What does the Bible say about Reincarnation? ...and ultimately, why it matters.
Reincarnation is (for the squeamish) the sanitized western cultural version of the much more ancient belief of pagan religion in the Transmigration of souls... Transmigration allows one to return as an animal, reptile, or even an insect.
Reincarnation is belief in the rebirth of a soul into a new human body, often with the person carrying little or no memories of past lives. NAM (the New Age Movement) believes in karma: that good deeds in a past life can lead you to have a better standing or social position in your next life (or bad deeds can lead to lower social positions).
Scripture makes it clear that we have one life on earth before we receive an eternal judgment and verdict, based on whether we accepted Jesus' death on Calvary's cross as payment-in-full for our sin-debt to God, and thus He as our Savior. We don’t get several lives here on earth to make the right decision; we have only the one.
Reincarnation can seem like an appealing notion to many people. When loved ones pass, people may hope they’ve been reborn into another body moments later, and that they will find ways to reunite with each other upon this earth, throughout all time.
This concept can also seem all the more convincing when people are spiritually seduced into recalling false memories from supposed “past lives.”
Christians know that reincarnation runs contrary to their faith. Why would Jesus Christ die on the cross and resurrect - for our sins, only to doom us to repeatedly live out subsequent lives here on earth, to supposedly pay for that which He has completely paid in full?
Even religions such as Buddhism, which seek to find Nirvana or Enlightenment to break the cycle of past lives, on which they believe themselves to be, cannot provide a clear path on how this is to be achieved.
A person has no way of knowing how many lives they will have to endure, or why any deity would doom them to repeated life cycles, - over and over again.
Often to break the cycle of reincarnation, a person must reach some sort of Enlightenment or must pass through enough lives at a high enough position to make it into a "Nirvana" or a state of eternal bliss.
Religions who believe in the concept of reincarnation include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and the man- made mystical Kabbalah version of Judaism.
With Hinduism being the oldest among the man-made religions after the fall, those who under God's inspiration, wrote the Bible, lived during the origin of these religions and surely encountered people who held beliefs similar to the ones listed above.
Verses that refute the concept of reincarnation:
"And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
"He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return" (Psalm 78:39).
Scripture makes it clear that we have one life on earth before we receive an eternal judgment and verdict, based on whether we accepted the Salvation paid for by Jesus as our Savior and Lord. We don’t get several lives here on earth to make the right decision; we have only the one.
Major Problems with Reincarnation
“That seems harsh,” a person may say. “Wouldn’t you want a bunch of do-overs to finally choose Christ as your Savior?”
To that person, I would want to show a number of reasons why reincarnation is actually a distasteful concept, even to those grieving loved ones whom they wish to see again, myself included.
First, heaven is a far more beautiful destination than another life lived here on earth.
Think about how unavoidably painful life can be. How much loss hurts and how much sickness and disease and age affects us, as well. Now, imagine that for countless lives — that’s reincarnation. The concept of reincarnation in itself is cruel because it makes someone relive a finite life over and over again with no clear sense of how to overcome the cycle.
Secondly, reincarnation doesn’t solve the problem of sin.
Sin has lifetime staining effects. That means, even if we could live thousands of lives and do only good deeds, we still would be unable to overcome the debt toll of sin. Reincarnation would not eradicate this problem. In fact, were it real, it would compound it, as we would carry our past debt of sin into new "reincarnated" lives and continue to accumulate the burden of sin with no relief.
There are a number of intellectual inconsistencies with reincarnation, for karma allows for no mercy, cannot ensure justice, and is without a moral basis.
Many professing Christians now believe in reincarnation, 25% back in 2015. Ignorance of Scripture has allowed this worldview entry into the mainline churches. The Christian reality of reuniting with loved ones in the eternal joy that is heaven, has a far more beautiful outcome than believing that one is repeating endless life cycles on earth, with no clear hope of ever reaching their goal of personal Enlightenment.
