REINCARNATION AND THE BIBLE
- July 9 2005
Again this subject returns, and perhaps this brief article may answer the
point that there is evidence for reincarnation in the BIBLE itself:
REINCARNATION AND THE BIBLE
Reincarnation or re-embodiment is the lost chord of Christianity. It is a
doctrine of the Jews and widely known at the time of Jesus' ministry. Jesus
did not deny or contradict it.
Jesus said he intended to uphold and buttress the law. We find Herod
listening attentively to discussions that John or Jesus was this or that
returning prophet or great man of olden times--speculating on the doctrine
of reincarnation, of "coming back."
It was then a matter of court gossip, which, to an Eastern potentate, would
be a warning that a returning great personage would of necessity have, not
only knowledge but also power; and that people, if attracted to such a new
leader, would have their minds inflamed beyond control with the idea that a
wise one of old had returned to live and work with them.
Reincarnation when brought to Jesus' attention is not found to be condemned,
refuted or denied by him, but tacitly accepted and even declared to be true.
This illustrated below.
Old Jewish traditions held that the soul of Adam reincarnated in David and
will have to come again in the expected Messiah. Hebrew interpreters said
that since Adam had sinned it was necessary for him to reincarnate on earth
to make good the evil committed by him. David sinned against Uriah... This
doctrine was also applied by the Jewish Rabbis to Moses, Seth, and Abel
(Habel). Cain died and was reincarnated as Yethrokorah. Similarly it was
held by them that Bileam, Laban and Nabal were reincarnations of the same
soul or individuality. Job is said to have been once Thara, the father of
Abraham. We find Jeremiah speaking of Esau and Jacob "returning." And, the
people spoke of Elias "who was yet to first come;" and also that some of
the old prophets were there in Jesus and in John the Baptist. "Proverbs"
gives the doctrine where Solomon says he was with the Creator "from the
beginning" and that then his (Solomon's) delights were with the sons of men
and in habitable parts of the earth.
Matthew in Ch. 11, v. 14 relates what Jesus said concerning Elias "which was
for to come." Here he took the doctrine for granted. And, in the 17th
Chapter he says among other things: "But I say unto you that Elias is come
already, and they knew him not...and the disciples understood that he spake
to them of John the Baptist." This is repeated in Mark Ch. 9, v. 13 but
there the name of John is omitted.
There is the case of the man born blind--Jesus neither denied nor condemned
the doctrine when this was discussed. They asked Jesus if he had been
punished by the Almighty or for some sin he had committed, or one done by
his parents, thus voicing the accepted views of the doctrine of
reincarnation. Jesus replied, saying that the cause was not because of past
sin, but for an extraordinary purpose.
In another case when he revived one whose death had not proceeded beyond
recovery, this gave him an opportunity to demonstrate the powers he had.
Had the doctrine been untrue and pernicious he would have denounced it. He
did not, but brought up to his followers the case of John, on the coast of
Caesarea Philippi. Jesus asked the disciples: "Who do men think that I am
?" using the prevailing idea of the time. (Matthew xvi, v. 13)
There he seems to have deliberately brought up the old doctrine to
distinguish himself from the common lot of sages and prophets by showing
himself to be an incarnation of God and not a reincarnation of any saint or
sage. Had the doctrine been wrong, then was the time for Jesus to denounce
it, putting his condemnation on it for all time. (see St. John, ix).
St. John could have meant nothing but that doctrine when in Revelations, Ch.
iii, v, 12 he said: "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple
of my God and he shall no more go out." Evidently he had "gone out" before,
or this could have no place or meaning.
If the Church now does not agree with the views of Jesus, and chooses to
explain them away, then we ought to consider giving up such Church views
since they are guilty of doubting the wisdom of Jesus and his ability to
conduct a great movement. The Church is well known to have promulgated
dogmas and condemned doctrines wholly without any authority, and some that
Jesus himself held it has placed anathema upon. The Church has cursed the
doctrine he taught. Which is right? The true believer in Jesus must reply
that Jesus is. Why should the Church have done this? Perhaps because such a
doctrine places all men on an equal basis, and hence, weakens the chosen
position of the Church, as the human rulers of heaven and access thereto.
