BIBLE ACCURACY -- REINCARNATION
Mar 24, 2006 05:53 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
Inquiries into the historical evidence of an existence of Jesus lead to a
number of sources,, opinions and conclusions. Here are some:
BIBLE ACCURACY -- REINCARNATION
Q. Why do they condemn reincarnation in the Christian churches?
A. Because they have followed the lead of the Church Fathers who
anathematized the doctrine in the early centuries of the Christian Era.
There is evidence throughout the Old and New Testament that Reincarnation
was a doctrine generally accepted; the Jews were constantly expecting "the
return" of their prophets, that is, the re-embodiment or reincarnation of
one who had occupied a body before.
In the New Testament there are a number of allusions to it such as that when
the disciples asked where is the prophet Elias who was expected to come
before Jesus, and Jesus replied that Elias had been with them, but they knew
him not, and the disciples knew "that he spake of John the Baptist".
Q & A p. 106
REINCARNATION IN THE BIBLE
AN exhaustive paper on this subject is not contemplated in this article, but
even a sketch will show that the Christian Bible has in it the doctrine of
Reincarnation. Of course those who adhere only to what the church now
teaches on the subject of man, his nature and destiny, will not quickly
accept any construction outside of the theological one, but there are many
who, while not in the church, still cling to the old book from which they
In the first place, it must be remembered that the writers of the biblical
books were Jews with few exceptions, and that the founder of
Christianity--Jesus--was himself a Jew. An examination of his own sayings
shows that he thought his mission was to the Jews only and not to the
Gentiles. He said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of
Israel." This clearly referred to the Jews and as clearly excluded the
Gentiles. And on one occasion he refused for some time to do anything for a
Gentile woman until her importunity at last compelled him to act; and then
too he referred to his mission to the Jews. So in looking into these things
we must also look at what were the beliefs of the day. The Jews then most
undoubtedly believed in reincarnation. It was a commonly accepted doctrine
as it is now in Hindustan, and Jesus must have been acquainted with it. This
we must believe on two grounds: first, that he is claimed by the Christian
to be the Son of God and full of all knowledge; and second, that he had
received an education which permitted him to dispute with the doctors of
divinity. The theory of reincarnation was very old at the time, and the Old
Testament books show this to be so.
"Proverbs" gives the doctrine where Solomon says he was with the Creator
from the beginning and that then his (Solomon's) delights were with the sons
of men and in the habitable parts of the earth. This disposes of the
explanation that he meant he existed in the foreknowledge of the Creator, by
the use of the sentences detailing his life on the earth and with men. Then
again Elias and many other famous men were to actually return, and all the
people were from time to time expecting them. Adam was held to have
reincarnated to carry on the work he began so badly, and Seth, Moses, and
others were reincarnated as different great persons of subsequent epochs.
The land is an oriental one, and the orientals always held the doctrine of
the rebirth of mortals. It was not always referred to in respect to the
common man who died and was reborn, but came up prominently when the names
of great prophets, seers, and legislators were mentioned. If readers will
consult any well educated Jew who is not "reformed," they will gain much
information on this national doctrine.
Coming now to the time of Jesus, all the foregoing has a bearing on what he
said. And, of course, if what he said does not agree with the view of the
church, then the church view must be given up or we will be guilty of
doubting the wisdom of Jesus and his ability to conduct a great movement.
This, indeed, is the real position of the Church, for it has promulgated
dogmas and condemned doctrines wholly without any authority, and some that
Jesus held himself it has put its anathema upon.
When there was brought into the presence of Jesus a man who was born blind,
the disciples naturally wondered why he had thus been punished by the
Almighty, and asked Jesus whether the man was thus born blind for some sin
he had committed, or one done by his parents. The question was put by them
with the doctrine of reincarnation fully accepted, for it is obvious the man
must have lived before, in their estimation, in order to have done sin for
which he was then punished. Now if the doctrine was wrong and pernicious, as
the church has declared it to be by anathematizing it, Jesus must have known
it to be wrong, and then was the time for him to deny the whole theory and
explode it, as well as definitely putting his seal of condemnation upon it
for all time. Yet he did not do so; he waived it then and said the blindness
was for other reasons in that case. It was not a denial of it. (See November
But again when John the Baptist, who had, so to say, ordained Jesus to his
ministry, was killed by the ruler of the country, the news was brought to
Jesus, and he then distinctly affirmed the doctrine of reincarnation. Hence
his waiving the matter in the case of the blind man is shown to have been no
refusal to credit the theory. Jesus affirmed the doctrine, and also affirmed
the old ideas in relation to the return to earth of the prophets by saying
that the ruler had killed John not knowing that he, John, was Elias "who was
for to come."
