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Considering Reincarnation

Traditional Christian theology still does not make room for the concept of reincarnation. Some of the early church fathers accepted it, among them Origen, who believed that the soul exists before birth. That concept makes reincarnation a natural consequence. The decision to outlaw the belief and persecute those who held to it was political, based not on a knowledge of the truth but on a desire to secure the power of the hierarchy. Because, if we have unlimited opportunities to evolve spiritually, the church authorities cannot threaten us with hellfire if we do not fulfill their demands in this single life.

As a result, most Christians believe that we are created at conception and that when we die we become eternal. But eternity cannot be eternal on one end and finite on the other. If something has a beginning, it must have an end. If we believe that we will live forever, it must follow that we have always existed, as Origen taught.

If we have always existed, what have we been up to all this time? We know that this present incarnation is important in our spiritual growth. But how can a single life on earth be sufficient to prepare us to meet the transcendent God face to face? If one incarnation is helpful in our spiritual evolution, why wouldn't two be twice as useful? What is it that makes us resist the idea of multiple human lives when a majority of the world's religions include a belief in reincarnation?

People who are afraid of the concept try to make it appear ridiculous by suggesting that if we are evil in this present life we will return as an ant or a skunk. This distortion needs to be seen for what it is, a attempt to avoid a greater truth: We are part of God. We have always existed. We will always exist. Our time in eternity is an evolutionary process through which we are to become more like God. Jesus told us that if we followed him, we would do greater things than he did! When do we get the opportunity for this spiritual blossoming if not through an enormous series of positive and negative experiences? This result cannot be achieved in a single lifetime. If we are part of God, our present life is no more than a semester-long class to learn a certain skill. And there is more than one course in our spiritual curriculum.

There are myriad questions not answered by our traditional theology. When do we get to use the wisdom we have accumulated in this life? Where do we get to correct our mistakes? If we can correct them in heaven, why did we come here in the first place? Why should God punish people eternally for temporal sins: do we punish our children for the next fifty years for a penny stolen in the first grade? What happens to mentally challenged people and those who cannot comprehend the laws of God? If God makes exceptions for them, what other exceptions does he make? How do we account for the vast discrepancies in the lives of people, some living in poverty, some in wealth? At what point does God even out these unfair distinctions?

We invite you to a larger view of your life which helps to answer these questions: the possibility that you have always existed and will always exist as an eternal part of God. This current life is one of many experiences which you have generated for yourself, as you design your own spiritual evolution.