Subject: Pantheism: Why the Christian Worldview is superior
Mark 5:27-28 “When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment; for she said, ‘If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.’”
Last week we compared aspects of Islam to Christianity, two of the great monotheistic worldviews. This week we move from Theism to Pantheism, a worldview followed by nearly 1.2 billion of the world’s population, with 85% following the teachings of Hinduism and concentrated in India.
In Pantheism, God is the world, and the world is God. Beyond God is only illusion. God is not personal, but an impersonal force that is beyond rational knowledge. There is no need for a personal Savior, who by grace takes the punishment for their sins. God is also beyond good or evil. Evil to the Pantheist is an illusion. Pantheism teaches that all souls are eternal and accountable for their own actions throughout time.
It is through “karma” (wheel of suffering) and “reincarnation” (soul inhabits successive human bodies) their bad actions are atoned for as they strive to achieve self-realization (“nirvana”) through ritualistic sacrifice and discipline. And it is out of Pantheism that the Hindu Caste System was created. If you are unfortunate enough to be born as an ‘untouchable’, the lowest level, you are an outcast in society and condemned to a miserable existence of ‘karma’ while you hope to be reincarnated to a higher station in a later life.
Chuck Colson, in his book ‘How Now Shall We Live?’, shared the effect the good news of Jesus Christ had on a large audience of ‘untouchables’ in India : “While visiting a prison in Trivandrum, India some years ago, I saw firsthand what the Hindu caste system does to human dignity. In the field before us were at least a thousand inmates, most of them ‘untouchables.’ Their sweaty, dark skin contrasted with their white loincloths, their only clothing. They rested submissively on their haunches, their eyes fearfully darting from side to side. These men were not only condemned to this horrid institution, where they were caged in squalid holes with no toilets or running water, but even worse, they were totally dehumanized, treated as outcasts. No Hindu who lived by his own beliefs could care one whit for them.
I spoke that day through a Hindu translator, sharing my own testimony and the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I talked about forgiveness for sins, I saw many eyes open wide, startled. This was a radical thought. In Hinduism there is no forgiveness. Whatever wrong one has done in this life must be repaid in one’s next incarnation according to the iron law of karma. As a result, no consistent Hindu would practice charity, for that would interfere with the law of karma.
A new life in Christ? Their sins washed away? Freedom? The inmates were astounded by these ideas. A thousand pair of eyes riveted on me intently, many of them glistening with tears. After the prayer of invitation, I startled the guards by jumping down off the platform and walking toward the crowd, thrusting out my hand to the first man I could reach. It was pure impulse; I sensed that I should let the men know that I wanted to touch them.
Suddenly, like a flock of birds, men rose to their feet and circled around me. For the next twenty minutes, I shook every hand I could. Most of the men just reached out and touched; I felt hands all over my arms and chest and back. They were desperate to ‘touch’, to know that the love God offers is real. They kept swapping positions with one another, until virtually all had some kind of physical contact with me.
Later, these men went back to their grim cells. No one can say how many of them submitted to Christ that night, but at least one message got through – that in Christianity they are not untouchable. The Christian worldview compels us, in a way no other worldview can, to genuinely care for one another.”
This is the essence of our verse this week. The unclean woman in Mark 5 was a social outcast – she was not allowed to touch anyone because of her disease, including her husband and children. She was not allowed to worship in the temple. She was shut out from all interaction with people. Except Jesus Christ.
Amazingly, Jesus does two things in this story that happen nowhere else in the Bible: 1) He heals her before He even knows it (His deity is a step ahead of His humanity), and He affectionately calls her ‘daughter’. It is the only time anywhere in the New Testament that Jesus calls a woman His daughter. Unlike Pantheism, in Christian Theism God is intensely personal. As 2Corinthians 6:18 says, “’I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters’, says the Lord Almighty”.