Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Is Reincarnation Taught in the Bible?

Definitely not.

Reincarnation is an Eastern concept that speaks of the transmigration of the human soul. In certain cultures it is believed that the souls of those who die come back as dung beetles, or as the rain or the dew. In Nepal they teach that evil men come back as dogs, so they beat the dogs unmercifully. In India cows, rats, and grasshoppers are viewed as people who have been reincarnated.

The overarching concept of reincarnation comes from the Hindu belief that life and death make up an eternal wheel. Each individual is attached to the wheel, and attached to each individual is a karma, or fate. People supposedly purge their karmas by successive incarnations. There is no end, only bad incarnations or possibly good incarnations. There is no understanding, no rules, no reason; just mindless fate and hopeless attempts at the cleansing of guilt.

The Bible does not teach this at all. The Bible says, "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, when the rich man died, he went to Hades. When Lazarus died, he went to paradise, called by the Bible "Abraham's bosom." There was no thought of coming back.

When Jesus Christ was on the Mount of Transfiguration, He met with Moses and Elijah and He talked with them (see Matthew 17:1-3). Moses had been dead for years, but he was still Moses. Moses did not come back as King Tut or Marie Antoinette. Moses was Moses. He never lost his identity. The Bible teaches that when you are born you have the identity you will have for all eternity (see Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36).

You are never going to lose that identity. You are absolutely accountable for what you do in this life. There is no second chance and no opportunity to come back and purge yourself of the sins and wrongs you have done. Reincarnation vitiates the major teachings of Christianity about responsibility and judgment.

There are those who claim that reincarnation is a Christian concept, but it is not. It is a Hindu concept that has been totally discredited. It gives people a false hope, a false expectation, or a false despair--false because thinking about what awaits you in the next life makes it very hard to bring about any kind of moral reformation in this one. When you have this concept of karma (the same thought is found in the Mohammedan concept of kismet), then you say, "Well, these people are the lower classes and that is their karma." You do not have to worry about feeding them, educating them, uplifting them, because they have that karma. They are where they belong. You will never find social justice and social progress in countries where the doctrine of reincarnation has a strong hold.

In comparison, the Bible says we are responsible for our brothers. We must be kind and good to the poor and the needy. The Bible teaches that all people are beloved by God and that they all have an equal chance, but the chance lasts only during this lifetime.

Excerpt taken from Answers to 200 of Life's Most Probing Questions, Copyright 1984 by Pat Robertson. 

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