A Newsweek magazine (28 November 1994) ran as its cover story, “The Search for the Sacred: America’s Quest for Spiritual Meaning.” This was a particularly revealing article not just because it acknowledged and discussed the significant increase in interest in spirituality, but because the observations demonstrated the dominance of the New Age Movement (NAM), especially the infiltration through the compromising mainline church.
Consider some of the following quotes: “In a pluralistic society, `one institution feels a little spiritually claustrophobic,'” wrote a religion professor at Rutgers University. He said he used to deride this new cafeteria approach to faith, calling it a “pick and choose religion” that was “frivolous and narcissistic,” but now, “he believes that a person who has synthesized different traditions can find a path that may be spiritually as profound as traditional religions, or even more spiritually profound” (p. 55).
In a related article, Kenneth L Woodward wrote, “A typical expression of this search is the eclectic Quest program at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco. Participants are encouraged to experiment with four spiritual paths to the sacred” (p. 61). Two of those paths are the mystical and the integration of Eastern and Western spiritual disciplines."
Woodward, Newsweek’s religion writer astutely observed, “No doubt much of this reconfiguring of the sacred is inspired by a new religious pluralism in America which makes any one spiritual path seem inherently parochial. In this environment, many searching Americans flit from one tradition to the next in their search for the sacred turned sharply inward, a private quest. The goal over the last 40 years, has been variously described as `peace of mind, higher consciousness,' and/or 'personal transformation'” (pp. 61-62).
Why are so many people with traditional Christian backgrounds, participating in New Age spirituality? There are many possible reasons: a lack of discipleship and thus discernment producing anemic churches of weak inauthentic Christians, - not truly being individually born-again, and consequently, not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but confirmed with a class of youth of a selected age, at a preset time, on a preset date.
One indisputable factor is the intentional and dishonest attempts to “redefine” historic Christianity and to blur the distinctions between the New Age and Christian beliefs.
Leaders and promoters of the New Age Movement, like most cults, must deal in some way with the basis of Christian authority and doctrine, the Bible. Typically, antagonists to Christianity either attack the validity of the Bible or else twist the Scripture to make it accommodate their cults’ beliefs. Those in the New Age attempt to do both, depending on which position would best promote their agenda.
An example of this canard would be the way New Age teachers deal with the hinge doctrine of reincarnation in relation to Christianity. In Shirley MacLaine’s book, Out on a Limb, her medium/teacher Kevin Ryerson supposedly channels an entity named “John.” Shirley asked John, “Isn’t the Bible supposed to be the Word of God?” He answered, “Yes, in the main it is. Although much of what exists in your Bible today has been reinterpreted.”
“Reinterpreted by whom?”
“By various persons through time and through various languages. Ultimately by the apostate church. It was to the advantage of that church to protect the people from the `real truth' of the Scriptures (p. 204).
The “real truth” John explained is reincarnation. When MacLaine asked, “Why aren’t these teachings recorded in the Bible?” His erroneous response was, “The theory of reincarnation is recorded in the Bible. But the proper interpretations were struck from it during the Ecumenical Council in Constantinople sometime around 553 A.D., called the Council of Nicea” (pp. 234-235).
Several observations should be made here concerning these pronouncements.
First, “John” claimed that the Bible cannot be trusted because of “reinterpretations.” He confused interpretation with translation. There are many manuscripts and quotes from church fathers and other church publications dating centuries before 553 A.D. The actual corpus of the Old and New Testament Scripture was also settled and circulated centuries before this time.
“John” can’t get basic facts straight either. The Council in Constantinople was called just that, not the “Council of Nicea,” The two Nicene Councils occurred in 325 A.D. and 787 A.D. The focus of the 553 A.D. Constantinople Council was on Christology, not reincarnation. The early church councils never addressed the issue of reincarnation. The central doctrine of resurrection obviously rendered moot any concept of reincarnation.
What “John” and other New Agers might be stretching for is the fact that the 553 A.D. council did condemn Origin as a heretic (Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity, p. 178). Origin (185-254 A.D.) postulated the possibility of a pre-existence of souls, which is akin to Mormonism, rather than to reincarnation (Confronting the New Age, Groothius, p. 102).
