Resurrection of the Dead: 1 – Resurrection Is Not Reincarnation


For over a year now, we have been working through a list of seven doctrines central to the Christian faith. This list was derived from the fifth and sixth chapters of the book of Hebrews. So far we have examined the following topics:

We will now discuss the Resurrection of the Dead, starting by contrasting the Christian teaching on resurrection with Buddhist reincarnation. When the Bible speaks of the resurrection of the dead, it is not speaking of reincarnation. There are important differences between the two concepts:

Resurrection Reincarnation
After death, the soul is separated from the body until the Resurrection of the Dead, when the body and soul are reunited and the body raised to life. After death, the soul is placed into a new body.
The soul has one life to be reconciled to God. The soul has many lives to be reconciled to God.
The soul is reunited with its original body, although the original body is renewed. The new body (human or non-human) is different from the previous one and is based upon one’s karma in the previous life.
When the body and soul are reunited, the soul retains its memory and personhood. When a soul is reincarnated, there is no conscious memory of the previous life.

It is necessary to understand the differences between resurrection and reincarnation, because there are those, who starting with the pre-supposition of reincarnation, read the Bible and claim that it teaches reincarnation. Consider for example John 9:

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9: 1 – 3)

Now how could a man be born blind for his own sins? That would imply his soul sinned prior to birth, and he was born blind as a punishment for those sins. This apparent account of reincarnation is easily explained – there were false beliefs that existed in the days of Jesus, and this was one of them. Indeed, the rabbis may have very well taught reincarnation or the pre-existence of the soul, but that does not mean their teaching was true. Jesus set their error straight – the man was not born blind for his own sins, but rather that the power of God might be displayed in him. This power of God was displayed when Jesus healed the man’s blindness, giving him sight.

Another supposed instance of reincarnation is in the account of John the Baptist. Malachi said that God was going to send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD (Malachi 4: 5). Jesus said that John the Baptist was the promised Elijah.

And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. (Matthew 11: 14)

Did Jesus teach John was the reincarnation of Elijah? No. Rather, Jesus taught that John was the typological fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy. John functioned in the same manner as the prophet Elijah, but he was not literally the prophet Elijah. Let us remember that in the transfiguration of Christ, the prophet Elijah appeared with Moses before Jesus and the disciples who were with Him. If Elijah appeared before Jesus, how then could John be the reincarnation of Elijah?

It is crucial to understand the distinctions between reincarnation and resurrection. Reincarnation is fundamentally based upon a judgment of works. The resurrection of the dead is based upon faith in Jesus Christ, Who has made atonement not only for our lack of good works, but for the “good” works we do in an attempt to please God and save ourselves. The gospel of Jesus Christ is fundamentally based upon the fact that humans cannot save themselves – it is the work of Christ that saves us. If someone understands their own heart and their own moral failings, reincarnation is a terrifying prospect. Could you imagine being a weak and terrible sinner, believing that karma is the mechanism by which you will be judged? You would have no hope. But because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the weak and terrible sinner is full of hope. For the gospel declares that people are made righteous through Christ, not through their own power or piety.

It should be easy to see, then, that reincarnation is completely incompatible with Biblical doctrine. If righteousness does not come through the Law, but through faith in Jesus, and if faith in Jesus is a gift of the Holy Spirit, why would the soul be reincarnated over and over and over? The Holy Spirit knows those He has predestined to eternal life, and He gives them faith in the first, and only, life on earth.

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8 comments

  1. I especially enjoyed this one! A question- where in the Bible do we learn that when body & soul are reunited at the resurrection the soul retains its memory & personhood? I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that part explained. Thanks!

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    1. At the very least, the Bible implicitly teaches that we retain our memory and personhood. It would not make sense for us to be redeemed by Christ and then, upon resurrection, have no memory of our own sinful lives and the need for Christ. It would not make sense for us to be resurrected and have no lasting memory of all that Scripture taught about the resurrection and the life of the world to come. This is not to say that when we are resurrected we receive back every memory we’ve ever had – the point is that we will be ourselves and not someone else. We are not “starting over”, so to speak, at the resurrection, with entirely new lives and a blank slate of memories. That is what reincarnation teaches. Rather, we are entering into the final chapter of the Biblical narrative – the renewed heavens and earth, where Christ reigns supreme and sin is no more. We will be aware of where we are at and why we are there. As far as explicit teachings from the Bible, Jesus told the thief on the cross he would be with Him in paradise – meaning the thief would understand who he was and who he was with. In Revelation 6, the martyrs in heaven cried out “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” They obviously had knowledge that they were killed for the faith, they knew that God has not yet enacted the final judgment and end of the age.

