Reincarnation comes from the Hindu-buddhist philosophy of soul transmigration. This is the "religious" concept of the eternal birth-death-birth cycle, where a soul moves from body to body. The status of each successive body, whether human or animal, is the direct result of the quality of the life the soul led in the previous body. Thus, a "good" life results in rebirth to a higher quality form, and a "bad" life results in rebirth to a lower quality form. This forward and backward progression is based on the Law of Karma, a central foundation of Hinduism and other Eastern-based philosophies. As most of us know, Karma teaches that good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished. The ultimate goal in this Karma cycle is for the soul to progress to the highest level of existence and become one with the universe. Reincarnation is taught side-by-side with pantheism, the belief that everything is God and God is in everything. Reincarnation and pantheism are the central doctrines of Hinduism and occultism, variations of which have grown popular in the Western world in recent decades.
It's Impact on Western Thought
Reincarnation appeals to Western "religious" thinking, such as the New Age philosophies, because the life cycle concept provides people with unlimited chances to get life right. With reincarnation, we have no imminent or compelling reason to figure out the meaning of life with respect to God and fellow man. We can feel our way through existence, and, if need be, "get it right in the next life." Remarkably, recent surveys reveal that nearly 60% of Americans believe reincarnation is possible. Not only has reincarnation entered Western thought through various New Age teachings, reincarnation has surfaced in the Christian church and certain "Christian" variants. Actually, the Bible is sometimes cited to support a belief in reincarnation, or at least the possibility that reincarnation can coexist with Christianity. The remainder of this piece will address four biblical citations used by reincarnationists to support this misguided doctrine.
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