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The Bible and reincarnation (part 1)
See also Part 2

Introduction

This page is a response to " REINCARNATION AND THE BIBLE " By J J Dewey.

In researching reincarnation, I often came across the claim that reincarnation is taught in the Bible. As I looked at each issue, I jotted down a few notes. I am sure that someone could come up with better answers if they spent more time on the subject. But after reading a few pages of this stuff, I came to the conclusion that it probably wasn't worth spending any more time on it.

Put simply, the evidence for reincarnation in the Bible is very weak.


Claims and responses

Original claims are in green. These were taken from the teachings of JJ Dewey at http://www.dlc.fi/~samu3/JJArchives/. There are several other web sites that say much the same thing. I have abbreviated most points. Mr. Dewey is more grammatical and easier to follow in real life!

My responses are indented.

Reasons given for believing in reincarnation

One of those natural ideas I formulated was that if God is indeed good as everyone had said then he must give us all the chances we need to gain all the experience we want and to live full abundant lives. I thought of how much I looked forward to growing up and making my mark on the world, then of how terrible it would be if some accident took my life. I thought that surely God would provide some way for me to come back and have the opportunity to fulfill my hopes and dreams.

[God is under no obligation to provide us with all our dreams - some dreams are not good. He does however want to give us more and better things than we could dream of.]

It seemed unfair that many people are cut off and unable to enjoy the full fruits of mortality.

[But ALL the best stuff can be enjoyed in immortality! E.g. marriage, a family, sports, achievements, learning, helping others, etc., etc.]

I was told by the brethren that the next world was better than this one and it was really a blessing to die early to escape trials and tribulations. This idea did not help, however, for I looked forward to whatever trials this life may have to offer...

[Whether we like or don't like something is just a personal opinion, and does not count as evidence]

I did not feel satisfied with the answers I had to the questions of: Where did I come from? Why am I here? and Where am I going?

[Have you heard the answers revealed through Joseph Smith? They are VERY satisfying!]

What about babies that die with no chance of participating in mortality?

[They can be raised in the millennium. All such questions are answered by Joseph Smith.]

It has long been known that a person can be guided back to any time in his past and relive it as if it were occurring all over again. This can be done through hypnosis or by merely directing the mind to return.

[Sounds like "recovered memories" - a largely discredited practice that has led to much pain and anguish, and many law suits.]

I did many experiments with regression and watched with fascination as people returned to their early childhood, even the day they were born to recall events verified by older family members.

[Such 'verification' is not always as it seems. For example, I have a friend who recently visited a palm reader. He revealed things about my friend 'that he could not possibly have known'. But on closer investigation it appeared that he was simply an expert at 'cold reading'. My friend is still convinced that he is genuine.]

[Having said all that, it could be true that we may remember some things from the pre-existence. If recovered memories are genuine, they do not prove that we have been reincarnated, but only that we have seen things before we were born. Perhaps we followed several peoples' lives very closely and felt spiritually linked to them.]

We must take into consideration that the Northeast British accent is much more difficult to imitate than the Queen's English which is usually used by movie stars.

[As someone who has lived his whole life in the UK, I disagree.]

In America one rarely hears a North British accent over the media

[Don't you get those Catherine Cookson TV movies? A young lady is more likely to have seen one of these than a man, which would explain why the author is unaware of them.]

[However, if genuine, these can also be explained in terms of close observation from the pre-existence.]

[All the examples of knowing previous lives can be explained either by naturalistic means - I will leave that to the Skeptics Society - or more simply by the fact that we no doubt followed others very closely when we were waiting for our turn to come down to earth. But why did the people say THEY WERE the subjects? Because we do not remember the spirit world. The scriptures teach that this is deliberately withheld. So all that we can hope to remember is the lives of the people we followed. We had no way to know that it was not us.]

I refused to believe it until I was hit with an explosive piece of personal evidence that had no other explanation than reincarnation.

