A Christian-Hindu Debate (H-C-1)
Panchajanya knows who provided this,
and the provider has chosen to remain anonymous.
(The Hindus should know how to present their Hindu beliefs to non Hindu preachers. This article provides some arguments. -S. Vyas)
(The Christian response is shown in italics)
From: S (A Hindu)
To: M (A Christian)
Subject: Inter-faith Discussions
God has placed us in a situation in which, despite all my efforts to avoid discussing facts that you may not believe, we may not be able to avoid the discussions completely. However, if you agree that if we discuss, we discuss in a way that would help us understand both the faiths better, then I suggest that we discuss by computer, on this disk. That way, we would not disturb others and would be able to control our emotions easily.
Now why we discuss religion? Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita that I do not have to tell His teachings to others who are envious to Him. So, a Hindu has no desire to convert others. A Hindu can live comfortably with any other religion around him, as long as he is not forced to change his faith. Moslems however, cannot tolerate any other religion at all. Christians spend a lot of money and effort to convert others. You, being a Christian, may not be feeling comfortable seeing your room partner with a 'strange' faith. So, you seem to be compelled to have discussions with me, while I try hard to be humble and not hurt your feelings when I cannot keep quiet. So, if you desire to do discussions on this disk, let us put some ground rules:
a. We would not jeopardize our working relations.
b. We, being religious, would not behave antagonistically towards any one.
c. We will tell the truth as we believe in.
d. We are free to accept new truth or reject it. This is because God has given us freedom to choose whatever we want to choose or believe in.
e. This discussion is not for winning or loosing. It is just a dialogue that you could not live without, and I may not choose to keep quiet when asked or when I see Hinduism is misunderstood.
f. While all Hindus accept and respect Jesus and many original Christian faith tenets, it is unfortunate that many Christians do not understand Hinduism.
g. Understanding a different religion from out side it is extremely difficult, says Sri Ramakrishna. Most people do not understand their own religion properly. Very few, if any, practice their own religion. Knowing this, we should be tolerant as God tells us to be.
h. Any of us can withdraw from this discussion by saying so without any obligation or disgrace.
You may modify or add other rules if you like. Then, if we agree, please type your proposition below at your convenience and pass the disk to me. I will respond and give the disk to you at my convenience. We will use "C:" for you and "H:" for me. This could be fun. We will quit if we find there is no fun.
Christian-Hindu Interfaith Dialogue
between M and S
C: Dear S,
I feel that you have misunderstood me. I feel very strongly about my Christian faith but I realize that you feel very strongly about your Hindu faith also. I respect you for that strength of faith. I am not envious of your Hindu religion *1 as you may believe from your opening remarks. On the contrary, I feel that I have a relationship with my LORD and Savior and I share that relationship when the opportunity avails itself.
Your may remember that I was talking about health one day and that the doctor suggested that I cut back on the meat that I consume. You started talking about the virtues and spirituality of a vegetarian diet and that if a person had the intelligence, he would know that the Hindu way was best. I disagreed with you and the conversations began.
If our conversations get loud, which I realize they do, it is because we are both trying to drive home a point that we hold as the truth. You are every bit as vocal as I am. I am not saying that to be hurtful, I am merely pointing out an observation. We both get heated no matter how "humble" you try to act.
I inquire about your religion as a matter of interest only. There is absolutely nothing that I want or need from your religion *2 as I already have a relationship with the one true God of the Universe and in the incarnation of God in the form of Jesus Christ and in the manifestation of God's power in the form of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing that Hindu can offer me that I don't already have in Christianity. *2
I have Salvation guaranteed because I accepted the free gift of grace that God has given me through the sacrifice of His Only Son, Jesus, that while I was yet a sinner, Jesus died for my sins. The Word of God, the Bible, says that if I confess my sins and repent of them and accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I will be saved. When I pray, I can talk directly to God. I don't have to talk to demigods; I talk to the One True Living God directly in the name of His Son Jesus. I know that when I read God's Word, God is talking directly to me and I don't have to go to a spiritual master who will put his feet on my head in order to find out what God is saying. I just have to ask God to reveal His Truths to me.
