Why do Christians believe in Karma?

From what I understand. A lot of Christian’s that I know are pretty ignorant about their own faith and they point the finger at me, an Atheist and make all kinds of judgmental assumptions.

Karma is a pagan concept. So in the Christian Faith it is considered a sin to take up practices from another deity. Why do they think it’s okay to believe in it?

Do they not know any better?

Basically, yes and no.

Not openly taught a such, but the notion of karma is common in the bible;

Matthew 26: 52. In the garden of Gethsemane

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

Galatians 6:7 " Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap . 2

Corinthians 9:6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully

Theres more

Not surprising, it’s recorded in the bible, some thought Jesus was the prophet Elias reborn

Luke 9:8 “And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.”

There are a parts of the bible suggestive of reincarnation. Wouldn’t surprise me if it were canon in at least one of the sects murdered by the shower who became ‘our’ christianity

Scriptural support for reincarnation (and thus, Karma)

There are many Bible verses which are suggestive of reincarnation. One episode in particular from the healing miracles of Christ seems to point to reincarnation:

“And as he was passing by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who has sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Jesus answered, ‘Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents, but the works of God were to be made manifest in him.’" (John 9:1)

The disciples ask the Lord if the man himself could have committed the sin that led to his blindness. Given the fact that the man has been blind from birth, we are confronted with a provocative question. When could he have made such transgressions as to make him blind at birth? The only conceivable answer is in some prenatal state. The question as posed by the disciples explicitly presupposes prenatal existence. It will also be noted that Christ says nothing to dispel or correct the presupposition. Here is incontrovertible support for a doctrine of human preexistence.

Also very suggestive of reincarnation is the episode where Jesus identifies John the Baptist as Elijah.


From what I’ve read over some time, I think there was at least one sect which seems to me to have been closer than most to what Jesus actually taught .Of course this assumes he existed and was simply a humble, wondering rabbi in first century Judea who founded a small Jewish sect. IE no gentiles were

I refer to the Ebionites.

“They maintained that Jesus was the natural son of Joseph and Mary who became the Messiah because he obeyed the Jewish law.”

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I think their idea of karma is more a “consequences” type (can’t say for sure…). I don’t think they go into the whole reincarnation based on this life’s actions (unless they are a new-age type blend).

When someone says they’re Christian, I don’t take a lot for granted as far as their “beliefs or religious practises”.

and “what goes round comes round”

Karma has been described as the law of cause and effect… People often speak of ‘instant karma’. Karma can effect one’s current life as well as being cumulative. We also pay in future lives until we get it. Meh, bad enough having to live with the consequences of poor decisions in this life.

I suspect christians have mis-applied this label. For them it is “you won’t get away with anything, god is watching you and will judge you”.

Or the idea of Karma could have come from Buddhist influence on the West.

Alexander the Great invaded India, and europeans were exposed to Buddhism, as Buddhist graves–dating to Alexander’s time–with the dharma wheel have been found in Greece.

Also, the popularity of Barlaam and Josephat stories in the Middle Ages led researchers to the idea that Josephat was a corruption of Bodhisvat, which is a Buddhist term associated with final nirvana.

Even today, certian sects of Chassidic Judaism have reincarnation as central to their religious dogma.

How so? Karma is the idea that if you do good things, good things will happen to you in your life. If you do bad things, bad things will happen to you in your life. Karma is accrued from reincarnation to reincarnation. There is nothing like this in Christianity.

In Christianity you are born a piece of shit worthy of an eternity in hell because you killed the son of God. Because God made you in his own image, a piece of shit. And if you die before you believe Jesus died for your filthy ass, and before you love him with all your heart, you will burn for eternity in the pits of hell. Where in the heck do you see Karma in this scenerio?


If this kind of thing existed. Everyone would either be filthy rich or getting killed by their own deeds. My brother for example. He’s pissed off a lot of people. Yet, he still keeps reaping rewards. Seeing as he’s a horrible human being and if karma really existed, there would be an opposite effect.

Pretty much. I couldn’t agree more. My ex wife and sister were talking about how I would hate Heaven if I ever went because you bow and scrape, sing, and praise the lord for eternity. They said that I like none of those things. They said if I went to Heaven that it would be complete Hell for me. And then they laughed. I don’t think I have it in my heart to pamper anyone all day long even an imaginary deity. That would be torture.


Do you perhaps mean Hasidic Jews.? I didn’t know that and don’t believe it. Please quote your sources…

I searched and could not find reference to Hasidic Judaism and reincarnation.

The other connections you’ve made are pretty tenuous I think. From what you’ve written, there seems to be some correlation between Buddhist and Western thought. That is not the same as a causal link, which is not the same thing. It seems to be part of the Kabbalah, a type of Jewish mysticism. This is not the same as Buddhist/ Hindu reincarnation, which lends itself to fatalism.

The existence of Buddhist graves do not in themselves demonstrated extensive (or any) Buddhist thought in that society.

I’ve never heard that. Which researchers (plural) specifically?

Mmm, yes, indirectly. As far as I can tell, a Bodisattva is any person who is on the path to Buddhism. Is what you meant?

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Fair enough to ask for sources.

The story about Barlaam and Josephat is in the Catholic Encyclopedia, but it is discussed in many other sources.

True, the Jewish concept of reincarnation is different from the ideas that are understood in Buddhism and Hinduism, but there are many similarities as well.

The Encyclopedia Britannica has an interesting article (see above) about Buddhism in Europe during Classical times before the current era, as Alexander the Great brought it from India back to Macedonia.

I think karma is one of the most vile ideas humans have ever created. To look at anyone who is suffering and claim they must have done something to deserve it is a sickeningly egregious and idiotic belief, even by religious standards.

