Christianity & Reincarnation

Who Invented The "One-Life" Belief Anyway?




 

The Catholic Encyclopedia itself states, in regard to the Fifth Ecumenical Council of 553 A.D., that "anyone asserting the belief in the preexistence of souls (reincarnation) would be anathema." 

anathema = cursed, damned, excommunicated


Today, two thirds of all the people living on planet Earth believe in reincarnation. Those who now feel they have one life to live find themselves in a steadily declining minority. 

The Eastern-based philosophy of past lives continues to make more and more of its presence felt throughout the Western world. If one interprets the principals of reincarnation with an open mind and heart, it will not take long to appreciate the reasons for its growing popularity.

Reincarnation does not require an angry God to judge and punish us after we pass on. Rather, this belief system tells us that God loves us unconditionally, but it asks us to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions. All of it is governed by a Universal Truth that applies anywhere in the universe: What we put out comes back to us, this lifetime or next.

Spiritual wisdom tells us that after the death of our physical body we are the ones who will evaluate every one of our thoughts and actions in a process called a "life review." Then, if we so chose, we will set new goals and challenges for our next life, especially those which attempt to heal lesser choices (negative karma) with love. In other words, karma is not a punishment - it is an opportunity to bring our past actions with others into loving alignment, life after life, until all of it is healed. 

Many people on this planet also believe in the Christian, one-life concept. In this belief system, an angry God punishes us if we have been bad by sending our souls to hell for eternity, or he sends us to heaven if we've been good. We've got one lifetime to get it all right, which has been the source of much guilt and anxiety for those who believe in this man-made dogma. 

Who's right? Almost 6 billion people are betting an awful lot on these two vastly different beliefs. I believe this is enough information available today to say that the process of reincarnation and karma makes far more sense.

Before we go further there are some very important facts that should be mentioned about the origin of the Bible and what we know about the Old and New Testament. A visit to any well-stocked library can provide this same information. 

This is crucial because there are many people today who take things for granted about this book without examining its history...

The Holy Bible, as we know it today, can be traced back to the fourth century A.D.

During that time, the emperor Constantine formed a council of historians and scholars (the Council of Nice).

The purpose of that council was to take all the loosely organized religious and historic traditions of the time and simplify them.

As a result of that council, many sacred documents concerning ancient mysteries and Jesus' teachings were modified, edited or secreted away for a privileged few where they remain to this day in the Vatican. 

The council produced a single document in A.D. 325 known today as the Holy Bible.

Many documents and historical writings have been edited out of our modern Bible, in addition to those deemed inappropriate by the Catholic Church in the fourth century.

In essence, much of today's Bible is someone else's version of what they want you to believe and many fear-driven dogmas have resulted because of it.
 

Who invented the "we only have one life" dogma anyway? When did it happen? Why did it happen? God didn't invent it. It certainly wasn't Jesus' idea.   

Over the past 9 plus years of my life I have read well over 400 metaphysical/New Age books. From time to time, I would come across a statement explaining that many centuries ago reincarnation was a widely accepted belief even when Jeshua (Jesus) walked the Earth. There is solid evidence that some of the early philosophers, Christian fathers and saints believed in and supported that concept.

Who were some of these people? 

          - Plato (582-507 B.C.)
          - Origen (185-254 A.D.)
          - St. Clement of Alexandria (150-220 A.D.)
          - St. Gregory (257-332 A.D.)
          - St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.)

            Note: please visit their connections to reincarnation
            at the end of this article (1)

I had been raised a catholic and was taught from an early age that we only have one life to get it all right or there was hell to pay (literally). The church asked me to trust them on this one. They programmed me to believe that they had all the answers and asked that I place blind faith in their teachings. 

After my spiritual awakening I wondered where that dogma really came from. That led to tougher questions such as, "At what time in religious history did the one-life law originate? Who came up with this teaching? Why did more than half the people on this planet believe in something totally foreign to me called reincarnation? Most importantly, who was right?"

As I began to dig into this puzzle more and more, I suspected that the answer could be found somewhere between the time Jeshua died (33 A.D.) and 600 A.D. During that time, the Christian religion was born, organized, defined, politicized and "dogmatized." All of this information is available in the libraries and has been well researched over the years. Why don't we hear more about it? The leaders of Western religions don't want you to know this.

Modern Christianity began with James (the brother of Jeshua), Paul, the early church fathers and others. As a teacher of righteousness, Jesus' seeds of spiritual wisdom and universal truths were given to many people. After his death, some of those people brought those seeds to local and foreign lands. Many religious groups or sects were formed based upon his teachings. There was a lot of opinion and disagreement on what to do with them and how they were to be interpreted. 

One major offshoot was the formation of the Christian (Roman Catholic) religion. Throughout those first 500 years, other man-made laws were added to those that Jesus first taught. After His death, each new generation reinterpreted those original teachings. Then they were edited and embellished for many different reasons. 

