Reincarnation

John 1:19-28

So many questions. So little time…maybe. I’ve just started reading a book about reincarnation, a subject that I’ve been trained to avoid. Good Christians don’t venture into places they’ve been told not to go. The church knows you shouldn’t intermingle with heathens because they’ll pollute you, draw you into their clutches, and you’ll be lost forever. It will lose its grasp on your mind, and further, your actions.

Moses told the children of Israel not to marry outsiders. They will draw you away from the truth you’ve been taught and into idol worship. Then Moses went and married an Ethiopian woman. Maybe that’s another reason why Moses never got into the Promised Land. He was pulled to the darkside by a pagan.

But I digress. Reincarnation. I don’t know much about it, only what I read in the Bible. “Who are you, John, son of Zechariah and Elizabeth? Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet?”

Why would faithful, religious Jews ask silly questions like that?

They were asking if John was Elijah because of a reference in Malachi 4:1-6 that says Elijah will precede the coming day of the Lord. The question is this: is this ominous day of the Lord when those who are arrogant and evil doers will be stubble and the day that is coming will set them on fire. The fire reference in chapter 3 is a refiner’s fire and not “hell fire.” The Elijah figure will precede the Messiah, and the result will cause some to be purified.

I remember that Elisha asked Elijah for a double portion of his spirit before he was taken up in the chariot of fire. Prophets normally divided up their spirit among their followers. Elisha was asking for twice as much as the others.

Who will I divide up my spirit and give it to when I go up in my fiery chariot?

Jesus confirmed in Matt. 11:14 and 17:11 that John the Baptist was the Elijah referred to in the OT. Jesus said Elijah had come back. Does that mean Jesus believed in reincarnation?

Later, Herod thought Jesus was John the Baptist returning from the dead. How could John the Baptist come back in a man who was six months younger than him? Like I said, I don’t know any details about reincarnation that would indicate your spirit could return in the same time period and in a body already grown.

A few things have come across my desk lately that tell me the church, in its wisdom, removed some references to reincarnation from the Bible. It looks like they forgot a few. I’m told there’s a lot of research on this topic. But the church says I’m not supposed to go there. So I haven’t…yet. I’m still very leery that it’s a waste of time.

But if there’s any truth to it…I wonder who I was before I became me: If I was a biblical character, was I the apostle himself? Was I Herod? Was I Judas? Was I Mary Magdeline? Was I the eunuch from Ethiopia? Was I Lazarus lying at the gate of the rich man? Was I the centurion at the foot of the cross?

And then I wonder, was I Attila the Hun? Was I Aristotle? Was I one of the Indians in Calcutta who died in the arms of Mother Teresa? Was I a Jew in one of Hitler’s gas chambers? Was I one of the Japanese vaporized in Hiroshima? Was I ever an aborted fetus?

Of course, this leads to other questions. Who might I become in the future? Will I be any smarter? Will I be black? Will I be Arab or Chinese? Will I be Muslim or Hindu? Will I be gay? Will I be poor? Will I be female? Will I move forward from where I am today? And if I come back, will the earth be even more polluted? Is what I’m doing today going to affect the environment in which I’m going to live in my next life? And am I allowed to ask these questions?

Oh, wait. I don’t believe in reincarnation. Except in heaven…wherever that may be.

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