Christian Reincarnation The following is a copy of some quotes found in the Bible and else

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Christian Reincarnation From: (Michael Shemet) Message-ID: <1vie95$> The following is a copy of some quotes found in the Bible and elsewhere related to Reincarnation in Christianity. A part of this I put in about 2 years ago for John Emery, but it has grown a little since then John! :) Some of these quotes have reappeared recently and some may be new for some people here... ----------------------------------------------------------------------- The ancient Jews were continually expecting the reincarnation of their great prophets. Moses was in their opinion Abel, the son of Adam; and their Messiah was to be the reincarnation of Adam himself, who had already come a second time as David. It seems especially significant then that the closing words of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5) make this prophecy: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD" Elijah had already lived amongst the Jews. Now the New Testament refers to this prophecy on several occasions, thus linking the Old and New Testament on the idea of rebirth (In the King James versions of the New Testament, the Greek form of "Elijah", namely "Elias", is used). Thus John the Babtist (Elijah), sent "before the coming... of the Lord," was born slightly earlier to serve as a herald for the Christ. An angel appeared to Zacharias the father to testify that his coming son John would be none other than the "spirit" of Elijah (Elias): "And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke-1:17) Jesus twice unequivocally identified Elijah (Elias) as John: "And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." (Matthew-17:10-13) And here: "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive [it], this is Elias (Elijah), which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew-11:12-15) And again here Christ identifies John as [he] who was to prepare the way: "But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is [he], of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." (Luke-7:26-28) In the Gospel of John a man who was born blind was brought to Jesus and the disciples wondered why he had been punished, saying "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John 9:2-3) The disciples must have had the idea of reincarnation in mind, for obviously if the man had been born blind, his sin could not have been committed in this life. If the doctrine was incorrect, then, it would seem, it was a good time for Jesus to deny the whole theory. Yet he did not do so, He just said it was to manifest the works of God. And as in the case of John the Baptist, it is not atypical for a soul to incarnate in a particular way for an unfolding Divine drama. In this case maybe in part to receive a miracle healing from the Heavenly Father through Jesus... At that time belief in reincarnation was very common as is typified by the following quotes: "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets." (Matthew-16:13-14) And here King Herod wonders if Jesus is not John whom he beheaded: "Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him." (Luke-9:7-9) In the 'Antiquity of the Jews' (Book 18, Chap.1, No.2), the Jewish historian Josephus states that there were three sects of philosophy amongst the Jews at that time: the Essenes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. Apparently, the Sadducees did not believe in rebirth but the other two did. The Essene view is reflected in the following quote: "They [the Essenes] smiled in their very pains and laughed to scorn those who inflicted torments upon them, and resigned up their souls with great alacrity, as expecting to receive them again." (Jewish War,Book 2,Chap.8,Nos.10-11) "[The Pharisees] believe that souls have an immortal vigour in them [and that the virtuous] shall have power to revive and live again: on account of which doctrines they are able greatly to persuade the body of the people." (Antiquity of the Jews, Book 18, Chap.1, No.3) The following four quotes are from the Old Testament and may hint at the Law of Karma and/or the cycles of rebirth: In Ecclesiates, the book once thought to have been written by Solomon and now generally thought to be about Solomon, it says: "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things." (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11) A Prayer of Moses to God concerning the death of human beings in the Psalms: "Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night... So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days." (Psalms 90:3-4,12-14) King Solomon speaking here in Proverbs says: "The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men." (Proverbs 8:22-31) During the time of the fall of Judah, Jeremiah says: "Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak." (Jeremiah 1:4-7) The arrival of Jesus the Christ on the scene didn't seem to change people's perception of this concept as some of the early Christian Church Fathers also believed in reincarnation: Father Origen (A.D. 185-254) (The Encyclopedia Britannica states that Origen was "the most prominent of all the Church Fathers with the possible exception of Augustine". We also know of the high