Christian Karma

A few years ago the My Name is Earl TV show resurfaced the old Eastern religion concept of karma. The basic idea of karma is embodied by the phrase "what goes around comes around". According to the wiki:
Through the law of karma, the effects of all deeds actively create past, present, and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one's own life, and the pain and joy it brings to him/her and others.
The bible deals with this idea of cause and effect a bit different in the sixth chapter of Galatians when it says:
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Now some take this scripture and skew it into a Christian-like karma taking the idea of sowing and reaping to formula-like proportions. I know many sincere believers who buy into it lock, stock and barrel. Oral Roberts made a lot of money 30+ years ago when he sold this idea as "Seed Faith". The fallacy I see in this karma like concept of faith is three fold:
  1. It embodies the notion that God always responds in formulaic fashion to our actions and giving.
  2. It creates a carnality in giving and causes people who embrace it to feel that they earned blessings.
  3. It causes people who experience hardship to blame themselves - much like The Erroneous Theology of Job.
From my perspective these karma-like concepts negate the idea of grace and cause actions to be the products of faith instead of the byproducts of faith. The scripture in Galations is a simple one that simply says that when we respond to the Holy Spirit we sow eternal seeds and when we respond to our flesh we sow temporal seeds. That scripture has nothing to do with Christian karma.

The good news of the Christian gospel is that we do not get what we deserve. We have escaped from judgment by the cross and resurrection of Christ. It is not karma that causes us to prosper.. it is the Holy Spirit.. and sometimes "prospering" has little to do with the temporal aspects of life :)


9 comments:

  1. I was thinking about this the other day. It's nice to see your post.

    I think if you look at the "cultures" of Europe, prior to the Roman Empire, you see almost nothing. You see barbarians, and maybe some superstitious Druids. If you look at India, you see a full-bodied and successful culture. Rome gave us stoicism and epicureanism, but their culture was only sustainable through force. Hinduism was a self-sustaining religion withing a self-sustaining culture. It's a huge advance over early Europe.

    So, I'd call Karma a successful way of understanding and reacting to an incomprehensible world. In fact, excluding Christianity Europe has no equal answer. As Europe descends into atheism, I think they're going to prove my point in spades. Materialism is an inferior solution to life's problems, relative to Hinduism. And Buddhism (as Hinduism 2.0) is even an level above. As Europeans (and Americans) find they've got a handful of nothing to hold on to, we're going to see a lot more clinging effectively to these Eastern religions.

    Thank God there's a greater revelation available to man in Jesus. I hope His Name grows more deeply known and understood.

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    1. I wonder Kevin if Jesus is the express contradiction of karma in the sense that he did not reap anything but the cross for all the great things that he did and said?

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    2. I can go with that. Of course, karma applies much more to the cycle of reincarnation than to any single life.

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  2. I think the real problem with karma is it puts us in control rather than God in control. If I do certain things, certain things will certainly follow. It is more like magic than genuine trust in God who is greater than us.

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    1. "more like magic than genuine trust in God"

      I like that Mike.

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  3. So true! I have thought about this over the years. You put it so well.

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  4. Thanks Heather! Hope your week is off to a great start!

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  5. Thank you for linking me to this excellent post via the comment section on my blog. Because of the popular misinterpretation you cite, I immediately hit the "off" switch when a preacher on the tv starts talking about "planting your seed." Unfortunately, that is code for "send me money and you will prosper." Sadly, many seem to buy into this. Why don't people read their Bible?

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    1. Appreciate that vanilla. Unfortunately most religious people are more interested in their own prosperity that the prosperity of others. Hard to believe what some say about the poorest among us and how cheap some religious people can be when it comes to tipping a waiter or waitress. Cannot see how any of this reconciles with the idea ministering to the "least of these".

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