Friday, July 23, 2010

REINCARNATION & THE HOLY BIBLE [Part 2 Of 4]

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[From the STMcC archive; 2005, September.]

Continued From Part 1 . . .

REINCARNATION IN THE HOLY BIBLE

It is often charged that reincarnation was once featured prominently in The Bible, but that it was excised by the church leaders at the Council of Constantinople in 553, or possibly earlier when one of the previous Ecumenical Councils convened. Not only is there not a bit of real evidence to support this, but there are good reasons to dispute it. The Dead Sea Scrolls for one. Although the Dead Sea Scrolls (dated from about 50 to 250 B.C.) did contain non-canonized manuscripts, the ancient scrolls of Old Testament text were found to be remarkably consistent with what appears in our Bibles today. This proves the great care, dedication and precision that ancient scribes employed in copying these sacred texts over and over again down through the ages.
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No, there was never any more reincarnation in The Bible than there is right now. But there's so much of it now, that if an earlier church council really had tried to remove it, one could only conclude that the council did an astoundingly poor job of it!

Reincarnation appears in The Bible in three different forms: 1) By direct reference. 2) By allusion. 3) By karmic law.

All Bible passages that follow are quoted from the New King James version. I have chosen this version because it is well-respected and commonly used in Christian churches, but you'll find no significant differences in any of the other mainstream translations. Wherever you encounter a word entirely capitalized, that represents my own emphasis.

DIRECT REFERENCES TO REINCARNATION IN THE BIBLE

There is only one direct reference to reincarnation in The Bible, but it comes from no less an authority than Jesus Christ Himself, who states that John The Baptist was the Old Testament prophet Elijah reincarnated:

* MATTHEW 11:11-15 and MATTHEW 17:1-13

The Old Testament closes with a prophecy from God in Malachi 4:5 in which He states, "BEHOLD, I WILL SEND YOU ELIJAH THE PROPHET BEFORE THE COMING OF THE GREAT AND DREADFUL DAY OF THE LORD..." Approximately 400 years later, Jesus (Yeshua) was born and began his Messianic ministry.

When Yeshua's disciples became aware that He was alluding to Himself as the prophesied Messiah, they questioned Him as to why Elijah had not preceded Him, as foretold in Malachi 4:5. Jesus responds, "...I SAY TO YOU THAT ELIJAH HAS COME ALREADY, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW HIM BUT DID TO HIM WHATEVER THEY WISHED." (Referring here to the beheading of John The Baptist, who had been put to death at the command of Herod.) The Bible informs us that "THEN THE DISCIPLES UNDERSTOOD THAT HE SPOKE TO THEM OF JOHN THE BAPTIST."

(*Note: The reason these passages are worded oddly and seem to imply that Elijah had come, but was still yet to come, is because Elijah/John The Baptist is also one of the two witnesses - along with Moses - who will arrive on the Earth just prior to the return of Jesus, as described in the 11th chapter of Revelation.)

Jesus made it abundantly clear that Elijah had reincarnated in the form of John The Baptist, AND HIS DISCIPLES UNDERSTOOD THIS!

Christians cannot accept this as it would force them to reconfigure their carefully designed dogmas. So how do they skirt around it? They rely on the verse in Luke 1:17 which refers to John The Baptist coming in the "spirit and power" of Elijah, as though this satisfied the Malachi prophecy without Elijah actually being bodily present. But of course, if John was the same soul as Elijah, naturally he would appear with commensurate "spirit and power." Christians also correctly point out that John denied being Elijah. (John 1:19-21) However, just because it had not been revealed to John The Baptist that he was previously Elijah, does not mean that he wasn't. After all, Jesus said, "...He IS Elijah..." (Matthew 11:14)

Furthermore, it must be remembered that even John The Baptist came to doubt that Jesus was the true Messiah. (Matthew 11:2-6) And so, although John was a great, Holy Spirit-filled prophet, his ability to spiritually discern the full scope of the prophesied time must be seriously called into question. As to whether or not he was Elijah reincarnated, it is his word against the word of Christ! Whom should we believe?

