hindu tradition, though more emphasis is put on particular acts of evil-doing. People are overly conscious of the body and do not focus adequately on the mind. The aim of salvation is union with God. Intense love for God and surrender to him, reliance on his grace rather than on rituals, learning or ascetic practices and the continuous repetition of his name are the means to liberation. Inner feelings are stressed and institutional forms of religion are down played. Nevertheless, popular means of expressing love for God include puja (ritual devotion) and bhajans (devotional songs).248 246 Prabhupaka, Bhagavad-Gita, 271. 247 Ibid. 248 House, Charts of World Religions, Chart 59. 127
  • 137. 128 McDowell and Stewart give a good summary of the way of worship. The Way of Devotion. The way of devotion, bhakti, is chronologically the last of the three way of salvation. It is the devotion to a deity which may be reflected in acts of worship, both public and private. This devotion, base upon love for the deity, will also be carried out in human relationships; i.e., love of family, love of master, etc. This devotion can lead on to ultimate salvation. The Bhagavad-Gita is the work which has devoted special attention to this way of salvation. This path to salvation is characterized by commitment and action.249 As stated earlier (p 115) the above is a condensation of a larger work entitled“Hinduism: Three Ways of Salvation.” In that work the author suggested ways ofChristian witness to the individuals following each of these ways for salvation. In thispaper those suggestions do not appear. The reason is that the author agrees withProfessor John that it is the background of understanding the Hindu mind-set that isrelevant to this paper and not the witness itself. In fact the purpose here is thepresentation of the doctrine of justification which is not identical to giving a generalgospel witness to a Hindu. The final observation of Professor’s John’s evaluation is: 9.The writer’s approach of finding a common ground between a Hindu and (a)Christian (the bridge) is commendable. Over all the thesis has a good progression it islogically arranged. The way the author draws the background is appropriate for thethesis. Since (the) doctrine of justification is unique to Christianity, I do not knowhow well a person with (a) Hindu mind-set will comprehensively understand. At thispoint we may appeal to the Holy Spirit who will bring sin and judgment to the heartof the people. I personally want to congratulate Rev. Dale Doron for choosing thistopic and it will certainly have positive bearing as he is planning to serve in India 249 McDowell, Understanding Non-Christian Religions, 28. 128
  • 138. 129 from Jan. 2008.The evaluation of Dr. Joy George, president of the Evangelical Theological Seminary ofthe Asian Christian Academy Dear Dale, Greetings in our Lords blessed name. I read your thesis, more in depth, the chapters pertaining to Hinduism. Since our duty is not an evaluation of the thesis, but to suggest ideas for improvement, I refrain from talking about its merits. I felt that your quotations are mostly from Christian authors and seldom used original sources or Hindu writers to state the Hindu viewpoints. Also the last chapter has much less quotes and interaction with other sources for your statements. In my opinion, the Hindu viewpoint on almost all the areas of Soteriology is radically different from Christianity. You have correctly stated the Hindu view of God, concept of man and way of salvation. Since these are totally different from the Christian concept, it is not easy to communicate the idea of Justification as stated in Bible. It may be useful for you to discuss the contradiction in the idea of incarnation deriving out of the concept of Karma. There are four principles involved in the concept of reincarnation, the belief in the permanence of the essential self, operation of the original ignorance that caused the separation of the self from Brahman, the possibility of reunion with Brahman and the doctrine of Karma. Hinduism try to explain the riddle of the origin of suffering and inequalities which exist among men in this world through the doctrine of Karma. This is a ploy by the uppercaste Hindus to impose their caste discrimination of the lower castes and Dalits, explaining them as divinely ordained and unchangeable. Their predicament is explained as the result of their karma in the previous life. The Hindu has no way of explaining the way out of the cycle of rebirths because every life brings in karma (good or bad) to be lived out in the next life. Bhagavat Gita gives a way out of this contradictory situation by suggesting that moksha or salvation is possible for those who do works without any interest for reward (nishkama Karma), which is an impossibility. So they suggest meditation and doing nothing as a way of achieving this impossibility. In our dealing with Hindus and presenting the gospel to them, the best approach we have is social work. Since they emphasize good works, which they feel only the saints can do, it gives the Christian an opportunity to present Christ who is the cause of our good work. We are created in Christ unto good works. Since they are in bondage of idol worship, superstition and the bondage of casteism, our effort to reach out and help them will enable us to make an inroad into their lives. Since they value education as eradication of ignorance, which they accept as a way of salvation, our involvement in education their children is a way to earn the respect and possibility of showcasing Christ as the Truth which shall make them free. I enjoyed reading through your step by step approach in presenting the gospel to the Hindu. Hope you will have a valuable time completing the project. Looking forward to your visit and ministry with us. 129
