Was blind, but now I see.

2 : 3 February 2003

Adam Crownoble

Adam Crownoble has a passion to give the gospel of Christ to people around the world. He is interested in working with small communities and develop gospel messages in their languages and dialects. Adam worked with the Gospel Recordings group in Nepal and South America. He is presently training to become a long term worker of our Lord to take His message to lesser known communities in South America. He is an avid reader and researcher of everything intercultural.



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Copyright © 2001
M. S. Thirumalai


Adam Crownoble


Hindu Ritual

Hindu culture and lifestyle, in such nations as India and Nepal, revolves around the Hindu doctrine of Karma. "Karma is a principle of moral reaction applied to both good and evil actions." Karma is the transcendent moral law, which makes up the heart of Hindu practice and belief. Reincarnation, and the caste system have no ground to stand on without Karma.

Christianity has always viewed the doctrine of Karma as a great evil. I personally believe that such a claim must be defended with objective evidence. As Christians, the Bible is objective evidence to us; it is the absolute standard by which we measure all things. Therefore we must seek to examine the ways in which the Bible agrees and disagrees with certain elements of Karma.


One of the fruits of a deeper look into Hindu belief is to understand which principles in Karmic doctrine can be redeemed for the glory of God. Throughout history India has been seen as a great stronghold against the Gospel. Some have even ventured to say that it was completely unreachable. In the 1820's J. A. Dubois wrote, "I consider it next to impossibility to make among them real and sincere Christians." Today, Modern history testifies that there does indeed exist a real and sincere church in the midst of strong Hinduism. However, the Hindu world remains among the most difficult areas in the world to reach for Christ. One of the reasons it is so difficult is that the entire Hindu mindset is completely different from the mindset of the common Christian. However, there do exist, within Hinduism, certain redeemable principles and qualities.


For the moment I will examine the very foundation of Hinduism: the doctrine of Karma. I will seek to understand which principles actually bear some similarity to biblical truth and which must be treated as lies and deceptions that must find no place in the heart of the converted Hindu.

Sacred Bull


While most Christians tend to take a very strong stance against karma, and rightly so, it would be unreasonable to state that a certain level of similarity does not exist between karma and Christian doctrine. For instance, take Galatians 6:7. The biblical principle that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" is very closely related to idea of the retribution of positive and negative karma.

The Christian concept of eternal judgment also holds many similarities to the principle of Karma.

Both doctrines state that man's works in this life will be rewarded or punished in the next life, or the afterlife. A good summary of the way that Christians will be rewarded is found in 2 Corinthians 5:10.
For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus shows a Karmic like principle.
Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

If we look at this passage in its entirety, we see that the reason for the rich man's punishment was because he and his brothers were wicked unrepenting people that did not live according to the scriptures. Similarly, Karma would also punish such a man as the Rich Man and his brothers. The difference is that Christianity believes that reward and punishment is given in Heaven and we really only have this life to store up those treasures. Hinduism on the other hand believes that reward and punishment is dealt out through the cycle of reincarnation.

To summarize, the main similarities between Christian doctrine and Karma, are that both reflect a sense of good and evil, and both believe that eventually evil will be punished and good will be rewarded.


We have taken a brief look at the few similarities between Christian doctrine and Karma. Now we will dive into a few of the many differences between the Christian view of punishment and reward and the Hindu views.

One important Christian principle is regarding suffering. The Bible says that God
"causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:45 NASB)

Some biblical examples of such people who received suffering for good would be Job, David, Jesus, and the Apostles.

A key element of Karma is the idea that if you help someone in need, you are not really helping them because you are preventing them from paying off their bad karma. The Bible, however, teaches that we should love our enemies and do good to those who wrong us. Christ taught us to love all and to bless all, through outward expression of love. Karma on the other hand teaches its follower to only be concerned with himself. The purpose of good works is not to bless others but to do good works for personal gain in the next life. This type of Karmic good work is like the homeless man who washes your windshield to get some money out of you. His good works are not done out of benevolence, but out of his own need/greed.

Jesus stated that He did not come for the healthy but for the sick. Karma, however, is for the healthy. Christianity teaches that the first will be last. It lifts up those who are in the most desperate state. Karma's function is quite the opposite. Karma suppresses those in need and exalts those who are already exalted.

The Christian principles of grace, mercy, and atonement are completely foreign concepts to Hindus. As in Christianity, every action has a reaction and every sin has a punishment. However, unlike Christianity, one cannot accept the punishment for another. There is no atonement with Karma. Karma is not a person who can forgive; it is a law that cannot be altered.

Another way that Christianity disagrees with Hinduism is that in Christianity, a personal judge instead of an impersonal "natural law" delivers justice. Because God has a personality and freewill He makes His judgments. Our prayer of repentance and consequent work of the Spirit in us enables us to live a righteous life in the grace of the Lord. Although His judgments may be unpredictable, we are assured of His help, because He has mercy and compassion for us. Karma, on the other hand, has no personality or free will. It is simply a natural law of cause and effect.


Based on the things I have mentioned above, it seems that even though some similarities exist between the concept of Karma and Biblical doctrine, they still remain much different from each other. I think that the best way to determine their differences is by their results.

Wheel of Karma

Karma by nature leads to social oppression. Those who are born in an upper caste are socially higher because they are being rewarded for their Karma in their previous births. Those who are rich, are rich because they are good people and they are being rewarded for their good deeds. Those who are poor or from the lower castes should be despised because they are bad people who are being punished for their evil deeds. Christianity, however, is quite different. The Bible tells us that everyone has sinned. We are all in the same mess together and salvation is available to all no matter how sinful. Therefore Christianity leads to a spirit of equality. Therefore, I conclude that it is our duty as followers of Christ to lead as many people as possible out of the oppression of Karma and the Caste system, and into the glorious blessing that God has in store for each and every one of us.

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Adam Crownoble
Bethany College of Missions
6820 Auto Club Road, Suite C
Bloomington, MN 55438, USA