There are two reasons why God might have withheld this information from John - one good and one great:

Very few people have any conscious knowledge of past lives and for good reason: Most of us are already overburdened with the mental and emotional baggage of our current life. Does it make sense to add the emotional strain of previous experiences to our conscious recall? Would it improve our lives to have full realization of atrocious sins we may have committed in times past? Don't we have enough to deal with in just this one 70 to 90 year span? It's usually best to leave the past in the past (recognized only at the soul level) and move forward. (And this is another reason we must be careful about our judgments against others. How are we to know that we ourselves have not committed the same sins we witness others committing? Is it not possible that we have similar transgressions in our past, which we are simply not now cognizant of?)

But it was especially important that John The Baptist not realize that he had been Elijah 900 years earlier because the Jews were looking for Elijah's return. They were well aware of the prophecy in Malachi 4:5 and knew that the return of Elijah would herald the appearance of the long-awaited Messiah. What if John knew he was Elijah reincarnated and said so? And what if that fact had come to be accepted? Then Jesus might have been embraced as the promised Messiah and the crucifixion might never have occurred.

But the crucifixion was a major component of the Messiah's mission. He chose to take mankind's sins to the cross to be washed clean in His perfect Blood. This was so important that JESUS ORCHESTRATED THE CRUCIFIXION HIMSELF! The killing of the Messiah had been prophesied in the ancient writings (DANIEL 9:26 and ISAIAH 53) It was part of the Divine Plan that Jesus be crucified as the voluntary sacrifice to absolve us of our sins, and it would not have been advantageous to have His cousin, John The Baptist, truthfully proclaiming himself to be Elijah, the Messiah's forerunner. The knowledge of John's past life was not revealed to him so that he could deny being Elijah and Jesus could be crucified.

Incidentally, we can look for the return of Elijah/John The Baptist because God has promised to send him before His Son twice: "Before the coming of the great AND dreadful day of the Lord." (Malachi 4:5) The appearance of Jesus 2000 years ago was the "Great" day because He saved us from our sins. His return will be a "Dreadful" day for a lot of people who are deliberately living sinfully and apart from the knowledge of God.

To refute reincarnation in general, Christians often quote Hebrews 9:27 which reads, "...it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." But a careful study of this passage in context and correlated with the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Genesis, and with Matthew 8:22, reveals that it is a spiritual death (a perception of being cut off from true Life, which IS God) to which it refers, NOT a physical death. The very first reference to death in The Bible’s historical timeline occurs in Genesis (2:17), when Adam is warned by God that he will suffer death for eating from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But notice that although Adam and Eve transgressed against God’s commandment, and ate from the tree, they did not die in a physical way; they died in a spiritual sense. All of mankind has suffered a seemingly spiritual death and our lives being worked out now in this earthly incarnation is a form of judgment.

In order to deal with the literal connection Jesus made between John The Baptist and Elijah, some contemporary Christians twist the scripture, interpreting it in a theologically hypocritical fashion. For example: In his otherwise very good book, ‘Learn The Bible In 24 Hours’ (I recommend you buy it!), Chuck Missler commits this intellectually dishonest act. In one place he writes, "I believe that (God) says what He means and means what He says." And in another place he states, "...I don't believe the words, 'God' and 'approximate' should be in the same sentence."
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And yet, in explaining the Malachi prophecy, Missler resorts to writing, "(Jesus) would be announced in advance by an ELIJAH-TYPE herald."

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But read Malachi 4:5 for yourself. God does not say anything about sending a "type" or a "substitute"; He says, "I will send you Elijah the prophet." Plain and simple! The bottom line is this: if John The Baptist was NOT Elijah reincarnated, then either Jesus was not the Messiah, or else God lied and Jesus was mistaken. Both of these options I have determined to be impossibilities.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Continued below in “Reincarnation & The Holy Bible [Part 3]”

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
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7 comments:

DiscConnected said...

McDogg-

While I am not the Biblical scholar you are, we have often spoken of my belief that the picture "Defending Your Life" portrays an afterlife I can wrap my limited mind around.

Your school analogy in Part 1 says it in a similar way-if you "get it" you move on.