  2. All religions have two interpretations (1) Money power interpretation, which is the mainstream interpretation and (2) Vedic interpretation, which is based on the laws of nature.

    Money is false, because money is not an object of nature. How can you create anything true, using something false like money? You cannot. Money controls everything, every human being. We must obey money and its interest. Therefore no truth can come out of money. Thus money power interpretations of all religions are wrong.

    On the other hand laws of nature are the only truth. Nature has the unique characteristics that it demonstrates all its laws. You can observe the nature to verify all its laws, just like Galileo did.

    There was a time when Vedas were known all over the world. You can find its influences in all religions including Bible and Judaism. Vedas describe the following laws of nature: Soul theory; Yoga, yoga meditation, yogic power; Reincarnation, Destiny, Eternal recurrence, Birth-maturity-death of all objects, Memory in the universe etc. Nature gives proofs of all of them you just have to observe nature, like Galileo did.

    There is no God in Vedas. Hinduism does not obey Vedas. Destiny is a law of nature. We do not have freewill. Thus there cannot be any sinners; no one can perform a bad karma. We are completely guided by destiny. Where and when you will reincarnate is completely controlled by destiny, and not by karma. Reincarnation is also a law of nature.

    There are high level yogis all over the world, including Christian world. Yogis can perform any miracles, including resurrections. They can heal any person from any kind of sickness, including blindness. Judaism describes many high level yogic powers found in Vedas. Bible also talks about yogic methods.

    If you remove money, and create money-less economy, then God will vanish from all religions. Take a look at the free book at https://theoryofsouls.wordpress.com/

    1. Thanks for reading my blog post and taking the time to comment. You have made a lot of claims that are worthy of extended dialogue, however I wanted to focus on two things. You said (1) you can observe nature to verify all its laws and (2) reincarnation is a law of nature. When and where has reincarnation ever been observed in nature? I know there are claims of reincarnating souls, such as the Dalai Lama, but where has it ever been observed and proved that a particular human soul has moved from one body to another?

      1. For: gospelanalytix On June 11, 2016 at 9:57 am

        Searching for truth is a personal quest. Nobody can help you to find the truth, it requires deep meditation. And if you meditate you will always find the truth. It may take a life time to know the truth. Ayn Rand said – “Truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it.”

        Can you imagine, sitting on earth, that the earth is moving? No, you cannot. Moreover, when billions of people were told that the earth is the center of the universe, and common sense about available data proved its validity, it was impossible to find the truth. But Galileo just did that. That is called meditation. Galileo was a truth seeker. Interestingly, Galileo found it by observing the nature.

        The book on soul theory at https://theoryofsouls.wordpress.com/ has a short collection of such observations of nature on reincarnation in all continents, which humanity has recorded over the modern centuries in public literature. It seems that there are three independent ways, that you can verify the reincarnation law (1) Yogic power (2) Destiny law and (3) Direct observation. I give one example from item (3). For more details you can take a look at the reincarnation chapter in the above book.

        (a) A baby boy was born with bullet wound marks on chest and back as birthmarks. Doctors, nurses, and parents all recognized the marks as bullet wounds. (b) When the boy learned to speak, around age 2-3, he said, his name was N in his past life, he lived in town T, and on date D he died in the hospital due to a gunshot wound on his chest. (c) Researchers visited the hospital and verified from the autopsy record the validity of the boy’s all statements.

        This is the most convincing proof of this kind of reincarnation of a soul. It reproduced the birthmarks of the previous body to the present body, in the exact same way. Note that such things do not happen to everybody. Some may have the birthmarks, but may not remember the past life. Some may remember the past life, yet do not reproduce the birthmarks. Most of us do not even remember the past life. But our souls carry the memories of all previous lives. Yogic meditation can reveal all past lives to you.

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