Celebrating the Christian Kumbh Mela

VishnuI recently read an article regarding the Hindu festival “Kumbh Mela” where participants, amid much religious ceremony, bathe themselves in the Ganges river for the washing away of their sins (view article HERE).  They smear themselves with ashes and sand, pray prescribed prayers, and then descend into the water.  To most of us in the West, this ritual sounds odd.  Praying to Hindu gods, carrying out certain rituals at a designated religious location, and then going into river water to be cleansed of sin?  How, we enlightened Christians of the West ask ourselves, can such activities remove the guilt of sin?  It strikes us as the pagan invention of man and Satan, does it not?

Please allow me to switch gears for a moment (we will come back to the Kumbh Mela in just a moment).  You who claim Christianity, may I ask you a question?  How do you know you are a Christian?  I may claim to be an armadillo, but that doesn’t mean that I actually am one!  So, how do you know that you are what you claim?  Please take the time to think about it.  <– go ahead–think –think–think–> Have you taken a enough pause to collect your thoughts?  Can you clearly state why you believe you are a Christian?  Okay, let’s look at what might be some of the objects of your assurance:

1.   I said the “Sinners Prayer”? – While approaching the Lord with a contrite heart, mourning ones sinful deeds and begging forgiveness of the savior is indeed biblical (and a natural reaction when the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin), there is no “designated prayer” for salvation.  Sadly, reciting the sinners prayer has become just that in most churches. “If you just repeated that prayer”, many pastor’s proclaim, “we believe you just became a child of God.”  This is completely unbiblical.  The speaking of a designated prayer for any specified and guaranteed result is called an incantation.  If your assurance lies in the fact you spoke certain words, is this not the same as the Hindu prayers that worshippers at the Kumbh Mela recite?  It may strike you that I am trying to perform some theological trickery here by trying to re-define a genuine prayer to the Lord as a ritual, but I assure you that I am not.  If the assurance of your salvation stems from a certain prayer you have uttered, then you have crossed the line from a legitimate calling on the Lord to performing certain religious duties for salvation.  “But that’s not what I meant…” you may be saying.  But if that is so, then why did you fix your mind on this prayer when I asked of your assurance?

2.   I asked Jesus into my Heart – This is a fairly modern message that is often presented as being the Gospel.  If we ask Jesus into our hearts, we are told He will come in, start making things right, fixing the wrongs, and we will go to heaven when we die.  This is similar to the Sinners Prayer in that it can be used as ritual upon which we cast all hope for salvation, but it has another problem as well.  A big one.  It is completely unbiblical!  This practice is found absolutely nowhere in Scripture, and instead replaces the biblical gospel (and it’s response).  Recently we explored this topic in-depth here at ChurchSalt (read the article HERE) and found it to be…well…troubling.

3.   I was Baptized – This is an ordinance of the Christian faith, and handed down to us from Jesus Christ Himself.  Surely I will not attack this too, right?  Well, if you are thinking of it as a reason that you are saved, than yes!  Baptism is a dying of self, being pulled out of the water to newness of life in our saviour.  It is an outward profession, a burying of sin, and an acceptance of Christ as not only our savior, but also our master.  But the physical act of going under some water and coming out again isn’t what saves us…even if it is done at a designated religious location (such as the water tank at your local church)!  In the Kumbh Mela, it is thought these actions wash away sins, and likewise many professing Christians cling to the idea that because they have undergone the ritual of baptism that they are cleansed from their sins as well.  Did you list your baptism as a reason you know you are Christian?  Is it possible you subconsciously think of Christian baptism as Jesus’ version of the Kumbh Mela?  I do not ask this to be confrontational, but if the act of water submersion is what makes you believe you are Christian, then what is the difference between your works of righteousness and those of the Hindu?

4.   I Love God and Love Others – When Jesus taught we should love God and love others (see Mark 12), it was in response to the question “What is the greatest commandment?”  So in Jesus own words, this is a summary of the commandments, or the moral law of Moses, but many modern Christians are claiming that this is what it means to be Christian.  Paul made it very clear that ”No one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.”  (Romans 3:20 NLT).  So if obedience doesn’t save us, why is it being taught as the essence of Christianity?  Loving God and loving others is obedience to the law, but it is NOT the Gospel.  Go ahead and try to fulfill the “Love God, love others” commandment.  You will fail, and fail big.  The law was designed by God to expose your sin and drive you to Christ.  When a person becomes a Christian, they do indeed begin to love God and love others to ever-increasing degrees, but this obedience flows from salvation, not to it.  Obedience is a fruit of salvation, but if you are looking at your obedience as the reason you are Christian, then what is the difference between the good works performed by you, and those performed by a Muslim, Mormon or a Hindu at the Kumbh Mela?  If good works are the essence of Christianity, then why was Jesus on the Cross?  And if it is His work on the Cross that is your assurance, why do you claim obedience (loving God/loving others) is the essence of Christianity, and even your assurance?

