Communication Guidelines

By James M. Rochford

We hope that this material has been helpful for you to understand the Hindu religion. However, we do not suggest blasting your Hindu friend with all of this material in conversation, because it would most likely be overwhelming. We would compare this to waking someone up from a deep sleep by dumping a bucket of ice water on their lap. While this might work in waking them up, it will also alienate the person in the process. A more tactful approach is in order.

For this reason, consider these guidelines in dialoguing with Hindu friends and family:

First, do not assume that you know or understand the beliefs of your Hindu friend. Remember, Hinduism is a very diverse and eclectic faith. They have no official doctrines or creeds. It is wise to ask your friend questions about what they believe before engaging on these worldview issues. Remember that Solomon wrote: “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13).

Second, explain the doctrine of grace. In Hindu thought, we need to work our way to moksha or “release.” This is where we become one with Brahman. However, in biblical thought, God worked his way to us (Eph. 2:8-9; 1 Jn. 4:10; see our earlier article “Do Good People Go to Heaven?”).

Third, distinguish beliefs from culture. The Bible is against spiritual relativism, but it is for cultural relativism (1 Cor. 9:20-23). We should remind our Hindu friend that they can still be vegetarians if they come to faith in Christ, and they can still be Indian, too! Often, this can be blurred for the Hindu.

Fourth, offer good illustrations for critiquing relativism. We have a full critique of relativism (see “Aren’t All Religions Equally Valid?”), but make sure to condense your case down to simple illustrations.

Further Reading

Carmody, Denise Lardner, and John Carmody. Ways to the Center: An Introduction to World Religions. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub., 1984.

Ridenour, Fritz. So What’s the Difference? Ventura, CA: Regal, 2001.

Halverson, Dean C. The Compact Guide to World Religions. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1996.

Hopfe, M. Religions of the World. Fourth ed. London: MacMillan, 1987.

Nigosian, World Religions: A Historical Approach. Third Edition. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2000.