Wednesday, August 4, 2010

God's Sovereignty over Life and Death

Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity are at variance on the question of God's sovereignty over life and death. Buddhism, as a non-theistic religion, has no concept of God's sovereign will. The oldest layer of Hinduism acknowledges a supreme Deity, but the doctrine of samsara [1] introduces an element that is not consistent with the Judeo-Christian or ancient Afro-Asiatic doctrine of God's sovereignty. The death of our bodies does not lead to reincarnation as is believed in Hinduism and Buddhism. It leads either to eternal life or to what the ancient Egyptians [2] and the Apostles called "the second death” (Rev. 2:11; 20:6 and 20:14).

Religions which believe in samsara cremate to quickly reduce human remains to the smallest particles of matter (atomism). The flesh and the spirit are separated, never to exist again as the person who once lived. There is an element of fatalism in this worldview since existence is both illusory and constantly changing. This is not the faith of our Father Abraham which Christ Jesus and the Apostles commend to us. In its lack of atomistic fatalism, Christianity emerges as a natural, organic [3] expression of the faith of Abraham; an affirmation of what Job declared: “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25, 26 NASB).

Abraham was led to a land where God established him as a ruler. His territory extended between Hebron and Beer-sheba. God promised to make Abraham’s descendents a multitude of peoples. This was accomplished through Abraham's wives Sarah and Keturah and his concubines Hagar and Masek. Together these women bore Abraham 9 sons and a number of daughters. In other words, God fulfilled His sovereign will concerning Abraham and made him the “father of a multitude of nations” (Gen. 17:4)

In God’s sovereign will Abraham becomes a figure through whom “all the nations on earth will bless themselves” (Gen. 18:18; 22:18 NJB). This promise was made twice; first, when God in Three Persons appears to him (Gen. 18) and again after God supplies a ram as a substitute sacrifice for Abraham’s son (Gen. 22). In both stories, God is sovereign over life and death; destroying the ram and Sodomites by holocaust and delivering Abraham’s son and Lot’s family from the fire.

The idea that God destroys is not popular these days, but it is inescapably an aspect of God's sovereignty.  Scripture teaches that God desires that none should die, yet He leaves the choice to us.  That is why the faithful leaders urged the people to "choose life that you may live" (Deut. 30:19).


NOTES
1. Samsara is the cycle of reincarnation, a central doctrine of Hinduism and Buddhism.

2. The Egyptians believed that the unification of Ka (life that animates the body) and Ba (eternal spirit) happened after death by means of the proper offerings, prayers, and mummification. There was a risk of dying the second death if the unified soul and life force were condemned in the afterlife. Dying the second death meant not becoming an akh. Only as an akh could one enjoy the resurrection life. Ankh is the Spirit of Life and was the hieroglyphic sign for life in ancient Egypt and Kush.

3. Organic religions develop naturally and consistently out of very ancient religious traditions. Organic religions are unlike synthetic religions such as Scientology, Mormonism and Baha’i which are recent synthetically developed religions or cults.

4 comments:

Cammie Novara said...

"The oldest layer of Hinduism acknowledges a supreme Deity, but the doctrine of samsara [1] introduces an element that is not consistent with the Judeo-Christian or ancient Afro-Asiatic doctrine of God's sovereignty." I am gobsmacked by the truth in those words.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Yes, Cammie, it is astonishing how the religion planted in southern India by the Sudra (Sudanese) came to be corrupted by later Aryan influences.

Dharmashaiva said...

Hi Alice, is it possible that reincarnation is compatible with resurrection? For instance, is it possible that the resurrected body might contain -- in some form -- the patterns of the reincarnated bodies of previous existences?

The Hasidic Jews believe in reincarnation and resurrection, as well.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Greetings, Dharmashaiva.

Hasidic Jews follow the teaching of Rabbi Isaac Luria on this and he took his ideas from Kabbalah, not from the Talmud or the Torah. Kabbalah is a blending of Babylonian and Semitic ideas.

It is unlikely that Abraham's people believed in reincarnation, as this is not consistent with their worldview which sees distinct boundaries between living and dead (one of the binary distinctions of their Afro-Asiatic worldview). This explains why there is nothing that even hints as reincarnation in Genesis. Reincarnation appears to have been introduced into India from the north, not from Egypt. The Egyptians were strongly influenced by the Sudra (Sudanese/Nubian) who believed in resurrection as is evidenced from the way they buried their dead. There is no evidence to support the view that the Sudra and/or the Egyptians believed in reincarnation, except possibly for deities or semi-divine persons.

Orthodox Christians are forbidden to cremate their dead as this is regarded as a "pagan" practice. Many of my dead loved ones have been cremated and that was my intention for my remains until I became Orthodox. Bit a quandry there!

Certainly on a molecular level that which has decayed (dusst to dust) is still present in some form. However, form and essence are separated. Reincarnation involves a change in form and essence whereas resurrection involves renewal of the same form and essence. These seem incompatible.