Hinduism

700 million people, mostly in India, are Hindus. One of the world’s oldest religions, Hinduism is a collection of mostly pantheistic ideas. Its complexity and fluid belief system have generated three other religions: Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.

It started almost 2000 years before Christ, among the tribal peoples of northern India.

The oldest Hindu scriptures are the Vedas. This collection of hymns and prayers was first transmitted orally. The Vedas were preserved in writing over a thousand year period beginning about 1400BC. The Upanishads, the last part of the Vedas, were written between 800BC and 300BC to record secret teachings, including the idea that behind the many gods is one ultimate reality, Brahman.

Due to Hinduism’s complex belief system, many sects and subgroups evolved, including some that are more theistic than pantheistic, like Hare Krishna.

Apparent contradictions among Hindu sects or other religions don’t bother the person enlightened by Hindu wisdom because she believes that a greater unity lies behind these discrepancies.

Several core beliefs are common. First, God and the universe are one – the ultimate, impersonal reality, Brahman, is everything. All distinctions in what we think we see or claim to know are maya, illusion. Even our true, inner self, atman, is one with Brahman. We are bound to the law of karma which says we receive the results of our actions in the next life.

Salvation is earned in one of three ways:

  • Works of ritual, fasting, and sacrifice that yield good karma
  • Knowledge achieved through discipline and meditation on the sacred writings leading to a state of consciousness beyond the law of karma
  • Devotion to one of the Hindu deities harmonizing the devotee with that deity
  • Hindus tolerate other religions because they see them as one. So they may be happy to add Jesus to their list of gods.

    The Christian’s challenge is to convey Jesus’ uniqueness and His message of forgiveness. Living under the law of karma, Hindu’s struggle to understand forgiveness by the impersonal Brahman.

    Like everyone else, Hindus understand forgiveness in human relationships, and a personal God gets closer to that reality in their lives. Only Jesus can free them from the cycle of rebirths striving to work off their karmic debt.

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    Baha’i

    Baha’i is one of the world’s newest religions, a nineteenth century spin-off of Islam. Six million people from almost every country and culture follow it. It promotes universal peace, brotherhood, and oneness as the foundation of its teachings.

    In the nineteenth century a Persian Muslim named Miza’ Ali Muhammad (known by his followers as the “Bab,” which meant “gate” to paradise) claimed to be a greater prophet than Muhammad and all others. He taught that the world’s religious leaders had deviated from their origins – the belief in the unity of all things. As a result, the Bab was murdered in 1850 for “heresy”.

    His followers maintained his teaching that a Messiah of sorts, “a Promised One,” would someday come to unite mankind.

    In 1863, the Bab’s successor, Mirza Husyn’ Ali (known as “baha’u’llah“) claimed to be this manifestation of the one true God. His followers were called Baha’is.

    Baha’i is strictly monotheistic, denying the Trinity. But they believe that God has sent a prophet for every age (Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, the Bab, Baha’u’llah), each replacing his predecessor. They were all divine, sinless manifestations of God, and each of their religions succeeded the old one with updated truth. The wise person, therefore, follows the latest and greatest, the final prophet – Baha’u’llah.

    The unifying theme of Baha’i is oneness – all people, religions, and science are one at heart.

    Believers in Baha’i respect the Bible as they do the sacred books of all religions. But their true authority resides in the writings of Baha’u’llah. While in prison, he wrote almost 200 books and tablets, which followers consider absolute truth. Jesus is given a prime place in Baha’i literature that is used in predominantly Christian countries. But Jesus’ role as a prophet of His age ended when Muhammad succeeded him in AD 622. The Baha’i faith denies Christ’s deity and rejects His atoning death and resurrection.

    They usually portray themselves as Christians to christians because in their mind they follow every religion. They use the Bible to draw Christians into their fold as they use other religion’s Scriptures to do the same thing.

    However, this gentle, inclusive religion is as exclusive as other religions. It is diametrically opposed to Christianity.

    Islam

    The ultimate value in Islam is submission, a Muslim, “one who submits,” will do whatever he or she thinks that Allah (God) wants. Almost 20% of the world’s population adheres to Islam, second only to Christianity.

    Muhammad’s religion began with his teachings in the seventh century. When he was forty he suffered convulsions, during which he claimed to receive visions from the angel Gabriel. He first thought these visions came from demons, but his wife convinced him they were divine. Their content, including monotheistic teaching, was eventually recorded as the Qur’an (aka Koran).

    Muhammad died without appointing a successor. His followers differed over how to pick one: some wanted to elect his replacement; others favoured one from his bloodline. The dispute led to two groups: Shi’ites and Sunnis. The Sunnis won the debate and now make up over 80% of Islam.

    Muslims believe that God revealed Himself in some of the Jewish Scriptures and in the Christian Gospels, but they think the Christian Bible is now corrupted.

    The five pillars of Islamic belief are:

  • God is one, Allah.
  • God has sent many prophets, including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus; of these, Muhammad is the last and greatest.
  • The gap between God and man is filled with angels, some good, some evil.
  • The Qur’an is the highest book, above writings of other prophets.
  • We will all stand before Allah on judgment day, when our eternal destiny will be determined by our deeds.
  • Faithful Muslims do the following:

  • They repeat their central belief that “there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger”
  • pray five times a day while facing Mecca
  • fast during daylight hours in the ninth lunar month (Ramadan)
  • give at least 2.5% of their wealth to the poor
  • make pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lifetime
  • The God of Islam is not the Christian God. They are both sovereign, omnipotent Creators and Judges of the world. But the Christian concept of tri-unity is the ultimate blasphemy to Muslims. Furthermore, unlike the Christian God, Allah is distant and acts arbitrarily if he wants to.

