Can the Belief in Reincarnation Coexist Within Christianity?

Can the Belief in Reincarnation Coexist Within Christianity?
  • Religious syncretism is becoming a very popular idea. Many “spiritual” people want to pick and choose different beliefs from a variety of religions and unite them into one faith.
  • The idea of reincarnation and its dependence on karma—the good and bad things we do—have slowly infiltrated the Christian faith. Can the two coexist and still be biblical?
  • According to Hebrews 9:27, “it is appointed for man to die once, and then the judgment.” There is no “coming back as another life form” for a second chance.
  • Christians are judged not on their works but on the work of Jesus Christ in his life, death, burial, and resurrection.
  • Christians believe in the resurrection of the dead unto eternal life, not the endless cycle of reincarnation for another chance to earn God’s favor.

Many “spiritual” people today mix a smorgasbord of ideas from various religions into their beliefs, but how do ideas such as reincarnation fit in with Christianity?

The Concept of Reincarnation

Reincarnation proposes that every living being starts a new life in a different physical form or body after biological death. It is also called rebirth or transmigration. The Hindu belief of reincarnation is intertwined with karma—the totality of a person’s actions and how it influences their fate.

Our soul (atman) “records” every deed that a person commits throughout their life, whether good or bad. According to this belief, if the sum of our good deeds is positive, then we are reborn on Earth to a higher level. However, if our deeds are mostly bad, we are reborn at a lower level.

This belief is also adopted by Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, the New Age Movement and an esoteric breakaway of the Jewish religion known as Kabbalah. A belief in reincarnation is not part of traditional Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam or Judaism.

Christians and Reincarnation

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” – Hebrews 9:27

According to Christian doctrine, we only live one life and are then judged. None of us are without sin. We all have bad deeds. It is our faith in the work of Jesus Christ for the atonement of our sins that grant us forgiveness from a gracious God.

Because of Christ’s work we are found worthy in the eyes of God. We are made righteous and will be resurrected from the dead to dwell with Him for eternity.

Jesus said those who believe in him will be resurrected into eternal life in heaven: “And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:26

Before dying on the cross, Jesus told a criminal being crucified next to him that he would be with him in heaven after death. “And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise'” (Luke 23:43). This clearly points to one life and not reincarnation.

Reincarnation is not compatible with Christian beliefs. Christian belief stands on the principle that Jesus Christ defeated sin, rose from the dead, and resurrected to eternal life. As Christians, we also inherit this right.

Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” – John 14:3

Therefore, the resurrection of the dead is primary to the Christian faith.

“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is worthless, and so is your faith.” – 1 Corinthians 15:13-14

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