Oprah Winfrey and the Council of Nicea
An example of the confusion of the New Age leaders on this topic was seen in an appearance of New Age experts on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Dr. Donald Curtis, a Unity minister and trans-channeler, Marilyn Ferguson and Kevin Ryerson were the guests. Oprah began, “As I study the New Age Movement, it all seems to say exactly what the Bible has said for years, but many of us were brought up with a restricted, limited understanding of what the Bible said.”
Curtis responded, “Because of the literal interpretation, for within the framework of sectarianism, no one really knows what the filter of translation down through the ages, what the Bible really said.”
Ferguson added, “When you start taking a scholarly look at when the translations occurred, you realize that many important ideas got lost along the way.”
Curtis concluded, “And then they threw out most of it in 325 A.D. anyway at the Council of Nicea. We don’t really know what was there. The Emperor, whatever his name was, sat down in counsel and said `This is in and this is out.’ They threw out reincarnation at this time” (video on file with Watchman Fellowship).
Several observations and responses can be made to this as well. Oprah blurs the distinction between the Bible’s teachings and those of the New Age. Her explanation of the perceived differences are attributed to “limited, restricted understanding” and “literal interpretations.” Curtis reinforces the concept of faulty “filters of translation” through time as a reason for distortion.
Christians should have put these questions to Oprah, “How else do you suggest one understand the text apart from the literal, historical-grammatical meaning of the writers? By whose authority can one apply some mystical, esoteric, subjective interpretation when the text itself refutes that?”
Curtis betrays his “scholarly look” by not knowing who the Emperor (Constantine) was at the Council of Nicea. He not only contradicts what other New Age teachers have said, but is wrong about what transpired at Nicea in 325 A.D., for Nicea dealt with the Arian heresy, not with reincarnation.
In order to gain support for their position, the New Age teachers/leaders try to twist Bible Scripture (which they claim has been corrupted and expunged of reincarnation) to prove Christianity teaches reincarnation.
In Matthew 11 and 17 (parallel passage Mark 9:11-13) Jesus refers to John the Baptist as the coming again of Elijah. Is Jesus teaching that Elijah was reincarnated as John the Baptists? Surely not, for John clearly stated that he was not literally Elijah (John 1:21). Another coming of Elijah was prophesied by Malachi (4:5-6) to occur before judgment day.
Elijah didn’t experience physical death as he was translated into heaven (2nd Kings 2:1). Elijah still maintained his own identity and being as he was seen with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration after John the Baptist was born (Matthew 17:1-3).
The principle of Bible interpretation is to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. The explanation of Jesus’ reference is given in Luke 1:17 by Zechariah when he declared that John would go in the “power and spirit of Elijah,” thus fulfilling Malachi 4:5-6. As Elisha received the mantle of the “spirit of Elijah” and was obviously not a reincarnation of Elijah, John, too, held the same office and function of Elijah the prophet.
In John 3:3, some reincarnationists insist that to be born again must mean a previous birth.
But again, the context demonstrates another meaning. Born physically the first time and spiritually the second, while still living the first birth life (John 3:3-5). Comparing Scripture with Scripture bears out that it is the regeneration brought about by God, the Holy Spirit indwelling a believer (John 14:16-17, 16:5-15; 1st Peter 1:3, 23; 2nd Corinthians 5:17).
In Galatians 6:7-8, often misquoted by NAM (New Age Movement) reincarnationists, there is not even an implied reference to reincarnation.
The immediate context and chapter context of the entire New Testament is consistent with an understanding of the consequences of unforgiven sin resulting in negative character development, contrasted to the fruit of the Spirit of those in Christ who are heaven-bound.
Watchman Fellowship, Craig Branch
Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, by Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon
I would like to discuss this. That is a lot of ideas.
I have my ideas on what we retain from existence to existence.
You are free to express your ideas.
What has convinced you that you have (or will) live "from existence to existence?" Is it something you desire?
