reformed theology

Resurrection of the Dead: 2 – If Resurrection Is Not Reincarnation, The Dalai Lama Is Not The Christ


Suggested Pre-Reading: Resurrection of the Dead 1


It must be pointed out, in light of the distinctions we just made between the Biblical doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and the Buddhist doctrine of reincarnation, that the Dalai Lama is a false prophet.

The claim of the Tibetan religion is that all Dalai Lamas are the reincarnation of the first Dalai Lama. In other words, the initial Dalai Lama was a chosen one – a christ. That initial christ figure was chosen by the spiritual powers to reincarnate again and again and again within Tibet or the near vicinity, to be identified by a group of monks, and to grow up and offer spiritual wisdom and insight to humanity. If there is no such thing as reincarnation, there is no such office as the Dalai Lama, and any claim to be the reincarnated soul of a spiritual leader is, in fact, false.

The Biblical Christ, in contrast to the office of Dalai Lama, is a singular figure foretold by the prophets hundreds of years before he was born. Although the prophets did not link the name of Jesus to the office of Messiah, they gave us so much data about the Messiah that we can look at the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth and conclude that He is the promised one. The prophets said this:

  • He would be a Son of David.
  • He would be born in Bethlehem.
  • He would teach and instruct His people.
  • He would perform miracles.
  • He would appear before the destruction of the Jewish temple (70 A.D.).
  • He would die to atone for sin.
  • He would be raised from the dead.
  • He would combine the office of Jewish king and Jewish high priest.
  • His message would go beyond the borders of Israel and extend to the ends of the earth.
  • He would bring both Jew and Gentile near to God.

Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled each one of these Messianic prophecies. No one else has even come close. And, since one of the requirements of Messiah is to come before 70 A.D., no one else can come close.

Distinguishing the Biblical teaching of resurrection from reincarnation is not merely an academic exercise – it affects the way we view the world and the spiritual leaders we choose to listen to. The God of the Bible has told us there is no such thing as reincarnation. As a result, life is not cyclical, but linear. We are all proceeding along a straight line to death. Once we die, we will be judged by God based on whether we believed in the Christ He sent, Jesus of Nazareth, or whether we believed in false christs, such as the Dalai Lama. We will not be reincarnated and given another chance in another life to get things right. We will be resurrected from the dead on the Day of Judgment, and we will either reign with God in eternal bliss, or we will be cast to the pits of hell for eternal torment.

When Jesus Christ was crucified, He did not reincarnate three days later in a new body. He rose from the dead in the body He was buried in – proof of the Biblical teaching of the resurrection of the dead and proof that He is the Christ of prophecy.

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.

Eternal Judgment: 1 – Judgment Is Needed For Justice

Gospel means good news. In order to understand how good the gospel of Jesus Christ is, one must understand how bad the bad news is. The bad news is very bad: God, at some point in the future, will put an end to the earth as we know it. He will bring all of humanity before Him, as defendants in a courtroom, and proclaim “guilty” or “not guilty” to each and every person. Those found guilty will be sent to everlasting torment, with no hope of parole. The first clear Biblical reference to this event, which is called the Eternal Judgment, is found in the Old Testament book of Daniel:

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12: 2)

Before discussing how it is that God determines guilt or innocence, let us for a moment ponder the philosophical and logical implications of this event.

Adolf Hitler was a madman who killed millions of Jews for no good reason. He evaded justice by taking his own life prior to being captured. One must ask, “Did Hitler’s plan work?” Did Hitler escape justice by killing himself? If there is no Eternal Judgment, if there is no judgment after bodily death, then the answer is unequivocally yes, Hitler evaded justice. But if the human soul lives beyond the bodily death of this earth, and will stand before God one day, then no, Hitler did not escape justice. God will ensure that he is punished appropriately for his transgressions.