Since that time many years ago, I have learned that there are many proofs of reincarnation in the scriptures and that passage that made me doubt my natural beliefs when I was a child has a very rational explanation.

The "once to die" sounds like an absolute statement not open to debate until we realize that it is boldly contradicted by the Bible itself: "They (the dead) were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. THIS IS THE SECOND DEATH. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast (to suffer a second death) into the lake of fire." Rev 20:12-15

[This second death occurs after the judgement (the opening of he book of life). Thus both scriptures are in harmony. We die once, then we are judged, then if we are guilty we die a second and last time. Simple.]

There are other scriptures that are quite deceiving if they are read with a black and white state of mind:

[It is true that the scriptures sometimes use symbolism. But if it is wrong to ignore the symbolism, it is just as wrong to push it too far.]

Commentary on Hebrews 9:27

Let us examine the verse that precedes the "once to die" scripture: "But now once in the end of the world hath he (Christ) appeared to put away sin by sacrifice of himself." Heb 9:26

In examining the Greek we find that the word "world" is a mistranslation. It comes from the word AION. The modern English word "eon" is derived from this and it means "an age". Thus we see that Jesus came once at not the end of the world, but the end of the age.

[True.]

We realize that his "one" coming refers to his general life (with all his numerous appearances counted as one) at the end of one age and the beginning of a new one.

[False. Hebrews 9:26 did not refer to Jesus appearing more than once but only to his sacrifice on the cross.]

Here we see that Hebrews 9:26 cannot be interpreted in a black and white literal manner. How about the next verse? Does it mean what it seems to mean? Are we really appointed only "once to die" or is there more meaning here below the surface? Are there many deaths within the one death as there were many "comings" within the one general first coming of Christ?

[This is building on the previous falsehood. Paul did not refer to many comings in Hebrews 9:26.]

Is it talking about physical death or spiritual death? If it is talking about spiritual death, then that would leave open the possibility of more than one physical death.

[If we want to understand a scripture, the most important context is the surrounding verses.

["And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."

[So we see that human death is compared to Jesus' death on the cross - ONE SINGLE event.]

Men comes from the Greek ANTHROPOS which in this context indicates the human race as a whole.

[And if you look at all the 552 times that the word appears in the New Testament, it always appears to mankind in the sense of individual men. In other words, something that applies to individuals as individuals.]

The word "but" here is quite interesting. It comes from the Greek ALLA which literally means contrariwise. In other words, it indicates that the information that is forthcoming may contradict that which has just been said.

[This word does not appear in Strong's Greek Study Bible. This is how it appears in "the Literal Translation" with Strong's notes:

Numbers and Text: And | 5613 | as | 606 | it is reserved | 444 | to men | 2178 | once | 599 | to die, | 3326 | after | and | 3778 | this | 2920 | judgment.

Again, the word "but" or "alla" does not appear. The two words joining "die" and "judgement" are as follows:

3326 ROMANIZED-meta PHONETIC-met-ah'

a primary preposition (often used adverbially); properly, denoting accompaniment; "amid" (local or causal); modified variously according to the case (genitive case association, or accusative case succession) with which it is joined; occupying an intermediate position between 575 or 1537 and 1519 or 4314; less intimate than 1722 and less close than 4862): --after(-ward), X that he again, against, among, X and, + follow, hence, hereafter, in, of, (up-)on, + our, and setting, since, (un-)to, + together, when, with (+ -out). Often used in composition, in substantially the same relations of participation or proximity, and transfer or sequence.

3778 ROMANIZED-houtos PHONETIC-hoo'-tos

including nominative masculine plural houtoi {hoo'-toy}; nominative feminine singular haute {how'-tay}; and nominative feminine plural hautai {how'-tahee}; from the article 3588 and 846; the he (she or it), i.e. this or that (often with article repeated): --he (it was that), hereof, it, she, such as, the same, these, they, this (man, same, woman), which, who.

