Is there anywhere any mention of reincarnation in the Bible, in the Old or the New Testaments?
The Guide: Yes. There are definite hints and more than that. Jesus spoke of the necessity to be reborn. While this applies, of course, to also the level of your Earth life – for unless you are giving yourself constantly the process of rebirth through a task such as this, you will stagnate – it also refers to the physical rebirth that is a continuation of the same process.
It would be folly to assume that the development that can only take place on this earth plane can be completed in one short life. This would defy all logic and all common sense. So when he spoke of the necessity to be reborn, this was also meant.
Another very clear expression in Scripture is the fact that it was mentioned that John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elijah. Now, these are two hints and there are more.
Why in the Christian and Hebrew religions are we are not taught about reincarnation, and why we are so ignorant about it?
The Guide: There is a very definite reason. However, it is not true that the Christian religion did not teach reincarnation in the early years. It was being taught in the early years, after the life and death of Jesus Christ. The early Christians knew perfectly well the reality of reincarnation.
However, the later church fathers saw danger in the way that reincarnation is misused in Eastern philosophies and cultures, so the church fathers intended to eliminate this danger. The misuse in Eastern cultures was, for example, that fatalism became a distorted idea of this. “It does not make any difference. It is karma. I have to go through this anyway, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
In other words, this kind of fatalism became a hindrance to the development of man. However, the opposite extreme of denying a truth was no more furthersome than the hindrance it was supposed to combat. For the denial of this truth brought on another damaging attitude.
For example, an overemphasis of free will on an outer superficial level created an authoritarian attitude of “I’d better behave or else I will be punished.” And therefore fear – the fear of God, the fear of not fulfilling the law – became equally harmful as an opposite extreme.
So once again you can see quite clearly how each deviation can create opposite extremes that are equally harmful. But the idea that early church fathers had in removing this truth was to combat a lazy fatalistic attitude that denied the necessity to develop and to grow. So the motives were not all bad, but it was misguided.
If a passage about reincarnation was deleted from the Bible, is there any way we could restore it? This would be particularly useful in convincing people who are fairly literal about the Bible in its present form about reincarnation and the perspective it gives to life.
The Guide: This would bring up a whole other problem. It is not only this truth that has been deleted, denied, distorted, mistranslated and misunderstood, but also many others.
To rewrite the Bible would require that all churches be open to the inner truths that are unchanging on the deepest levels, but that constantly change in manifestation, according to growth and development, according to social mores of the changing cultures. For this to be accepted mankind would have to be generally much more mature, much more self-responsible, much more secure by dint of having opened their inner channels to God. We know that this is hardly the case yet.
Therefore man clings to fixed rules as a safeguard against their own lower impulses and their lower-self acting out. Without a rigid structure, this safeguard disappears. This is why the Bible is so often taken literally, sometimes to a point of absurdity.
As to reincarnation, the Bible mentions several times the need to be reborn. This sometimes refers to actual re-embodiment, but often it also refers to the inner rebirth of the spirit that an intense desire to live in God and the subsequent actions of self-purification bring about.