The co-ideas of karma and reincarnation have become fantastically popular in the West. Theologian Douglas Groothuis wrote that:
· About a quarter of Americans now believe in reincarnation and karma. (Christian Research Journal, Vol 39/Number 04, 28)
How do we account for their growing popularity? Groothuis cites two factors: Hope in life after death and a mechanism that guarantees cosmic justice.
Groothuis also cites logic problems associated with karma/reincarnation. For one thing, karma lacks the ability to justly and wisely weigh all of the evidence:
· Since Hinduism and Buddhism lack belief in a creator and designer who run the universe, they cannot appeal to such a being to know and evaluate morality and assess the proper rewards and punishments for the next life….Karma requires moral knowledge and moral evaluation in order to ensure that an entity is placed properly in its next life. (30)
However, since karma is impersonal it is incapable of “moral knowledge and moral evaluation.” Justice requires wisdom, and karma is unable to deliver.
Karma also lacks the muscle to administer its just rewards. Groothuis writes that:
· Such administration requires a vastly powerful agent to bring about these moral results. (22)
Perhaps even more problematic to the notion of reincarnation is that Hinduism and Buddhism do not acknowledge the existence of individual souls, which can be reincarnated. Hinduism, for example, maintains that:
· To consider oneself as distinct from another self or from the Brahman [universal consciousness or being] is to be deceived, to be bewitched by maya (or illusion). The only reality is Brahman, which has no qualities at all… If all is one and if duality is an illusion, then there are no particular selves that are different from other selves or from Brahman. If so, then there is no material available to be reincarnated. (30)
Groothuis insists that Buddhism also rejects that idea of individual enduring souls:
· Buddhism teaches that humans are aggregations of changing parts and, thus, they have no enduring soul… necessary to establish continuity between one lifetime and another one so that karma has something on which to attach. (31)
In view of these logical problems, it is disappointing that the West has largely rejected the Source of a real Hope and Justice – a God who is able to provide them, a God who has made salvation immediately available to any who call upon Him:
· “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Why is His yoke easy? There are many reasons for this: He knows us personally and gives us just what we need; He never leaves us; He loves of so much that He has died to take away our sins and to reconcile us to Himself.