A famous actress, not long ago, declared in an interview granted to a magazine: “I am a Christian, but I believe in reincarnation. And I found out that this is my third life. First I was an Egyptian princess. Then, a matron of the Roman Empire. And now I am a reincarnated actress. ”
It is indeed surprising to see how an increasing number of people, even Christians accept reincarnation. A survey conducted in the UK revealed that 33% of respondents believe in it. In the USA, 40% of the population adheres to this belief gladly. Meanwhile, 34% of Catholics, 29% of Protestants and 20% of non-believers, have faith in reincarnation today.
Faith in reincarnation, then, is a global phenomenon. And because it is an excellent article of consumption, both radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and ultimately films are responsible for keeping it trendy. But why is this doctrine appealing to so many people?
What Is Reincarnation?
Reincarnation is the belief that at the death of a person, their soul leaves the body temporarily, and after some time it takes a different body to be reborn on Earth. Therefore, people would go through many lives in this world.
Now that we know what Reincarnation is, then why does the soul need to reincarnate? Because a new life must pay for the sins committed in this life, or collect the prize of having an honest behavior. The soul is, they say, in constant evolution. And successive reincarnations allow you to progress toward perfection. Then it becomes a pure spirit, no longer needing to reincarnate, so it is submerged forever in the infinity of eternity.
This blind law, which requires reincarnation as an inevitable destiny, is called the law of “karma” (which means “act”).
For this doctrine, the body would be only a disposable robe that the immortal soul weaves out of necessity, and once expired it is neglected to knit another.
There is an even more staggering form of reincarnation, called “transmigration”, where if one has been very sinful, the soul may be reincarnated in an animal, and even a plant.
The advantages of Reincarnating
Moreover, the time of one life is not enough to achieve the necessary perfection. This requires a long apprenticeship, it is gained gradually. Not even the best men are, at death, in such a state of perfection. Reincarnation, however, permits attaining that perfection in other bodies.
Finally, reincarnation helps explain certain incomprehensible facts, such as why are some people smarter than others, why is pain so unequally distributed among men, the sympathies or antipathies between people, some unhappy marriages, or the early death of children. All this is better understood if they are paying debts or reaping merits of past lives.
When there was no Reincarnation: Before the Bible
Reincarnation, then, is a seductive and compelling doctrine, because it aims to “solve” intricate questions of human life. In addition, because it is exciting for the curiosity of common people to find out what famous person they were in antiquity. This expectation helps in some way, to forget our inconsequential life, and evade the gray and routine existence in which we are sometimes submerged. So, how was the belief in reincarnation born?
The oldest civilizations that existed, such as the Sumerian, Egyptian, Chinese and Persian, did not know reincarnation. The enormous effort devoted to building pyramids, tombs and other burial structures shows that they believed in only one earthly existence. If they had thought that the deceased would be reincarnated in another person later on, they would not have made the colossal temples and other decorative objects with which they prepared the deceased for their afterlife.
Why Reincarnation appeared?
The first time the idea of reincarnation appeared was in India, in the seventh century BC. Those primitive men, still very tied to an agricultural mentality, saw that all things in nature, after completing its cycle, were returning. Thus, even when the sun rose in the morning, it went down in the afternoon, and then came out again. The full moon decreased, but always returned to its full roundness. The stars repeated the same phases and stages every year. The seasons of summer and winter were coming and going on time. Fields, flowers, floods, everything had a circular movement of eternal return. The whole life seemed made of eternally recurring cycles.
This finding led to believe that also men at death, would again return to the Earth. But since they saw that the dead body would decompose, they imagined that the soul was retaking a new body to live in.
Over time, they took this belief to also clarify certain vital issues (such as human inequalities, mentioned above), which otherwise proved inexplicable for the emerging and simple mentality of the time.
When Buddhism arose in India, in the V century BC, it adopted the belief in reincarnation. And it was spread in China, Japan, Tibet, and later in Greece and Rome. And so, also it entered other religions, which assumed it among the basic elements of their faith. So, what does the Bible say about reincarnation?
Reincarnation in the Bible: Job did not believe
But the Jews never wanted to accept the idea of reincarnation, and their writings absolutely rejected it. For example, Psalm 39, which is a meditation on the brevity of life, says: “Lord, Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again, before I go and there is no more” (v.14) .
Also poor Job, in the midst of his terrible disease, pleads to God, whom he believed guilty of their suffering, “Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy 21 before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and utter darkness” (10,21.22).
