To be honest Strward your comment is an insult to those who actually prepared the Bible. For the record the sites attached do speak clearly as to
Born Again or Reborn?
The Question of Reincarnation in Christianity
Reincarnation is a difficult question to answer. What is the role of rebirth
in the Christian doctrine or why is it absent? I wondered why that I, being
raised and a Christian, never learned about this possibility or alternative
way of thought.
The idea of rebirth is prevalent throughout out most of the world's religious mythologies. Birth and death are seen as a cycle, not linear events.
This is shown in the stories of primordial images such as the Ouroboros (the serpent whose tail is in its mouth) and the Phoenix fire bird who rises
from the ashes of its own funeral pyre. It is even alluded to in the Christian story of the
crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. (Coker)
Simply stated, reincarnation is the belief that the soul essence of each person continues after physical death and, based upon actions in previous
lifetimes (karma), is returns in another physical vessel to further its evolution.
Today, the concept of reincarnation is believed by over half of the world's population, and even Christianity accepted it until 533 AD (Price)
Reincarnation is found in the ancient religion of the Jews. Evidence indicates that during the first centuries, Christianity did teach about both the
preexistence of souls and their reimbodiment.
Jesus taught his disciples that every person being created by God received a portion of God's spirit (the soul), but to be truly free, they were also
given free will. The task of the person is to perfect the soul and to become one with God again. (Bellringer) Originally, all beings existed as pure
love energy on an ideational or thought level, or that were just a part of one pure energy entity.
According to Plato, among others, there then came a "fall," which is likewise illustrated in the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. Now,
individual souls had to work toward reconciliation with or into the pure entity/God. The fall or disjointing was voluntary, and now the fragments must
voluntarily learn lessons to regain their original state.
In understanding the history of reincarnation in Christianity, it is
important to be familiar with Origen (AD 185-254). He was an early Christian
theologian devoted to scriptural authority who became a martyr as a result of
critics attacking his writings.
Controversy over his tenets espousing
reincarnation and soul preexistence raged from AD 250 to 553. Before this
time, Constantine declared Christianity as state religion of the Roman empire.
Historically, this was a time of standardization and consolidation of
Christian "sects." Both religious and political factions were attempting to
force their own interpretations onto Christianity since it was becoming
There were many provincial "wars" under weak emperors so that when Justinian took charge in 527, he had very serious problems.(Oderberg) He worked
to reunify the empire by use of military power and enforcement of a uniform canon of belief that was to be adhered to strictly. Emperor Justinian
composed a tract setting forth anthemas (curses) against Origen.
Finally, at the council of Niccea in AD 553, the doctrine of reincarnation
and preexistence of the soul were officially removed from the Christian
theology. All reference to reincarnation in public teaching disappeared by 543 AD on the grounds that it conflicted with the proper understanding of
redemption. The reasons for the removal of this idea could include that it seems to have minimized Christian salvation, it is in conflict with the
resurrection of the body, it creates and unnatural separation between body and
soul, it is built on a much too speculative use of the Christian scriptures, and there is no evidence of pr evious lives. It could also include the
fact that the possibility of having a second or third or even additional chance at achieving a God/like state, took much power away from the church
and especially the priests, cardinals, etc.
This is certainly a possibility during a time when it was common practice to pay the church money or real estate to expunge sins.
However, controversy still continues today. In most of the world's religions, death is seen as an event, not a total end. Most Christians reject the
idea of reincarnation but traces of it can be found in the notion of physical resurrection. "It seems impossible to discover any clear-cut,
unambiguous Christian doctrine to explain what happens after death--what is available does not contradict the idea of reincarnation. In fact, there
Christian scriptures that are in essential harmony with the vision of man as a
reincarnating being. After all, it was a common enough belief in Jesus' time
and was understood by many of the people who influence Christian thinking
2,000 years ago." (Coker)
Scholars point to specific scriptures and say that these prove that Jesus
intended reincarnation and its various facets such as karma, to be taught and
accepted. Scripture tells us that those who live by the sword die by the
sword (Matt 26:52) and that we will reap what we sow (Gal 6:7). It does not
limit these paybacks or rewards to one life only. "Unto the place from when
the rivers come, thither they return again" (Eccl 1:7), and "Things that hath
been, it is that which shall be...and there is nothing new under the sun" (Eccl 1:9) Also, in John 3:13, it states that no man ascended up to heaven
but he that came down from heaven. Here is an implication of the circle or the cycle.
