Christianity goal and Karma goal

(Jake Johnson Jcj) #1

Can someone tell me what’s the difference Between Christianity and Kama with goals and meaning. What’s the goal of Karma? Me and my friend our trying to understand more about Christianity and how is it different than other faiths? We recently started watching Ravi and we like his approach with different ideas. Thank you for your time too

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(Lakshmi Mehta) #2

@Jake_Johnson_Jcj, this is a question that first led me to join Connect. I can certainly share what I have learnt thus far. Karma is interpreted slightly differently depending on what eastern philosophy one holds and the goal of karma also changes based on the view of God and self in each philosophy. Answers may be slightly different in Hinduism, Jainsim, Buddhism, New age thought etc. What draws you to this question?

Below is a loose definition based on my understanding and key points for comparison -

Karma: According to the law of karma, our moral choices result in either positive or negative reactions that can carry on from one life to the next and determine the destiny of the soul. A belief in reincarnation is intrinsic to the belief in Karma.

  • Man is on earth, a place of suffering, because of bad karma.
  • Man can accumulate good karma and go back to his original state.
  • Man can have many lives and can re-incarnate to accumulate good karma, with good karma elevating man’s life to higher life form and bad karma demoting man to a lower life form.
  • Goal of karma is to escape the cycle of reincarnation to either serve God eternally/ merge with God/ recognize self as God/ cease to exist and thus escape suffering. The goals vary depending on the philosophy one follows as the view of self and God vary in each philosophy. God can be personal or impersonal, soul can be separate or non-different from God, soul has no separate existence beyond material life etc.

Christianity:
Grace - Its the free gift of God through faith in Christ to bless us, redeem us, justify us before God, so that we dont bear the wages of our sin which is death but are given eternal life.

  • Man is on earth because God created man on earth. Suffering is because man rebelled against God and is therefore separated from God.
  • Man in his fallen state is incapable of attaining righteousness that saves his soul and is accepted into heaven through the righteousness of Christ, through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection.
  • Man has one life and after that faces judgement.
  • Goal of Christianity is faith in Jesus to be back in fellowship with God to know Him and fulfill our purposes in Him as we were meant to, which ultimately leads to eternal life.

This is a very brief comparison for a start.

Here’s a related thread on reincarnation and Christianity, that also has links to previous discussions on karma.

Please do post additional questions and thoughts you may have. I would love to grow in my understanding in this area as well. God bless your studies!

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(Jim Tidwell) #3

Jake, you’re probably not going to get many more responses as the prior one is so well done and comprehensive. Very well done.

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(Lakshmi Mehta) #4

Thank you Jim! (@jtidwell)

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(Jake Johnson Jcj) #5

Wow awesome response. I’m going to think about it and maybe form some questions. Thanks so much for your time. This comparison format was really helpful. :raised_hands:.

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(Jake Johnson Jcj) #6

Very helpful for sure

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(Lakshmi Mehta) #7

Thank you Jake! Glad it’s helpful. Looking forward to your thoughts.

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(Jake Johnson Jcj) #8

I thought about and that is awesome that Christianity is not based on how much good we do but rather what God already did. Romans 3:23 says we all for short to the Glory of God so it makes sense. Where Hinduism seems to as you accumulate a more good karma you can have a better life. It seems to be based on what you do but we all fall short.

The question I have now The idea of when you do good you feel good or get good results. Also when you do bad you get bad results like punished. Can this be biblical at times. could you see this idea being possibly similar to the idea you reap what you sow or no. Could you compare and contrast these ideas if possible? Thanks so much again for your time. This has been very helpful.

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(Lakshmi Mehta) #9

@Jake_Johnson_Jcj, that’s a terrific question! It can be difficult to tease out the differences in the principle of sowing and reaping as mentioned in the Bible and the principle of karma amidst the similarities. Thought we could take a look at both the eternal and temporal perspective and see how the principle of sowing and reaping operates differently in Christianity.

1. Eternal perspective (means of purity, means of justice, means of grace)

The principle of sowing and reaping in the Bible is not about experiences of this life but about our eternal condition, whether we live in relationship with God or without Him. Submission to the Spirit of God precedes good actions. Nothing good enough for heaven comes out of an ignorant sinful person. Even when our external actions are not up to the mark as a Christian, God looks at the posture of our heart, if it is opposed to His will or in submission to it and rewards us accordingly on the day of judgement. Only deeds with the foundation of faith in Christ are rewarded. The requirements for justice are already met in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross in those who have put their faith in Christ.

Matthew Henry comments - Our present time is seed time; in the other world we shall reap as we sow now. As there are two sorts of sowing, one to the flesh, and the other to the Spirit, so will the reckoning be hereafter. Those who live a carnal, sensual life, must expect no other fruit from such a course than misery and ruin. But those who, under the guidance and influences of the Holy Spirit, live a life of faith in Christ, and abound in Christian graces, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. We are all very apt to tire in duty, particularly in doing good.

Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

Rom 2:5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath

The law of karma on the other hand is considered to be completely responsible for the experiences we have in this earthly life. Our earthly status is considered a reflection of our spiritual status from the point of birth to death. So, the suffering of good people is due to sins in the past life and the success of the wicked is due to their goodness in the previous life. So, everything we experience in this life is considered just and karma is the means of justice. That system of karmic justice, in other words our experiences, are then supposed to transform a person toward submission to God through multiple lives. For many Hindus, good actions that are done in a mode of goodness are responded with mercy from God who removes ignorance of man proportionately for more goodness, until the person is fully pure. So, goodness of man though not perfect is still considered to purify man. Everyone is considered to have a measure of goodness, ignorance and passion in most forms of Hinduism. The extent to which a person can turn to God in Hinduism as I understand is a combination of man’s actions, karma and God’s work in man’s life and it happens through multiple lives.

2. Temporal perspective (consequences of sin, favor of God, grace, causes of suffering)

In Christianity too, some of the reaping of sowing into the flesh and sowing into the Spirit can start right here on earth. The sowing and reaping are connected to our relationship with the person of Jesus Christ rather than keeping of the Law. When God calls us to His kingdom building, we have the favor of God to fulfill His call only as long as we are walking in obedience to His will and repenting for our sins. We lose the favor of God though He continues to love us, when we don’t make Him our refuge and choose to walk in our own counsel and ignore Him (Joshua 1:5-9 and Joshua 7, Hosea 8:7, Hosea 10:12-13, Haggai 1:9-10). When we as Christians repent, God removes the moral guilt of our sin but we still end up having to bear the consequences of our sin (Story of David, 2 Sam 12:13-14). But God is still gracious! God does not treat us as our sins deserve and gives us grace to accomplish His will when we turn to Him in repentance (Psalm 51, Psalm 103). God provides grace by sending help through people/circumstances and gives us time to come to repentance (Prophets sent to Israel in the OT). What is also important to notice is that the favor of God when we do follow Him can far exceeds man’s expectations. It is not proportional to our actions but our faith in Him. He allows His children to win battles that are much beyond their ability (For instance: spread of Christianity after resurrection through unschooled men). The favor of God need not take the shape of an accomplished mission or an answered prayer however, due to resistance by our enemy, Satan. Instead, the favor is in how God provides for our needs and carries us through trials. The blessing for sowing in the Spirit is being transformed toward Christ-likeness whether we are in plenty or in lack (Phil 4:12). While suffering can come through our acts of disobedience and resemble bad karma, there are many other reasons for God allowing suffering in a Christians life – to build character (Romans 5:3-5), for His glory (John 9), for us to experience the genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:7), and as we are still in this world where the enemy is active – in the already but not yet (John 15:20). When people prosper despite wickedness, we know that justice will come and that one day they reap corruption for living a life in rebellion (Mk 9:43-48, Psalm 73:12-20).

Hosea 10 : 12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you. 13 You have plowed wickedness; You have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, Because you trusted in your own way, In the multitude of your mighty men.

Psalm 103:10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

With karma , the sowing and reaping seems to be connected first with the fulfillment of the law, the criteria for which is not always clear. The law can include things like vegetarianism, observance of days, rituals etc. Sometimes the end justifies the means and evil means for a good outcome can be considered good. Generally, disobedience to God will result in losing favor of God and it is believed that karmic justice brings people to a state of repentance. While forgiveness is promised to those who repent, there is no known clear standard of justice but an unknown complex mechanism of karma proportional to sin. Similar to Christianity, suffering can be seen as means of discipline and a test of faith. However, in contradiction to Christian beliefs, material blessing/curse is seen as an expression of spiritual blessing/curse which I think stands in contradiction to the desire for material detachment for spiritual progress.The wicked who prosper are believed to pay for their sin in their next life.

Summary of differences in the principle of sowing and reaping as I see it –

Christianity vs.Karma

  • Reaping in eternity vs. Reaping on earth
  • Heart change as a measure of righteousness vs. Actions/status as a measure of righteousness
  • Life can be unjust vs. Life is just
  • Justice only in Christ as man can do no spiritual good vs. Justice through karma as man can do spiritual good
  • Suffering has many causes vs. Suffering due to bad karma
  • Reap consequences of sin as the moral guilt is paid for by Christ. vs. Reap moral guilt of sin to bring a person to repentance
  • Heart change motivated by love for Jesus vs. Heart change motivated initially by escape from suffering

Are there other differences that you see in the principle of sowing and reaping compared to Karma? Answering this question has been a great exercise and may be helpful for me personally with my own family as well. Thanks and may God bless your endeavors!

