The other day I received a request to comment on the topic of God punishing us for our sins in a seemingly random way:

It was ingrained heavily when I was a child that God punishes us for things long after we’ve repented.  Any “bad” sin leads to year and years of punishment, even if it’s been repented of fully.  My parents will say this often, that someone (even their own child) is being punished because of a very bad [unrelated] sin.  I’ve felt an incredible amount of guilt and shame over my child’s health problems and always wonder if it was because of my sin.

I told the writer that this sounded like karma Christianity.

What is pop-karma?

Strictly speaking, “karma” (from Hinduism and Buddhism), refers to all the good and bad deeds in one “incarnation” of a person’s life that roll over, if you will, into the 401k, so to speak, of another “incarnation,” so that when something good or bad happens in this life, a Hindu or Buddhist will judge it to be the mysterious “karma” of a previous existence.

That is, to put it mildly, not exactly the same as the understanding of life events in Biblical Christianity, which is based on mercy, grace, and justice experienced in one life on this earth and in an afterlife (either with God or without Him).

But somehow much of Western Christianity has been infected by syncretism, promoting a kind of “pop-karma.”  While rejecting the concept of reincarnation (because it so obviously doesn’t fit with Christianity), a surprising number of Christians still accept the random reward and punishment system of karma, but condensing it all into this life and attributing it to God.

Just for clarification, pop-karma, isn’t the same thing as logical consequences. (If I rob a bank, it isn’t “karma” if I end up in prison; it’s logical cause and effect.) On the contrary, the original concept of karma has at its roots a randomness that makes all of life inexplicably tied together, bad and good experiences now (which can’t be traced to logical consequences) all being tied to bad and good deeds from a past life (which you don’t even currently know about).

So pop-karma in Christianity teaches that the good or bad you’re experiencing now is also related to some good or bad deed in the past that you may not remember.





This article has now been incorporated into the book Untwisting Scriptures to Find Freedom and Joy in Jesus Christ: Book 5 Brokenness & Suffering. You can find that book here.




Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.

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