And a more modern book, Wisdom, teaches: “A wicked person may kill someone, but cannot bring the dead person back to life or rescue a soul imprisoned in the world of the dead.” (16:14).
Reincarnation in the Bible: Neither King David
The belief that we are born once, also appears in two episodes of the life of King David. What does the Bible say about reincarnation? First, when a woman in a given audience, makes him think: “We all have to die and be like water spilled, it can no longer be collected” (2 Samuel 14:14).
The second, when the son of the monarch dies, exclaims: “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept. But now he is dead why I am fasting? Perhaps I can make him come back? I will go to him, but he shall not return to me “(2 Sm 12,22.23).
We see, then, that in the Old Testament, and even when the idea of the resurrection was not known, it was known that from death one does not come back to Earth.
The emergence of the novelty
But it was in the year 200 BC when the subject of afterlife was lit forever. At the time the resurrection entered the Jewish people’s faith, the possibility of reincarnation in the Bible was definitely ruled out.
According to this new belief, a person at death, recovers life immediately. Not on Earth, but in another dimension called “eternity”. And starts living a different life, with no time or space limits. A life that cannot die any more. It is called the Eternal Life.
This teaching first appears in the Bible, in the book of Daniel. There, an angel reveals this great secret: “The multitude of those sleeping in the grave shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (12.2). Therefore, it is clear that the passage immediately following death is eternal life, which will be happy for the good and painful for the sinners. But it will be eternal.
The second time we can find it, is in a story, in which King Antiochus IV of Syria tortures seven Jewish brothers to force them to abandon their faith. While the second was dying, the king said: “You are depriving us of this present life, but the King of world we will raise us to eternal life” (2 Mac 7,9). And on the death of the seventh he exclaimed: “My brothers, after enduring a short sentence, now enjoy eternal life” (2 Mac 7,36).
Then, according to the Old Testament, it is impossible to return to earthly life after death. No matter how short and painful human existence has been, after death the resurrection begins.
Read also: Do Christians Believe In Reincarnation?
Now Jesus says it
Jesus Christ, with his authority as the Son of God, officially confirmed this doctrine. With the parable of the rich man (Luke 16,19.31), he told how as a poor beggar named Lazarus died, the angels took him immediately to heaven. In those days also died and insensitive rich man, and he was taken to hell to be tormented by fire flames.
Jesus did not say this rich man was to reincarnate to purge his many sins on Earth. Instead, the parable explains that because of having unfairly used the many goods that had been given to him on Earth, he was “now” (ie, in the hereafter, in eternal life, and not on Earth) to pay for his sins (v .25). The rich, in a desperate move, pleads to allow Lazarus to return to Earth (ie, to be reincarnated) to warn his five brothers, all sinners like him, what awaits them if they don’t change their life (v.27.28). But his request is denied, because between this world and the other there is an abyss that no one can cross (v.26).
The anguish of the rich begins precisely when he can confirm that his brothers also have only one life to live, a unique opportunity to give meaning to their life.
The fate of the good thief
When Jesus died on the cross, the Gospel accounts that one of the thieves crucified next to him told him: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” If Jesus had admitted the possibility of reincarnation, he should have answered, “Be patient, your crimes are many; you must go through several reincarnations to completely purify. ” But his answer was: “I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
If “today” he was going to be in Paradise, it is because he could never be reborn in this world. St Paul also rejects reincarnation in the Bible. Indeed, writing to the Philippians he tells them: “I am feeling pressure from both sides. On the one hand, I want to die and be with Christ. But then, it is more necessary for you that I stay in this world “(1,23.24). If he ever thought possible reincarnation, it would have been useless wanting to die, because he would have met the frustration of a new earthly life. Complete incoherence.
And explaining to the Corinthians what happens the day we die, he says: “In the resurrection of the dead, a corruptible body is buried and one incorruptible resurrects, a humiliated body is buried and one glorious resurrects, a weak body is buried and a strong one raises, a material body is buried and a spiritual one is resurrected (1 Cor 15,42.44).
Then, according to what the Bible says about Reincarnation, can a Christian believe in it? Clearly not. The idea of taking another body and returning to Earth after death is absolutely incompatible with the teachings of the Bible. The strongest and lapidary statement that reincarnation is untenable, is on the Biblical letter to the Hebrews: “It is appointed for men to die once and then comes judgment” (9:27).
Other theological statements of reincarnation in the Bible and in History.
Justin Martyr (100-165) said: “The soul lives more than once in a human body, but can not remember their past experiences.”