I also know that there is a Heaven and a hell. I know that if I accept the gift of salvation that God has given me, that I will go to Heaven when I die. I don't have to come back as a dog or worm or some other low or high life-form to try to make things right from some previous life that I may have messed up. I know that Salvation and the Redemption of my soul come directly from God and aside from accepting His gift, there is nothing that I can do to get into Heaven. If there was something that I could do to get into Heaven, then Jesus died for absolutely nothing and God is a liar. I know that the one thing that God cannot do is lie. God hates lies.
If I could live a holy, humble and pure life in order to get to Heaven, I probably still wouldn't be able to get in. Man is corrupt and sinful by nature and there is no way to work his way into Heaven. Even little sins are still sins and the wages of sin is death. People say that they are only doing little sins and that those sins aren't bad. However, even a little white lie is sin. You don't have to murder or rape or do some other horrible thing for it to be considered sin. It is sin to know the will of God and not do it. But, God says that through the acceptance of Jesus as our Savior, our sins will be forgiven and that as long as we confess our sins whenever we slip and commit a new one, those sins also will be forgiven also. Man cannot save himself, only God can save man.
The Good News, however, is that God wants to have a relationship with man. God's Word says, " For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
Our Salvation starts the same day as our Redemption. We are redeemed by the blood that Jesus shed for us. Jesus died as a blood sacrifice for our sins. When we accept the gift of redemption from God, our lives change and we want to do whatever we can to tell others of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
All too often, we find ourselves trying to do things for God instead of letting God do things through us. When I try to convince a person of the Truth of Jesus Christ, it is because I love that person and want them to know the same peace and fulfillment that I know through Jesus. Sometimes however, when I talk to someone of a different faith, I see this as a challenge to try to convert that person to Christianity. I try to present a convincing argument that will change their mind about their religion and try to bring them to my way of believing. This is wrong on my part and if I have offended you in doing so, I sincerely apologize.
I know that I am not the one that God needs to do His Work. If He can use a donkey to talk to Baalam, He certainly doesn't need me to do His Work. I do want to be useful to God; I just have to remember who is in charge. If God wants S to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, then God will soften S's heart through the Power of His Holy Spirit and S will come to know Jesus as his Savior.
My only concern, is that I don't want to have you come before the Throne of God and have Him pass judgment on you and you point to me and say," Why didn't you tell me about this, M?". Because I love you and I love God, I tell you about Him. If I didn't care about your salvation, I wouldn't bother; but I do care about you and your salvation. *3
Finally, I repeat my apology if I have offended you. *4 I do respect the fact that you believe differently than I do *5 but I care for you enough to speak what I believe is the Truth. If you find this offensive, I will quit talking to you about God and I will be secure in the fact that I at least tried.
H: Dear M:
Thanks for your response. I propose that our responses be of one to five lines, but not longer than one screen. It is better to write one point or inquiry at a time, so that a response could be focussed. Any way, since your response is very long, I hi-lited the lines and gave *#s that I choose to respond. So, here are the responses:
*1: It is nice to know that you are not envious of Hinduism. Either you like it or it does not matter to you if someone believes in it.
*2: If you are truly satisfied with your faith (as I am with mine), It is very good. However, it seems you have stopped wondering why people of other faiths believe as they do. More importantly, one should know how one's own faith places a pagan in the cosmos of one's own faith. Where do I, a Hindu, fit in? Not understanding others is a major cause of disagreements in the world. You believe Hinduism cannot offer anything to you. A few scholars of other faith, however, believe contrary to it.