[It appears that the word "but" simply does not appear.]

The Greek word "Krisis"

Judgment comes from the Greek word KRISIS. This is one of the most misunderstood words in the entire Bible. ... The actual Greek word implies a decision that brings correction.

[Not true. This is relatively straightforward. Strong describes it thus:

decision (subjectively or objectively, for or against); by extension, a tribunal; by implication, justice (especially, divine law): --accusation, condemnation, damnation, judgment. ]

Another mistranslation in this verse is the phrase "to die". It is more correctly rendered "to be dying".

[But Biblical Greek always works this way. It has no special relevance to this verse. The word translated "to die" is just the standard word for dying. Whenever someone or something dies, that is the word that is used. 98 times it is translated "die" and only one time is it translated (in the KJV) "lie a dying". ]

The verse could be describing either a spiritual death, physical death or both.

[The context and the words used BOTH indicate that this refers to a physical death.]

The word KRISlS is used in another very interesting scripture:

"The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (KRISIS)." John 5:28-29

[The root meaning of "Krisis" is literally a separation. When we are resurrected, we either inherit life, or we are separated to be somewhere else.]

"Damnation" is an incorrect word for translators to use. The second resurrection should more appropriately be called "the resurrection of correction" or "the resurrection which forces correct decisions".

[Not true. The word "krisis" can have the following meanings, according to Strong:

There is no suggestion of correction.]

The word "resurrection" comes from the Greek ANASTASIS which literally means "to stand up again" or "to come to life again". The word does not imply that the new life will always be an immortal one...

[True, although in all but one case, the context does imply immortality. However, this is a red herring. We do not need to show that resurrection means immortality, only that it implies rising from the grave - not being reborn as a baby.]

Here is another interesting scripture spoken by the Christ years before his resurrection: "The Son can do nothing of him self, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise...For as the Father RAISETH UP THE DEAD, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." John 5:19h21

Here we are plainly told that the dead were raised to life again by the power of the Father BEFORE the resurrection of Jesus.

[This is indeed a deep doctrine. It would take more than one page to discuss it fully, so I shall leave it for now.]

On the other hand Paul said that Jesus was "THE FIRST that should raise from the dead." Acts 26:23.

[Which contradicts the idea that people were reincarnated before Jesus.]

There are two resurrections. Jesus was the first to attain to the resurrection of life. But the second type of resurrection, the resurrection of KRISIS or correction has been occurring since the beginning.

[As noted earlier, "krisis" does not mean correction.]

It was the resurrection of life that Paul spoke of when he said that it was something he had to attain: "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after." Phil 3:11-12.

[Verse 10 referred to becoming like Christ, hence the reference to being perfect. The word "either" indicates that this is not necessarily part of being resurrected.]

[The rest of the page relies heavily on the false idea of "krisis," so I will just jump to the more important points.]

Corruption and incorruption

Reincarnation is merely the result of the law of cause and effect as pointed out by Paul: 'if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that SHALL HE ALSO REAP. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh REAP CORRUPTION; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap LIFE EVERLASTING" .. Gal 6:3-6. ...

No orthodox Christian has ever answered this question: If we reap according to how we have sowed and if we "of the flesh reap corruption" and we die before we have reaped all that is due us, then how can we reap "of the flesh" with no flesh? How can we reap corruption if there is no corruption?

[This is simple logic. This passage refers to an obvious fact of this life. Whatever we build WITH (or from or to) our flesh is only as permanent AS our flesh. It is the first law of cosmetics! The previous chapter had listed the works of the flesh, and sure enough all these things are doomed to be impermanent and unsatisfying. Either the person will live to see the foolishness of his actions, or he will die first. Either way, corruption has the last laugh.]

We must return to mortality if we are to reap corruption in the flesh. Is there another way to fulfill the scripture without mocking God? Verily no.