St. Clement of Alexandria (150-220) said: “We were in being long before the foundation of the world; we existed in the eye of God, for it is our destiny to live in Him”.
Origen of Alexandria (185-254) highlighted several theological principles. He said: “There is the pre-existence of souls. The soul is immaterial and therefore there is no beginning or end of their existence. There is a steady process towards perfection while we are first earthen vessels, then glass, then silver, finishing as golden chalices. All spirits were created without blame, and all have returned, finally, to its original perfection. The education of souls continues in successive worlds. There are innumerable worlds that follow each others for ages eternally. Could it be more in accordance with reason that every soul for certain mysterious reasons is introduced into a body in accordance with their merits and previous actions?”.
Sinesio (370-430) said: “Father, grant that my soul, being in the light, no longer immersed in the delusion of the Earth’s soul does not return soon to the celestial region where it was sent to Earth.. It has to go through many lives traveling the world. ”
Archbishop Puacher Passaralli of the Capuchin order, apostolic preacher attached to the Holy Synod (Vatican) supported the thesis of reincarnation, writing to Senator Taurredi, mate in beliefs, the following words:
“If it were possible to popularize the idea of the plurality of lives in this world, it would be a means of realizing the divine will, to enable men to atone for their sins, purified and striving to be worthy of God and immortal life. This would be a great step that would solve intricate and painful problems that trouble the human soul. I think more and more in this truth, which is rich in benefits for religion and society. ”
While it is true that in our Western world is taking hold such an idea, belief and doctrine of reincarnation is known since ancient times and today supported by the various religions across Asia and taught by multiple philosophical and spiritualist schools. Many well-known, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and many other ancient philosophers held as truth the law of rebirth, and reincarnation.
There is a phrase of Pythagoras to their more advanced disciples: “A life in the flesh, is nothing more than a ring in the long chain of evolution of the soul”.
More evidence of reincarnation in the Bible
When Jesus, the Messiah, spoke to the crowd following him, and referring to John the Baptist said, “And if you want to hear it, he is Elijah who is to come”. (Matthew XI v. 14-15). Well, this return of Elijah to the flesh, to physical life, had been foretold by the prophet Malachi (IV-5).
In the Gospel of St. Matthew (XVII C. v. 12-13), in St. Mark (C. IX v. 10-12), in St. Luke (C. I v 13-14-15- 16-17), there are reports that Jesus said that Elijah had come in the person of John the Baptist.
This foundation of spiritual progress through rebirth, has emerged again in the mid nineteenth century, through the efforts of a missionary of spiritism, known as Allan Kardec who has greatly contributed to give new life to this belief in the Western world. Just passing through many lives we can make evolve the values of the soul and the human race can improve as a whole.
There are actually three stances or theories on this subject that we can see in detail.
Remember nothing must be accepted by dogma or imposition, but must arise from our own reasoning, our own feelings. We must accept what is in affinity with our thought, feeling that affinity, which coincides with our judgment, the only way to apply real faith in all our actions.
1. The Materialistic Theory holds that life is a journey from birth to death; the mind is the result of certain correlations of matter; that man is the highest intelligent form of life of the Cosmos; and that his intelligence perishes when the body disintegrates after death. There is absolutely nothing beyond death.
2. The Theory of Theology asserts that at each birth a soul newly created by the hands of God enters the life experience, from an invisible state, through birth, to a visible existence. At the end of the short period of our life in the material world we pass through death, invisible beyond, whence it does not become more and that our happiness or unhappiness is determined for all eternity by the work we have done for the infinitesimal period between birth and death. Infinitely infinitesimal when compared with the Universe. This theory holds the immortality of the soul.
3. The theory of reincarnation or rebirth teaches that each soul is a born part of God, and is developing all the divine possibilities as well as the seed develops a plant; that through repeated incarnations in a human body we are improving in quality and gradually developing the powers given by our divine nature; that all humanity will reach the goal of perfection and return to its source, the divinity. The soul is immortal but it is developed through multiple incarnations.
The purpose of showing these three theories, one against and two in favor of life beyond death is intended so that the reader assess the various schools of thought on this issue critical to our feelings and our thoughts.
The fact that a mystery is beyond the reach of human understanding does not mean we should not try to understand it, as far as this is possible within the realm of the intellect.
Video: What does the Bible say about Reincarnation?
This concludes this article on What the Bible says about Reincarnation. Keep browsing this website to learn more about Reincarnation in the Bible and in other religions.