*3: M, there is an eternal mutual loving relationship between God and us, but many have forgotten it. Since God is all powerful, I prefer to surrender to His will completely. So, no matter what God judges about me at any time, I willing accept his wishes. Therefore, please do not worry that I will blame you for 'not saving me.' One could blame only to one's self and none else in the matter. The exalted spiritual masters, very few in our time, do take responsibility to save their disciples. Relax, I have not accepted you as my spiritual master. I could not blame you for 'not saving me.'
*4: Apology accepted. Hinduism (which is meant for all) is misunderstood in the western countries. As a matter of fact, some groups have been deliberately doing a lot of effort to portray Hinduism ugly and devilish. Sri Bhakti-vedanta Swami Prabhupada has said that when one wants to know about a subject, one should go to an authority of the subject matter. Therefore, no one should try to understand Hinduism from 'Indiana Johns' or such other sources which are hostile to Hinduism. Of all the religions, Hinduism is the most tolerant of others. Knowing truth sometimes could be painful, but right decisions and judgments could be made only after knowing the truth.
*5 God gives to all freedom to believe whatever they want to believe in. It is very nice that you recognize it. God wants to save us all. Our desires that drive us to do sinful things make it difficult. It is only a matter of time, either in this life or some next life, when we will be back to the kingdom of God.
General: Understanding the commonalties between the faiths would be more useful. Then, one could know the differences as well. Relative truths are many, and hence the differences. Moreover, one may have a distorted view of reality. This also causes disagreements. On the other hand, the absolute truth is one. It is He, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One of many names we use for Him is Krishna. He is the cause of all causes, the origin of all moving and non-moving. I could talk about Him only to one who is not envious to Him.
About the word 'saving,' we may be using it to mean different things. When I say 'Kingdom of God,' I mean the spiritual world which is 75% of the creation beyond this material world. When a soul surrenders to God completely and when he becomes free from the reactions of his past sins either by suffering the consequences or by the mercy of God or His exalted devotees, he does not take birth in the material world any more. Then the soul is called 'saved' or liberated. Then he lives blissfully in the spiritual world with God and serves Him. Just as the population in the prisons is a very small percentage of the population outside it, the population of the souls, all living beings, within the material world is a very small percentage of the population in the spiritual world.
M: Dear S,
There is but one God of the Universe and His Name is not Krishna.*1 The Jews used the Tetragrammaton YHWH to depict the Name of God because only the high priest of the Temple could utter the actual Name and only at Yom Kippur. The rest of the people were forbidden to say it because it was so Holy.*2 When asked what He was called by Moses, God answered, "I AM". He is at all places at all times always. When He became a man in the body of Jesus Christ, he had the name Jesus as the name of that personage of the Triune Godhead; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These represent the different personages of the same God because there is but one God and He is a jealous God who does not like it when the people of His creation worship false gods like Krishna.*3
While it may be true that all roads lead to Heaven, only one road leads to Salvation. That road is in the acknowledgment of one's sin, the repentance of one's sin, and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as one's LORD and SAVIOR. The Bible says that in the end times, man, ALL MANKIND, will come before God in judgment. At that time, God will look in the Book of Life and see if one's name is written in the Book of Life. The way to have one's name written in the Book of Life is by accepting Jesus as one's LORD and SAVIOR. If one's name is not written in the Book of Life, then that person is going to spend eternity in the burning fires of hell.*4 There is no," I'm sorry's" and no excuse for the person who has been presented the Gospel of Jesus and rejects it because that person decided to follow a false god.*5
This may seem very blunt and not very understanding or tolerant of anther's belief, but the time to judgment is short *6 and I would rather be blunt and tell you the Truth, or in another way, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have you be saved from the burning fires of hell than to sugar coat the Truth because you follow a different god.*3 I tell you the truth because I must tell you the Truth. I am not part of God's religious debating society, I am a disciple of the one, true, living God and He has given me the commission to go out into all the nations and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I can be tolerant, and accept the fact that you follow a different god because you are doing what you feel is right for you. I will respect your feelings but I will never deviate from the Truth that God has given me to tell others. If I started accepting other beliefs as possibly being true,*7 then I would be calling my LORD a liar. May this never be.
