By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 9/24/2018
Posted: 2/2/2010
Topics/Keywords: #Reincarnation #Metaphysics #Spirituality Page Views: 602
Let's consider the ramifications of a belief in reincarnation.

Many centuries ago reincarnation was a widely accepted belief. Early philosophers and Christian fathers and saints believed in and supported that concept in their writings. There is evidence that Jesus believed in it, too—evidence that remains in the Bible.

For example:

  • Matt. 17:12-13: "I tell you that Elijah has already come and people did not recognize him…Then the disciples understood that [Jesus] was talking to them about John the Baptist."
  • Matt. 11:14: "..and if you are willing to believe their message, John is Elijah, whose coming was predicted. Listen, then, if you have ears!"
  • John 3:6: "A person is born physically of human parents, but he is born spiritually of the Spirit."
  • John 9:1 The disciples asked Jesus: "Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents' sin?" (How could his fault be considered when he was born blind?)

Note: History shows that early Christians generally accepted the belief in reincarnation until the teachings of Origen became unpopular and the belief in reincarnation was banned (see First Council of Nicaea 325 CE and Second Council of Constantinople 553 CE).

Who were some others?

  • Plato (582-507 BCE)
  • Origen (185-254 CE)
  • St. Clement of Alexandria (150-220 CE)
  • St. Gregory (257-332 CE)
  • St Augustine (354-430 CE)

So, what happened? At what time in religious history did the "you only live once" concept originate? Who came up with this teaching?

During the first 300 years of the early Church, reincarnation was widely accepted by many of the early Christians, including Origen, whom the Encyclopedia Britannica hailed as "the most prominent of the church fathers with the possible exception of (Saint) Augustine." In addition, the Gnostic gospel, Pistis Sophia, quotes Jesus as saying that "…souls are poured from one into another of different bodies of the world."

However, in the 4th century there arose a political pressure to remove the concept from the religion of the day. In America, we are so accustomed to the separation of church and state that it is hard to imagine a time when an emperor could appoint a Pope; but when Constantine was the emperor of Rome, he appointed a Pope named Damascus. In conjunction with that, Constantine and his puppet Pope founded the Council of Nicaea. Its ostensible purpose was to translate the Scriptures from Aramaic into Latin, their contemporary language; but, as they did so, they also attempted to purge everything out of the Scriptures of the New Testament that spoke of reincarnation. Since some of the original Aramaic scriptures have survived to this day, we have proof of this purging.

Then, in the year 553 CE Emperor Justinian called for the Fifth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople. Such Councils had always been (and have been since) convened by the Pope, not by secular leaders. That Justinian called this Council—and that the Pope refused to attend—points out the secular nature of this Council in spite of the fact that its results changed the Church forever more.

The Council was convened with the express purpose of condemning reincarnation once and for all. Here's how it was done. A total of 15 "anathemas" were created. Think of them as condemnations. The first anathema was, "If anyone assert the fabulous pre-existence of the souls (reincarnation), and shall assert monstrous restoration which follows from it, let him be anathema." From that point forward reincarnation was forbidden from Christian beliefs. Individuals who chose to preach reincarnation were persecuted. The church's campaign of terror and slaughter lasted until the 13th century when the last vestige of the belief disappears from the literature…and has remained so ever since.

Understand the math? The concept of reincarnation was so ingrained in the early Christian church that it took 800 years to wipe it out!

A related concept was the idea that Jesus was the Son of God rather than a Son of God. That is, that he was different from the rest of us in some fundamental way. The Council declared that anyone who declared otherwise was. again, "anathema".

And yet, Jesus himself called himself "the son of man," and declared that we would do greater things than he had! [John 14:12]

Why was reincarnation banned? Simple. Under the concept of reincarnation God does not punish anyone. We are the ones who are responsible for the choices we make. We are also the ones who will decide how any of our negative actions (karma) will be balanced with love during a future life. This belief system does not require a formal church with doctrines, dogmas and donations. In essence, if someone believes in reincarnation that individual does not need anyone to serve as an intermediary between himself or herself and our Source. God is within, and accessible to, everyone!

It's easy to see why the early Church and future Popes condemned this belief. There would be no reason to follow their own man-made religion which was based upon the dogma that God judges and punishes, sends us to heaven or hell, etc., requiring the Church's intercession so that one could miraculously be saved from all of this, especially through generous donations. These dogmas of fear and guilt made people totally dependent upon the church. Sadly, it's been that way ever since.

Religious Sources

By: Paul S. Cilwa Page Views: 460
A surprising number of religious traditions, including Judeo-Christian, include references to reincarnation.

John 9:1 The disciples asked Jesus: "Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents' sin?" (How could his fault be considered when he was born blind?)

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