The subject of death has equally fascinated and terrified people of all ages and religions for all time. Very few religions are silent about what happens to their followers after death. Beginning with the first human being to walk on earth, mankind has been intrigued by what happens after he takes his final breath on earth. Some people and faith groups celebrate death as a final and glorious ticket out of this fallen, depraved world. Other groups choose intentional ignorance or denial that death will eventually happen at all, and, instead, choose to seize life by the shirt tails and live it for all its worth.
And then there are some people who believe in reincarnation–that is, human beings don’t ever really die, but instead exist in an endless circle of leaving one body and returning in another. Side note: Even reincarnation is not without its legislation. In 2007, China banned Tibetan Buddhist monks from reincarnation without first gaining government permission.
Thankfully, God–via the Bible–is not silent on the matter of what happens to man after he dies.
The Pre-eminent Verse
While the Bible does not specifically use the term “reincarnation,” it does speak to what happens after death. One Bible verse in particular bears significant weight in the discussion and is worthy of consideration. Hebrews 9:27 says, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” and then the chapter goes on to discuss the Second Coming of Christ. This verse would seem to indicate two specific things as it relates to reincarnation.
First, man dies only one time. Coming back in another form or life would require a second (or third or fourth, and so on) death. If man is appointed to die only once, it would indicate he is also appointed to live on earth only once. Second, after death comes judgment. If reincarnation were a possibility, this would have been a good place to mention it. Instead, the writer of Hebrews indicates that what should be expected after death is accountability for how life was lived on earth.
A Common Misconception
With the advent of television shows and books featuring life after death or characters returning to life in new or different bodies comes discussion from opponents and proponents of reincarnation alike, both using verses from the Bible. One frequently quoted verse from those would support reincarnation comes from John 3:3, “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'” While this language of being “born again” often raises questions among those who would support reincarnation, it doesn’t take much study or reading beyond the single verse to understand that the context is spiritual–as opposed to physical–rebirth Jesus is discussing.
More than a Misunderstanding
In a day and age when faith groups are being encouraged to be inclusive and accepting of each other’s beliefs and practices, it should be noted that reincarnation is more than a slight deviation from the Christian faith–it stands fully opposed to what Jesus of the Bible represents.
In 2015, Willie Nelson published his autobiography, It’s a Long Story: My Life, in which he wrote the following:
“From the first moment I considered the concept of reincarnation it made sense. The old paradigm was just too cruel, just too unchristian, to be believed: If you die in your sin, you spend eternity in hell. How could the compassionate God of mercy ever set up such a system? On the other hand, I was drawn to the idea that you keep coming back till you get it right. Reincarnation seemed merciful and completely Christ-like. Jesus got it right the first time around and was, after all, God incarnate, perfect man. But the rest of us would need several lifetimes to shed our sins and learn the lessons necessary to heal our troubled souls.”
His words encapsulate perfectly what is wrong with the concept of reincarnation–namely three things.
First, reincarnation can only be believed through the framework of human reasoning. The Bible says nothing to support the idea of reincarnation. Second, to believe reincarnation is to decide the Bible is unloving or unjust. Third, to believe reincarnation is to replace what the Bible does say with what feels better or seems helpful.
And in the end, deciding the Bible says something that it does not is–at best–unhelpful, and–at worst–damning.
~ Christian Patriot Daily