Misconception Clarified: Hinduism and Christianity

by Dr. Samuel Inbaraja

Not long ago as I was discussing religion with my friend. He being a Hindu, told me that Hinduism is a way of life, whereas Christianity is just a set of beliefs. Again as I was scanning through the latest issue of Hinduism today and I saw the same claim that Hinduism is a way of life whereas Christianity is just a set of beliefs.
Well it’s true that Hinduism prescribes a way or even many ways of living. But it is equally true that Christianity also is a way of life. The belief is always coupled with prescribed behavior. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is a call to a new lifestyle, kingdom lifestyle or way of living. Jesus, at the end of the sermon, warns his hearers that if they just hear and don’t live according to it, they will be considered foolish, whereas those who hear and live according to it are wise in God’s sight.
The earliest Christians were called followers of the ‘WAY’. They had a particular way of life, moral life, which was in accordance to the teachings of Christ.
The apostle James writes in his epistle that faith without deeds is dead. Faith or belief without the right behavior or way of life is dead faith. The apostle Paul in one of his epistles writes that the right expression of faith is love.
Christianity does not prescribe external neutral things, like what to eat, what not to eat, what to wear, hairstyle, whether you can have a beard or not. These are up to the Christian to decide. He is free in this aspect. But what it does prescribe the morality that he should possess. So a Christian can be in any culture, he can wear any dress, he can eat any food but his moral life should be in accordance with the teachings of Christ, his faith should be in Christ alone for salvation. Thus an Arabic Christian can wear the pajamas, wear turban, have long beard and yet live his life according to the teachings of Christ. A tribal Christian can wear his tribal outfits and still go to church and live according to the teachings of Christ.
So it’s a erroneous to assert that Hinduism alone is way of life whereas Christianity is a just a set of beliefs.
Christianity is also trans cultural. It is not culture bound. Whereas popular Hinduism, is caste and culture bound.

Correspondence

Mr.Mohan, a Hindu, Responds to the above:

Mr. Mohan: God cannot be limited by time or locality. His love can only be all inclusive and impersonal. It’s unjust to believe that a good (great) human being will be condemned to hell eternally just because he is an atheist or devoted to another god with pure thoughts.
Christian response
Me: The reason why God sends people to hell is not because he does not love them. God loves everyone. His love is inclusivistic.
He sends people to hell because they don’t love him and have rejected the free offer of forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
For example if you love someone and that person doesn't love you, can you bring him/her to your house and live with him/her forever? You cannot because, in doing so you will be violating their free will. If you love someone you will not violate their free will. God does not violate anyone’s freewill because he really loves them, and only when individuals choose to love him can he take them to heaven.
Love cannot be impersonal. You need at least two persons in a relationship to call it love.
God’s standard for accepting anyone into heaven is not goodness but holiness. That’s why God in his love comes as Jesus and took the punishment due for us on himself. That’s God expressing his Love for us. Now when I repent of my sins and believe that Jesus died for me then I enter into a relationship with God. If I continue in that relationship, allow him to change me and help me live according to his commands without breaking up then I can reach heaven.
Dear Mohan if you are a Hindu, then you come from a very different system from that of Christianity.
Hinduism rolls on karma and reincarnation. There is no place for forgiveness and restoration. You keep getting rebirths and you keep paying for what you did in your previous births. It is about what you do and that alone.
Christianity on the other hand is based on the Gospel. The Gospel is about what God in His love did for mankind. God pays for what I did during my lifetime. When I accept that act of love and respond in repentance and faith that he indeed died for my sins, in my place, then my sins are forgiven, wiped clean and I am saved from what I really deserve. Now that’s called grace.
Hope you understand the difference between karma and grace.