INT-244 World Religions
Since the fall of man and the manifestation of sin, a wedge was placed between God and man. Man has strived to establish a reconnection with God through a variety of sources. Salvation is the source or bridge that connects man to God. Every religion has its own philosophy concerning the path of salvation. “The goal of most Indian religions is to break the cycle of karma and samsara and be free from the burden of life. This breaking of life is called Moksha” (Hopfe & Woodard, 2009, [pg. 85]). Moksha is the Hindu term used which liberates the soul from karma .This liberation can be experienced through death or while one is yet living. In observing the Hindu concept of salvation in comparison to Christianity, there are some similarities as well as differences. It is the Hindu belief that salvation, referred to as Moksha “can be obtained through three paths: knowledge (inana), devotion (bhakti), ritual works or karma” (McDowell & Stewart, 2006). These are the three concepts that illustrate the differences and similarities in both religions of how salvation can be attained. In observing the similarities, the first similarity is the theory that salvation can be attained through knowledge. This type of knowledge is spiritual. In Hinduism it is believed that “Humans basic problem is not wickedness but ignorance. People are ignorant about the true nature of reality and believe that they are separated from Brahman” (Hope& Woodard, 2009, [pg.105]). In the Hindu society, it is only when Moksha is obtained that one is able to see life from a clear perspective. According to Upanishads, “When true knowledge of the illusion of life is realized, one can be freed from the bondage of life and achieve unity with Brahman” (Hope& Woodard, 2009, [pg.89]). In contrast, in Christianity Satan is referred to as a liar and a deceiver. It is his duty to distort the minds of God’s children and cause them to lose focus of their divine purpose on the earth. He creates the illusion that that there is no Hell and neither is there a God. Thus, many of God’s people continue to live destructive lifestyles as if they will live forever. The second similarity that both Christianity and Hinduism share is the belief that its liberation cannot be found in earthly things. Believers of both religions are challenged to disregard earthly things and esteem heavenly things. In a world that is so full of hate, suffering, misfortune and tragedy; people are on desperately searching to fill some type of void. From a Hindu perspective, “Humans do not recognize the Brahman but instead try to cling to the objects of life-which are like mirages-they keep slipping away from our grasp” (Hopfe &Woodard, 2009, [pg. 105]. Many Christians find themselves plagued with the same problem; they begin to chase after the things of the world rather than the things of God. Concerning material things Griffiths states, “There are four ends of life, pleasure (kama), wealth (artha), duty (dharma) and liberation. The modern world recognized the first three but has lost sight of the last, yet without this goal of final liberation, of ultimate transcendence, all the other goals lead to frustration. ….” (Griffiths, 1982, pg. ). It is only when one comes to the realization that the world and all it has to offer is temporary, and can’t bring true fulfillment; will they then center their priorities on things eternal. Though the similarities of salvation are quite similar, when comparing both religions; there are also some major differences. One of the major differences between how both religions perceive salvation is that Hinduism teaches that salvation must be earned. The theory “what goes around, comes around is what the religion is centered around. Through karma, or doing good things; one can either gain salvation or escape reincarnation. However, Christianity teaches that all of our works are just like filthy rags. In Christianity it is taught that salvation is given through grace. Ephesians 2: 8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and not this from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast” (NIV, 2007, Ephesians 2:8-9). The most profound difference is that that Hinduism recognizes no single path to gaining salvation As stated previously, “Moksha can be obtained through three paths: knowledge (inana), devotion (bhakti), ritual works or karma (McDowell & Stewart, 2006). Another method of attaining freedom is through the exercise of Yoga. Through various Yoga exercises one seeks to connect with Brahman. In contrast, the path to salvation in Christianity requires one simple confession; this confession is found in Romans 10:9: “That if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (NIV, 2007, Romans 10:9). Jesus Christ is the way to salvation none can attain it any other way, for He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (NIV, 2007, John 14:6). In summary, the path to salvation is sought in various ways through both Hinduism and Christianity. Each individual in these religions are in search for something that they realize the world can’t offer. It is only when one understands this simple concept that the path to freedom begins.
Griffiths, B. (1982). Return to the center. Springfield, IL
Hopfe, L. M., & Woodard M. R. (2009) Religions of the World (11TH ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
McDowell J., Stewart D., (1983) Handbook of Today’s Religions, Retrieved January 20, 2011 from http://www.greatcom.org/resources/handbook_of_todays_religions/03chap01/default.htm