On another occasion the same subject arose between Jesus and the disciples
when they were talking about the coming of a messenger before Jesus himself.
The disciples did not understand, and said that Elias was to come first as
the messenger, and Jesus distinctly replied that Elias had come already in
the person called John the Baptist. This time, if any, was the time for
Jesus to condemn the doctrine, but, on the contrary, he boldly asserts it
and teaches it, or rather shows its application to certain individuals, as
was most interesting and instructive for the disciples who had not enough
insight to be able to tell who any man was in his real immortal nature. But
Jesus, being a seer, could look into the past and tell them just what
historical character any one had been. And so he gave them details about
John, and we must suppose more particulars were gone into than have come
down to us in the writings naturally incomplete and confessed to be but a
partial narrative of the doings and sayings of Jesus.
It must now be evident that there is a diametrical disagreement between the
church and Jesus. The church has cursed the doctrine he taught. Which is
right? The true believer in Jesus must reply that Jesus is; the church will
say it is right by acting on that line. For if the doctrine be taught, then
all men are put on an equal basis, and hence the power of the human rulers
of heaven and earth is at once weakened. Such an important doctrine as this
is one that Jesus could not afford to pass over. And if it is wrong, then it
was his duty to condemn it: indeed, we must suppose that he would have done
so were it not entirely right. And as he went further, even to the extent of
affirming it, then it stands with his seal of approval for all time.
John the Revealer believed it of course, and so in his book we find the
verse saying that the voice of the Almighty declared that the man who
overcame should "go out no more" from heaven. This is mere rhetoric if
reincarnation be denied; it is quite plain as a doctrine if we construe it
to mean that the man who by constant struggle and many lives at last
overcomes the delusions of matter will have no need to go out into life any
more, but from that time will be a pillar, what the Theosophist knows as
"Dhyan Chohan" forevermore. And this is exactly the old and oriental
doctrine on the point.
St. Paul also gives the theory of reincarnation in his epistles where he
refers to the cases of Jacob and Esau, saying that the Lord loved the one
and hated the other before they were born. It is obvious that the Lord
cannot love or hate a non-existing thing, and that this means that Jacob and
Esau had been in their former lives respectively good and bad and therefore
the Lord--or Karma loved the one and hated the other before their birth as
the men known as Jacob and Esau. And Paul was here speaking of the same
event that the older prophet Malachi spoke of in strict adherence to the
prevalent idea. Following Paul and the disciples came the early fathers of
the church, and many of them taught the same. Origen was the greatest of
them. He gave the doctrine specifically, and it was because of the influence
of his ideas that the Council of Constantinople 500 years after Jesus saw
fit to condemn the whole thing as pernicious. This condemnation worked
because the fathers were ignorant men, most of them Gentiles who did not
care for old doctrines and, indeed, hated them. So it fell out of the public
teaching and was at last lost to the Western world. But it must revive, for
it is one of the founder's own beliefs, and as it gives a permanent and
forceful basis for ethics it is really the most important of all the
Path, December, 1892
* The Theosophical Forum was a small publication issued monthly to all
members of the American Section of the Theosophical Society, comprised of
answers to questions on the Theosophical philosophy. The reply to which Mr.
Judge here refers elaborates on the explanation of Jesus statement (John, 9)
concerning the man who was born blind--Eds. (of Theosophy Company)
"Q. Have we not the WORD OF GOD in the Christian Bible?
A. There is no such claim in the Bible itself, and further, we know that
every word in that book was written by men, from 'Genesis to Revelation.
The various manuscripts that compose the Bible were also selected by men on
their own judgment, and the statement that the compilation is the word of
God was also invented by men. There is no reason to believe that human
nature was any less fallible in ancient times than it is now; it is
therefore the part of wisdom to judge every book on its own intrinsic
merits, and not on any pretended authority. Once the Bible is read in the
light of the facts, and a comparison is made between the vital statements
therein and those of ancient religions it will be found that "there is
nothing new under the Sun," as Solomon said. Every so-called Revelation has
been presented by men and in each case has been but a transmitting of what
was known before. Whatever any man accepts or rejects, he does so of his own
choice and is therefore his own authority: he should always use his best
discrimination in the examination of everything presented to him for his
acceptance, at the same time making certain that he has all the facts.
Authority on such matters has been the bane of humanity for ages, for it is
certain that all that a man can know of the Supreme is what he knows in,
through, and by himself.