5.   I Feel Him – Is your assurance based on your experience?  When you worship, is the “Spirit so thick” or do you “really sense His presence”?  What of the Mormon who senses the “burning in the bosom” and all the other experiences that believers in other religions feel on a daily basis?  You may feel as though you can’t be deceived, for you know the one true God.  But is that not exactly what someone deceived would feel?  Satan deceived the two most perfectly created humans, Adam and Eve, so do not think your wisdom and discernment are too strong to be led astray.  Now, a true Christian does indeed have the Holy Spirit inside of them bearing witness that they are a child of God, but to rely on experience alone is naive and extremely dangerous.  In the Kumbh Mela, many coming up out of the water describe “feeling spiritually uplifted” by the experience.  The performance of certain religious duties has given them an emotional or spiritual experience.  Whether this “high” is a self-generated feeling they unknowingly create themselves or a deception given them from an outside force is hard to say.  But what we can agree on is that they perform their rituals and, as a result, have a spiritual experience.  I would contend that many who claim they are performing Christian worship are in the same position, with what they believe (their doctrine) being the only way to discern the truth behind their experience.  If someone who holds false beliefs has an experience, it matters not how legitimate it felt, they were worshipping a false god, and so the experience, while feeling holy, is of an evil nature.  What doctrines do you hold?  We are saved through faith, so what you believe is crucial.  Rely not on experience for assurance!

The Kumbh Mela, along with the religions & festivals of all unbiblical faiths, are simply a display of mankind’s effort to reach God.  Their festivals and daily practices are merely an effort to ascend, and the modern Christian church’s preaching of the concepts I have listed above are of the same nature.  They are simply promoting a “christianized” version of the beliefs held by those celebrating the Kumbh Mela.  These are all teachings of work-righteousness that tell us if we perform steps 1, 2 and 3 we will ascend, that is, we will be forgiven and saved.  Once these religious duties have been completed, and all the boxes have received a check mark, we are then said to be “Christian”.  It is incredibly easy to be raised in a culture and be blinded by familiarity to what our beliefs and professions are checklistreally saying.  Being blinded, we then view foreign religions as strange and pagan, not realizing that the practices that are so comfortable to you are, in essence, the same thing.  May I submit to you that the beliefs at the Kumbh Mela have strong, strong commonality with the modern Christian message?

But not so with the good news of the biblical gospel message!  The true message of Scripture has a very different idea at its’ center.  But before we look at  that, let us quickly look at the biblical bad news.   The bad news of the Bible (Romans 3) is that we are all guilty of many, many infractions against God’s laws, with each one being worthy of an eternal death.  Not only is this bad news, but we also know that the judge who will judge us according to the law is just (Proverbs 17:15).  In fact, justice is the attribute that sets the God of the Bible apart from all other religions (including the cultural Christianity preached in so many modern churches).  Justice.  The Lord of All is indeed a just and holy judge.  This is bad news for the Hindu and for all who try to pay for sins by performing religious duties, even those going by the name “evangelical”.  Past crimes are not pardoned by good deeds, time nor prayers.  For justice to be maintained, crimes must be paid for as prescribed by the law.  And that is where the gospel got its’ name (for the word “gospel” means “good news”).  Because, when confronted with the record of our sins against God’s holy law, we have no hope of paying for our crimes.  Except… that is what Jesus Christ was doing on the Cross!  He humbled Himself to human form so as to take the punishment for the sins of His people.  Justice is maintained because the payment for crimes has been paid, and forgiveness is then possible.  The Bible proclaims salvation for those who repent and trust in the atoning work of Christ for His people.  These things are not works (read of the true meaning of the word “repent” by clicking HERE) as according to Scripture both repentance and faith are gifts of God, not works of man (Ephesian 2:8-9).  Dear reader, is God working on you right now?  Is His Spirit making you aware of guilt, and your need not for a helper or a purpose, but of a rescue?  Call out to Him!  Beg of Him to open your eyes to the realities of sin, to grant you repentance and faith so that you might place all faith in the Savior.

So what of the Kumbh Mela?  Is it a pagan and futile attempt to pay for sins and thus ascend to the heavens?  Yup!  The justice of God makes it so.  But what of the modern Christian messages, like the ones above?  Are they pagan and futile as well?  Again…yup!  Why?  The answer is the same – justice.  Please, for a few moments take the cultural “lenses” off of your eyes and examine your assurance.  Why do you think you are Christian?  If the answer is anything (anything at all) that you did, then you are relying on works for salvation, and the justice of God will be your doom, for the penalty for sins must be paid.  But if your assurance is based on what Jesus did, then indeed you are Christian, for He has made you so!  He is faithful and true, the work of salvation for His people has been completed (did you not hear him say “It is finished”?)  If you are truly saved, you were saved at the Cross about two thousand years ago, not when you performed some religious ritual.  And, being saved at the Cross, it is at that Cross where all assurance must rest!

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9 Comments on “Celebrating the Christian Kumbh Mela”

  1. Jesaja 66:2 Says:

    Good article! Thank you.

    Reply

    • ChurchSalt Says:

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply

    • Jayakant Says:

      Christianity is now finished in the educated west, except for some mentally ill ppl. But Hindus are rediscovering the greatness of their religion. Convert to HIndu religion pls

      Reply

      • Jesaja 66:2 Says:

        I won’t ever convert to a religion, no matter what name it might use. However, I converted to a person when I “turned (converted) to God from idols to serve a living and true God and to await his Son from the heavens, whom he raised from among the dead, Jesus, our deliverer from the coming wrath.” (1Thes 1:9-10).

  2. www.awatchmanonthewall.blogspot.com Says:

    If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

    Confessing my sins [present tense], knowing I am a sinner [present tense], knowing I am forgiven [past, present and future tense] trusting that He who has promised IS faithful – I know I am a Christian.

    Very good article.

    Reply

    • ChurchSalt Says:

      That verse is packed full! How is He “faithful”? He is carrying out His covenant as He promised, regardless of the merit (there is none) of those He saves. How can the saving of these people be “just”? Because the penalty was paid as the law demands. Full, full verse!
      Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply

  3. preacher1124 Says:

    This is a great post Joe.
    GOD BLESS YOU & YOUR HOUSE BROTHER..

    Reply

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