Spirit and soul are without physical substance, when departing the body that has died, no pockets for retaining memorabilia, no arms to clutch a satchel or briefcase... no luggage required or allowed. The wise will have stored their treasure in heaven. (Matthew 6:20)
We do retain our individuality throughout eternity. The personhood with which we were gifted in the womb will forever remain with us. We aren't going to meld into one universal collective cosmic consciousness... for each of the followers of Christ (whether alive or asleep/dead) their immortalized, glorified eternal body will catch up with them at the time of the rapture.
"Know you that the LORD He is God: it is He that has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture." (Psalm 100:3)
You are free to express your ideas. br br What ha... (
What convinced me reincarnation is a logical possibility.
Fifty years ago I was challenged to change any fundamental belief I had and observe the results. I chose reincarnation.
This resulted in ideas I would not have had and info I would not have seen had not been seeking.
I was looking for an explanation for the fact that some are born with more God given gifts or talents then others.
I came to the realization that we grow a little bit each lifetime. We are at various stages on our journeys.
There seemed to be a universal life force we are all part of as well.
I have identified three things I think we transition with and have the opportunity to grow each lifetime.
– Self discipline
Child prodigies practice for long hours.
– Our ability to connection with source, our intuition.
CEO’s often make snap decisions base on very little info.
– Our ability to connect with other people, empathy.
Life is better for people who can connect easily with others.
This, like all beliefs is only a theory.
The only thing I am absolutely positive of is that I am not privy to the ultimate truth.
As an old guy, soon to make his maker, this gives lots to ponder.
Affirming belief in reincarnation reflects complete Biblical ignorance of God's plan of Salvation, the Bible's major theme,
leaving one to wonder not only why, but how they can self-identify as Christians.
Titus 1:16 "They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work."
The propitiatory death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart of the Christian gospel. Without the resurrection, there is no Christianity.
Christ's resurrection completely refutes the concept of reincarnation, by making it unnecessary. On the cross, Jesus absolved every person's sins, paying that debt in full; a free gift of salvation that God activates through His grace, when individually accepted in faith.
1st John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
This Bible verse makes clear the truth that there is no bad "karma" to be individually worked out for any obedient Christian, nor will God accept anyone, other than through their faith in Jesus Christ.
Professed belief in both reincarnation and in Jesus's death and resurrection, is the mark of "confusion," and of being "double-minded," both states of mind that are Scripturally condemned as not acceptable to God.
1st Corinthians 14:33 "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace - as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people."
James 1:8 "He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
The unfortunate conclusion is that church leaders are accepting Scripturally illiterate members to swell their membership, - both for bragging rights, and for the funding thereby received... without imparting to them adequate
training in God's Word.
I am surprised so many Christians believe in reincarnation. That baffles me.
One can live one’s life with Christian principles but not believe in eternal bliss.
Heaven might just be a stop on the journey. A stop for everyone.
Genesis 6:5 "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was altogether evil all the time."
Biblical Christianity teaches that spiritual darkness always attempts to overtake the light that is God's truth (John 1:5), and Satan always attempts to subtly distort God's truth (John 8:44), in order to divert as many as he can snare into serving Him.
Those that do not know personally know Christ are blind to the moral implications of God’s law and remain in darkness, and under the control of Satan (2nd Cor. 4:3-6). We were all born into this darkness, and the Bible tells us "It is God's wish that no man should perish," - but for the Christian who has accepted God's free gift of Salvation through the reality of a personal relationship, Christ has called us out of spiritual darkness, into His light
Therefore the Christian’s battle is not against the woke media, the corrupt current government, the deviant school system of teachers and administrators, or Islam, or post-modern neo-nazism/marxism, but against Satan and his principalities and demonic forces of spiritual darkness who influence all the aforesaid worldly opponents to engage in war against the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:10-12).
The motivation for a Christian is not future personal "eternal bliss" in heaven... The personal sense of "bliss" becomes a reality the moment we receive Christ.
Addendum: bliss: the highest degree of contentment; worldly example(s) of "bliss:" Two weeks just lying on a hot beach; Swimming on a hot day is sheer bliss.
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