Such an important doctrine, Jesus could not afford to pass over, and if it
was wrong, it would be his duty to condemn it--we may then suppose that he
would have done so were it not entirely right. He went further, affirming
it and approving of it. We should also remember that Jesus said that his
mission was primarily to the Jews and not the Gentiles: "I am not sent but
unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
John the Revealer (Revelations, 3, 12) says that the Almighty declared that
the man who would overcome should "go out no more" from heaven. This is
mere rhetoric if reincarnation is denied.
St. Paul in his epistles refers to the cases of Jacob and Esau, saying that
the Lord loved one and hated the other before they were born. They could
not have been non-existent in that case, and the Lord (or Karma, the Law)
held these views because of their past actions, which would shape their
Origen, who died about A.D. 254, held to and taught "the original and
indestructible unity of God and all spiritual essences." Origen, taught
pre-existence, and the wanderings of the soul (a'leen b'gilgoola--cycle of
rebirths with the Kabalists and the Talmudists, described in the Zohar)--an
exile from Paradise. He gave pre-existence and transmigration as a
necessary doctrine for the explaining of the vicissitudes of life and the
inequalities of birth.
He was highly regarded by all in the early Church, and by his contemporaries
outside of it. His teachings, and because of his influence continued, and,
it was only some 500 years after Jesus, that the Church, at the Council of
Constantinople saw fit to anathematize as pernicious the doctrine Jesus had
taught and Origen and others had maintained, for the reasons given earlier.
So, "pre-existence of the soul" fell out of the Church teachings in the West
and became "lost." But it will and should be revived as one of the
Founder's teachings; and, as it gives a forceful basis for ethics, it is in
all truth, one of the most basic and powerful of teachings. Origen also
taught the doctrine of unity with God, of the final restoration of all souls
to pristine purity, and, of their necessary pre-existence.
If we would consider that the soul, when united to the Spirit and not the
animal, passional soul, is pure, of the essence of God, and desirous of
immortality through a person, we may understand that the personality may
fail, and not be fit for unity with the spiritual soul. So, ongoing in its
quest, other personalities are ensouled. Each one, if a failure in respect
to union with the Spirit passes into the sum of experience. But, finally, a
personal birth is found wherein all former experiences are united, affirmed
and union is gained with the Spirit. From then onward there can be no
falling back. Immortality through a personality has been attained. Prior
to this great event the soul existed and hence the doctrine of
This is a process which is within the grasp of all men--each being
considered as embodying a "ray" from God-Spirit. The Higher Self, the
Augoeides has existed from all time. It may cause rebirths, but not be
itself reborn as it merely overshadows each birth without being, itself,
wholly in the flesh. Mystical this may appear, but it provides for each
human his personal God, within, and That is united to all such Spirits, to
be seen in the infinite radiations of the One GOD-SPIRIT.
When at last the modern Churches will admit that its Founder and his
disciples believed in pre-existence, and that Jesus did not condemn it, a
long step will be taken towards eliminating may intolerant and illogical
doctrines now held. A great step towards sympathy and universal brotherhood
will be taken.
The Sermon on the Mount is of high importance--if taken literally it appears
to be a string of meaningless promises. These commandments are broken
daily. But the ideas of Karma (justice and retribution) and Reincarnation
(the return of the Soul to earth to balance its accounts of a moral nature)
are seen to be important and fundamental ethical doctrines. Every ancient
reformer, prophet or sage prior to Jesus' time promulgated and emphasized
these ideas to his people and times.
Wisdom and Truth are synonymous terms, and that which is false or pernicious
cannot be wise. If it is true, as we are told by a well-known
representative of the Church of England, that the Sermon on the Mount would,
in its practical application, mean utter ruin for his country in less than
three weeks, we are left to choose between two courses.
We have either to take Science and Theology on blind trust and faith, or
proclaim them both untrue and untrustworthy. There is however a third
course, as many do and take, and that is pretend to believe in both at the
same time, and say nothing as many do, pandering to the prejudices of
The ethics of Christ alone purge the mind of hypocrisy for the true
believer. Science to be honest and true must embrace and investigate every
event brought to its attention without prejudice or preconception. This is
the only hope for truth to prevail in this age, and all of us are
participants in this process. The choice is ours.