Bad Karma

How often have we heard someone say, not “bad luck” as it often was put a generation ago, but now rather, “bad karma”?  How would or have you reacted to that comment?

My response is, “Nah, not ‘bad karma,’ because I believe in forgiveness.”  The reason why is because most people when using that phrase do not have an inkling as to what they are saying and really how it is most inappropriate for a Christian (besides the fact that it refers to a non-Christian system of belief).

Simply put, in Hinduism and Buddhism, karma is the result of one’s deeds done in this lifetime and in previous incarnations: “God does not make one suffer for no reason nor does He make one happy for no reason. God is very fair and gives you exactly what you deserve.”(1)  Most often it means that the negative is carried over and has to be “made up” in the present lifetime, or else the accumulation increases for future incarnations.  And really it is about the negative, because if someone has a net total of just good deeds for his life, that person would cease the repeated need and progress toward Brahman.

Reincarnation sounds appealing because it seems to offer a chance to start again, but really it is a curse, because at least for myself, I have not met anyone who is perfectly good enough who does not have cause to go through yet another round of reincarnation (if it were true).  Even assuming for the moment that there may be a few who are “good” enough, still the vast, vast majority of people are condemned to endless rounds of reincarnation, because with each new lifetime there is also a multitude of opportunities to fail yet again (or, as St Paul put it: “There is none righteous, no not one” [Romans 3:10]).

Ultimately though, karma means that there is no such thing as forgiveness: according to these religions’ cosmic rule, forgiveness does not exist from “the top down,” but rather the it is the law of consequence and retribution – which is odd, because one really cannot exist very well on the “good” side of karma without being able to forgive.  From where then has humanity learned about it, and how then can it be such an important tool for daily life when the god of karma does not have it?

On the other hand, we see in the Bible that a characteristic of the Glory of the Creator is that He forgives.  In fact, He designed a major vehicle for forgiveness in a singular incarnation in Bethlehem which led to a Cross and then not to a reincarnation, but to a Resurrection.

Because of that, Jehovah Almighty can say that upon our repentance He throws our sins behind His back [Isaiah 38:17] and remembers them no more [Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12; 10:1].  And if He has forgotten them, there will be nothing in the universe which can demand of us to do the impossible task of making up for our failures.  This then is truly the ability to “start again,” not in reincarnation, but in the forgiveness of God each day: there is no backlog of negative deeds, but instead we are “new born,” able to start truly fresh in the power of the Holy Spirit.

No, we do not believe in karma, we believe in forgiveness and in a God Who is involved in our lives in love, grace, mercy and Covenant, rather than simply as a Dispenser of Retribution.

(1) “ What is Karma”, [as quoted in; retrieved 2013-07-14]

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