The Body, The Bible, and Hinduism: How Valuing Human Bodies Brings Meaning and Hope

Scientific research continues to show the human body as truly astounding. However, human society and culture appear to be drifting further from a positive view of the body. The mounting moral challenges of the times call for a robust theology and re-emphasis of the body. Missiology finds such a need as well. If the body is extraordinary, why do certain religious worldviews, particularly Hinduism, downplay its importance?

The thesis of this paper argues that a biblical theology of the human body illuminates the sufficiency of the Christian faith and exposes the inadequacy of the worldview of Hinduism. For many cultures whose belief systems do not value the body, the biblical teaching on the body brings meaning and hope. To advance the thesis, the paper first describes the body’s relation to the imago Dei. Representing and reflecting God in this world are embodied actions. Second, a biblical theology of the body displays the body’s goodness, value, and purpose. As a part of God’s creation, the body has inherent dignity and value, and the ultimate aim of the body is to glorify God. Third, the Hindu concepts of atman, samsara, karma, and moksha de-emphasize the importance of the body, leading to adverse effects for individuals and society. However, possessing a biblical theology of the body brings hope and meaning to life’s joys and pain. Regarding missiological application, correctly understanding the body aids the church in working to fulfill the Great Commission.

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