Παρασκευή, 29 Απριλίου 2011

Reincarnation - Did The Church Suppress It?

by Joseph P. Gudel, Robert M. Bowman, Jr., and Dan R. Schlesinger
Toward the beginning of this century belief in reincarnation was restricted to such small groups as the Unity School of Christianity, the Theosophical Society, and Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment. By the 1980s, however, not only had these groups gained well over a million followers, but celebrities such as Jeanne Dixon and Shirley MacLaine had popularized reincarnation for the masses. While 50 years ago relatively few Americans believed in reincarnation, today roughly one-fourth of all Americans accept it, along with about one-half of the world population.


Virtually all modern proponents of reincarnation in the West claim that is in complete harmony with the true spirit of Christianity. The early church taught reincarnation, until the sixth century when it was suppressed at a church council.


Reincarnation Defined
The doctrine of reincarnation derives from antiquity, originating in the East, but also found in ancient Greece. It "teaches that the soul enters this life, not as a fresh creation, but after a long course of previous existences on this earth and elsewhere . . . and that it is on its way to future transformations which it is now shaping for itself."


According to the Eastern concept of reincarnation, man depending on his deeds in his previous existence can come back in any type of life form, including various animals, as well as human form. Reincarnationists in the West, however, generally hold that men and women can be reincarnated only as human beings. Western reincarnationists often refer to the Eastern view as "transmigration" and to the Western view as "reincarnation." Traditionally, though, the terms "transmigration," "reincarnation," and "metempsychosis" have been used as synonyms. On the other hand, reincarnation is to be distinguished from preexistence of souls. While all those who believe in reincarnation must believe that the reincarnated souls preexisted, not all who adhere to preexistence of souls accept reincarnation. A modern example would be the Mormons.


The underlying, often unspoken assumption of reincarnation is "monism," the belief that only one reality exists. Since this means that all things are part of one essential reality, there is no real distinction between God, the world, and people -- they are all "one." In this system of thought "God" is regarded, not as a personal Creator, but as an impersonal force or consciousness of which we are all part. Thus, Shirley MacLaine states that "God" is "the word we use for a concept of incredibly complex spiritual energies," and suggests that "the tragedy of the human race was that we had forgotten that we were each Divine." A soul's reincarnations, then, have classically been understood as a journey from God to God, the goal being reabsorption into the One.





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