Christ in the Hindu scriptures? What?!

Posted on June 8, 2010 By

To some Christians, it may even seem blasphemous to entertain the idea that Jesus’ arrival was foretold in the scriptures of a different religion.  But, with a little more in-depth understanding, any problem is resolved.  William T. Cavanaugh, Associate Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota writes:

…The above problems and more have led Frits Staal to conclude, “Hinduism does not merely fail to be a religion; it is not even a meaningful unit of discourse.”  Other scholars acknowledge the problems, but continue to talk about a religion called Hinduism anyway.  R.N. Dandekar writes, “Hinduism can hardly be called a religion in the properly understood sense of the term,” though that recognition does not stop him from treating Hinduism under the rubric of religion.”  Simon Weightman writes, “Hinduism displays few of the characteristics that are generally expected of a religion.”  Weightman lists what Hinduism lacks: it has no founder, no prophets, no creed, no dogma, no system of theology, no single moral code, no uniquely authoritative scripture, no ecclesiastical organization, and the concept of god is not centrally important.  He adds, “It is then possible to find groups of Hindus whose respective faiths have almost nothing in common with one another, and it is also impossible to identify any universal belief or practice that is common to all Hindus.”

“Weightman continues to identify Hinduism as a religion, however, because he says that Hindus themselves affirm that it is a single religion.  There are several problems here.  First, the definitions of “Hindus” and “Hinduism” are circular.  Hindus believe in Hinduism, and Hinduism is what Hindus believe in.  Second, there is no recognition of historical factors at work.  There was a time when no one in India thought he or she had a religion named Hinduism.  A change only occurred after more than a century of British rule.”

My point in this is that when I refer to “Hindu scripture,” with reference to the Vedas and Upanishads in my essay titled Which God Is Real?, I utilize the term not because it is a truly “meaningful unit of discourse.”  Rather, I refer to the Vedas and Upanishads as “Hindu scripture” because it is common parlance to do so, and for reasons of expedience.  Further, when I refer to “Hinduism”, I use the term as an expedient way to label the metaphysical concepts present in the Vedas and Upanishads.

The Vedas and Upanishads can themselves, perhaps, be referred to as religious scripture.  It would be misleading, however, to refer to them as the authoritative scripture of a religion known as “Hinduism” that is at odds with certain facets of Christianity.

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