Religions always peddle this faux love everyone bullshit, but the most cursory scrutiny shows that empathy, and acknowledging the inherent value in a single human life, is not even remotely part of their beliefs. Unless of course it’s an insentient clump of cells, that cannot feel pain, experience emotions, or think, then they would rather kill the mother than let it be touched.

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A mention of the legend of Barlaam and Josaphat in a marginal illustration in a manuscript famously known as the ‘Theodore Psalter’, although the story itself is not narrated here. Theodore, proto-presbyter of the Studios Monastery in Constantinople, made the manuscript in ancient Greek for Abbot Michael, in 1066 CE. British Library, Add MS 19352 f.34v Noc

Fragments of early versions of the legend seem to have been preserved in Manichean texts in Uighur and Persian from Turfan, and it is thought that Manicheans may have transmitted the Buddha narrative to the West. From there the story was translated into Arabic, and into Judeo-Persian and Syriac. An early Greek version is attributed to St John of Damascus (c. 675-749 CE) in most medieval sources, although recent researches reject this attribution as it is more probable that the Georgian monastic Euthymios carried out the translation from Georgian into Greek in the 10th century CE. It became particularly popular throughout the Christian world after it was translated into many different languages in the Middle Ages, including Latin, French, Provençal, Italian, Spanish, English, Irish, German, Czech, Serbian, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish.


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I’ve heard the horror stories about Christian cults and some denominations that if you get hurt. For example this girl got her leg sliced wide open on some broken glass. They told her she deserved it because she didn’t pray enough to “The Lord” and wouldn’t let her go to the hospital for stitches or to see a doctor. They made her “pray” some more to their imaginary friend.

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I’ve had a fairly tumultuous couple of years and a messy divorce, and lost all my savings months from retirement, and my job to boot. I was trying not to indulge in self pity, as to how my life could go so badly wrong just months from retirement. My sister was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer a few years ago, and then caught TB, it’s fair to say she has had a tough a few years.

After a family gathering for my nephew’s 29 birthday on Sunday, who himself is very unwell through recent illness. At the gathering, my brother in law, who has been my friend for over 30 years, and was best man at my wedding, and who has also been unwell for quite a while, was struggling and I was startled at see how weak and lethargic he was. I had seen him just the week before and he seemed ok.

On Monday my 82 year old mother phoned me crying, to tell me my sister had taken him to the doctor. He was taken to hospital, and since then I have learned he has a terminal and incurable illness.



I’ll concede that. However, correlation is not the same as causation.

Encyclopedias are rarely definitive on any topic. A good one will provide decent references. With a doctrinal axe to grind, I think that would apply very much to the Catholic encyclopedia . Simple test; have at look at what they say about the practice of usury historically . Willing to bet they will claim that usury is and always was the lending of money at unreasonably high interest rates. That claim is simply wrong.

Trivia: Islam prohibits the lending of money at any interest. Muslim banks get around that with ‘service fees’

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Well, that knocks the wind out of my sails. (I concur.)

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Indeed. In India, the caste system is pretty high on that list. Both notions have the effect of blaming the victim and maintaining an unjust status quo.

In the west we have the notion of the undeserving poor. It comes from the teaching of predestination of John Calvin. It was taken up with great fervour by Victorian England ,the US and various commonwealth countries.

Even today, that idea is common in many societies and is the basis of many government and church welfare policies.

NO? Run this idea across old grey matter: That there should be one and only one criteria for charity/welfare; need. Who am I to judge others, as long as they obey the law?


The bible is a contradictory, cobbled together mess that many christians haven’t actually fully read to begin with.
For example how many people sitting in the audience of one of those ridiculous psychic shows are christians? In the U.S. probably most of them. The bible expressly forbids associating with such things, yet there they are. I really don’t think most of them know what the bible says about soothsayers and necromancers. Then there’s all the tattooed christians, many of them with christian tattoos, also forbidden. Christians just seem to believe what they want, or what is convenient.


I have constantly referred to the bible as the greatest multiple choice book of all. Whatever your personal bent, you can find passages in the bible that support those positions. This generalization also applies to other holy books.

I am basically a technician, and in my profession had to constantly refer to technical manuals. They were concise and precise, no ambiguity or confusion. If I was going to tighten down a plate, it would specify the bolt and nut type, the torque values, the order of tightening, etc. If I did that task twenty years ago or someone else did it, everything would be identical, all technicians would read the exact same message and directions.

Yet in what should be the lost important document for every person and all mankind, one can derive and find any answer they desire. If you are a hippy and into love and peace, you can find passages in the bible to make you feel good. If you are a stern person who believes in corporal punishment and the death penalty, you can find justification in the bible. And so on and so on.

That is why all major religions have many different sects, each claiming their interpretation is the right one.


While I’m not the first–by far–to say this (Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Freeman Dyson, and Steven J. Gould may have said it first), in Ancient Egypt (for example), if a Christian Fundementalist was transported back in time to the court of, say, Ramses II, they would be considered an Atheist by the standards of the religion of Anubis, Ahmen-Ra, or Osiris . . . just as the Lubavich Rabbi would be an Atheist by the standards of Jainism.

So, what is so remarkable or noteworthy about the Atheist whom takes this a step further and discards all belief in any and all God or gods?

Even though I’m on this forum, I don’t have a problem with religion, but–rather–the damage that religion does.

I’ve tried to figure out a way to realistically separate the violence, nastiness, and entitlement from the religion(s) that gave it birth . . . and I draw a blank.

Atheism seems like it’s the only way to go if one is to reject The Inquisition, the Moral Majority, and so forth without being a hypocrite.