As a Catholic, there are a lot of things I've never really been able to comprehend (the Holy Trinity, the fact that JC died for my sins even though I would not be norn for almost two thousand years), and one that always confused me was the afterlife.

If (as told in Revelations) Jesus would come again to judge the living and the dead, what were the dead doing in the meantime?

Was the Rapture going to be prefaced with a "Night Of The Living Dead" scene where all the dead rise from their graves chanting "I'm coming to get you Barbara?" That never made sense to me. So I'd come up with my own version of the "Defending Your Life" scenario long before it was a movie just to get my arms around what the nuns were trying to teach me.

I do not recall their comments related to the verses you mention, but whether it is because I've forgotten them, they never mentioned them, or I simply did not understand them shall remail a mystery.

LC

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

DISCCONNECTED ~
>> While I am not the Biblical scholar you are, we have often spoken of my belief that the picture "Defending Your Life" portrays an afterlife I can wrap my limited mind around.

In truth, I would NEVER refer to myself (or anyone else) as a "Biblical scholar". The book is too deep for anyone to realistically believe they have a "scholarly" understanding of it. I have always maintained that Jesus Christ is the only Biblical scholar in existence. He fully understands The Book because He LIVED it, and so much of it pertains specifically to Him and His mission.

"Defending Your Life":
As you know, I LOVE the movie. It is thoroughly entertaining, and I even have it listed on my Blogger profile page amidst my other favorites.

And in the sense that The Bible tells us that perfect Love casts out all fear, I guess if I were willing to stretch things a bit, I could say the movie touches on the truth since it is concerned with overcoming Earthly fears. But, of course, the Truth is far more detailed than that, and so the movie can't be realistically viewed as anything more than superficial entertainment.

But - Wow! - is it ever entertaining! I have recommended it to a number of people over the years.

Have you ever seen the movie "Dead Again"? Another one related to reincarnation. This one a drama/mystery/thriller with a pretty interesting twist. Again, just Hollywood entertainment, but pretty well done as Hollywood entertainment goes.

>> If (as told in Revelations) Jesus would come again to judge the living and the dead, what were the dead doing in the meantime?

That certainly depends upon whom you talk to. Some (including my friend Br'er Marc), believe the dead are sort of asleep, in a kind of state of suspended animation, waiting for the Judgment Day. That's not my belief, obviously. Or, at least, I don't believe that explains things in their entirety.

I have sometimes wondered if those who "sleep" might actually be those who "die" DURING the Tribulation period. There are some passages in The Bible speaking of events that I believe we will not fully understand UNTIL they occur.

~ Stephen
"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11

DiscConnected said...

>the Truth is far more detailed >than that, and so the movie can't >be realistically viewed as >anything more than superficial >entertainment.

Agreed-I think the concept (moving forward or back) is valid (to me) but the content of what you're evaluated on is far more comprehensive than what the movie portrays.

>Have you ever seen the >movie "Dead Again"?

Saw it and enjoyed it as well.

>some passages in The Bible...that >I believe we will not fully >understand UNTIL they occur.

I agree with this statement very strongly-I think a lot of the content in this book is just beyond our comprehension. And of course, I am referring to "Green Eggs And Ham."

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>> And of course, I am referring to "Green Eggs And Ham."

Not "The Fog In The Hat"?

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Marjorie said...

I have GOT to get my Mom to come comment on these blog entries. What you say is just SO right on with what we believe when it comes to reincarnation and the Bible.

One of my sons is named Elijah. All my sons have biblical names.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>> One of my sons is named Elijah. All my sons have biblical names.

Ahh! That is very cool, MARJORIE.

I never got married, never had children. But long ago, I made up my mind that if I ever DID get married and had children, my first son would be named JERICHO.

Not necessarily because of what happened at Jericho, but I liked the fact that the name came from The Bible, and I just think it is an extremely cool and masculine sounding name. And, of course, it would be a truly unique name. And any son of mine would naturally be a very unique dude. (Ha!)

The ONLY reason I never got married was because I was unable to find any woman who was willing to name her first son "Jericho". ;o)

~ Stephen
"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11

Dixie@dcrelief said...

This validates some things for me. I don't feel so crazy any more.
Moving on to part 3. Thank you.