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2. Reincarnation versus Resurrection (revised)

Added: Saturday, April 18th 2009 at 8:18am by richardericgunby



Reincarnation versus  Resurrection


copyright@2007, revised 2009


Richard Eric Gunby




In this article, I am setting forth the proposition that a large portion of the church today, including (unfortunately) most of the Evangelical community, embraces an unbiblical –indeed an utterly pagan belief, regarding man’s nature.  While that thought might be hard at first to accept, nonetheless, it is a logically and historically sound, biblical thesis.  To best understand this material, it would be highly beneficial for the reader to first interact with my previous article, Resurrection Reflections.This work is a natural follow-up to that effort.





According to Gallop (2001) as much as 25% of the American public believes in reincarnation.  While that is probably a soft figure, still, I find that to be an extraordinarily interesting figure, as to my memory at least, reincarnation was a belief much less existent in the U.S. in the 1950’s and earlier.  Rough estimates put the number of adherents to this notion worldwide at close to 1.5 billion, and fast growing.  That is a statistic to be reckoned with; the Muslim movement is second (slightly over 1.3 billion –a surer figure).  Only Christianity islarger than either, weighing in with over 2.1 billion that use the name or title “Christian.”  [It is difficult to number believers in reincarnation accurately, as it involves many religions, spiritualism, and new age movements, etc; and can be a belief tacked onto many religions not themselves inherently promoting it.]


While there is diversity among followers of reincarnation, nonetheless, all such believers hold to a basic or primary underpinning of that philosophy.  This question concerns our most fundamental understanding of man, specifically, What is the nature of man?” or more specifically, cutting to the chase, “Is man a dualism or a monism?”  The question is actually quite simple:  What is man like; regarding his nature?  What is man, exactly?  And there are only two real choices for us to choose from.  Either man is dualistic in nature, a dualism; or man’s nature is monistic, a monism (more below).  Every religion in the world that believes in an afterlife embraces dualism as their most foundational understanding of human nature.  The lone exception is that of genuine exegetically derived Biblical faith.  Exegesis is the art and science of drawing out of the Bible (pulling out of the text) what the Bible says, what the Bible wants you to hear, know, and understand –letting the Bible speak for itself, rather than coloring theScriptures by injections of (i.e., inserting into the text) the reader’s personal thoughts and prejudices.


Dualism means man has two natures.  In the dualistic perspective man is a temporary joining of two essentially objective natures or realities:  body and soul.  In dualism man is composed of those two separate and separable “parts” that are currently joined.  According to the dualistic view of things, the soul is that inner man who is the real you; the body is, more or less,just an organic machine, if you will.  The soul is the person, or more fully, the immortal “entity” that occupies a body. The soul is what is important!  Thus dualism is concerned with the nature of the soul, and therefore to a much lesser extent, of the body.  In this line of belief, the body is simply housing –a temporary abode:  roughly analogous to you riding in a car, so is the soul being in the body. 


As surprising as it may sound, the Bible knows nothing of soulology, as I have termed it.  There is no teaching of the incarnation of man in the Hebraic and Christian Scriptures.  Nowhere does the Bible declare God created a soul or souls and inserted them into bodies; it’s not in there.  Nope.  None.  Nada.  Search high and low for an explicit passage concerning theensoulment of man, you won’t find it; and that’s precisely because incarnation is not a biblical philosophy of the nature of man.  There is no teaching of incarnation regarding the creation and nature of man anywhere to be found within its covers.  Furthermore, nowhere does the Bible set forth any idea of an objective soul (see Resurrection Reflections for extended detail).  This is true because the Scriptures view man as singular in nature, as one.  The undergirding of the Bible’s teaching on man’s nature is monism. 


