OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


     “Belief in reincarnation is an ancient phenomenon.  This doctrine is a central tenet within the majority of Indian religious traditions, such as Hinduism (including Yoga, Vaishnavism, and Shaivism), Jainism, and Sikhism.  The idea was also entertained by some Ancient Greek philosophers.  Many modern Pagans also believe in reincarnation as do some New Age movements, along with the followers of Spiritism, practitioners of certain African traditions, and students of esoteric philosophies such as Kabbalah, Surfism and Gnostic and Esoteric Christianity” (Wikipedia, 2008, “Reincarnation”).

     “Reincarnation, literally ‘to be made flesh again,’ is a doctrine or metaphysical belief that some essential part of a living being (in some variations only human beings) survives death to be reborn in a new body.  This essential part is often referred to as the spirit or soul, the ‘higher’ or ‘true’ self, ‘divine spark,’ or ‘I.’  According to such beliefs, a new personality is developed during each life in the physical world, but some part of the same self remains constant throughout the successive lives” (Ibid.).

     The doctrine of reincarnation has intrigued many minds, even the minds of some Christians.  They ask:  “Is such possible?”  And again:  “Are we really going to live again in this world in another form at a future period of time?”  The answer to these questions is:  “No.”  Our divine guide, the Bible, teaches against the concept of reincarnation.  In the remainder of the is article, we will look at some passages that refute the idea that we will live again in this world in a different fleshly form after death.

     Hebrews 9:27 refutes the doctrine of reincarnation twice.  “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”  Notice that each person is only going to die once.  If reincarnation were true, we could die several times on this side of eternity.  Notice also that after death the judgment follows.  Death, then judgment.  There is not a series of successive lives between the two.

     In Luke 16, Jesus refutes the doctrine of reincarnation in His account of the rich man and Lazarus.  In verse 22, both men die.  The rich man entered into “hell,” or hades, a place of torment.  Lazarus, on the other hand, “was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom,” a place of comfort (v. 25), a place called Paradise (Luke 23:43).  The rich man had two requests in his state of anguish.  First, he wanted Lazarus to be allowed to come to where he was and dip his finger in water and put a drop of it on his tongue because he was tormented in the flames of hell.  This, however, was not possible because a great gulf separated the two realms and no one was permitted to cross between the two (v. 26).  Second, the rich man wanted Lazarus to return to his father’s house and warn his brethren about the place of torment.  That request was also denied.  His brothers were to hear the law and the prophets (vs. 28-31).  The lesson is clear.  At death, our eternal destiny is sealed.  There is no second chance.  There is no going back.  The very things reincarnation promises just are not to be.

     Reincarnation is a false hope of men confused and fearful of the afterlife.  Passing into the unknown is not a pleasant alternative.  Reincarnation has been devised to allow one to continue in the familiar and comfortable.  For the Christian, this world is not his home.  He looks to realms beyond with great expectation and anticipation.  Paul said it best:  “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).