According to Joseph Head and S. L. Cranston in Reincarnation; An East West
Anthology, ancient Jews were always expecting their great prophets to be
reincarnated. They thought that Moses was Abel, son of Adam, and that their
Messiah was to be the reincarnation of Adam himself who had already come a
second time as David. They also point out that in Matthew 16:13-4, Jesus asked his disciples, saying whom do men say that I, son of man, am? They
replied some said that he was John the Baptist, some Elias and others Jeremias or one of the prophets.
One incident of Jesus' healing may be loosely interpreted to point to
reincarnation also. In John 9:1, the disciples ask Jesus why the man they
come upon is blind. What sin did his parents commit that he should be so
punished? Jesus replies that neither this man nor his parents had sinned, but
that the blindness was the work of God manifest in him. The disciples ask if
the man himself could have committed the sin that led to the blindness. Given
that the man was blind from birth, this presupposes some prenatal existence.
Jesus does not deny this possibility.
Another example pointed out by Head and Cranston, is that ST. John says in
Revelations 3:12; "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of
my God, and he shall go no more out." They state that evidently, he had gone
out into incarnation before and upon completing purification of spirit, he
will wander no more. Also, they sate that the Bible eludes that Jesus claimed
that the man now known as John the Baptist was the same man who centuries
earlier had been the prophet Elijah or Elias.
Reincarnation assumes that man is an immortal being. When Jesus spoke to
the Jews in the Temple of Jerusalem (John 10:34) he said, "Is it not written
in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" (Coker) The prophet Jeremiah says God knew
him before he was born (Jer 1:5); Solomon, son of David, says that he existed before the earth or heavens (Prov 8:2 2-30) (Coker)
This subject is still so relevant today that books are on the bestsellers list that tackle this argument. Reincarnation-The Missing Link in
Christianity by Elizabeth Claire Prophet, is one such example.
However, it is still up to the individual
to determine what role, if any, reincarnation may play in their daily lives or in their spiritual practices. It seems that the most prohibitive
argument for most people against reincarnation, is that there is no clear memory of a past life or lives. However, even this argument is being
challenged. In her recent book, Across Time and Death---A Mother's Search for Her Past Life Children, Jenny Cockell explores and investigates strange
coincidences and memories that seem to prove she was reborn as a woman who died 21 years before her birth. Certainly,
Tibetan Monks use the firm belief of recalled past lives when choosing a new
Dali Llama. They put forth rigorous tests to anyone so thought to be the
latest incarnation of their spiritual masters.
"One can't really prove (or disprove) reincarnation---we aren't going to
catch ourselves reincarnating any more than our waking consciousness can quite
catch or sleeping consciousness." (Coker) However, many believe that memory
is more than that stored among the cells of the brain---skills, or facility to
do or understand certain areas of thought or activity, often evident in early
childhood, surely betoken a resumption from a past familiarity." (Oderberg)
It may be impossible to understand the "spiritual mechanism" of reincarnation. However, if an individual does believe that the spirit essence or
soul, does continue after physical death, reincarnation presents one possible explanation of what happens to this part of our consciousness.
For the Christian, it is perhaps left to the religious doctrine put forth by the individual faith or even denomination. Many Unitarians believe in
reincarnation and still call themselves Christian. In some Catholic parishes, reincarnation is either accepted as a fact or allowed as a possibility.
However, more fundamentalist believers may consider this heresy.
In conclusion, it appears that the idea of reincarnation is being addressed more often today, even in the Christian faith. A thorough examination of
why it was originally removed from the doctrine may help determine whether it was a mistake to remove it, or a mistake to have included it in the
first place. A Patrick Bellringer states in his article "People of
the Lie: Reincarnation," we must ponder this carefully.
SOURCES CITED IN THIS ESSAY
Bellringer, Patrick, "People of the Lie: Reincarnation", The Phoenix Journal.
Coker, Nancy, "Born Again and Again and Again: Reincarnation in
Christianity," Sunrise Magazine.
Graham, David, The Practical Side of Reincarnation.
Head, Joseph & Cranston, S.L., Reincarnation: An East West Anthology.
Oderberg, L.M., "Reincarnation as Taught by Early Christians", Sunrise
Price, James M. "Transpersonal Psychology: The Evidence for Reincarnation,"
have included several other sites for you review Steward.
What are your thougts????
[Edited on 10-11-2002 by Toltec]