Hollywood Gets Eastern Religions Wrong
By Dr. Ted Baehr
As noted in another MOVIEGUIDE® article, Chris Evans has publicly stated that he’s fascinated by Eastern religions! So, are many other Hollywood leaders and stars. However, the truth is that Eastern religions are neither peaceful nor hopeful. Let’s consider two of the major Eastern religions, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Buddha was famous for a non-theistic religion. In other words, Buddha’s enlightenment, after years of contemplating his navel, was that you could never know whether there was a God or not, or whether there was an afterlife. (Of course, conveniently, the question, “How could he know that you can NEVER know?,” goes unanswered.) Large divisions of Buddhism have become more polytheistic, but even those don’t offer a loving God you can pray to and communicate with, but rather demons, principalities and powers you need to fear or appease.
The only faith systems where you can pray to an immanent, transcendent, eternal God who can answer such prayer are Judaism and Christianity. The only one that offers salvation is Christianity, where you can have a personal relationship and dialogue with a personal God, the real God who created the universe and can really save you.
Buddhists understand this better than Christians, which is why even today Buddhists are killing Christians in parts of Thailand and Miramar (Burma). At one point, when Christianity was getting a foothold in Japan, the Buddhist ruling class killed more than 700 Christians. Buddhists know that Christianity stands in stark contrast to Buddhism, because it offers a loving God who gives value to each and every person, people that Buddhists consider to be irrelevant. The impact of Buddhist thinking in the largest Buddhist country, Thailand, is a tremendous sex trafficking and sex trade, especially of young people. Since there is no God, no Judgment, no afterlife, and no consequences, what you do with these young children is irrelevant. The Burmese military, which is made up completely of Buddhist troops, has been at war with the ethnic Kachin, who are over 90% Christian, for decades. Christianity, however, says these people and these children are created in the image of God and were worth the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to save them for eternal life. In other words, their value is immeasurable.
In like manner, Hinduism is actually a collection of religions incorporating Animism and philosophy, one god and many gods, vegetarianism and sacrifices. Hinduism is a pluralistic network of religious beliefs and systems ranging from the philosophical (self-realization), to Vedic (rituals and good works), to village Hinduism (idolatry, occultism and animism).
The Hindu concept of god is pantheistic, and their theology is syncretistic. Hinduism, as a conglomeration of ideas, beliefs, convictions and practices, varies from people to people and from region to region. However, Hinduism can be understood under six broad categories:
- Philosophic Hinduism is dominated by the authority of the Vedas and the Upanishads. Philosophic Hinduism teaches that there is a spark of divinity in man, so to call man a sinner is blasphemous. Therefore, there is no need for a savior.
- Religious Hinduism places strong belief in Avatars (incarnations of gods). Hindus are at liberty to choose their own god from among a pantheon of over 330 million gods. They teach that salvation can be obtained in one of three ways: the way of knowledge, the way of devotion, or the way of good deeds.
- Popular Hinduism is influenced by ancestral tradition, worship of animals, temple cults, magic, and exorcism. Popular Hinduism is primarily concerned with receiving blessings and prosperity from a god who protects its adherents.
- Mystical Hinduism follows those who claim to have supernatural gifts of healing, the ability to perform miracles, to read the inner thoughts of people, and to prophesy the future. These mysterious and apparently spiritual gurus are seen as Avatars (incarnations of gods).
- Tribal Hinduism is much influenced by animism, spiritism, the occult, necromancy, and animal worship. The fear of the unknown produces instinctive dread over these followers’ minds.
- Secular Hinduism is increasing as more and more Hindus become nominal in their beliefs and indifferent to religious practices. They follow only those customs that fulfill their materialistic tendencies.
Underlying all Hindu behavior, religious activity and thought is the doctrine of karma. According to Hindu thought, all of life is controlled by this law, the law of works. Your behavior in a past life determines your fate in the present life, and your deeds in the present life determine your future reincarnation. The endless cycle of birth and rebirth is called Samsara, or reincarnation. When you build up bad karma, you move down the ladder. If you have developed good karma, you move up the ladder. A Hindu works for the day when, having completed his karma, he will finally be able to break out of this cycle of reincarnation to escape into freedom called moksha.
Hinduism and many New Age and pagan religions see reality as an illusion or Maya. The ultimate reality for these nominalists is merely a fiction and not the real creation of a real theistic, separate God of the Bible. A nominalist premise blurs the line between imagination and reality and denies the power of evil. However, evil is real, and denying its reality by saying it’s only a dream or an illusion denies the need for Jesus Christ’s death on the cross to save us from our sins and from sin itself.
Hindus ignore the sick and hurting people around them because they believe that such sickness is an illusion and just a sign that sick people have bad karma. Therefore, Hindu holy men will pass a dying street urchin with the explanation that his suffering is only an illusion and his karma, while Mother Teresa will pick up the child and take it to a hospital. Mother Teresa so angered the Hindus that they tried to burn her on a funeral pyre, but were stopped by a crowd of the people she helped. It is far better to be like Mother Teresa than a Hindu worshiping cows or an aborigine cowering in fear of offending some spirit or demon.
The cruelty of Hinduism continues to today. Many of the orphanages and Christian hospitals in Southern India have been shut down, leaving the children and many others with no place to go. Horrible practices, such as the selling of body parts and the killing of female babies and the burning of widows, have been on the rise since the Christians have been driven out of areas.
The MOVIEGUIDE® Faith & Freedom Award® winning movie THE LEAST OF THESE: THE GRAHAM STAINES STORY tells the story of an Australian medical missionary and his two sons who are murdered in a remote Indian village in 1999 by radical Hindus.
Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism (with its caste system) depend on meritocracy. According to Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, any physical or mental defect indicated that you were further away from enlightenment. Only the most perfect could achieve true enlightenment.
The Good News is, that there’s a welcoming community where the price of membership and qualifications don’t depend on your birth or your behavior, but on God’s love, grace and faithfulness. This community is open to anyone who wants into it. The price of membership has been paid by Jesus Christ on the Cross. As Paul writes in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus.”
Upon Christianity’s biblical precepts, civilization was built. Adhering to its precepts allows each person to succeed according to their God given gifts and abilities, knowing they are loved by God just as much, no more, no less, than everyone else.
So, please pray that during these turbulent times the Hollywood leaders who are attracted to Eastern religions, hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and open their hearts and minds to being set free indeed.
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