by Donald A.G. Burling
“I am the Lord thy God . . . Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” So begin the Ten Commandments given through Moses to the people of Israel just escaped from slavery in Egypt. Yet within a few weeks of receiving this command they were resorting to the kind of religion they had known in Egypt, and worshipping a calf idol. Throughout the Old Testament we find the people lapsing into the worship of Baal and other pagan deities and suffering as a result. Prophets who warned them were frequently stoned.
On the 30th October a procession will pass along streets in Northampton carrying effigies of several Hindu gods. No doubt similar events will take place in Hounslow which has a much larger Indian population than here. The following day, in our own culture, people will be dressing up as devils and witches in what can only be described as a celebration of evil.
As Christians we can confidently say that Hindu gods such as Krishna and Shiva do not exist. Many believe the same about the devil and his agents, despite evidence to the contrary from Scripture and everyday life. Remember the old rhyme:
“The devil, he’s been booted out, and so the devil’s gone; but simple folk may still enquire, who carries his business on?”
A young man in Feltham prison once told me that he saw no proof of the existence of God, but there was proof of the existence of the devil. He had had some experience of occult practices such as Ouija boards, and was convinced both of their reality and their diabolical nature.
We have no business to be hostile towards those who practice such things, though some of them may be hostile to us. But in no way should we imply or suggest that we approve of what they do, or join them in worship. As St Paul told the people of Athens, God is willing to overlook their ignorance but now commands all people to repent (see Acts 17 v 30). For us there is only one God, though revealed to us as a trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
If you have any friends of Hindu, Moslem or other backgrounds, it may help to acquaint yourself with what they believe. Ram Gidoomal in his book “Karma and Chips” points out the parallel between the Hindu doctrine of Karma and the Christian understanding of sin with its consequences. Our desire is that they should come to understand the Gospel, and anything that helps to that end is to be encouraged.