We’ve been looking at the difference between Christianity and other major religions – particularly their teaching about how to get to heaven. Now we will look at Hinduism.
Hinduism is a family of various religious ideas that have evolved over the past four thousand years. Thus Hinduism today is not what Hinduism has been in the past. One of the uniting beliefs in the diversity of Hinduism is the belief in reincarnation of the soul in accordance with karma. Hinduism teaches that souls are eternal and accountable for their actions. Karma is the debt of one’s bad actions which must be atoned for as the soul moves from one physical body to the next through a repeating cycle of birth, death, rebirth. This movement can be from human body to human body or even to animal, plant or inanimate bodies. The goal is for the soul to move to freedom from reincarnation and no longer be subject to karma.
Question is, how does one atone for the bad karma and get out of the reincarnation cycle? Generally it is agreed that there are three ways: (i) right action through living in accordance with your duty determined by your position in life (e.g. gender, social class); (ii) knowledge; (iii) devotion through love and reverence for a deity.
So is Hinduism compatible with Christianity? No. Firstly, the idea of reincarnation if firmly rejected by Scripture: ‘…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment’ (Hebrews 9:27). When you die, there are no second chances or, for that matter, 10 million chances. After you die, you face judgement and that is it.
Secondly, although Hinduism is right that we do have a debt to atone, the method of atoning for that debt of sin is false. Hinduism stands in a long tradition of false religions that believe their good works outweigh bad works. In contrast, the Bible teaches us that atonement must be made through the imputation of the good works of another perfect human – Jesus Christ. His righteousness becomes our righteousness as we trust in his death for us: ‘For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God’ (1 Peter 3:18).
Do you think you can pay off your debt of sin in the next life? Or do you recognise that there is nothing good that you can do to make up for your bad works and so you simply trust in Christ?