  • 139. 130 In His Love Joy George 1. Christian authors versus Hindu authorsThis is a valid observation and admittedly a weakness in the presentation. Joy John alsoobserved this point (see p 110). It would have been well to include the Hindu theologiansas the authorities for presenting their views. But who would have represented the Hinduview? The diversity among Hindu theologians is Legion. 2. Fewer quotes in chapter 4The reason for few quotes in chapter 4 is that insights and suggestions have come fromthe author’s reflections. Though hopefully others agree with the author’s views this partof the work is his own contributions and stand or fall on their own merits or value.Nevertheless, to have had the agreement of others would have added weight to thepresentation at that point. 3. Soteriology and KarmaDr. George’s suggestions of discussing Hinduism’s salvation from the standpoint of thefour principles of reincarnation, atman, original ignorance, and reunion is very helpful inunderstanding the Hindu mind-set. The doctrine of karma is a vital part of this wholepicture. The author did touch on each of these topics in the section “The Major Elementsof Hindu Thought”…etc (pp 78-85). The topic of karma was also a section beginning onpage 64. 4. Reincarnation: TrappedDr. George’s focus here is superb. The endless cycle of reincarnation in the system ofHinduism is a glaring weakness from any objective analysis of Hinduism. Who, in his 130
  • 140. 131right mind, would want to joint a religion that has no hopes of every surmounting humanweakness and sin but to become trapped in an endlessly cycle of reincarnations with theoverwhelming chance of slipping down in the next birth? Dr. George’s point of the falsehope of Ghagavad-Gita is also very revealing. 5. Good Works by the SaintsDr. George’s suggestion of the impact of good works directed toward Hindus is sure tohave effective inroads into Hindus’ lives to be able to effectively present the gospel. Thepurpose of this paper was not to discover the most effective way to present the gospel butto clear away misunderstanding so that the facts of the gospel may be accuratelyunderstood by a Hindu. The writer would quickly accept and stand with Dr. George’sveteran experience of reaching Hindus for Christ. 6. Education a way of salvationDr. George’s point of education eradicating ignorance which is a way of Hindu salvationnot only would gain a Hindu’s respect but gives a prolonged opportunity to present Christand worked step by step through a careful presentation of doctrine of justification. 7. Step by StepThe step by step of presenting the gospel to the Hindu seemed to meet Dr. George’sapproval. The author’s experience and practice over the years is to start at the point ofperson’s interest o need and step by step lead him toward to total provision in Christ. Themore questions that answered even become they become questions in one’s mind is morepowerful, persuasive presentation of the gospel. 131
  • 141. 132 Dr. George’s evaluation is greatly appreciated. His skill of summarizing and hisstrong overviews have greatly impacted the author and helped in giving perspective ofthe value of this paper.The evaluation of George Raju, faculty member of ETS of ACA The writers attempt in analyzing Hinduism to discover the heart of Hindu thought that keep them from understanding and accepting biblical doctrine of justification is successful. His endeavor in comprehending the Hindu mindset of India is also appreciable. The presentation of the doctrine of justification in a contextualized manner for the Hindu and the practical suggestion of that presentation can be approached effectively in teaching and preaching. In this pursuit he is successful; this work would have been more useful and effective if it had dealt with the practical barriers in executing the suggested approaches. George Raju ACA, ETS 1. Analyzing HinduismThis statement concerning the author’s of his analysis the heart of Hinduism is veryencouraging. Hinduism is noted to by the most difficult of religions to understand. Forone who has know Hinduism his whole life to judge that another has correctly analyzed it(to some depth) is gratifying. 2. Comprehending Hindu Mind-setComprehending the Hindu mind-set even to the degree of “appreciable” is to be takenvery positively. This is the foundation upon which the whole work rests. Without a basicunderstand of the Hindu mind-set there could be no valuable suggestions of explainingthe doctrine of justification in order that a Hindu could comprehend it. 3. Practical suggestions for teaching and preachingProfessor Raju’s observation is that the contextualized suggestions can be effective in 132
  • 142. 133teaching and preaching the doctrine of justification. That is encouraging. Doubtless theexperience of usage will tweak the effectiveness plus each personal application willdemand its own unique presentation. 4. Dealing with Practical Barriers Professor Raju’s evaluation of dealing with practical barriers is astute. The authorpresents only two explanations for not having included them in this paper. In no way dothey detract from the value of Professor Raju’s observation. One is the fact that in a workof this general of scope, i.e., the Hindu mind-set includes Hindus of all stripes andpositions, the breadth is enormous. Trying to suggest the practical barriers woulddoubtless be plethora. In defense of Professor Raju’s suggestion a few suggestive barriersmay have been a helpful addition. The second reason is the limiting of the scope of thisproject. One has to draw the line at some point and stay focused on a limited number ofaspects of the project.Summary of the Evaluations from the Faculty Members of the Evangelical TheologicalSeminary of Asian Christian Academy of Bangalore, India The evaluations of the faculty members of ETS have been most helpful. Theyhave been candid enough to show the areas of weakness. The positive observations havebeen encouraging to the writer to have made the effort of the research and writing wholewhile. He is deeply grateful to each one. 133
