Am I a Hindu or a Christian, or am I both?
I am a 20 year old of Hindu background. My family always encouraged me to make my religion personal and take from it what I wished, and I have.
I have always stressed Dharma or right conduct in my life. But I recognize that I unconditionally love God above all. I personally believe there is only one God, and that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. I believe there is a heaven and hell, and believe strongly in resurrection rather than reincarnation. I have read the New Testament, and I have gone to church many times.
Every Hindu has a different interpretation of his religion, and each day I realize that the Christian belief system is the one I uphold the most.
Am I a Hindu, or a Christian, or am I both? Will the Christian faith accept me, or is it too late? Being in college has allowed me to separate my beliefs from my parents’, and I don’t want to hurt them by “converting” religions, but this is how I’ve always lived my life.
Thank you for your good letter. Although you sign yourself “confused,” I think a better description might be “conflicted.” You want to follow Jesus Christ, but you don’t want to hurt your parents. Your love for them must be like an arrow in your heart.
Your first question is “Am I a Hindu, or a Christian, or am I both?” So far you are someone who wants to becomea Christian. However, you must make a choice, because it is impossible to be Hindu and Christian both at the same time. When the Hebrew people entered the promised land, Joshua made plain to them the need for a radical choice among competing loyalties:
“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Some Hindus says that there are many paths to God. Jesus, the only Son of God, taught that this is untrue. He did not make the choice softer for us than Joshua did; he made it even sharper. As you have read in John 14 in the New Testament, He said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except by me.”
Your second question is, “Will the Christian faith accept me, or is it too late?” In Christianity, acceptance means acceptance by Christ. If you trust Jesus alone as your Lord and your sinbearer, forsaking all that is contrary to Him and coming into His Church, then He will not only accept you, but embrace you as a son. There cannot be a “too late” for anyone who turns to Jesus, because He is not willing that anyone should perish. All who follow Him faithfully will be welcomed by Him into His kingdom, for although He is the only door into life, anyone who is willing to enter the door may do so.
Your third question is unstated, but I will supply the words. “If I make the radical decision to follow the one true God through Jesus Christ, then will it be possible to spare my parents hurt?” I don’t know; there are no guarantees. Jesus knew that some of his followers would be rejected by their families. Read and prayerfully consider Matthew 10:32-39, where he warns of the possibility. As he explains, the truth of the matter is like this:
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Notice that He does not say that you must stop loving your family. What He says is that you must love Him even more. But consider this: If you turned away from Jesus Christ, you would not be truly loving them. You see, to love them is to want what is good for them, and the source of all true Good is in Him alone. He is the only hope for mankind — for me, for you, and for your parents. So if you love your mother and father, then surely you will want them to know Jesus too. It may be that you, you alone, are the means planned by God for them to learn of Him.
To put this another way, the decision to be faithful to the Savior is not just about your own salvation. It concerns their salvation too. Your decision to follow Christ may cause them pain now — but in the long run it may be the means of saving them from the infinitely greater pain of an eternity apart from God. You can be with them for eternity in heaven instead.
Emboldened by Christ’s love, I pass on to you His invitation: Do become a Christian. Enter with us into the household of God; know His joy. But as you pray and enter His household, pray for your family to enter it too. Ask Jesus Christ to make you an open window through which they can hear His loving voice and come to Him.
Grace and peace,
Copyright 2004 Professor Theophilus. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Professor J. Budziszewski is the author of more than a dozen books, including How to Stay Christian in College, Ask Me Anything, Ask Me Anything 2, What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide, and The Line Through the Heart. He teaches government and philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin.