Should a Christian accept karma?
Karma is the belief that if you put good deeds or positive energy in to something then you will receive an equal amount of good and positive back. Consequently, if you do bad then you will receive bad in return. It follows the physical law “every action has and equal and opposite reaction”. Karma is believed by Hindus, but it’s concept is more widely taught. Does the Bible teach this concept?
First I will look at Bible verses that seem to support the concept of karma. Proverbs 11:18 says “the wicked man earns an empty wage, but the one who sows righteousness, a true reward.” Galatians 6:7 says “do not be deceived, whatever a man sows that will he reap.” Proverbs 14:14- The disloyal one will get what his conduct deserves,
and a good man, what his deeds deserve.
So the Bible does teach that we reap what we sow, but does this amount to Karma? First we need to at least get the context of the Galatians verse. If you read on it says that “the 1 who sews to his flesh will reap corruption from the flash, but the one who sows those to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So we must not get tired of doing good, we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up”. The concept of sowing and reaping actually deals with getting more in return then what you put in. You plant a seed in the area that you think deserves a seed. This seed later blossoms into something large and fruitful.
In many of the Psalms such a psalm 94 David is begging the Lord to repay his enemies what they deserve. If karma is the rule, though, David would not have to ask for harsh judgment of his enemies. Psalm 103:10 says that the Lord does not deal with us according to what are sins deserve. If karma is true then grace is not. If grace is true the law of of sowing and reaping is not necessarily true. If God works according to Karma he would not be gracious, only a judge.
Is karma logical?
Karma is a theory that is not based on the existence of the monotheistic God. It is either based on a pantheistic God or on no God at all. The God of pantheism comes into existence with the universe, and nothing in the universe has any separation from God. Karma assumes the existence of Good and Evil. If karma is based on a pantheistic God then God would contain both good and evil attributes. The ratio of good to evil would always be balanced and equal 0. This means that any good action that you do would be cancelled out by negative actions somewhere else. Likewise any wicked action that you do will be cancelled out by a good action somewhere else. This brings moral actions to having no value whatsoever. Yes, hypocritically, many that believe in karma believe in pantheism and believe that good and evil are always balanced. Therefore, moral good does nothing to contribute to the well being of society. Even more foundational, if the pantheistic God does not necessarily possess the attribute good where does the idea of goodness come from? Surely in this view, goodness is something beyond god. If there is something beyond “god”, that would be the Supreme Being. There is much disagreement within the pantheistic God. All people share an equal portion off the pantheistic god, yet people everywhere disagree on fundamental things. With this inconsistency within the pantheistic god how can you know that what you are receiving as inspired is actually good or true? After all, the pantheistic god is half good and have evil (and who’s to say that a part of him is evil if it is of God?). You only have a 50 percent chance of receiving good, and if you receive good that just means others receive more evil. For these reasons pantheism seems to be a poor foundation to build the morals needed for karma.
Many others that believe in the law of karma build their belief on the foundation of no god existing. They believe that karma works the same way any physical law would work. In this context, karma would have to operate without any sort of overseer. You could say that the positive and negative energy in the universe cancel out. If karma, the law of good and evil, work according to some sort of natural law then it is impossible that they not occur. Following a law is not a choice. “Good” or “evil” would simply happen according to the following of that law. This would mean that good and evil were an illusion. They happen, but are not chosen, yet with finite free beings good and evil are choices. Good and evil implies that the choice is meaningful. But meaning seems to be at odds in a world without God. Meaning comes from intention, something that is deliberately made for a purpose. If good and evil are meaningful terms and beliefs, then it seems apparent that there is a God or overseer over the entire process.
There are also plenty of people that have been living proof that karma is bunk. Not just the people that do good and are never fully rewarded, but the people that do evil and prosper are evidence against karma. Mother Theresa and Dietrich Bonhoeffer weren’t rewarded equally for all the sacrifices they made on this earth. How many rich, prosperous, and smart complete jerks are there (just in Hollywood). They die without the balance of “karma”.
This is where reincarnation comes in as an attempt to solve an obvious problem. In reality, reincarnation just pushes the problem back a step. Reincarnation is the belief that a person, after they die, takes on the body of a different living thing. What you are reincarnated as depends on your goodness in your previous life. So if somebody is born handicapped it is because of wrong they had committed in their previous life. Now they are paying the penalty for the wrong doing. Nothing can interfere with the karma running its course. There are no memories of the previous life, and no evident impact that the previous life has on a current life, yet it is assumed 2 be true. Each living thing needs to work its way up the totem pole to eventual nirvana or oneness with Brahman. As a consequence of this belief, nations that are highly Hindu, such as India, are the least charitable, and do the least to care for the less fortunate. To aid the less fortunate would be to interfere with the cycle of karma and reincarnation. If you tried to help out a person, this would mean that the person would need to pay the penalty for their bad decisions later on still. If all beings are getting what they deserve then what does it mean to do good?
Karma and reincarnation have problems at the very core of things, at the beginning. If you are reincarnated as a certain animal because of past decisions in a previous life, what is at the very start of the process? there had to be a first life. What were the original slugs being punished for? Or should we trace it back to the first single celled life. Was the original single celled organism punished for something? Did it make bad decisions and reincarnate into something even lower? If there was a single original living thing where did the reincarnated soul for new organisms come from?
To put the question to rest from a Christian perspective, the Christian should be very happy that the law of karma does not apply. We see the concept of sowing and reaping taught in the Bible, but it has nothing to do with equal reactions to the action that we do. Practically speaking sowing was done because the farmer could get much more does it then what they put in. Conversely, you can get a lot of bad I’m selling bad seed as well. We are told that if we sow to the flesh we will reap death, but if we sow to the spirit we will reap eternal life (Galatians 6:8). If the good and evil that we do account for what we get in return no one will be very well off. Romans Chapter 3 reminds us of how depraved we are. In light of who God is there is no good that we can really do for Him. We miss the mark of God’s standard and even insult God by our lives. God’s grace completely violates what karma teaches. If we got paid back for the evil that we have all done we would all be punished severely. Grace however has interceded on our behalf. Now we get what we don’t deserve in the form of a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Only a God that is monotheistic, like the Christian God, could account for the existence of Good and Evil as defined by the law of karma. So if karma is real, a monotheistic God would need to be in charge of it. I am very thankful that that is not the nature of the true God. Now if we sow we can reap much more than we deserve when we sow to the Spirit of God.
Also, good and evil are not equal and opposite forces. Evil is the corruption or perversion of what is good. God, who is the standard of good, is in charge over evil. Evil will not do battle effectively against an all powerful good God, just as darkness cannot effectively counter light. Goodness is what existed within the character of God before the foundation of the world (Mark 10:18), and goodness will prevail (Psalm 52:1).
Even though it is common that when you do good you are rewarded and when you do bad you are punished, this is not a universal rule. There are problems at its foundation. There are problems logically. There are examples biblically that go against karma. Jesus came teaching that God was interested in pouring out grace. This grace flies in the face of karma.