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And all that Karma

May 9, 2011

One definition of karma is: “The sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. Destiny or fate, following as effect from cause” (Google). Karma is a concept/doctrine from the eastern religions of Buddhism and Hindiusm that has become part of common vernacular for Americans today. I started noticing this doctrine used regularly in conversation over the past year. I’m going to call it a doctrine because it is, primarily, a belief held by a couple religious group. So the question is: is the doctrine of karma a true understanding of life? And how should Christians respond to it?

I will start with this question: what is karma basically saying about life? Here’s what it’s saying: there is some kind of cosmic scorecard that keeps track of your deeds, such that if you are morally good/nice/upright, then good things will happen to you and visa versa. While karma does not demand that people are necessarily accountable for their actions, it acknowledges that there should be some kind of retribution/justice on a grander, more universal scale for the things people do (in that way it reminds me a lot of another eastern religion idea: yin and yang).

So how does this square with the biblical theology? The most obvious thing that the Bible/everyday life teaches is that there are consequences. Choices have consequences, not necessarily immediately and not necessarily with exact reciprocity (just coined that phrase), but consequences nonetheless. Example: Jonah decided to run from God and His calling on Jonah’s life. Choice: run. Consequence: swallowed by a big fish.

Ultimately, karma says: earn your way to a good standing with fate. Jesus says, you can’t earn anything except hell; stop relying on your good deeds and put your faith in the gospel. Ultimately, karma says: you aren’t necessarily accountable to anyone except yourself for your deeds, so if you want good stuff to happen, do good stuff. Jesus says, you are sinful and you will be held accountable for that sin one day.

I don’t necessarily argue with people who throw out “oop, that’s his karma, should’ve been a better person,” but I think it can be a great opportunity to open up a conversation talking about strict morality and how that relates to the gospel of Christ.

Feel free to comment, I always enjoy hearing from readers.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. blackwatertown permalink
    May 9, 2011 10:22 am

    I like the domino theory illustration of karma you have there.

    • May 9, 2011 10:31 am

      Haha thanks, pulled it from google. I thought it was a funny illustration/explanation, though I don’t agree with karma as an accurate reflection of reality, as I’m sure you read.

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