Q: You seem to accept that the Hindu/Buddhist concept of reincarnation is compatible with Christianity. How is this, and how is it that the Chritian churches are apparently ignorant of this dramatic data?
A: Reincarnation is not an exclusively Hindu-Buddhist teaching, but has from the beginning been an integral part of Orthodox Judaism. Because this fact would imply that Christ and the Apostles would have held the belief in rebirth as Orthodox Jews, it has become a policy to toss around the red herring of “Hindu-Buddhist” whenever the ignorant have wished to combat the truth of reincarnation. (We met one bishop who thought Edgar Cayce had originated the concept of rebirth and so called all who believed in it “Cayce-ites.” It seems that ignorance compounds itself.)
If you are interested in a historical study of reincarnation in both Judaism and Christianity, I recommend May A Christian Believe In Reincarnation? The British Methodist minister Leslie Weatherhead has also written an article on the subject, but I do not know if it is still in print. I am sure that you could track it down through Interlibrary Loan. There is another book entitled Reincarnation For Christians that you might find significant as well. The three Weatherhead-Cranston anthologies on reincarnation also contain material from Christian writers. Another book is Reincarnation In Christianity by Dr. Geddes MacGregor, who I believe is a Presbyterian.
There is a great difference between what some Christians know and what they say they knows. Some knowledge is simply swept under the convenient carpet of cowardly silence and some is outright denied.
A sad denial
One leading archpriest within a major “canonical” Byzantine Orthodox jurisdiction within this country not only believes in reincarnation, but has engaged for years in research into methods of past-life recall. Our monastery has done research for him on the subject of reincarnation in early Christianity, and that research has been embodied in May A Christian Believe In Reincarnation? I am sorry to tell you that this very priest also publicly denounces reincarnation as incompatible with Orthodox Christianity! This is because of the vicious fear and ignorance which was sanctified and canonized by the Emperor Justinian through his falsification of the decrees of the so-called Fifth Ecumenical Council. (Both Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars have written on the subject of the falsification of the decree, among them being the eminent Catholic-and later Old Catholic-theologian Von Dollinger. A brief discussion is also included in the Nicene Fathers series.)
I well remember discussions with a very learned Greek Orthodox theologian on the subject of reincarnation. Although he knew the truth of the matter, he continually took refuge in the assertion that “at this late date” it would be impossible to speak the truth since it was commonly held that an “infallible” Council had declared the beliefs in pre-existence of the soul and rebirth to be false. (The fact is, reincarnation was not at all mentioned in the interpolated decrees, though pre-existence was.)
Another ploy besides attributing the concept of reincarnation to Hinduism and Buddhism is to attribute it to “the heretic” Origen. This is also quite convenient, as it draws attention from the fact that other Church Fathers also openly taught it.
My favorite comment on the subject of reincarnation is that given by the holy Roman Catholic Capuchin stigmatist-saint, Padre Pio. When one of his spiritual daughters was “told on” for believing in reincarnation, he told her accusers very firmly: “It does not matter what you believe about reincarnation. The only thing that matters is this: Are you seeking for God now?”
Note: May a Christian Believe in Reincarnation? is also available as a paperback and as an ebook at Amazon.com (the ebook is FREE).