Back when I was in college John Cobb came for a lecture series. One of his lectures was titled, “Can a Christian Be a Buddhist Too?” I don’t remember the content of his lecture, but my recollection was that he was quite a bit more optimistic about the possibility than I was. It boils down to what you mean by “Christian” and what you mean by “Buddhist.”
Now we hear of an Anglican priest who has converted to Hinduism. He has his little idol that he carries around with him, does his little ceremonies with the snake god… AND wants to continue to do what he did as an Anglican priest when he returns to England.
Mr Hart … is a strong advocate of pluralism. He says in his book that Hinduism accepts the divinity of Jesus and is an especially tolerant and open faith.
Hinduism IS especially tolerant and open. I’ve seen evidence to suggest it can syncretize almost anything else out there. But Christianity is not so tolerant and open – unless it has first been “hinduized.”
Mr Hart believes that his change to Hinduism would be â€œread in the spirit of open exploration and dialogue, which is an essential feature of our shared modern spiritualityâ€.
Mr. Hart sounds like a priest in the Church of Shared Modern Spirituality more than of the Church of England. Christianity isn’t about openness, exploration and dialog. It’s about Jesus. Abstracted, rationalized, idealized religion – or to use the currently popular term, spirituality – is not the same thing as Christianity. Doubtless Mr. Hart and others will disagree. “We’ve been practicing a Christianity of Openness for years,” they might say.
I’m a United Methodist. For the past generation we’ve been urged to use the Outlerian (oops – that’s supposed to be Wesleyan) Quadrilateral. I’m not a big fan of it, but let’s try it. I can’t find a Hinduized version of Christianity in Scripture. Not in the Christian Tradition either. If Reason is equated with the deliverances of modern philosophy, I might have more luck there. Finally, if Experience refers to nothing more than my private feelings interpreted by myself in isolation from Scripture and the Tradition of the church, I might well find something akin to Hinduism. Or Thuggery. Or Fascism. Or Communism. Or baseball. Or gluttony. I can get just about anything out of my experience.
Can you be a Hindu and a Christian too? Apparently from the point of view of the Hindu, you can, since from that point of view there is no real difference between the Hinduism and Christianity, between Jesus and Ganesha (personally I’ve never seen a picture of Jesus with that long a nose).
From the point of view of biblical or traditional Christianity? I don’t think so.