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Reincarnation and the Bible

By Andrei Melnikov. From Reykjavik, Iceland.

One of the most important traits of Allan Kardec's conception was admitting of the reincarnation dogma which, instead of being just a dogma, was transformed into a theory confirmed by many spirits both incarnate and discarnate. There are two questions concerning the subject which I just mention without going into their discussion:

- Did eastern religions influence Kardec when he was including the notion of reincarnation in his conception? ( I do not think so - there is no trace of it.)

- How is it possible to prove practically the obligatory reincarnation by dealing with messages from quite different spirits, some of whom did not remember their previous lives? ( First of all I mean the controversy between Kardec's branch of Spiritism and many Spiritualists from the UK and USA).

The main merit of Allan Kardec was that he proved the fact of obligatory reincarnation for all kinds of spiritual beings on the base of the notion of God's Justice and by showing witnesses from the Bible confirming the fact that reincarnation was originally admitted by Christianity what was however totally turned down in its further development. This message contains some new evidences for Allan Kardec's point of view and polemic with the official position of the Church.

1) I begin with the statement taken from John 3,3:

''Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.''

The word written in bold type is commonly translated both as again and (from) above where the last alternative has no references with reincarnation. In the Greek original text the word anothen was used which has 3 main meanings:

  • from above, from on high;
  • above, on high;
  • from the beginning, from farther back; above, earlier.
The latin translation contains the word denuo, 'again'. Later, words having the meaning 'again' were widely replaced by those meaning '(from) above' in many translations of the Bible into other languages. We can see that the Greek word 'anothen' generally has no temporal meaning 'again' or 'in the future' - only the ones 'from the beginning' or 'earlier'. But how can we be born 'earlier', i.e. in the past? Only if we repeat the past, i.e. incarnate again. If the author of the gospel were denying reincarnation and meaning instead 'to be born above', it seems strange that he had used the word 'anothen' instead of the synonymous word ano that has no temporal meaning. The meaning 'from above' is a tautological one, because everyone is born from above, i.e. from God. If we propose the meaning 'from above' we should admit that Jesus said: "Except a man is born he cannot se the Kingdom of God", what is a nonsense. The only logically and semantically suitable meaning of the expression with the word "anothen" is 'to be born earlier, to reincarnate'.

2) The folowing extract containing the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus gives another evidence for this point of view. Nicodemus asked Jesus after He said:

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

Nicodemus asked Him: "How can man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" (John 3:4).

If Jesus meant 'to be born in the kingdom of God' Nicodemus most probably should not bother about how it would happen. But his wondering witnesses that he understood Jesus to speak about a birth on the earth. Jesus replied:

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

I do not know Christian symbolism, so I may just suppose that water is rather proper to the human world:

"This is that He came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, by water and blood...And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." ( 1John 5:6,8).

May be that is why Jesus added:

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." ( John 3:6-7).

Finally Jesus says:

"If I have told you earthly things, and ye beleive not, how shall ye beleive, if I tell you of heavenly things?" ( John 3:12).

If it was spoken about the birth in the kingdom of God, why did He say:

"If I have told you earthly things..."?

3) In 1993 a book entitled "Whereunto shall I liken this generation?" was published in Russia. Its author is an orthodox priest, Evgenij Poljakov, who tried to show that contemporary Christianity was not following the true Christian way. Here below I expose his arguments proving that reincarnation (or "palingenesia" in Poljakov's terms) was originally present in the Christian doctrine. The main point of the polemic between Poljakov and clerics are the extracts from the Bible about John the Baptist as the next reincarnation of Elijah:

"And he (John the Baptist) shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah." (Luke 1,17)

The opponents hold the word spirit to have a more abstract, impersonal meaning as it is used in 1 Corintheans 12,4:

"Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit."

Poljakov categorically denies any reference to allegory and abstraction, pointing out that otherwise one should also treat the coming of Jesus allegorically, what is absurd.

And if we read Malachi 4,5-6 we can see that the image of Christ is as concrete as that of Elijah-John:

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

4) Then we turn to Mattheus 17. We see that Elijah appeared in his older shape rather than as John the Baptist. Why so? But if Elijah appeared as John the disciples' question to Jesus would be out of

"And disciples asked Him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." (Matthew 17,10-13)

The question does not look like an occasional one and there is no word "spirit" having many meanings. By the way Jesus spoke simply and clearly in the most cases and always explained the disciples parables tete-a-tete. If He meant that John the Baptist had not been Elijah's reincarnation it seems quite strange that He did not explain it especially in the case which he should categorically deny reincarnation as the Church holds Him to do.

5) The next argument of our opponents sends us to the chapter where John the Baptist denies that he is Elijah:

"And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elijah? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No." (John 1,21)

Here we should apply to Poljakov again. He answers the opponents that John the Baptist did not have the gift of discerning spirits, that is why he did not recognize Christ:

"And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art Thou He that should come? or look we for another?" (Luke 7,19)

John the Baptist did not possess the gift of discerning spirits, what was not obligatory, although he had the gift of prophecy:

"For one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same spirit...to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits..." (1 Corinthians 12,8-10)

We know well that John was a prophet though he denied it. Poljakov concludes that John also denied that he was Elijah because, without the gift of discerning the spirits, he would not remember himself as had been Elijah.

6) The last Poljakov's witness in favour of reincarnation is an extract from John 9,1-2:

"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?."

The fact that the disciples thought that it was possible to commit a sin before birth doubtless points out that reincarnation was originally proper to Christ's doctrine although it were not proclaimed openly. Here we cite, after Poljakov, what Jesus said, after he told the disciples that Elijah had come as John the Baptist:

"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 11,15);

and His next words:

"But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented." (Matthew 11, 16-17)

Here Poljakov adds: "In these words only a twice blind would not recognize the traditional Christianity which lost itself or turned down of the Doctrine so much original and carried in so much human."

We can see that the doctrine of Allan Kardec, who accepted reincarnation well, is the true continuation of the real Christianity in its original purity. Another advantage of the Spiritist Doctrine is that mediumship phenomena were mostly registered by scholars unlike numerous stories from the Bible which sometimes seem to be as unreal as fairy-tales. Spiritism is not a tale at all, it shows us that the other reality does exist and is closer to us than we could imagine.