Idol worship originated from the fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown makes many Christians to fear objects connected with idol worship. One such fear for Christians of today’s world is the fear of going against Christian faith by way of accepting food items or eatables already offered to idol such as Prasad or Prasadam. During any form of worship, ritual or ceremony, Hindus offer certain food items to their gods which according to them is a sacred offering to their gods. The Hindus have moral obligation to share this sacred offerings with everyone. They cannot either keep it or enjoy god’s grace for themselves. While distributing the Prasad, they will not even inquire about the others’ faith. Therefore when a Hindu comes and shares his Prasad to Christians, refusing or accepting is the issue in this paper.
The issue of Prasad
People in India are used to being offered eatables/food called Prasad or prasadam by people who have visited temples. Many Christians are scared about eating such food items when their Hindu friends offer them the same. Reasons may be attributed to the notion that there would be some devilry associated with it or possibly one would be giving recognition to idol worship by consuming it. But the ultimate truth is that the Prasad in itself has no power to bless or harm believers. The evil spirits behind the idols do not have the power to touch us as long as we ourselves do not open the door to them. We as children of the Almighty God must recognize that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has conquered Satan and all his demons, had stripped them of their power and now has all authority in heaven and on earth. And for those of us who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us need not have to live in fear of demons at all. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4). If we hold this position and eat the Prasad with thanksgiving to God, there is nothing to fear. Eating the Prasad does not open the door to demons unless we eat it as a matter of worship to the idols or recognized it.
The apostle Paul dealt with a similar situation in Corinth with regard to eating food offered to idols. He made it very clear that idols were nothing and that there was nothing to be feared of in eating food that has been offered to idols (1 Cor. 8:4-6). At the same time he recognized that people who attached some religious and supernatural attributes to idols might have trouble eating it (v.7). He also knew that idol worshippers were actually worshipping demons which were behind the idols (1 Cor. 10:20), and, of course, he did not want Christians to be mixed up with demons. In this connection Paul recommended the following guidelines that 1) Idols are nothing, and there is nothing wrong in eating food that has been offered to them. 2) However if you are not clear about, it is better not to eat it and defile your conscience as a result. 3) Even if you have a clear conscience about eating it, refrain from eating in case someone else with a weak conscience will notice that and defile his conscience by imitating you. 4) if someone offers food to you saying that if it was offered to idols, do not accept it, as a testimony to him that you do not worship idols as gods (1 Cor. 10:28, 29).
So, keeping in mind, this understanding, when a Hindu offers any kind of Prasad, there is no need to refuse. But after accepting it, when a proper relationship has been established, with much humility and love, it can be made clear to him that our conviction is actually against accepting the Prasad offered to an idol. Furthermore, we can clearly show to them that the Prasad that was accepted was accepted not as a Prasad of god, but as a Prasad of his own love. When approaching this issue in such a positive way, the Hindu will not bring any more Prasad, because a Hindu almost invariably respects the others’ religious sentiments more than a non-Hindu does.
On the one hand accepting or rejecting it depends upon our conscience as well as our commitment to the Lord. Because it’s not what we eat, as is also evident by Paul’s epistle to the Romans (chapter 4). But it’s how we use our liberty without becoming stumbling blocks to those around us, believer or unbeliever, who are without the true knowledge of the Word and are uniformed concerning the Truth. On the other side, by accepting such Prasad, if a Christian feels that his faith will be at stake or his commitment will be disturbed or even if he has some fear of power encounter, then he has every right to refuse it.