[Verily yes. The book of Job is an illustration of this. Job was a rich man, as far as corruptible things go. Yet he realized that when he died, everything he had worked for was gone. Corruption has the final say over everything we do in the flesh, and it all happens in one lifetime.]

Paying for sins

Jesus said: "ALL they that take the sword shall PERISH with the sword." Matt 26:52. Now it is obvious that many people in history have slain with the sword, yet died a peaceful death. Why then did Jesus use the word "all"?

[There are at least two simple answers. Either (1) For the same reason he spoke of straining at gnats and swallowing camels. It is hyperbole. Or (2) because "the sword" is a symbol of the spirit. See Matthew 10:34, Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 4:12]

This is confirmed in the thirteenth chapter of Revelations where we are told about the Anti-Christ who will slay all those who will not worship his image and will have power over the Saints. Here the saints are told why they must suffer: "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword MUST be killed with the sword. HERE IS THE PATIENCE AND THE FAITH OF THE SAINTS." Rev 13:10

["He that leadeth into captivity" and "he that killeth with the sword" is the Beast, the subject of Revelation chapter 13 (and not, incidentally, the character called "the Antichrist," a character who does not feature in the Bible) ]

This answers the eternal question as to why some of the best people must suffer so. They are paying off debts from a past era when they were not so good.

[This is an evil doctrine - it implies that we should not help those who are suffering.]

"And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, BY MAN SHALL HIS BLOOD BE SHED: for in the image of God made he man." Gen 9:5-6

[ If a murderer escapes justice in this life, they can either repent (in which case Jesus' death pays the price) or suffer the second death (referred to earlier). There is no need for reincarnation in the equation.]

"everyone that findeth me shall slay me." Gen 4:12-14

[This is simply Cain's way of talking. He never did see things very clearly.]

"And the Lord said unto him, therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him SEVENFOLD." Gen 4:15

[The word translated as "sevenfold" appears seven times in scripture (of course!) and is always used symbolically, never literally.]

Cain was told he would be a fugitive and vagabond in the earth, but instead the scripture tells us that he settled in the land of Nod and built a city named Enoch. (See Gen 4:16-17) It sounds as if Cain was fairly settled in that life.

[Not necessarily. The city was probably built to hide and protect himself. He lived in fear and in hiding.]

Cain also made the interesting statement: "Everyone, that findeth me shall slay me." indicating he expected to be slain more than once. But the scriptures give no indication that Cain died other than a natural death in that life.

[Cain thought he would be killed, but he was wrong. God told people NOT to kill him.]

The book of Revelation

"If any man shall add unto these things, God shall ADD unto him THE PLAGUES that are written in this book". Rev. 22:18

How could a scribe living in the first century (who commits the sin of adding words to John's book) suffer the plagues unless he were here reborn thousands of years later? The plagues from the book of Revelation include such things as men dying of waters that are polluted, men being killed by the symbolic beast, men being scorched by the heat of the sun. people receiving sores over their bodies and numerous others.

[All these things have happened at various times throughout history. Heat stroke happens all the time in the desert. Plagues are not rare. Polluted water is common to all cities. For example, many of these things had been experienced in the first century at the eruption of Vesuvius. Also, the word translated "plague" is also the word for "wound" - as in the wound of the Beast. It is not clear that God is referring to all the plagues, or just some or even one of them. There is thus plenty of scope for fulfillment in all kinds of creative ways.]

We also find that those who have shed the blood of saints and the prophets in past ages will come back and suffer the plagues: "And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and upon the fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. FOR THEY HAVE SHED THE BLOOD OF SAINTS AND PROPHETS, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy." Rev. 16:4-6

[Why just past ages? There are saints and prophets today. These verses can be fulfilled now, without any need for reincarnation.]

[Continued in Part 2]

 

The bottom line

Reincarnation touches on some important points - the pre-existence, the importance of our ancestors, the fact that God must be just, etc. - but it ignores the great truths that explain these issues.

 

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