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White Horse Inn: Conversational Theology

The New Spiritual Landscape

The world is changing. So how are we to deal with the new spiritual landscape in which many of those who claim to follow Jesus also believe in things such as reincarnation? How should we respond to an atheist or agnostic who says he also believes in astrology and the healing power of crystals? On this episode, Michael Horton and Adriel Sanchez discuss these issues and more with University of California Irvine campus minister Derek Rishmawy.


Syncretism is syncing up a couple of things that weren’t originally together. And so, you’re syncing up Christianity and the gospel with this kind of more pantheistic worldview, or a little bit of Buddhism, a little astrology on Instagram, plus “I know Jesus loves me, which is why my astrological sign is lining up for me,” and “I’ve been a good person—”

Derek Rishmawy

“My karma is rich.”

Michael Horton

“My karma is ready, and so Jesus is going to bless me.”  What?

Derek Rishmawy



The Pali term karma literally means action or doing. Any kind of intentional action whether mental, verbal, or physical, is regarded as Karma. It covers all that is included in the phrase “thought, word and deed”. Generally speaking, all good and bad action constitutes Karma. In its ultimate sense Karma means all moral and immoral volition. Involuntary, unintentional or unconscious actions, though technically deeds, do not constitute Karma, because volition, the most important factor in determining Karma, is absent.

Karma is the law of moral causation. The theory of Karma is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism. This belief was prevalent in India before the advent of the Buddha. Nevertheless, it was the Buddha who explained and formulated this doctrine in the complete form in which we have it today. In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve. Usually, men of ordinary intellect cannot comprehend the actual reason or reasons. The definite invisible cause or causes of the visible effect is not necessarily confined to the present life, they may be traced to a proximate or remote past birth.

According to Buddhism, this inequality is due not only to heredity, environment, “nature and nurture”, but also to Karma. In other words, it is the result of our own past actions and our own present doings. According to this doctrine of karma within Buddhism, we ourselves are responsible for our own happiness and misery. We create our own Heaven. We create our own Hell. We are the architects of our own fate.

(Adapted from Mahasi Sayadaw, “The Theory of Karma,” Buddha Dharma Education Association)

More from this Series: What Does Your Neighbor Believe?

  1. What Does Your Neighbor Believe? Listen Now ›
  2. What Do Hindus Really Believe? Listen Now ›
  3. Walking in Wisdom Toward Outsiders Listen Now ›
  4. The New Spiritual Landscape Listen Now ›
  5. Reaching the Next Generation Listen Now ›
  6. Why Do People Believe in Hell? Listen Now ›
  7. Does Everyone Go to Heaven? Listen Now ›