Reincarnation/reincarnation in bible
QUESTION: do the christian bible teach reincarnation?
ANSWER: Hi Robbie,
First of all, I don't think of the Christian Bible as one consistent book. I think of it as a compilation. I also believe that while some portions of it were clearly inspired, some of it has been edited over the last few thousand years. Therefore, I think some parts of it may be more authentic than other parts.
That being said, as near as I can tell, there are at least three teachings about what will happen after death in different parts of the Bible. One is reincarnation; one is living forever in heaven (I was going to say the "Kingdom of Heaven," but I'm not sure that phrase occurs in the Bible--I think it may always be stated as the "Kingdom of God," which probably meant something different); and one is resurrection. Resurrection, as near as I can tell from my admittedly brief scan of the history, was something taught by the Pharisees, and brought in to mainline Christianity (and eventually made part of the Nicene Creed) by Paul, who had been a Pharisee. I suspect that Paul did not change all his beliefs on the road to Damascus, and continued to mix some of his old Pharisee beliefs in with what he learned from the Apostles.
Heaven is also believed in by reincarnationists; except that it isn't considered to be permanent. Heaven, and hell, are considered by reincarnationists to be states rather than places, per se. I think that this was the original teaching in the Bible as well, but it got distorted to mean that heaven is permanent.
If you study mystical Christianity, you find something quite different, that the goal of religious life is not heaven, but a mystical state of communion with God. The mystics don't talk about going to a place called heaven as the goal of religion.
Resurrection, in my opinion, was a distorted or watered down version of reincarnation which insists on keeping the same body.
Hope that answers your question.
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QUESTION: did the Christians of the early christian church before fourth century believe in reincarnation?
I'm not an expert in this area of the history of Christianity. The reading I've done suggests that many of them did, including several of the "church fathers" like Origen. What follows is partly speculation; but as near as I can put it together, when Paul had his famous conversion on the road to Damascus, either it was faked entirely as a way to infiltrate the early Church, or else he really had it, but he didn't change his Pharisee beliefs as much as everyone assumes he did. What he appears to have done is not only water down Jesus's teachings for Gentile consumption; but to actually retain some of his old Pharisee beliefs, like resurrection (meaning, resurrection of you and me, not of Jesus). He became very popular, so much so, that what he taught "took over" gradually over the next few hundred years. Christians were being persecuted, but the teachings of Paul (being partly the teachings of the original religious "establishment"), were more acceptable than what the Apostles had been teaching, i.e., the pre-existence of the soul. We do know that Jesus taught a simple version for the masses, and a more advanced version for the immediate disciples. This also plays into the picture. Paul appears to have taken the simple version and made it even more simple, for the Gentiles, adding his own Pharisee beliefs, and it took off.
By the time Christianity was made the official religion around AD 300, it was watered down drastically. What was made official by that time was not the original teachings given to the Apostles, and still promoted by some of the church fathers. It was Paul's watered-down version with Pharisee admixtures. Then, the actual Christians who retained the original teachings were persecuted, and those teachings were driven underground. AD 553 (I think it was) finds Emperor Justinian manipulating the Church, and arranging for an "anathema" to be passed against Origen and the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul. It was a dirty political move, and you can read about it online. The Pope, who was in the area, actually boycotted the meeting, but the resolution was made official, anyway, by the bishops that the emperor had stacked the meeting (or some say it was an unofficial meeting before the real meeting) with.
Now the people in charge of the official, watered-down version of Christianity get to persecute anyone who admits to believing in the original teachings as "heretics." That's why you get weird things like supposed Christians murdering people who don't believe the official doctrine. It's actually just more persecution of the real Christians by people who call themselves Christians.
It's not such a black-and-white situation, today. But any Christian who looks deeply into their religion begins to find that there is a hidden Christianity within official Christianity, which is quite different, and that reincarnation fits very nice back where it belonged all-along. It's going to be a bitter pill for mainline Christians to swallow. They have my full sympathy--but as reincarnation is gradually being proven, they will have to decide whether or not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
There is a very interesting clue about Paul. He had a public disagreement with Apostle Peter, in which he publicly accused Peter of being a hypocrite. This is the one that Jesus specifically indicated He would build his church on. Paul's credentials are his own description of a conversion experience, which no-one could verify, and his popularity. Peter's credentials are the mantle of authority directly from Jesus. If Peter was a hypocrite, that means that Jesus gave His church into the hands of a hypocrite, which would mean that Jesus didn't know how to judge men. I think not. The only other solution I see is that it was actually Paul who was the hypocrite, the pot calling the kettle black. It is typical of hypocrites, that they project that charge onto other people to get it off themselves.
Of course nobody wants to hear this! And yet, reincarnation is steadily being proven. So, what to do? As said, I don't envy mainstream Christians as this moves forward.