One of the most universal truths that is recognized by virtually all religious and spiritual views is the idea that God is Love. From a spiritual perspective, God’s unconditional love is a guarantee that all souls will eventually return to God. It’s not a question of if they will return to God, it’s only a matter of when.
Souls are at different stages of development; therefore some souls may require more time than others to complete the process of self-purification. Additionally, there is the element of free will at play: an incarnated human being does not have to actively choose a path of self-development in any given life time. Therefore, souls are given as many lifetimes as necessary in order to be able to return to God. This concept of multiple lives is commonly referred to as reincarnation.
The number of Americans who believe in reincarnation is increasing every year. In 2016, the number of adults that believed in reincarnation was at 26%. In contrast, 23% of Americans currently attend weekly religious service (a number that continues to decline).
Reincarnation and the Christian Faith
Another interesting statistic – from 2009 – shows that 25% of Christians believe in reincarnation. This is somewhat surprising as the idea of reincarnation itself does not correspond with the fundamental Christian belief of salvation. According to Christianity, the way back to God is via accepting Christ as one’s Savior.
For everyone else, the penalty of not accepting salvation is eternal damnation in hell. But the concept of hell is itself a glaring contradiction to the idea that God is unconditionally loving. I.e., it simply isn’t possible for God to be unconditionally loving AND for eternal damnation to exist. One or the other is possible, but not both.
Buying one’s way into Heaven
Historical documents suggest that Christianity originally believed in the concept of reincarnation. According to historical notes, the Catholic Church removed all references concerning reincarnation from the Bible at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. As a practical matter, this makes a lot of sense: the concept of reincarnation reduced the power of the church.
By the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, the Catholic Church had become completely corrupt. It was by this time a common practice to sell “indulgences”. In other words, a person could commit any sin as long as it was paid for – not via asking for forgiveness – but via monetary means.
This scam would work for anyone who believed that forgiveness was necessary to escape the fate of hell. However, it would not have worked well under the framework of reincarnation. Therefore, it should be noted that removing reincarnation from the Christian faith was essential for the church to maintain power over it’s population.
The Plan of Salvation
The one belief that sets Christianity apart from all other religions and religious beliefs is the idea that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. And although this is in fact true from a certain point of view, it is not correct from the traditional Christian perspective. What the Christian religion suggests is that Jesus Christ died in order to “pay for” the sins of humankind. Put another way: the sins that each person commits come with a price, and that price was paid for by Christ.
However, the idea that one has to accept that the payment was made is where the logic fails. I.e., if Christ indeed paid for everyone’s sins, it shouldn’t matter whether or not people are aware of this fact, much less “accept” the fact. For example: if I pay for somebody else’s drink, it doesn’t matter whether or not the other person accepts that I paid for it. The payment was made regardless; nothing changes that fact.
The Role of Jesus Christ
In a sense, Christ is indeed the Savior of the world, but not in the way that Christianity portrays. Instead, Christ’s life on Earth was the means that made it possible for humankind to return to God.
When God gave all He had to his creations, this included free will. Many of his creations, including Lucifer, used free in ways that ran counter to spiritual law. I.e., free will was used for purposes of separation and selfishness. Those that joined him, which included all of us currently incarnated on this planet, came to exist under Lucifer’s influence.
Lucifer further used his free will to prevent those who had “fallen” from returning to God. This situation caused a dilemma: if God interfered with Lucifer’s free will, it would have destroyed the gift of free will for all of his creations. So instead, Christ intervened by making a deal with Lucifer.
The deal was in the form of a challenge. It was agreed that if one man could incarnate on Earth with no help from God or his angels, and not give in to the temptations of Lucifer, that Lucifer would allow the souls under him the chance of returning to God. The deal did not specify that Christ would incarnate, but Christ did volunteer to take up the challenge. As we can see in the Bible, Christ indeed endured great temptations by Lucifer during his lifetime. And the success of Christ’s mission paved the way for souls to be able to successfully work their way back to God.
Paying for Sins vs. Karma
Just as the idea of paying for indulgences is simply too convenient, the idea that Christ paid for our sins is also very convenient. But it is not the case. It was our free will that led to our fall. As a consequence, it is our own free will choices that must lead us back to God.
The idea that sins must be paid for is nullified by the law of karma. This spiritual law mandates that any action committed will be returned to a person in kind. However, if the effects of the law of karma were immediate, there would not be free will. Therefore, for karma and free will to exist together, it is necessary for karmic effects to be spread out over multiple lifetimes. It should be noted, however, that the higher a person’s development, the more quickly the results of karma are manifested in one’s life.
Reincarnation in the West
While it could be said that the majority of people on Earth believe in some form of reincarnation, this is not true of the Western World. However, that view is starting to shift as more and more anecdotal evidence is starting to appear in popular culture. Below are a couple examples.
Edgar Cayce (1877 – 1954)
Popularly known as the “sleeping prophet”, Edgar Cayce was a psychic who could enter a trance state in order to diagnose illnesses, as well as prescribe remedies for said treatments. He was not consciously aware of what he said while in trances; instead, the information was transcribed.
Cayce was raised a Christian and did not initially believe in reincarnation. When the prospect of past lives came through in his readings, Cayce was skeptical. However, his numerous readings made it clear that reincarnation was a reality, and that some of the health issues encountered in current lives had their roots traced back to previous lifetimes.
Brian Weiss (1944 – )
Featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Brian Weiss was a psychotherapist who used hypnotherapy to find the source cause of patient’s mental disturbances. This process, known as “regression therapy”, searched for buried traumatic experiences that were unconsciously affecting clients. During one such session, Weiss was surprised to discover that his client regressed to a previous lifetime.
From this experience, Weiss started to explore past lifetimes with other clients. What he found was that many of his client’s psychological issues could be traced back to experiences in previous life experiences. Weiss has since written multiple books on this subject, including Many Lives, Many Masters.
The Return to God
The general purpose of life one of self-purification. This is necessary to counteract the effects of using free will contrary to spiritual law. As a result of our actions, we have separated ourselves from God. This separation is not literal, but instead a conscious perception of separation. Via the process of self-purification, we are able to break down the illusions that hold up our misperceptions of separation. This process cannot happen in a single life-time, however. It is only via one’s efforts over a period of lifetimes that a soul will eventually make the realization that it is one with God. But this realization will happen; it is only a matter of time.
- International Pathwork Foundation. Salvation. https://pathwork.org/lectures/salvation-3/. Accessed: 03 July 2019.
- Ryan, Thomas. 25 percent of US Christians believe in reincarnation. What’s wrong with this picture? America: The Jesuit Review. https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2015/10/21/25-percent-us-christians-believe-reincarnation-whats-wrong-picture. Accessed: 03 July, 2019.
- Shimron, Yonat. Religious News Service. New poll finds even religious Americans feel the good vibrations. https://religionnews.com/2018/08/29/new-poll-finds-even-religious-americans-feel-the-good-vibrations/. Accessed: 03 July 2019.
- Statista. Do you believe in reincarnation? (by age group). https://www.statista.com/statistics/632134/united-states-belief-in-reincarnation/. Accessed 03 July 2019.
- United States History. The Protestant Reformation. https://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1136.html. Accessed: 04 July 2019.
- Weiss, Brian L., M.D. http://www.brianweiss.com/. Accessed: 04 July 2019.