Q. What would you say is the reason that men in general adhere to their
A. The ethics that are contained in every religion worthy of the name. These
ethics are the same in all religions, and are recognized as true and
essential by all thinking people because they make for true happiness and
progress, and because they are perceptions of the spiritual man within. Men
differ as to the source of the ethics only, some esteeming them as commands
or revelations from some God, prophet, reformer or what not, while the more
intelligent perceive them to be expressions of spiritual law and inherent in
every spiritual being. The existence of the same ethics in the various
religions contravenes the promulgated differences of extraneous sources.
There is but one source, the spiritual and essential nature of Man himself.
Q. Surely Religion is not materialistic?
A. The word "religion" is said to be derived from the Latin "re-ligere," to
re-tie, or bind back, to the source of all. There is true Religion; there
are also false religions.
A false religion is one which is based on materialistic conceptions of Deity
and Life, such as a Personal God, existing apart from the universe; a
Personal Savior; a Personal Heaven eternal in its duration; a Personal Hell
also eternal; all of these misconceptions based upon physical existence and
separateness are therefore wholly materialistic." Q & A pp.
'Q. Would you say that our modern science and psychology are also
A. Fully as much as present-day religions. Science is content with an
examination of physical forms and elements and their attributes as observed
separately and in combination.
To account for the "facts" thus established many theories have been deduced,
such as the "atom" the "electron," the "ion," and the latest
"vitalism"-scientists are evidently unable to discard their ideas of a
material basis for all that was, is, or shall be. Western Psychology is as
bad or worse, for its groundwork is research into the ideas, feelings and
emotions of the human brain-mind, which itself is founded on physical
existence. No spiritual knowledge can come from such methods; they resemble
those of Bunyan's "Pilgrim" with his muck-rake, expecting to find the Soul
of the world amidst the purgations of matter." Q & A pp 111-12
Q. What did Christ mean when he said he brought not Peace but a Sword?
A. It is stated in the New Testament that he said these words. We must
remember all the time that the one known as Jesus left no writings, and that
all we know of him is contained in writings of men who are presumed to have
heard the words and correctly in scribed them.
We are therefore not in a position to know that anything written about Jesus
is correctly transcribed; we can only interpret such sayings on the basis of
the general character of the teachings of Jesus. It is evident from the
records found, that some One in the world of men had uttered the doctrines
generally ascribed to Jesus; there is no historical evidence, how ever, of
the existence of such an one at the time agreed upon by the Christian world.
None of these things militate against the truth and merit of such sayings as
are reputed to have been uttered by him; the truth and the merit must lie in
the sayings themselves, and not in the identity of the one who said them.
We have to compare, for instance, the statement that Jesus came to bring
"peace on earth and good-will towards men" with the one which says he came
not to bring peace but a sword, and endeavor to reconcile them. If, as the
teachings ascribed to him show, he taught Charity, Forgiveness and an
all-inclusive Altruism, together with a recognition of the divinity in all,
what could he have meant by the "sword", an implement of destruction?
The records regarding his sayings and acts point to a struggle against the
false religions of the day; the over turning of the tables of the
money-changers in the temple; the violation of the prevailing ideas in
regard to the Sabbath day and other acts bespeak a war against false
Further-as a divine incarnation- he must have known what would follow from a
misunderstanding and misuse of his teachings, for he spoke of that
generation as perverse and wicked, and that while his mission was intended
to bring peace, its misunderstanding and misuse would bring its opposite,
In connection with this, is it not a fact that wherever Christianity has
gone, a sword has accompanied it? And is it not before our eyes at this time
that the world-war was brought about by and fought between so-called
Christian nations? We must conclude then that the saying was a true one, and
that while his mission was one of peace and good will, mankind has done and
is doing to his teachings what they did to his body and his clothing: They
"divided his garments among them, and for his vesture cast lots". His
"garments" is a symbol for his teachings, and his vesture for "his name."
Q. The Gita says there is no existence for what does not exist, nor is there
any non-existence for what exists. Everything must have existed at all times
A. Whatever is has become what it is; whatever is to be will also be a
"becoming." Evolution is the process of becoming, an unfolding from within
outwards; having "unfolded" there is no non-existence for it, but an
extension of unfoldment. The great Ocean of Life contains infinite
possibilities of existence, but itself is not ex-istent, for the word means
to emerge, to stand forth, to stand out (ex-sistere). The Ocean of Life is
the source and sustainer of all existences; that which has emerged exists;
that which has not emerged has no existence.
Q. There being the One Life and the One Law, it would appear that all would
start at the same time?
A. We are confronted by the fact of the kingdoms of beings below Man and
that of Man himself; the present state of these kingdoms shows that there
was a difference in the beginnings of them as beings- or existences. What we
need to do is to study and apply the philosophy of life as it is given to
us, so that we may know why things are as they are and what the real purpose
of existence is. Law rules in all this, not sentiment.
Q & A, pp. 106 -108
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