    By showing Muslims love and respect, we can talk with them about Jesus, whom they consider to be a prophet. God’s grace reaches them too. Our gentle portrayal of a personal relationship with a loving God offers a life Muslims don’t have.

    Judaism

    Christianity fulfills rather than replaces Judaism. It all started 2,000 years before Christ, when God chose Abraham to be the father of many people (Genesis 12:1-3). Today almost 14,000 Jews claim Abraham as their ancestor.

    Two generations after Abraham, his family moved to Egypt during a famine. Their descendants were later enslaved by the Egyptians, then liberated by Moses in the Exodus about 1450BC. While travelling to the Promised Land, Moses received God’s Law, the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.

    Until two centuries ago, the only form of Judaism was what is now called “Orthodox Judaism.” They follow the Mosaic Law and the old ways passed down from their ancestors.

    “Conservative Judaism,” arose in the nineteenth century. They blend into modern culture but maintain at least parts of the Law.

    The Jewish Bible is the Christian’s Old Testament. Not all Jews consider it inspired, but almost all deeply respect it.

    They also accept the Talmud, a collection of legal rulings, traditions, and interpretations of the Torah.

    The central belief of Judaism is the unity of God from Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the LORD is one.” Most Jews have replaced the ancient belief in a personal Messiah with the hope of a coming age of justice. Most consider obeying the Law and doing good deeds more important than beliefs.

    Knowing which branch of Judaism a particular Jew adheres to can aid efforts to share the good news of the Messiah (aka: Jesus). As a result of centuries of anti-Semitism, which came in part from Christianity, Jews may be understandably cautious. Build a trusting relationship and explain that following Jesus does not mean abandoning their Jewish heritage. He is the messiah for all people.

    Remember, Jesus was/is a Jew. And Jews are God special people.

    ‘Why me’ lyrics

    Lyrics to the song Why Me. (note: Elvis did a cover version).

    Why me, Lord?
    What have I ever done to deserve even one
    Of the blessings I’ve known
    Why me Lord, what did I ever do
    That was worth love from You
    And the kindness You’ve shown

    Lord help me Jesus I’ve wasted it so
    Help me Jesus, You know what I am
    Now that I know that I’ve needed you so
    Help me Jesus my soul’s in Your hands

    Try me Lord, if You think there’s a way
    I can repay, what I’ve taken from You
    Maybe Lord, I could show someone else
    What I’ve been through myself
    On my way back to You

    Lord help me Jesus I’ve wasted it so
    Help me Jesus, You know what I am
    Now that I know that I’ve needed you
    Help me Jesus my soul’s in Your hands

    Jesus, My soul’s in your hands

    Artist: Lee Ryan
    Album: The Passion of the Christ Soundtrack Lyrics

    Ave Maria lyrics

    Lyrics to the song Ave Maria

    Ave Maria
    Gratia plena
    Maria, gratia plena
    Maria, gratia plena
    Ave, ave dominus
    Dominus tecum
    Benedicta tu in mulieribus
    Et benedictus
    Et benedictus fructus ventris
    Ventris tuae, Jesus.
    Ave Maria

    Ave Maria
    Mater Dei
    Ora pro nobis peccatoribus
    Ora pro nobis
    Ora, ora pro nobis peccatoribus
    Nunc et in hora mortis
    Et in hora mortis nostrae
    Et in hora mortis nostrae
    Et in hora mortis nostrae
    Ave Maria

    An English translation
    Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
    blessed art thou among women,
    and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus [Christ].
    Holy Mary, Mother of God,
    pray for us sinners,
    now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

    Latin vs.English
    Ave Maria
    Hail mary
    gratia plena
    full of grace
    Dominus tecum
    the Lord is with thee
    Benedicta tu in mulieribus
    Blessed art thou among women
    et benedictus fructus ventris tui
    and blessed is the fruit of thy womb
    Sancta Maria
    Holy Mary
    Mater Dei
    Mother of God
    ora pro nobis peccatoribus
    pray for us sinners
    nunc et in hora mortis nostrae
    now and at the hour of our death


    Some background

    Ave Maria (English Hail Mary) is the salutation given by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation (Luke 1:28): Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum (“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee”). To these words many additions have been made, both as prayers addressed to the Blessed Virgin (such as that prayed in The Rosary) and as musical texts.

    The traditional Catholic prayer continues with Elizabeth’s greeting to her cousin Mary (Luke 1:41): Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui (“Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb”); and the name (Jesus) given to Mary’s child. It concludes with words adopted by the Council of Trent: Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen (“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen”). Other texts which include Elizabeth’s greeting vary this formula to varying degrees.

    Originally composed by Johann Sebastian Bach

    How great thou art lyrics

    Lyrics to the song How Great Thou Art – a classic old hymn

    Oh Lord my God
    When I in awesome wonder
    Consider all the works
    Thy hands have made
    I see the stars
    I hear the rolling thunder
    Thy power throughout
    The universe displayed

    Then sings my soul
    My Saviour, God, to Thee
    How great thou art
    How great thou art
    Then sings my soul
    My Saviour, God, to Thee
    How great Thou art
    How great Thou art

    When Christ shall come
    With shouts of adulation
    And take me home
    What joy shall fill my heart
    Then I shall bow
    In humble adoration
    And there proclaim My God
    How great Thou art

    Then sings my soul
    My Saviour, God, to Thee
    How great Thou art
    How great Thou art
    Then sings my soul
    My Saviour, God, to Thee
    How great Thou art
    How great Thou art

    How great Thou art
    How great Thou art…