Debating Bible Basics Duncan Heaster  


7.3.1 Karma In Hinduism

This is the Hindu name for the idea that our actions influence the fate and actions of others in their future lives on earth- as well as affecting who we are, in our future reincarnations. And yet there are many major problems in this view:

The Hindu Scriptures are again contradictory in their teachings about karma. Thus, the Upanisads state that we are not reborn on Earth until our karmas are exhausted in the heavens and hells. Yet other Hindu writings claim that there is some kind of leftover karma to determine our worldly existence.

There is the question of whose karma causes a recompense to occur -my own, or that of the person whose action repays me. This is left unresolved by Hinduism.

Likewise the question of how karmic causes coexist and interact with physical causes.

There is also no meaningful explanation of how the vast complexities of the system are coordinated.

Ideally, a theory should be simpler than the phenomena it seeks to explain. It is not clear that the theory of karma really achieves this goal.

Hindus use the idea of karma to explain how they were born Hindus, and thus don’t need to search for truth nor have any conversion experience. Yet we as mixed up sinners clearly need to repent of our sins, stop looking within our corrupted selves, and look outwards towards the God of love and salvation revealed in the Bible. Sadly some professing Christians make the same essential mistake when they reasons that " God awakened me and made me to believe; I had no choice but to obey" . This is another example of where Hinduism, apostate Christianity and most other religions share the same basic false assumptions.

Karma And Predestination

The Hindu idea of karma is actually very similar to the idea of total predestination which is pushed by some Calvinist Christians. There are many sound Biblical reasons for rejecting this kind of philosophy.

§ It makes a nonsense of the whole concept of obedience to God. We are continually told in the Bible that we must keep God’s commands, and by doing so we can give Him pleasure or displeasure. This concept of commandments is meaningless if God is forcing us to be obedient. Christ offers salvation “unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).

§ Hebrews 11 shows that God’s intervention in our lives and ultimate granting of salvation is related to our faith. The many Biblical examples of praying to God for deliverance in time of trouble are meaningless if everything is totally predestined. Likewise the idea of salvation being the result of our faith in Christ is also made meaningless.

§ Baptism is a pre-requisite for salvation (Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3:3‑ 5). However, salvation was made possible on account of the work of Christ (2 Tim. 1:10), not through the abstract concept of predestination. We must consciously choose to associate ourselves with Him, which we do through baptism. Romans 6:15-17 speaks of us changing masters at baptism, from a life of sin to one of obedience. “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are”. This language of yielding oneself clearly implies freewill as opposed to unconditional predestination. The yielding is through obeying from the heart the doctrines of the Gospel (Rom. 6:17).

§ There is no point in God speaking forth His word, if we are ultimately predestined anyway. There is also no point in preaching; yet the Bible, both in command and by recording examples of this, shows that it is through the preaching of the word that men and women come to salvation. “The word of...salvation” (Acts 13:26) has to go forth to men.

§ We will be judged according to our works (Rev. 22:12). Why, if our freewill actions are unimportant in relation to salvation? Paul said that the Jews judged themselves to be unworthy of eternal life by their rejection of the word of God (Acts 13:46). They were judging themselves - God was not preventing them. If we say that God is predestinating some people to salvation and others to condemnation, then God is effectively forcing people to be sinners, in the same way as He supposedly forces people to be righteous. Because of Adam’s sin, “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). This is why men die, as a punishment for sin (Rom. 6:23), not because God forced them to be sinners at some point in time before Adam’s sin.

§ 1 Cor. 10 and many other passages hold up the example of those in the past who once had a relationship with God, but then fell away, as being warnings to believers. The fact that it is possible to ‘fall from grace’ (Gal. 5:4) means that there cannot be a ‘once saved always saved’ system of salvation. Only by continuing to hold and live true doctrine can we be saved (1 Tim. 4:16).

§ Jesus clearly taught that understanding God’s word is dependent to some degree upon our freewill effort. “Whoso readeth, let him understand” (Mt. 24:15). Thus we let ourselves understand the word - we are not forced to. There is a parallel between this and the oft repeated words of Jesus: “He that hath ears to hear...let him hear”, or understand. Having ears to hear therefore equates with reading God’s word. Because God’s spirit is so supremely manifested through His word to the extent that Jesus could say that His inspired words “are spirit” (Jn. 6:63), it is impossible that God’s spirit would work on a man, apart from His word, in order to force the man to be obedient to the word.

§ “Whosoever will” can “take of the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17), through responding to the word of life found in the Gospel. Here surely is freewill rather than predestination irrespective of our personal desire for salvation. Likewise Acts 2:21: “Whosoever shall call on (himself) the name of the Lord shall be saved” through being baptised into that name.