Christianity in America

Beliefs and Practices. Nearly all the sects and cults respect the Vedas (“revealed knowledge”), the ancient collections of religious writings. The Rig-Veda, whose origins probably go back to before 1500 B. C. , consists of about 1,000 hymns and prayers addressed to various deities. Later Vedas are the Sama-Veda, Yajur-Veda, and Atharva-Veda. The philosophical portions of the Vedas are the Upanishads (“approaches”). These are speculative treatise dealing with the nature of man and the universe. The fundamental doctrine is that of the identity of the individual soul with the universal soul (Brahman), or God (Wilkins, 2005).

Brahman exists through a trinity of gods. Brahman is the principle of creation, Vishnu of preservation, and Siva of destruction. In addition to this trinity, most villages have their own godlings, demons, spirits, and ghosts to which the people make sacrifices and prayers. Vishnu is believed to have appeared from time to time in avatars, or divine incarnations, in both animal and human forms. The highest human forms are Rama and Krishna, who are worshipped as savior deities (Stutley, 2004). Hinduism has many sacred objects and places. The cow is the most sacred of animals and must be protected.

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Most sacred of all places is the Ganges River, to which millions go each year to bathe and to become purified. Hindus believe in rebirth, or reincarnation, and in what they call the law of karma. Under this law the conditions of each new lifetime are determined by the actions of the preceding life. To the Hindu, salvation consists of liberating the soul from attachment to worldly desires in order to gain union with Brahman. If a Hindu dies liberated he must be born again into this world and again endure its suffering (Stutley, 2004). The Vedas describe four main castes. 1.

The Brahmins exercise spiritual power. (Brahmin is also spelled Brahman). 2. The Kshatriyas are warriors who exercise secular power. 3. The Vaisyas are merchants and cultivators. 4. The Sudras are artisans and laborers. Indian society has thousands of castes and subcastes, each of which identifies itself with one of the four castes in Hindu literature. Membership in a caste is based on family association and occupation. Below the castes are the outcastes, or untouchables, who historically have been denied certain social rights. The Indian constitution of 1950 outlawed discrimination against untouchables.

The scriptures do not make the caste system an essential element of Hinduism, but it is perpetuated by tradition (Chaudhuri, 1999). Hindu worship for most part takes place in the home. A Hindu temple or shrine is considered an abode of deity and is not used for communal worship. There are kinds of Hindu clergy. Temple priests collect offerings and care for the temples and shrines. Domestic priests perform rites involving births, marriages, and deaths. Gurus are spiritual teachers. Sadhus are monks; most live in monasteries, but many live as wandering mendicants (beggars) (Chaudhuri, 1999).

B. Christianity Beliefs and Practices. The original basic beliefs of Christianity are stated in the Apostles’ Creed. It affirms that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that God sent him to earth to live as a man and to suffer and die for the redemption of mankind. It also states the belief that Jesus, after being crucified, arose from the dead and ascended to heaven, from which he will return to earth to judge the living and the dead. Belief that Jesus was born of a virgin mother and that there is a life for man after death are essential parts of the creed (Noll &others, 2003).

Man’s need for help from a higher power was stressed in religious earlier than Christianity. The concept of God as benevolent and forgiving—rather than as vengeful—is a main tenet of the Christian’s faith. Another Christian belief is that even though man has sinned seriously and separated himself from the love of God, he can be saved by repentance and accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior. The necessity, and therefore the possibility, of communion between God and man is accepted by all Christians (Noll &others, 2003). C. Doctrinal Differences

At first, the gospel of Jesus was spread by his disciples, followers who remembered his sayings. As Gentiles (non-Jews) as well as Jews entered the church, the influence of other minds began to be seen in the interpretations of doctrines. In this work, early Christian theologians borrowed ideas from the teachings of the Greek philosophers. At the same time, national traits and customs began to affect rituals and observances. Even within each year of the three great divisions of the Christian church—Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox— there are variations of practice.

This is particularly true of the Protestants. The sacrament of baptism provides an example. Baptists hold that the convert must be completely immersed in water; Methodists believe that sprinkling water on head is sufficient. Most denominations baptize infants, but some insists that the individual be old enough to understand the meaning of the sacrament (Wiggins, 1999). There are other differences. The Disciples of Christ and certain Protestant groups insist upon using the Bible alone as a source of guidance.

The doctrine of the Trinity—the belief that God is three beings (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in one divine nature—is accepted as basic by most Christians, but is rejected by Unitarians and Universalists (Wiggins, 1999). III. Conclusion Religion is such a big help in building our faith on God as individuals. Hinduism is a religion where each believer believes on reincarnation. Its followers are hoping to live life again but depending on how they live their lives at present. Though Hinduism has no founder yet believers tend to have strong faith and continuously believe and follow its structured beliefs.

On the other hand, for the Christian Church, its faith is built on the Trinity which is the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and Christians believe that these three personas are one. I have realized that of all religions we have on earth, only the belief of Christian showed vivid and concise events that really happened in the past, in the present and in the future. Just like what happen on our Lord Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus is a Jew by birth but it is impossible for his own “Jerusalem” to believe on him as God because of their skeptical minds, minds that view their savior in the level of their earthly understanding.

References:

1. Chaudhuri, N. C. Hinduism: A Religion to Live by (Oxford University, 1999). 2. Noll, M. A. and others. Eerdman’s Handbook to Christianity in America (Eerdmans, 2003). 3. Stutley, Margaret & James. Harper’s Dictionary of Hinduism: Its Mythology, Folklore, Philosophy, Literature, and History (Harper & Row, 2004). 4. Wiggins, James and R. S. Ellwood. Christianity: a Cultural Perspective (Prentice Hall, 1999). 5. Wilkins, W. J. Modern Hinduism: an Account of the religion and Life of the Hindus, 5th edition (Humanities Press, 2005).