In discussing chanting with a Hindu, I stumbled when he pointed out that we Christians also repeat God's name when we sing "Hallelujah, hallelujah...." So are we repeating vainly? Of course not. If we are praising God, he claimed, so are they.
How can I make my point against chanting but still justify our glorification of God singing "Hallelujah"? Also he pointed out that they are praising God like we also praise God in Psalms.
It seems to me that a few points can be made to distinguish what Christians are doing from what Hare Krishnas and other Hindus are doing.
1. "Hallelujah" comes from two Hebrew words meaning "Praise the Lord" (i.e. Hallelu Yah). When we say Hallelujah, we are praising the Lord. This seems different from simply repeating the name of a particular god over and over. We are praising the Lord, not simply repeating His Name.
2. Although this may not be true for all of those engaged in repetitive chanting of the name of a god, nevertheless, for many of these people such chanting is intended to focus the mind and help induce an altered state of consciousness in which one "realizes" that "All is One," "All is God," "I Am God," etc. This, of course, is not what Christians are trying to achieve when they praise the Lord. Thus, the intentions of Christians in praising the Lord are very different from the intentions of some Hindus in repeating the name of a god.
3. Hindus and Christians typically have very different conceptions of "God." Even if we both refer to the Supreme Being as "God," we mean something very different by this term. Hindus are typically pantheists or polytheists; Christians are monotheists. Thus, we have very different ideas or definitions about what (or who) "God" is.
These three differences, at least in my opinion, make it very difficult to equate what Christians are doing when we praise the Lord with what Hindus are doing when they engage in the repetitive chanting of a god's name.
The Lord bless and keep you!
About the Author
Michael Gleghorn is a research associate with Probe Ministries. He earned a B.A. in psychology from Baylor University and a Th.M. in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Before coming on staff with Probe, Michael taught history and theology at Christway Academy in Duncanville, Texas. Michael and his wife Hannah have two children. His personal website is michaelgleghorn.com.
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