Religions of India

A compendium of book reviews on common texts in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

By Mark D. Harris

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world, emerging out of a mix of Aryan and Dravidian animism in about the second millennium before Christ. Its earliest forms, as described in the Rig Veda (Samhitas), were polytheistic. Such polytheism was consistent with the religious practices of Rome, Greece, Egypt, the Nordic peoples, and most other nations at that time. By the time of the Upanishads, Hinduism had morphed into a pantheistic monism. The caste system divided people in four classes: Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors, kings), Vaisyas (merchants, landowners), Sudras (servants, later Dalits – untouchables). Accepting this system and performing the duties of one’s class was the primary evidence of being a Hindu. In the Christian era, Hinduism became more monotheistic, with Vishnu, Shiva and other gods being perceived as manifestations of the One God. Adherents were called to love Vishnu or Shiva as Christians are called to love God, as revealed in Jesus Christ. This monotheistic view, too, is evolving. Liberal pluralism in the past two hundred years has attacked the caste system, emphasized the spiritual aspects of Hindu belief, but denied that any part of Hinduism, or any religion, is objectively true.

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Misrepresenting Christianity in a Public School

Schools, public and private, are places where people of all ages learn important things that will help them and others. They are also places of indoctrination and coercion, where truth is skewed to serve someone’s ideology. 

My son is a high school student who is currently taking his required World History class. The teacher is covering religions, and has recently been studying Christianity. While sometimes students misunderstand an instructor’s point when they tell others what happened in class, parents can gain insight into the class by what the teacher sends home as well as what their children report. These issues came up in our discussion:

Allegation 1 – Paul invented the doctrine of Original Sin

To address this allegation, we must first understand the word “sin”.  The Bible represents sin as a broken relationship between the Creator God and His creatures, human beings. The relationship was broken by the rebellion of man against the command of God in the original idyllic state, the Garden of Eden. Each individual commits sins, individual acts of disobedience to his Creator, but the human race as a whole is separated from God through our act of corporate rebellion. Whereas in other religions sin is considered a single act, usually involving breaking some taboo, in Christianity sin is a state of being. Since people are in this state, rebellion against God, they commit individual acts of sin. Stated another way, in other religions people may be sinners because they sin, but in Christianity people sin because they are sinners.

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