Witnessing Tips and Strategy for Sharing the Gospel with Hindus
C. Fred Smith
Christian Response to Hinduism. Hinduism offers such a different worldview than Christianity that many Christians may find responding to Hinduism rather intimidating. One major challenge is that Hindus will often affirm Christian forms of worship and teachings.1 It is possible, however, to respond to Hindu claims regarding ultimate truth, and to defend the gospel effectively and engagingly. There are a couple of main areas where Christians can show that a biblical worldview is better, the matter of the experience and destiny the two religions offer, and the question or logical coherence.
First, Christianity offers a more fulfilling experience and destiny for the believer than Hinduism Absorption into Brahman, a complete loss of individual personality offers nothing to make the heart rejoice. Christianity offers a dynamic relationship with God, one that brings joy and lasting peace, and meets our deepest spiritual and emotional needs. Christianity also offers close relationships to other people, within the Body of Christ, where Hindusim, even with regard to temple worship, is more individualized.
Even performing good works is less satisfying in Hinduism. When a Christian shows kindness to someone, it recognizes their worth as a person created in the image of God. In Hinduism, kindness toward others is motivated by nothing more than a desire to work out the law of Karma in ones own favor. The action is ultimately selfish, not motivated by a recognition of the others dignity as a fellow human being. In addition, Christians can live in and enjoy the creation knowing it is real. Hindus cannot. Christians know that God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1) and that The heavens reveal the glory of God and the earth shows his handiwork (Ps 19:1). Therefore, Christians rejoice in the creation, seeing the greatness of God in the beauty of trees, mountains, waterfalls, etc. Hindus, on the other hand, if they are consistent with their worldview, must see the creation as an illusion. It is less than fully real. It is difficult to see how one really enjoys the goodness of creation.2
A second area of response has to do with the rationality of the Hindu worldview. Hinduism has several logical inconsistencies that are worth noting. The first has to do with the Oneness inherent in Brahman. Hinduism speaks of oneness with Brahman, but even such an experience would include awareness of both self (atman) and Godit is not one-ness at all, but instead an experience of closeness between the two.3
Another logical problem has to do with Karma. If humans are working through the law of Karma towards better and higher awareness, there would be evidence in history of spiritual progress.4 No such evidence existsChristianitys claim that all are born dead in sin, and need regeneration through Christ is born out in human experience. Apart from faith in Christ, evidence of real moral and spiritual progress is very thin, and very rare. Sin is the real human problem and Hinduism has no real and workable answer.
The third logical problem has to do with the claim that the basic problem is our ignorance of our true Brahman nature. The fact is that we cannot really be unenlightened regarding Brahman, if the soul is one with Brahman. We cannot be ignorant of Brahman, if we are one with it. If we are ignorant of Brahmans nature, then Brahman is also ignorant of Brahman, since the two are one, which is impossible.5
Sharing the Gospel. Christians should be encouraged that even with the challenges it presents, it is possible to share the gospel with Hindus effectively. There are some matters to keep in mind: Rational argument with a Hindu may not work very well, although if done gently it can plant seeds of doubt. It is best to focus on the joy of a relationship with Christ and the foundation for that in a Christian view of reality. Be aware of the Hindu tendency to syncretismadding Christian teaching to their existing faith without actually repenting and trusting Christ alone. Many Hindus in the US appear to be very open to the gospel. There is no genuine faith, however, until a break with past teachings happens. Avoid the temptation to use Hindu religious words, giving them a Christian meaning. It is impossible to separate such terms from their context and Christianize them.6
Remember that Hinduism promises much, but offers little, while the gospel of Jesus Christ actually meets the deepest need of every human heart. Demonstrations of Christian love, and a life lived abundantly in Christ, may speak powerfully to a Hindu who is growing disenchanted with their own faith. Such a testimony, along with a clear presentation of the reason for the hope within (I Peter 3:15) may often prove successful.
1 Axel Michaels. Barbara Hashav,
translator, Hinduism, Past and Present. (Princeton
NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 2004), 43.
2 John Newport, Lifes Ultimate Questions (Dallas, TX: Word, 1998), 387.
3 Hendrick Vroom, No Other Gods, (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1996), 70.
4 Ibid., 80.
5 Robin Colins, Eastern Religions, in Reason for the Hope Within, Michael J. Murray ed. (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1998), 189.
6 Winfried Corduan, Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions 2d ed. (Downers Grove IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 308.