From Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: “There will be no persons in heaven who have not personally accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. No Jews, no Hindus, no Muslims will be in heaven.” That’s roughly 2,616,000,000 people [two billion, six hundred and sixteen million].
Of that number, one billion practice the Hindu faith. Ninety-five percent of all Hindu adherents live in India but they are also scattered in various other Asian countries.
What will happen to a Hindu worshipper upon death according to our Christian concept of exclusivism? If you truly believe that acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior is the criteria for admittance to heaven, then the billion Hindu worshippers will not make it into heaven. Heaven is an exclusive location. The sign on the pearly gates will read “Sorry, Christians Only”.
Many turn to the basics of the Hindu faith and say that it is so different that we cannot accept these people.
It is absurd to think I can summarize the Hindu faith in my post [I range from 700 to 800 words usually] but I will touch on some basic ideas just to illustrate differences. I also can confuse readers very easily as I begin to explain the Brahma, the universal spirit that is the supreme deity of the Hindu faith. [Sorry about that].
The goal of the Hindu is to “become one” with the divine. Brahma is the ultimate “essence” of material phenomena (including the original identity of the human self) that cannot be seen or heard but whose nature can be known through the development of self-knowledge.
That’s a handful, but it essentially means that the divine is in all things, from the ink pen beside me to the dog that is running across my front yard. Of course the divine can be connected to me, my personal identity. All things are in a constant state of flux as they exist; they change forms throughout life and can even become other entities. That includes people too.
According to the popular Hindu, Deepak Chopra: “In reality, we are divinity in disguise; the gods and goddesses in embryo that are contained within us seek to be fully materialized. True success is therefore the experience of the miraculous. It is the unfolding of the divinity within us.”
Christians can struggle with Hindu concepts due the self-help nature of the faith. For the Hindu, life is a progression through various stages of being from the simplest stages of worldly success with wealth, fame and power to higher levels of consciousness. Needless to say, the ultimate goals of being, knowledge and joy are much harder to attain than basic worldly success.
Hindus are often described as a people who believe in reincarnation and that is a simple way of describing their belief but think of reincarnation as the end-of-life direction that someone accomplishes at death. The successful Hindu will “come back” as a “higher” life form if they follow the path toward Brahma. They will take on a lower life form if life has not been an effort to take a divine path.
Whereas Christians can admit to having a dependence on a Lord and Savior for meeting our needs, the Hindu looks within and basically says “I can do it alone.” The goal of the higher life form is there and I can achieve it. Thank you very much.
Christians admit that we have a hunger for our God, a deep spiritual hunger. We admit that we are a broken people in need of forgiveness and communion with our Lord.
But Hindus have a very amorphous relationship with Brahma and a system of religion that has been described as a “broad spectrum of beliefs and practices which on one hand are akin to paganism, pantheism and the like, and on the other very profound, abstract, metaphysical ideas. Moral ideals in Hinduism include non-violence, truthfulness, friendship, compassion, fortitude, self-control, purity and generosity” [Subhamoy Das, “The Main Tenets of Hinduism Website”]. Hinduism has its origins in a remote past that cannot be traced to any one individual. Some scholars believe that Hinduism must have existed even in circa 10,000 B.C. and that the earliest of the Hindu scriptures was composed well before 6500 B.C.
This religion seems very strange from a Christian perspective but let’s return to our basic initial question: are all Hindu’s exempt from Heaven?
I suspect some of you would say, “Well yeah”. They are so different; how can anyone defend them going to heaven?
Unlike the Jewish people that I blogged on in my July 6th post, they have very little in common with us. At least we have the Old Testament in common with the Jews.
However Pastor Adam Hamilton feels that they may have a place and after I post on the Muslim faith in my next entry, we will explore his defense for inclusivity…yes, even for the Hindus.