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Sunday, July 27, 2014

One More Time: Christians and Reincarnation

Reincarnation — the belief that after a person dies he is reborn in some other form — has been part of man’s beliefs since ancient times. In recent years its popularity has surged with the advent of the New Age movement and the associated renewal of interest in Eastern philosophies and religions. 

The idea behind reincarnation is that the more experience one has in life, the more pure and enlightened one becomes. A mere seventy-odd years is not enough time to attain perfection. Therefore a person’s soul must go through the cycle of life, death and rebirth — known as the “Wheel of Being” — until he or she has reached enlightenment and perfection, and is prepared to meet and/or become part of God. 

It sounds sophisticated, but in essence it is just another way of saying the same thing as the rest of the world’s religions — that man can somehow make himself good enough to please God. By his good works he can earn his salvation — it just takes a few extra lives to do it. This view may be compatible with a wide variety of beliefs, but it stands in direct contradiction to the teachings of Scripture.

The Bible is unique among the “holy writings” of the world in that it teaches of a God so holy that one sin is enough to separate us from Him forever. “[You are] of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity”. Even if a man committed just one sin in one of his lives, and lived blamelessly thereafter, he would still not be fit to stand before God. And reincarnation admits that in the process of accumulating “karma” a soul commits many sins and mistakes. Can all the good deeds a man might do erase the sins he had committed before? If a man throws a rock through a window, and then feels sorry and decides to dedicate his life to window-washing as penance, will that fix the window that he shattered?

The Bible also says that the things man calls ‘good works’ are useless to God, no better than filthy rags. Because his heart is corrupt, all the ‘good’ things he does are only good in the eyes of men like himself: “Every way of a man [is] right in his own eyes: but the LORD ponders hearts”. So how can man possibly reach God by doing good deeds, even if he had a million lives to do them in?

But the Bible tells us quite plainly that man does not have a million lives. He does not even have two lives. “... it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment ...”. Men die only once, not many times. And after death comes judgment, not rebirth.

No matter how popular it may be to believe in reincarnation, there is no possible way to reconcile this pagan teaching with the words of Scripture.

RJA

Republished by permission

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