Reincarnation: A Biblical and Patristic Response

At some point, if one is involved in soul winning evangelism efforts, we're all confronted with the question of reincarnation, or the transmigration of souls. Reincarnation is essentially a belief that a person has to live many lives and improve in each (reducing negative karma- a nebulous energy attached to one by deeds done) until they become a pure soul and either finally lose self-awareness into the mindless soup of the cosmic mind (Nirvana), or in some sects go to live with God. Alternatively, some New Age cults teach that one chooses ones own next life on the spiritual plane in order to learn something in the next. One might have to live millions of lives before becoming perfect enough to escape the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth and find enlightenment.

The illogical and Biblically antithetical nature of this teaching is as follows:

1. Sacred Scripture says it is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) That doesn't leave any room for returning to fix whatever you screwed up in this life. 

"How much more worthy of acceptance is our belief that maintains that souls will return to the same bodies (in the resurrection). And how much more ridiculous is your inherited pagan teaching that the human spirit is to reappear in a dog, mule, or peacock!"
                                                                                           - Tertullian

2. Reincarnation says that a soul must live many mortal lives to reach perfection. Thus humanity undergoes a plethora of incarnations from a bad human until one finally becomes an enlightened one. Nevertheless, one must start out as a lowly life form such as a cockroach or garden Lilly and finally, after countless millions of years progress to become human. If you can logically explain how a bad cockroach, bad dust mite, or garden Lilly becomes a "good cockroach or garden Lilly" you'll perhaps convince me of the logic of such a belief. 

"Now, our position is this: that the human soul cannot by any means at all be transferred to beasts." - Tertullian

3. Reincarnation says that if we have a weakness or fault in this life, we must return again and again and overcome our failings in the previous, in the next life, or maybe revert to being a mule again. 

"Souls do not transmigrate into animals."- Tertullian

4. Many offer reincarnation as a more "compassionate" view of the afterlife, as opposed to the Christian view. The proponent of reincarnation says, "How can a loving God condemn people to hell?" This ontological argument stands on a belief that a loving God cannot also be just, which itself is absurd. The argument is an attempt at misdirection. It is meant to move away from the fact that karma and reincarnation are not compassionate at all. Karma and reincarnation tell us that any suffering we have to endure in this life, be it cancer, aids, all other sicknesses poverty, etc., is our own fault due to the evil or bad things we did in our past life. This is a cruel belief, as many saintly people suffer and die in the most horrific manner. This would mean that Jews in Nazi Germany who died in the holocaust, consumed in the ovens of Hitler's death camps, ultimately deserved their fate as a matter of karma (which, indeed, some New Age leaders teach.). This is a fatalistic belief and one that takes a very cold view of the sufferings of others. According to this belief the murder victim deserved to be killed, the rape victim to be raped, and the abused child his/her abuse- even without cognitive memory of past bad karma. There is nothing in this that can be called compassionate and loving.

5. How can one be punished life after life so terribly for something they do not even remember from a sinful forgotten past life? Does this speak to compassion?

"We may subvert their doctrine, as to migration from body to body, by this fact: that sould remember nothing of the events which took place in their supposed previous states of existence."- Irenaeus

6. Another view favored by New Agers is that between lives we sit in some other dimension and decide exactly what kind of life we choose, be it a beggar, rich person or what ever. Therefore, our fate is consciously decided by ourselves. If this is so then we can only assume the Jews who suffered under the Nazis chose that fate, the rapist CHOSE to live a life wherein she was raped, the child abuse victim chose to live that life as well. This again exposes the sick and sadistic nature of reincarnation and karma as a belief.

7. Additionally, what then about souls like Hitler, Stalin, Nero and the numerous depraved people on earth at the moment? Did they deliberately choose to come here and live a life of depraved evil? And what could they realistically learn by their wicked actions that could not be learned in a much more non-destructive way? This also exposes an inconsistency in reincarnation, as according to karma and reincarnation, such "bad karma" would only result in them slipping down the food chain of life, so to speak. They would continually degenerate through each life as they are increasingly totally depraved without any redeeming good qualities whatsoever. 

8. If we look at the world population we see an exponential increase in the total world population, which is already at 6.5 billion and growing faster and faster by the day. Where are all these people coming from? If reincarnation is true, surely people should be reaching perfection and escaping the cycle of life and the worlds population decreasing. We should be observing just the reverse of the population explosion we see. With more and more people becoming better and better (a necessity for reincarnation and karma to be logical) and finally reaching enlightenment and escaping the relentless birth and rebirth, there would logically be a subsequent decrease in the world population.

To sum it up, reincarnation is not just illogical, but is not founded in either Sacred Scripture, nor the writings of the Church Fathers..


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