  • 143. CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION In attempting to interface the doctrine of justification with the Mind-Set ofHinduism a huge chasm of theological and philosophical concepts have been bridged.The focused goal has been understanding the concepts of God planning and providing forman’s redemption communicated to Hindus who think in terms of spiritual release onlyachievable by their own efforts. A number of major differences between Christianity and Hinduism concerninghow man got in the condition he is in and what the goal of salvation is have beenidentified and discussed. These differences along with several others need to beunderstood when communicating spiritual truth between people of vastly differentreligious orientation. The following summary helps to begin to bring to a close the significance of thisproject. Both Hinduism and Christianity are major religions of the world on the basis of adherents. Both religions admit the necessity of a supernatural relation to understand metaphysical phenomena, especially phenomena such as God and His plan, the creation of man, his destiny, etc. Both religions are far apart in their teaching on the metaphysical phenomena. As these can be understood only by a supernatural revelation, the trustworthiness of the teaching of these mainly depend upon the manner and authority of the revelation. The manner and authority of the relation depends upon a God who does everything by His own counsel for a purposeful consummation and who can intervene in history and reveal His plan. Hinduism does not have such a God who is omniscient and omnipotent and who intervenes in history. The Nirguna-Brahman, the god of philosophical Hinduism, is unable to do anything apart from Cosmic Law. He is identical with Atman (man), and both man and animals, as well as plants, are part of Nirguna-Brahman and He (It) will not be complete unless all parts (man, animal, and plant) are joined to It. 134
  • 144. 135 But adherents of popular Hinduism worship every creature as god. Such gods and goddesses have neither power nor plan and the will not be able to reveal anything. But the God of Christianity is the Creator of the universe. He is omniscient and omnipotent. He is merciful, righteous and full of love. That means He is a complete moral Being. He created man in His own image and likeness a make him the crown of creation. He intended to have fellowship with man. Christianity teaches that the omnipotent God chose certain men to write an infallible revelation to give to the people. By controlling these men by the Holy Spirit in a special way, God gave the written revelation which is perfect and infallible. Even though it was produced by thirty-nine different people within the period of about 1500 years, it is without a single contradiction. It is one book which, form the beginning to the end, reveals the future plan, purpose, character, and relationship of God to man. So Christianity has one Book which is the inspire Word of God. But what Hinduism claims as the scripture is not a revelation from God but a human philosophy which is self-contradictory. Unlike the Bible it has no structural unity.250 The most amazing and basic difference between Christianity and Hinduism is thatin Christianity God is seeking man but in Hinduism, supposedly, man is seeking God.When all the implications of that concept are analyzed the two systems become crystalclear and the basic concepts become simple to understand. It is in the minutia of thetrappings of either system that one easily and sometimes quickly gets lost. Two simplestatements can reduce and analyze Christianity and Hinduism. One is “Adam, where areyou?” The other is “Brahman, where are you?” In the first God is announcing to thehuman race that Adam volitionally left God and that God desires man’s fellowship andrelationship. In the second statement all the desire is expressed as a man seeking adisinterested god that by virtue of separation is not making any attempt to reunite withlost, separated man. A second amazing distinction between Christianity and Hinduism is the God ofChristianity has a purpose, a plan and a provision for reuniting man to Himself 250 Chacko A. Joseph, Hinduism: Salvation and Future Life (Winona Lake, IN: Unpublisheddissertation presented to the faculty of Grace Theological Seminary, 1970), 132. 135
  • 145. 136relationally. All details are in place. Man need only to repent, return and respond. WithHinduism there is no revealed purpose or plan or provision. Understandably, to this pointin human history there has been no success in men finding God. In contrast, withChristianity millions in every age have been reunited with God. The purpose of this paper is to show that the Hindu mind-set is a great barrier inunderstanding the purpose and plan of God in reuniting God and man. Assumptions,beliefs and behaviors have been examined and defined in order that communication mayclear and understandable. The great barrier, however, is not the great problem. The great problem is, as iswith every age and every people and every man, not an inability to understand but anunwillingness to repent and accept God’s offer of salvation. A spiritual blindness existsand in perpetuated. “The god to this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving sothat they might not see the light of gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image ofGod” (II Cor. 4:4). Behind that blindness is a driving rebellious heart that refuses to bowto God. Only God can open blind eyes and melt hearts of stone. May He be gracious tomany Hindus to grant spiritual sight to see the wonderful complete provision of His Sonand to melt hard rebellious hearts into tender believing Bhaktas of Christ. 136
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