Myth #5 — Jesus was an Avatar of Lord Vishnu
Vishnu, in Hindu faith, is a principal deity who, along with Brahma and Shiva, forms the Hindu trinity.1((http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/vishnu.asp)) Interestingly, it is said that Vishnu (pictured right), is said to be identical with Brahman—the supreme or ultimate reality—when in his formless state.2((ibid.)) As such, he is the provider and upholder god. Additionally, he upholds the Dharma, the truth.3((ibid.)) According to the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Vishnu, as he is called, appears to humanity from time to time when people need to be turned back to the Dharma. The Bhagavad Gita says, “Whenever righteousness wanes and unrighteousness increases I send myself forth. For the protection of the good and for the destruction of evil, and for the establishment of righteousness,
I come into being age after age.” ( Bhagavad Gita 4.7–8)4((https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatar)) The way this is supposed to be accomplished is through an Avatar (literally “descent”).5((ibid.)) This “descent” is really a kind of appearing in the flesh but not actually assuming the flesh—what Christian theologians call Docetism with regard to Christ.6((ibid.)) It is said there have been nine Avatars of Vishnu in the past, the last two of whom were Krishna and Buddha.7((ibid.)) The final or tenth Avatar will be Kalki—a righteous punishing Avatar.8((ibid.)) It should be noted that this concept of an Avatar fails to fit the Bible doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ as Christ is said to have come in the flesh (John 1:14). Additionally, Hindus in the main reject the idea that Christ was an Avatar because He is not named among the ten that were to come.9((ibid.))
Is Christianity the spiritual descendant of Buddhism and Hinduism? Did Jesus live in India or even plagiarize the Buddha? Despite similarities of ethical teaching, this overarching myth simply cannot be sustained.
Questions for Reflection:
- If the similarity between the ethical teachings of Jesus and the Buddha are not an indication of plagiarism, what might they be an indication of?
- Why would the idea that Jesus lived and died in India be a problem for the Christian faith? Hint: Muslims employ this idea in defense of their teaching concerning Jesus’ death.
- How is salvation by grace through the blood of Jesus different from the karmic cycle of Samsara?