Part of Jesus' wisdom was put into the New Testament. But, the earliest existing (hard) copy we have of that document is dated to the 4th century, almost 400 years after Christ's appearance. We have nothing earlier in writing except bits of pieces here and there found on various ancient parchments.

Sometime during the first 600 years of early Christianity, several major events happened...

Early references to reincarnation in the New Testament had been deleted in the fourth century by Emperor Constantine, when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

In the sixth century, the Second Council of Constantinople ruled that reincarnation was a false belief punishable by persecution and death.

At the same time, the Church and the Roman Emperors knew that the concept of prior lives would weaken and undermine their power over their followers, since it would give these people too much time to achieve salvation. The threat of a Judgment Day and punishment by an angry God at the end of one's life worked a lot better to control the masses. 

Furthermore, reincarnation is a system of belief in which each individual must take responsibility for his or her choices and actions through the universal law of, "What you put out comes back to you." We don't need an organized religion for this system of belief to work. That was a threat to the existence of the Roman Catholic Church. 

The Roman Catholic Church realized it would have more power and influence by becoming not only a religious organization, but also a political one. As a result, the church formed powerful alliances with the Roman emperors. 

Why did the church form these alliances with the Roman emperors? Because the emperors wanted to make sure that the people didn't riot and an organized religion that controlled the masses through fear could help to accomplish that.

Why did the emperors want to make sure there were no rebellions by the masses? Because they wanted an uninterrupted flow of tax collections. 


Listed below is an excellent historical explanation of what happened during those early times regarding reincarnation and the one life dogma. It can be found in a book written by Nick Bunick called, In God's Truth. Again, it is offered not to offend, but to make one wonder and think. Ultimately, please form your own conclusions.


~~~


"At the time that Jeshua walked the earth, the Judaic religion had three different sects. One was the Sadducees and they professed they did not know what happened to the soul or the spirit upon death. The other two sects were the Pharisees and the Essenes. They absolutely believed in transmigration of the soul, what we call reincarnation.

In the fourth century A.D., Constantine was the emperor of Rome. He appointed a pope named Damascus. In conjunction with that, they founded the Council of Nicaea and made an effort to purge everything out of the Scriptures of the New Testament that spoke of reincarnation as they were translating the Scriptures from Aramaic into Latin, their contemporary language. [Encyclopedia Britannica says the Council of Nicaea, A.D. 325, '... is an event of the highest importance in the history of Christianity. It was the first attempt to fix the criteria of Christian orthodoxy, by means of definitely formulated pronouncements on the content of Christian belief...' - SP]

Then, in the fifth century A.D., when Justinian was the emperor, he called together the Fifth Ecumenical Council. The Council met in Constantinople with the specific purpose of condemning the idea of reincarnation, committing themselves, from that time on, to always speak of life being one experience on earth, that redemption and salvation must take place during this one lifetime.

Pope Vigilius refused to participate in that meeting because he totally disagreed with their trying to change the entire teachings of hundreds and hundreds of years, teachings that did believe in reincarnation, and more importantly, the teachings of Jeshua. 

I do not think it was done maliciously. I believe it was probably a decision of mortal people at that time who had good intent, and felt they could better influence the people who were attending their churches by making them believe they must receive redemption and salvation in this one lifetime. But unfortunately, in doing so, they changed dramatically the true messages of Jeshua, and that is that we are all part of God, and being part of God, we are all immortal. 

We do come back in human bodies in order to experience the material world so that we may become, through the experiences in the material world, pure again. I want to emphasize again, I do not believe it was malicious on the part of the decision-makers at that time. I feel their decision was based on what they thought was in the best interests of the people."

~~~


During the first 300 years of the early church, reincarnation was widely accepted by many of the early Christians, including Origen, whom the Encyclopedia Britannica hailed as "the most prominent of the church fathers with the possible exception of Saint Augustine." In addition, the Gnostic gospel, Pitis Sophia, quotes Jesus as saying that "Souls are poured from one into another of different bodies of the world."

Leading up to the fourth century, the church evolved into an institution that was ripe for manipulation. It was during this time that the Church-State alliance was born with the sole purpose of achieving blind-faith dependence upon the church by the masses. Belief in reincarnation tended to produce individuals who were more self reliant, freethinking and not very controllable. The church did not want that and hasn't wanted it up to this very day.

When was the one-life dogma invented? Sometime around 379-395 A.D., Constantine, his successor Theodosious and the early church fathers created new teachings. They said that we were separate from God, we only had one life to live, when we died we either went to heaven or hell and that the only way to save ourselves was through the church.

In the year 553 A.D., Emperor Justinian called for the Fifth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople with the express purpose of condemning reincarnation once and for all. Here's how it was done. A total of 15 Anathemas were created. Think of them as condemnations. This information can also be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

The first anathema was "if anyone assert the fabulous pre-existence of the souls (reincarnation), and shall assert monstrous restoration which follows from it, let him be anathema." From that point forward reincarnation was forbidden from Christian beliefs. Individuals who chose to practice reincarnation were persecuted. The church's campaign of terror and slaughter lasted until the 13th century when the last vestige of reincarnation was wiped out.  

One last thing while we're on this general subject. It concerns the divinity of Christ. This dogma states that Jeshua was totally different than us, that He was the son of God and, because of his unique divinity, was separate from us. Who invented this man-made belief? When did it come into existence? Sometime around 325 A.D. when the emperor Constantine ruled over a vast kingdom of millions of people.

During that 4th century, many changes were added and made to the early Christian beliefs by the emperor and the church fathers. The Nicaean Council that formed during this time declared that Jeshua was a direct part of God and that we were separate from our Source. That is when this man-made belief was invented. 

This is not meant to diminish the teachings of love and forgiveness that Jesus brought to us during his visit to Earth. He was a magnificent teacher and healer; one of the great ones to walk this planet. But, we are all sons and daughters of God. There is no separation. Even Jeshua said in the scriptures that we would do greater things than he did.

~~~


There is a book in print today entitled, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, written during the 1960s by Ian Stevenson, M.D. At the time of that writing, Dr. Stevenson was a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia Medical College and had investigated nearly 600 cases of possible reincarnation. The 20 cases presented in his book was a representative sample from the 600.

What makes some of his case histories so compelling is the detailed descriptions given by the individuals studied. Many were young children, some of whom spontaneously began speaking in a foreign language related to their past life. 

Dr. Stevenson states "The case usually starts when a small child of two to four years of age begins talking to his parents or siblings of a life in another time and place." Names of countries, towns, addresses, names of brothers, sisters, parents, descriptions of the homes lived in, and so on were collected. Then Dr. Stevenson went to the places described and verified what the children and others said. There was no way the individuals studied could know such things, especially the young children.   

And here is another amazing fact. The American Medical Association reviewed one of Dr. Stevenson's earlier books on ten meticulously investigated cases of reincarnation specifically from India. They said "In regard to reincarnation, he [Stevenson] has painstakingly and unemotionally collected a detailed series of cases from India, cases in which the evidence is difficult to explain on any other grounds." - Journal of the American Medical Association.

Recently, Dr. Stevenson added more evidence for the scientific proof of  reincarnation. He continued his work with children who not only remember their past lives quite accurately, but have prominent, pigmented birthmarks or birth defects on their bodies, which each child said was caused by wounds suffered during their previous life. 

Forty-nine such cases were studied in detail. Common to all was a near perfect match in past life details given by the young child for the deceased person each recalled being. In ninety-six percent of these cases, a very close correspondence could be found between the birthmarks or birth defects on each child and the wounds on the deceased person. All of this was verified by a review of medical documents such as post-mortem reports for each past life case.


~~~


Last, but not least, there is another book on reincarnation recently authored by another psychiatrist, Dr. Brian Weiss...

Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss, M.D.

It is an excellent book that has sold more than 2 million copies and has been translated into 26 different languages. Dr. Weiss, a Yale University trained psychiatrist, was startled one day by a patient of his who began to remember previous lives while under hypnosis. He was so impressed by what happened he decided to go public with it after years of hesitancy. If you are interested in the phenomenon of past lives this is the book to start with.


~~~


(1) Referenced writings on reincarnation:



"Know that if you become worse you will go to the worse souls, and if better, to the better souls; and in every succession of life and death you will suffer what like must fitly suffer at the hands of like" 

Plato -  (582 - 507 B.C.), The Republic


~~~


"Every soul... comes into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of it previous life. Its place in this world as a vessel appointed to honor or dishonor, is determined by its previous merits or demerits. Its work in this world determines its place in the world which is to follow this." 

Origen -  De Principiis (early church father) (185 - 254 A.D.)


~~~


"... it is absolutely necessary that the soul should be healed and purified, and if this does not take place during its life on earth, it must be accomplished in future lives."

St. Gregory -  (257 - 332 A.D.)


~~~


"The message of Plato, the purest and the most luminous of all philosophy, has at last scattered the darkness of error, and now shines forth mainly in Plotinus, a Platonist so like his master that one would think they lived together, or rather, since so long a period of time separates them - that Plato was born again in Plotinus."

St. Augustine -  (354 - 430 A.D.


~~~

 

Referenced Books:

"In God's Truth" Nick Bunick
"Born Again and Again" John Van Auken
"Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation" Ian Livingston, M.D.
"Many Lives, Many Masters" Brian Weiss, M.D.

 

 


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