Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reincarnation: Maybe Jesus ended that too!

I had started out Roman Catholic. At the age of 22, I got born-again and entered into the nondenominational Protestant evangelical/fundamentalist segment of Christianity. Then, at age 40, I became convinced there is no eternal hell awaiting those who die in unbelief and thus became what's known as a Christian Universalist.

The central theme of each of these phases is that Jesus died to save mankind from the penalty of sin and to reconcile us to God. Jesus brought an end to the Old Covenant, with all of its religious rules, regulations, and requirements. Religious ritual was no longer necessary draw near to God. This aspect of Divinity is, therefore, important to me. Having come to appreciate it, to believe in any less generous of a god-concept would be a step backwards in my journey. No matter what their names are, it's hard to top a deity who would sacrifice His/Her own progeny for our eternal benefit.

What does this have to do with reincarnation?

While I have never really been sold on the idea of reincarnation, I still wouldn't rule it out. But an idea had struck me over the last couple days that I want to share here: If there was a system of reincarnation in place up to the time of Christ, maybe Christ's sacrifice eliminated that, too.

Of course, that hinges on the reasons for reincarnation. If reincarnation is for the purpose of balancing out the bad deeds of a previous life with the good deeds of a current life, then Jesus may have eradicated it along with all the other things involving personal effort or goodness in getting close to God. Given that now there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) -- and I believe that includes everyone -- there is now no more need for endless reincarnation in order to "get it right", just as there is no more need for animal sacrifices or adherence to religious laws in order to do so.

Now, if the purpose of reincarnation is just for the fun of it, or as some outlet for personal challenge and growth, then hey, why not? But for God to have no choice but to condemn someone to a perpetual cycle of death and rebirth until they get their act together is, in my view, almost as nonsensical as His having to throw them into an eternal torture chamber with no hope of release. He's All-Powerful and All-Knowing. As such, I'm sure He has other, far more constructive (not to mention humane), alternatives at His disposal for fixing whatever remains broken in His creation.