For a moment let us theorize that Hitler did not commit suicide, but was captured. Undoubtedly he would have been executed for his offenses, but perhaps leading up to his execution he would have been tortured. The question that must be asked is whether any amount of torture could truly repay Hitler for all the evil he committed. How much torture is needed to equal the deaths of six million Jews? How much torture is needed to account for the economic destruction, the lives lost during official combat, and the murdering of non-Jew invalids and the poor? Hitler would, even without killing himself, escape justice, because no human court could inflict a punishment that would ensure justice was served. It is not humanly possible to punish a man like Hitler, in proportion to all the evil and destruction he was responsible for.

The conclusion then is simple: without a judgment by God after death, there would be no such thing as objective justice. Justice would always be limited in scope (Hitler could never be adequately punished for his evils) and justice could be evaded (either through death or by hiding from human authorities). With an eternal judgment, justice is objective and no one will escape. God will ensure that all are brought to justice, with the righteous being rewarded and the wicked being punished.

Although intellectually we may nod our head at the notion of an eternal judgment being required for true justice, we at the same time may be fearful about such a judgment, wondering whether we will be found guilty. How is it that God determines guilt and innocence? The surprising teaching of the Bible is that God’s judgment is based not on one’s actual deeds, but on one’s faith in the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. This is why the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news – one can be a law-breaker and yet be acquitted and declared innocent. This scandalous idea will be the subject of the next discussion.

A Conversation with Bob Enyart On Open Theism


Doctrine Via Dialectic: Examining Biblical truths by means of fictitious conversations.

This conversation is inspired by Bob Enyart, who in a debate with James White stated that time has eternally existed with God and that God does not know the future. You are encouraged to listen to the debate, located at the bottom of this post, to learn more about the unbiblical doctrine of open theism.


Blogger: So in your debate with James White you declared that time is uncreated?

Enyart: Yes.

Blogger: And this is important to your position on open theism, because it allows you to state that God has eternally lived in sequence?

Enyart: Yes, that is right.

Blogger: And God living in sequence is important because it allows you to state that God does not know the future, and the future is open?

Enyart: Yes.

Blogger: So let us look a little deeper then, at this notion of God having always lived in sequence.

Enyart: Okay.

Blogger: You believe that God thinks, right?

Enyart: Of course.

Blogger: And you stated in the debate that God thinks new thoughts?

Enyart: Yes.

Blogger: So, if we had a timeline, we could plot the times in which God thought new thoughts.

Enyart: Theoretically, yes, we could place God’s new thoughts onto a timeline.

Blogger: We could then follow the timeline backwards, and in doing so we would see the sum total of God’s thoughts reducing as we work backwards in time.

Enyart: Yes, you are correct. If God thought a new thought today, and His total thoughts were X, then yesterday His total thoughts would be X-1.

Blogger: And so logically, does it not follow, that we would reach a point on that timeline when God only had one thought?

Enyart: I perceive you are trying to trap me.

Blogger: How so?

Enyart: If I were to say that God eternally existed in sequence but that His thoughts could not be reduced to one, you would likely accuse me of being inconsistent. However, if I were to say His thoughts could be reduced to one, I would be in an even more difficult position.

Blogger: I am not trying to trap you, but you are right about being in a difficult position. If you admit that God’s thoughts could be reduced to one, then not only do you have to defend that position, but you have to address whether it was possible for God to have had zero thoughts at some point in eternity past.

If you are going to deny that God’s thoughts could be reduced to one, then you have to somehow defend the position that despite living eternally sequential, God had an unknown amount of thoughts, greater than one, that did not occur sequentially. You would then also have to account for God, at some point and time, beginning to think new thoughts in sequence.

Enyart: I’m not sure how to proceed from here. I am certainly not going to address this issue right now.

Blogger: I guess our conversation is over, then. I must point out your argument is terribly ironic, since in your debate with James White you accused reformed theology of deriving their attributes of God from Greek philosophy rather than the Bible. This whole concept of God living eternally in sequence and thinking new thoughts and not knowing the future sure seems to be philosophical to me, rather than Biblically based.