Date: 11-30-88 21:21
From: George Stanislav
To: Martha Brummett
Subj: Re: Small Religious Question
> MB: Reincarnation is quite compatible with Christianity, and *was
> MB: until one-or-the-other of those councils (I don't know wich
The idea of the council is thrown into almost every book on reincarnation,
while almost none of them has their facts straight. The council in question
was that known as the Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D.
The council was ordered by the EMPEROR Justinian, NOT by the reps of the
Christian church. In fact Pope Vigilius REFUSED to attend the council. It was
under the full control of the emperor. It did not condemn reincarnation. It
did condemn "Origenism", the teaching CLAIMED to be those of Origen (long
dead by the time). Again, that was done under the imperial authority, NOT
under the papal authority.
Various ideas of reincarnational nature did indeed exist in Christianity
before the Second Council of Constantinople. However, it would not be
historically fair to say that reincarnation was the main understanding of
life after death among early Christians. And certainly the concept was not as
clear as it is today.
Reincarnation was never formally condemned by the Church, or any of its
councils. Not even the one mentioned above did condemn reincarnation per se.
The ideas existing among some early Christian theologian were more of the
Platonian nature - the preexistence of the soul before incarnation. That was
a vague concept which COULD be interpreted in the modern understanding of
reincarnation, but could also be interpreted in many other ways.
It is important to realize that from the viewpoint of modern Christian
theology it does not matter whether early Christians believed in
reincarantion or not. The concept is different from 2000 years ago. What all
those modern Christian theologians who study the matter seriously seem to
agree upon is that they do not view reincarnation as inevitable, and as an
For an excellent analysis of the question read Reincarnation in
Christianity, by Geddes MacGregor (Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the
University of Southern California). It is far the best book on the
relationship between reincarnation and Christian thought I have read. It is
presented in a very scholarly manner, no bombastic claims. His historical
claims are well researched. That in itself makes the book invaluable in the
world of confusion about the original Christian understanding.
He too agrees with you that reincarnation makes sense. Let me quote a few
words from his book:
"Yet for all the vast progress I see, I know I have farther to go
than I can hope to go in this life. It is not merely a matter of
time. If gerontology could prolong my active and useful life by a
thousand years, my predicament would remain. For the youthful
idealism needed for the most active development of the love of
God wanes. A great saint might become even saintlier than ever in
his nineties; but even he would not do it as fast as he had done
in his prime. I need, therefore, another embodiment, and it seems
to me that the more progress I make through such re-embodiments
the more need for them shall I see, as the more progress I make
in courage or learning the more easily I perceive how cowardly or
ignorant I am."
An interesting idea here is the speed of growth. To expound on it a little:
Why would someone adult want to die and become a baby and go through the
trouble of growing up again? Seems like a waste of time. But in the view of
his words (and as an emeritus he must know about being in years), it may be a
worthwile "waste" as in the long run it may speed up the total development
because young people have more energy and courage to grow than those settled
in their ways.
* Origin: Astral Board * Sky is NO limit! * (Opus 1:129/39)