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(Sanjib ghosh) #10

@Lakshmismehta,
Thank you for sharing these, as I also have same challenges .
With all due respect to others ,
I think the error in our birth means we are sinners since birth , - this truth always bypassing on “Karma’ theory. There is no Grace in Karma . “Do and do more and let die” , and let wait for another rebirth , this is the most commonly belief in Karma to find out the right rebirth cycle.
Recently , Most challenging , I am questioned from one non believer from India that “why foreign colonial ruled them over 200 years and he consider all foreigners like American, Europe people are Christians. “
It’s very hard sometimes to disclose that all who foreign rulers ruled before in India are not truly Christians.
I think this the one hard area we need to be prepared to answer .
What do you think ?
I will add another contradiction which I am facing when non believers asked to define what s incarnation, reincarnation and rebirth in Christianity?
How do we answer comparing Karma and eastern definition for those words?

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Christian missions and colonialism
(Lakshmi Mehta) #11

@san, thank you for your thoughts and questions. I think if I am understanding you correctly you are saying that in the theory of karma the idea that we are sinners is non-existent. I would agree with you on that. Sin in Hinduism is not a personal moral rebellion against God but attributing reality to an illusory world out of ignorance. So, while through the law of karma they suffer the reactions of their bad choices, they really dont see the need for a payment for their sin. I think the way to address this would be to first question whether the notion of maya is an accurate view of sin. We had a short discussion on that previously and is below.

You are also right about the fact that there is no grace in karma. Bhagavad Gita says repeatedly of how our actions need to be done with complete detachment as for the Lord according to scriptural guidelines in order to find moksha. (BG 4:41Therefore, one who has renounced the fruits of his action, whose doubts are destroyed by transcendental knowledge, and who is situated firmly in the self, is not bound by works, O conqueror of rich). However, when I have brought that up with Hindus who have a personal concept about God they argue that at the point of death, all the sins are just canceled out if they die saying the name of their Lord and that is considered as God’s mercy. They also say that it is their belief in god who helps them overcome ‘maya’ as he is the source of ‘maya’. (BG 7:14 This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature (source of Maya), is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it). If he is the source of maya, where should man find a motivation to love him? I too see no true forgiveness. Even if they say he forgives, it is at the loss of justice. In Christ, I see both justice and grace meet at the cross.

For Hindus, both man and god have several incarnations according to the Gita.

BG 5:3 The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!

BG 4:7 Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.

So, I think what we need to convey is that only God is always eternal but man is a created being in the image of God. If man was always eternal like God, then God is God only on the basis of power and independence but wouldn’t be our Creator. Then the relationship really comes down to man being regulated by God based on power rather than love for a creation He made.

There is no reincarnation and rebirth in Christianity according to the Bible. There is only one life and after that we face judgment. We can be sure of that. There is only one incarnation in Christ with the fullness of God, not a partial expression of some of his powers.

Colossians 2:9-10 9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority

I hope this helps you address your questions from the non-believers. For your question on Colonialism, let me start a new thread so that others can participate too and is not lost under this discussion.

Most of my understanding about Hinduism comes from the Gita and how I have seen it practiced in my family. So you may want to keep that in mind in your conversations.

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(Sanjib ghosh) #12

Dear @Lakshmismehta,
Once again thank you for details .
I will pray that Lord May gives us wisdom and courage to know and extend the truth to others who are still in maya delusions .
May I request if have any source to dig about incarceration and reincarnation, Veda’s portion comparing Bible!
thanks for your help.

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(Lakshmi Mehta) #13

@san, I dont know of many books comparing Vedas and the Bible. I have found Ravi’s "Jesus among other gods and “New birth or rebirth: Jesus talks with Krishna” helpful. The second book was very helpful in comparing some doctrines. Works of Sadhu Sundar Singh and a book called “Sharing your faith with a Hindu - Madasamy Thirumalai” are also books that I have read recently that have helpful information to compare doctrines. There are a few others that I yet have to obtain and read, I can get back to you on those.

(Sanjib ghosh) #14

Dear @Lakshmismehta,
Thank you , yes I have those books.
I also reading few articles about Jesus in Vedas where I found that there explained about virgin birth of Jesus, mentioning Isaiah 7:14 from Hebrew script,
May allow to discus. On this thread !

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(Lakshmi Mehta) #15

@San, that would be great if we could discuss about what you have read on Jesus in Vedas. If you think it overlaps with the topic of karma we could certainly discuss it on this thread. Otherwise, my suggestion is to start a new topic to allow for easy retrieval of the discussion at a later time. You can always check with @connectmoderators.

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(Sanjib ghosh) #16

Dear @Lakshmismehta,
Thank you .
Yes, I will open on new thread

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