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Christianity and Reincarnation

This article was written by Florence Wagner McClain on May 29, 2002
posted under Past Life Regression

Christianity embraced and taught the doctrine of reincarnation until the Emperor Justinian summoned the Fifth Ecumenical Congress of Constantinople in 543 a.d. This congress was convened for the expressed purpose of censoring from the religious literature and teachings of the day all references to reincarnation.

Reincarnation was not a popular doctrine with the nobility of the day since it essentially taught that all men were equal. This made difficulties for the nobility who wanted to convince the common man of their divinity. How distressing when one considered that he might be in the beggar’s place the next lifetime, and the beggar in his place.

Also, the doctrine of reincarnation made man personally responsible for himself and his spiritual development, and promoted the idea that man could find the truth for himself. This was unpopular with the church officials. The ‘common man’ was never encouraged to think for himself.

In spite of efforts to destroy them, there remain several references in the Bible that address the issue of reincarnation.

In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked his disciples who people thought he was. The disciples told him that some people thought he was John the Baptist returned to life. Others thought he was Elijah or Jeremiah, or one of the other great prophets of ancient times. People evidently believed in reincarnation at that time.

Later, in Matthew 17:10-13, after Jesus had stated his claim that he was the Christ, the One who had been prophesied, the disciples questioned him. They asked why, if he was the Messiah, the prophets had said that Elijah would come again before the Messiah. Jesus told them that Elijah had been reborn, and they hadn’t recognized him. Then they understood that he meant John the Baptist. Jesus claimed that John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah.

John 9:1-3 presents the story of a man who had been born blind. Jesus is questioned by his disciples, "Master, who did sin, this man or his parents that he was born blind?" Jesus answered that neither had sinned. The man had been born blind so that the power of God could be demonstrated.

Notice that no one, including Jesus, seemed to find anything absurd in the idea that the blind man could have performed some act before his birth to cause his blindness at birth.

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