Karma is a concept found in many Eastern religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, that is often associated with the idea of cause and effect. The basic idea is that a person’s actions, both good and bad, have consequences that will affect them in this life and in future lives. In contrast, the Bible teaches the concept of grace, which emphasizes that salvation is a gift from God that cannot be earned through good works or karma. So how do these concepts relate to Christian Yoga, and is it possible to reconcile them?
First, it’s important to note that Christian Yoga is a growing practice and is becoming more popular in Western cultures. Some Christians practice yoga as a form of exercise or meditation, while others have adapted the practice to include Christian themes or Bible verses. However, there is some debate among Christians about whether yoga is compatible with their faith, since yoga has long been associated with Hinduism (though yoga predates Hinduism as it is known today) and some of its practices involve spiritual concepts that may conflict with Christian beliefs……including the idea of karma.
One area of potential conflict is the concept of karma. In yoga, karma is often understood as the idea that a person’s actions will have consequences that will affect them in this life and in future lives. However, the Bible teaches that salvation is a gift from God that cannot be earned through good works or karma. Instead, Christians believe that they are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).
So where does that leave Christian Yoga practitioners? It’s possible to practice yoga as a form of exercise or meditation without subscribing to the spiritual concepts that some associate with it. In fact, many Christians find that yoga can be a helpful tool for reducing stress, improving flexibility, and connecting with their bodies in a healthy way. Many Christians use it as a way to deepen their faith, connect with God, and pursue a personal relationship with Him.
However, if someone is practicing yoga in a way that conflicts with their Christian beliefs, it’s important to evaluate whether that practice is helpful or harmful for their spiritual growth. For example, if a Christian is using yoga as a way to seek spiritual enlightenment or to connect with non-Christian spiritual concepts, they may be led away from their faith rather than toward it. Because Christians cannot earn their way into eternity with the Divine, the principal of karma doesn’t apply to the idea of good works getting someone into heaven. The Bible tells us the only way to heaven is believing in HIM and the sacrifice Jesus made to wash us of our sins. Often we use John 3:16 as a way to explain this gift from God. “Because God so loved the world, he sent his one and only son, so he who believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Here are a few more Bible verses that speak to the idea that karma is not a biblical concept:
- Romans 3:23-24 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
God emphasizes in this verse that salvation is a gift and not something that can be earned through good works or karma.
- Galatians 2:16 – “know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”
Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, according to this verse.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
This verse emphasizes that God gives salvation as a gift, not something to be earned through good works or karma.
- Titus 3:5 – “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
This verse emphasizes that God grants salvation through His mercy and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, not through good works.
These verses all emphasize that salvation is a gift from God that cannot be earned through good works or karma. Instead, Christians believe that they are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. While the concept of karma may have some parallels to the idea of cause and effect in Christianity, the two concepts are fundamentally different in their understanding of salvation and the role of good works in attaining it.
Ultimately, the decision to practice yoga as a Christian is a personal one that should be made prayerfully and with careful consideration. While there may be some Eastern religious aspects of yoga that conflict with Christian beliefs (i.e. when practiced to reach “enlightenment,”) it’s possible to practice yoga in a way that is consistent with those beliefs and that can be beneficial for physical and mental health, while deepening our relationship with God the father.
Dawn Hopkins says
While I agree that Karma is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, the concept of cause and effect is definitely mentioned. Consider the concept of reaping and sowing in Galatians 6:7–9. Also in Matthew 6:14-15, it talks about us forgiving or we won’t be forgiven. And, in Luke 6:37 it says if we do not judge or condemn, we will not be judged or condemned, and that we will be forgiven if we forgive. While we are covered by grace, we are clearly instructed to be mindful of our actions and the impact they have on others. Just a few examples to ponder…