Was Reincarnation Deleted From The Bible?

A survey by Pew Research in 2009 yielded surprising results: 24 percent of American Christians believe in reincarnation Yet the concept of reincarnation goes against orthodox Church doctrine

In 1978, Geddes MacGregor, argued this should not be the case He claimed that early Christians did believe in reincarnation Moreover, MacGregor says all written evidence for reincarnation in early Christian teachings and in the Bible was deliberately suppressed by the Catholic Church Reincarnation is the transmigration of the soul When biological death occurs, souls are reborn into another body of an animal or person

There are different views on how and why this occurs, but in most religions, reincarnation has a purpose Generally speaking, the deeds or misdeeds of a lifetime determine what happens in the next As Dr Christopher Bache says, “People who have lived badly and made harmful choices encounter all the unpleasant circumstances that mirror back to them the bad quality of the choices they’ve made, not out of cruelty but out of an intention to teach them” Rebirth is essentially a lesson through punishment, with the form and course of each rebirth determined by the balance of your sin and virtue in previous lives Rebirth continues until the soul achieves perfection and can rejoin the universal of existence; what Christians call heaven

It is a cyclical process, and souls can leave the ultimate plane of existence to be reborn in the world, again According to Geddes MacGregor, early Christian theologian Origen of Alexandria believed in reincarnation The Greek scholar wrote over 800 treatises on almost every aspect of Christianity He is held up alongside the early saints as one of the church fathers, one of the most important theologians of all time Yet he was denounced by the church as a heretic because of his teachings, which MacGregor says included arguments in favour of reincarnation

Yet we only know Origen was a heretic because it was noted in the records of the Second Council of Constantinople in AD 553 This is when his heretical writings were destroyed, so we can never know exactly what he said that was so heretical New Age believers say the Church also retranslated the Bible to expunge all evidence for reincarnation

But it did not do a complete job According to theosophist Nancy Coker, several passages from the Bible suggest early Christians believed in reincarnation Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 6 verse 7 says, “A man reaps what he sows” In Matthew chapter 26 verse 52 Jesus declares, “all who draw the sword will die by the sword” In the Book of John chapter 9, verse 2, the disciples challenge a Rabbi about a disabled man’s misfortune

“Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” These all agree with theosophist teachings that what goes around, comes around In a word, karma, which is closely tied to reincarnation More intriguingly, in John chapter 3 verse 3, Jesus announces, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” This explicitly refers to rebirth There may even be a direct example of reincarnation in the New Testament, in the figure of John the Baptist

In the Book of Matthew chapter 11 verse 14, Jesus tells his disciples, “if you are willing to accept it, [John the Baptist] is the Elijah who was to come” He repeats this in Matthew 17, verses 12 to 13 In Luke chapter 1 verse 17, an angel foretells that “[John the Baptist] will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah… to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” Elijah was an Old Testament prophet who was predicted to return as a harbinger of the Messiah, Jesus Historians know that belief in reincarnation was around in Jesus’ lifetime

Greek philosophy was the dominant school of thought in the ancient world, particularly the teachings of Plato He taught that souls transmigrate from body to body over a span of ten thousand years until they have learned perfection and return to their original state of celestial purity The souls who do not learn, pass into the houses of correction under the Earth Before he converted to Christianity, Origen was strongly influenced by Platonism However, the church fathers rejected Plato’s teachings and the idea of reincarnation

In the early 2nd century, Justin Martyr pointed out that Plato argued people are ignorant of their reincarnations because rebirth eradicates memory In this case, Justin Martyr noted, reincarnation cannot be the instructive process it is supposed to be unless everyone remembers their past lives, and therefore their past sins As Irenaeus said in the later 2nd century, “[Souls] must of necessity retain a remembrance of those things which have been previously accomplished, that they might fill up those in which they were still deficient and not… spend their labour wretchedly in vain” More importantly, Origen himself said, “the dogma of transmigration… is foreign to the church of God, and not handed down by the Apostles, nor anywhere set forth in the Scriptures” He also refuted the notion that John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah

He wrote that, “[the angel] did not say in the ‘soul’ of Elijah, in which case the doctrine of transmigration might have some ground, but ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’” The Bible was speaking figuratively, not literally All these arguments against reincarnation were made over three centuries before the Second Council of Constantinople Scholars agree that Origen was against reincarnation, and that he was probably labelled a heretic because he taught that souls exist in heaven, come down to Earth in human form and pass into the afterlife upon death The Church teaches that God created man in his image, and that each soul enters the world anew

Meanwhile, theologian Ernest Valea says New Age arguments misinterpret or misrepresent passages in the Bible Reincarnation contradicts the fundamental teachings of Christianity and Christ himself: that everything will come to an end, and will be judged at the end by God Moreover, the central tenet of Christianity is that Christ sacrificed himself on the cross to redeem the sins of humanity God will forgive our sins, and we may enter the kingdom of heaven by accepting Christ, not by working towards a karmic balance of our sins and virtues These theological arguments are profound and complex, and cannot be given full justice in this short video

Theosophists can cite more examples from the Old Testament that ancient Jews believed in reincarnation They also say hypnotic regression helps people remember their past lives On the other hand, the earliest surviving Christian texts – including copies of the Bible – show that very few Christians, if any, believed Jesus taught reincarnation Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the Church’s habit of deleting or forgetting the things that contradict its teachings, has created doubt for a long time, and will continue to cast a shadow for millennia to come

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