standing of Father Origen from St. Jerome who said of him, "the greatest teacher of the Church after the apostles". St. Jerome did the first latin translation of the Bible) wrote: "Is it not more in conformity with reason that every soul for certain mysterious reasons is introduced into a body, and introduced according to its deserts and former actions? Is it not rational that souls should be introduced into bodies, in accordance with their merits and previous deeds, and that those who have used their bodies in doing the utmost possible good should have a right to bodies endowed with qualities superior to the bodies of others?" (Contra Celsum) "The soul has neither beginning nor end... Every soul... comes into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of it's previous life. Its place in this world as a vessel appointed to honor or dishonor is determined by its previous merits or demerits. Its work in this world determines its place in the world which is to follow this..." (De Principiis) Saint Gregory (A.D. 257-332) writes: "It is absolutely necessary that the soul should be healed and purified, and if this does not take place during its life on earth it must be accomplished in future lives." St. Clement (A.D. 150-220), St. Augustine (A.D. 354-430), and St. Jerome (A.D. 340-420) were among others who also believed in or were open to the ideas of pre-existence of the soul and reincarnation. In the early centuries of Christian history many battles were waged over issues of doctrine, church councils being convened to settle disputes. During one of these in the year 553 A.D., the Second Council of Constantinople, there was a political struggle between Byzantine Emperor Justinian and Pope Vigilius. Although Pope Vigilius was in Constantinople at the time, he refused to attend the Council which decided the fate of the concepts of pre-existence and reincarnation as taught Father Origen. Without the Pope and other western Bishops there these two ideas were condemned as anathema (heresy). Recently though the Catholic Church has come out disclaiming any crusade against Father Origen and his teachings. Also the Catholic Encyclopedia (Vol.11,p.311 under "Origen", and Vol.4, p.308-309 under "Councils of Constantinople") permits at least on technical grounds, that there is no barrier to belief in reincarnation nor pre-existence for Catholic Christians... Until the year 1611 the King James version of the Bible contained between the New and Old Testaments the Christian Apocrypha (14 books that are still appended to the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic versions of the Old Testament but are now not included in the Protestant King James Version). None the less it is interesting that in the King James Version of the Apocryphal Book, The Wisdom of Solomon, this passage is found: "Now I was a child good by nature, and a good soul fell to my lot. Nay, rather, being good, I came into a body undefiled." (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:19-20) William Inge, once the Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London said about this quote, "Rebirth is plainly asserted in the Wisdom of Solomon which the Roman Church rightly accepts as canonical"... In Revelation, Chapter 3:12 it says: "Him that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out" Paramahansa Yogananda interprets this as: He that overcomes material desires will be a fixed soul (pillar) in the mansion of God's presence, and he will not have to return to the earth in pursuit of the fulfillment of earthly desires. In Revelation Chapter 2:7 here again: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Yogananda, interprets: He that overcomes physical world desire will not come to earth to taste the bitter-sweet fruits of earthly life, but will be able to enjoy God, or the "Tree of Life," which is ever-present in the paradise of ever-living, Divine Happiness... The concept of reincarnation is really a corollary to the Law of Cause and Effect (sometimes called the Law of Karma). In the Bible this is referred to in Galatians 6:7 as, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap", or more modernly, "What goes around comes around". What you do to the world will one day happen to you! In Genesis 9:6 it says, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by MAN shall his blood be shed" And in Revelation 13:10 it says, "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints." The only way the causes and resulting effects in the above two verses can be true is if we have more than one life because not everyone will have time to reap their rewards, good or bad, in one life alone. Shedding man's blood, will result in blood being shed by MAN on the perpetrator... It seems this could only mean more than one life because not everyone who sheds another's blood will be caught in this life. Not surprisingly, many of the Saints and Masters have the 'patience and the faith' that ALL will receive their just rewards for that which they have sown through this Law of Karma... If you believe in a Loving and therefore Fair and Just God, then I would say that a belief in reincarnation is not unreasonable, as the two beliefs are really dependent, one on the other... Michael Shemet


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank