What is Reincarnation?

Straight Talk

The Question

What is reincarnation and what does it have to do with the Bible?

B. From Maryland

The Answer
Part 1: No Compatibility

No Compatibility

Reincarnation is the belief that a soul is born multiple times into new bodies or life forms. The soul travels on an eternal path living in one body for a time, dying, and then entering a new body to live again.

The purpose? To serve out karma from previous lives and thus eventually reach a state of perfect enlightenment where additional human lives are no longer necessary. Karma is the result or consequences of bad actions or evil deeds – the idea of reaping what you sow if we put it in biblical terminology. Or, it can mean reward in a future life for something done right or good in a present life. Unfortunately, the word karma has entered the mainstream of our language.

Reincarnation is mainly taught within the Hindu and Buddhist religions and seemed mere oddities in the West until the so-called sexual revolution of the 1960s also opened the door to New Age thought of every kind. That has had a tremendous (and negative) effect on the generations following.

Is reincarnation compatible with the teaching in the Bible? NO. They are actually diametrically opposed. With reincarnation you are basically paying for your own sins. For instance, if you kill someone in this life you may end up murdered in your next life to make up for your bad karma. In some religious systems you can actually regress to a lower life form: you might come back as a worm or a fly or a pig and then you will have to work your way back up to a human life.

The whole message of the Bible is that God loved his human creation so much that he took on our human nature in the person of Jesus Christ. He suffered and died for our sins on the cross – he took our place and paid our debt so we would not have to. Truthfully, we would never have enough righteousness to do it on our own anyhow, no matter how many lives we lived.

Here are some problems to consider regarding reincarnation to assist in evaluating its validity:

  • If souls enter body after body, why is the world population growing? If reincarnation is true you should have a set number of souls and a fairly consistent world population.
  • Who decides where you go next and what you deserve next? What if there is a conflict and two souls claim the same body?
  • If people are living out their karma than they are simply getting what they deserve, right? Why help a homeless person or give to charity to help the poor? Aren’t you just thwarting their progress?
  • What’s the point of having past lives if you don’t remember them? Wouldn’t you get farther along in self improvement by remembering past mistakes?
  • Hasn’t anyone ever graduated? Again, shouldn’t world population be diminishing as people reach perfection? How long has this been going on anyhow?
  • What about evil? Where does that come from if reincarnation is true? When will it end and how will it end?

For the Christian, reincarnation is not only not necessary; it is false. It has no compatibility with truth for those who belong to Christ.