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 Post subject: Do Christians and Hindus worship the same God?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 7:34 am 
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Sons of Thunder
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This question is sparked by this thread:

"You probably have erroneous beliefs about nearly everyone you know. It doesn't mean you don't know those people."

"[T]here is only one God, therefore anyone who worships God can only worship the God who exists, they cannot worship something that does not exist. There is only one God that can be worshipped, not multiple gods."

Do Christians and Hindus worship the same God?

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-From the introduction to Our Father, "On the feasts of the Lord and other important feasts", Syro Malabar rite


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 Post subject: Re: Do Christians and Hindus worship the same God?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:08 am 
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With the giant caveat that I'm far from an expert on Eastern theology, and the further caveat that I'm under the impression that Hinduism is even more divided as a religion than even the worst of critics claim Christianity is: to the degree that we can make any general statements about Hinduism, I don't think that they worship the same God as us. So, already, the term "same God" is problematic, because now you are putting God in a genus, which is wrong. But I think what you're asking (and the same question, really, with respect to Muslims), is something along the lines of, "in what, if any, sense do Hindus worship God?" And here, I think the answer really is, "In no sense." Fundamentally, they have no real conception of God as Creator and so they reject the Creator/Creature distinction. Even setting aside the debate about whether or not Hinduism is monotheistic, pantheistic, or polytheistic, this is the far more fundamental point. Hinduism, in my view, really is atheistic, precisely because in rejecting the Creator/Creature distinction, at best what their theology and philosophy can do is elevate the creature higher than it deserves. They make us "like God" but by the nature of the case can never elevate us (where "us" here refers to the created world) to be God Himself. The distinction is just too radical. I'd say, then, that Hinduism worships the creation, making the creation itself to be a type of God. But then they don't worship God in any meaningful sense at all, not like, say, the Jews or Muslims do. This isn't, in my analysis, just having some wrong beliefs about a particular referent; this is having an entirely different referent. They're talking about creation and attributing to it semi-divine attributes; whereas Muslims (for instance) really are referring to God even as they fail to attribute to Him certain truths and on the other side attribute to Him several false ideas.

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Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. . . as we are one" (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. ~ Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes 24.3


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 Post subject: Re: Do Christians and Hindus worship the same God?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:39 pm 
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Criminally Insane Cucumber
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Note the massive difference of status between Jews and Hindus. The Jews were the chosen people of God, and for generations received special revelations from Him. The Hindus had no such relationship with God. Their cultural recollection of God from prelapsarian days was the merest whisper.

Philosophical Hindus aren't really theists at all. My recollection of Hindu stuff I read is that the "gods," like Krishna, tend to be avatars of Brahman, and at least philosophical Hindus simply don't think of Brahman as god-like at all. I wonder if the average "Hindu in the pew" might have something much more like a theistic worldview. Wouldn't be surprised.

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 Post subject: Re: Do Christians and Hindus worship the same God?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:55 pm 
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Yes, it's always important to distinguish between official doctrine and popular theology. I have zero doubt that some Hindus are more monotheistic, some are more classically polytheistic, some are more animistic, some are more philosophically pantheistic, and so on. (For what it's worth, Jack, that's why I offered all those caveats and the line about the possibility of making general claims.) But the whole idea of Brahman as something like an impersonal force is important insofar as this is not referring to the same "thing" that we do when we speak of "God" (or when Muslims speak of "Allah"). Brahman is "the ultimate reality," but that reality is not distinct from the world. This is even clearer is some forms of Hinduism in which a popular phrase is, "Atman is Brahman," where Atman is traditionally understood to be something like the soul, but whereby the claim is that the soul is just part of everything and everything is the soul, so that everything is everything--everything just is Brahman. That's the pantheism (if that can be a type of theism at all, pan or otherwise).

So, sure, there may be individual Hindus who think of their local gods as avatars of the one true God, i.e., Brahman, and that this true God is Creator of all and distinct from the world. Such a Hindu might really worship God in some sense, but importantly, such a Hindu is, to that degree, not Hindu!

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Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. . . as we are one" (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. ~ Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes 24.3


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