H: *1: Agree that there is but one Supreme Personality of Godhead. We are not supreme, and still we have many names. God is supreme; so, He could have as many names as he wants. All the God's names have specific meaning. Krishna means 'All Attractive'. Everything about Him is attractive. The creation and the beings in it are also more or less attractive. This is because He created them. When God is supreme, He could not be limited to a particular time or space where He would manifest. Krishna says that whenever there is a decline or religion and whenever there are too many demons giving trouble to His devotees, He incarnates to save and please His devotees. When He comes, He kills the demons as a secondary activity. The interesting point is that when He kills demons, they too get liberated. This means one could worship Krishna as His enemy too. However, it is not recommended by Him or by the spiritual masters. One could relate to Krishna as his servant, friend, parent, or spouse. So, when one says 'Krishna,' it is meant to mean 'the Supreme Personality of Godhead.' Based on the teaching of Krishna, Hindus respect Jesus. Jesus would understand this. You may not. I am not supposed to disturb your beliefs.
*2: To forbid to chant Holy name of God is like forbidding to take a bath when you are dirty. It is not Krishna's teaching. Krishna says to chant His holy name. More you do, more He pleases with you. Bible also says, 'Praise the Lord.' That is why Sri Prabhupada recommends to chant with love 'Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Hare Hare.' This transcendental sound has been given in our scripture. It means 'O Lord, O Energy of the Lord.'
*3: There are demigods who serve Krishna and there are false 'gods' or importers. The demigods control different functions of the universe as directed by the Supreme (Krishna). For example, Indra gives rain, Sungod gives light and heat, etc. Krishna says that demigods give benedictions quickly to their worshippers. However, He says, it is actually He who gives the benedictions through the demigods. It is like indirectly and unknowing worshipping Krishna. Krishna says that He would strengthen demigod worshippers faith by giving them benediction. But demigods could not give liberation. Only Krishna can give it. He recommends that we worship Him and not demigods. Demigods have material desires, long life, more power, etc. They are like super humans, but not God. Krishna is not jealous of them. Sometimes demigods get in trouble or fight among themselves, and Krishna removes their trouble. To those who falsely claim to be God, Krishna kills them or sends them to hell for some time. He is so powerful, He does not have to be jealous. However, when He incarnates at different times, He may act as if he is jealous, or angry, etc. The devotees of the Lord listen and talk about these past times of the Lord and feel ecstatic love towards God, Krishna. Krishna is not jealous of anyone. He loves all equally. It is not intelligent to say Krishna is false without knowing Him well. It also could heart feelings of Krishna devotees.
*4: The Vedas and the Puranas say that no one stays in haven or hell for eternity. The time there is proportional to the merit of pious deeds or gravity of sins committed. Havens are different planets where there is much more sense enjoyment and less conflict. The Kingdom of God or the abode of Krishna is transcendental and different from Havens.
*5: Thanks for letting me know how you believe at this time. This could work as a powerful scare tactic for some. When this idea enters into perverted minds, it results in different types of un-spiritual illegal pressures or harassment's or discriminations on the subject. One may or may not get a convert, but sooner or later one will have to suffer for the sins. God gives freedom of choice because He loves us. Krishna says directly or through His exalted devotees what is good for us. He says what the benefit is of taking His word and what could happen if one disobeys Him. Then He say, 'Do what you like. (I am not forcing you.)' There is no question of excuse. You see, neither He nor His agents force their will on others.
*6: Krishna does not give ultimatum. One can choose a fast pace or a slow one to progress towards Him or away from Him. One could be liberated in one's present life too. Sooner or later each of us living beings will be liberated.
*7: For spiritual progress, one needs to stick to a particular path. It does not prohibit one from understanding other paths. Krishna has shown different paths. Whenever you have no desire to understand Hinduism, I would have no reason to tell you about it. One who knows Hinduism or Krishna enough, he/she could not hate it or Him.
Note: M has stopped responding.