Monism means the reality of something is to be understood as one, as in one nature.  The Biblical worldview of man teaches that man has one nature and only one nature.  What is man’s nature according to the Hebraic/Christian Scriptures?  ANSWER:  Man is a live creature; the living body (Genesis 2:7) or body-person, if youwill.  Man is an enlivened (animated) body, PERIOD.  Thus we can begin to perceive the contrast we are faced with:


Dualism   ß   à   Monism


The origin of dualistic thought goes back to the very early Greeks and found full expression later on in the works of Plato.  On the other hand, monistic thought finds it earliest expression in Genesis.  Below, I have charted out the various many differences in dualism and monism.  In dualism man is a soul person living in a body; in the Hebraic/Christian thought, man is an animated living “body-person.”



          Man, according to:                                       Man, according to the:


             Plato                                         Bible


               Greek                                                 Hebrew

               Perspective                                                 Perspective


                    Man is an                                                              Man is an

                  incarnated or                                                         enlivened or

                   embodied                                                              animated

                       soul.                                                                     body.



                       ***                                                                          ***


                  Soul-person                                                            Body-person


                      ***                                                                           ***


                 Mythological                                                              Biblical

                 Anthropology                                                        Anthropology



                      ***                                                                          ***

                   Dualistic                                                                 Monstic

                   approach                                                                approach



                      ***                                                                          ***

              This is soulology                                              This is Biblical truth






I’d very much like the reader to consider this question of reincarnation as opposed to resurrection, philosophically.  To do so, we will need to examine our foundational thinking, definitions, and some history –especially as these subject headings relate to the question of the nature of man, and the bearing that has upon this question, “What is truly faithful biblical preaching, and teaching, concerning this subject matter?”  I offer the following investigative word study and detailed exploration of associated ideas and concepts.  I wish to contrast several sets of two differing words, words that dramatically set apart what is at stake in our discussion at hand:  this is definite immortality versus the traditional presentation concerning the nature and destiny of man.  The word sets are: 




Dualismß    àMonism


Transmigrationß    àTransformation


Reincarnationß    à Reanimation


Reincarnationß    àResurrection




Let’s examine in more detail, the pagan Greek notions first.  Dualism is the underlying philosophy supporting the idea of transmigration.  In order to have a soul move from one body to another, said soul must have an objective or objectifiable existence; it must be a separable nature unto itself, able to stand or exist on its own (i.e., self-sustaining), independent of or apart from the body.  In thinking this through one can readily see why the church traditionalists insist upon the belief that man has an objective soul, and said soul is “immortal.”  Of course, the Bible never ever declares or teaches such pagan nonsense.  But churches do; (oh boy –do they ever!)  In traditionalism, death is death of the body alone.  The person, as in the soul, never dies.  Such thinking is emphatically the opposite of what the Scriptures teach; the Bible holding that man is mortal and the whole persondies (ceases to live).  God’s sentence of death was upon the whole person. 


Secondly, transmigration is simply the philosophical term covering the movement of the soul out of one body (departing from that body as its outward existence or housing) towards, and then into, another body, or to some other plane of existence, elsewhere.  The soul, in the act of transmigration, “migrates” to somewhere else –a different habitation.   Hence the “trans,” as in crossing-over (to),which in modern popular phraseology, (death) has come to be known as passing on (to elsewhere).  Hence the term transmigration denotes in current church mentality, a departure of the soul, supposedly to heaven or hell.  Biblically speaking, the theory of an immortal soul being the real person that lives on forever is a reiteration or reformulation of the very first lie in history:  the lie given by the serpent to Eve, in the Garden of Eden.  It is the lie that man has immortality now:



Genesis 3:4, 5 The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die!”  "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."  [emphasis mine]



Somehow, the serpent in his clever ability to lie deceived Eve into thinking she either already had or would acquire in eating, immortality, and therefore would not die.  God said she would die by eating this particular fruit (clear proof that man was not created immortal); the serpent said she would surely not die.  Eve believed the serpent, she believed the lie.  Oh how wrong that lie was, and still is today.  Again, we are faced with a decision to make.  Either we believe and affirm that God plants a person (soul-person) into a lifeless body (traditionalism), or God makes a person by making a body become alive –a living body-person (as the Bible teaches).  In traditionalism, this soul- person never dies.  In the doctrine of definite immortality, as in the bible, everyone fully dies.


It is important, though not always easy, to think carefully about words that we commonly use or hear.  Often we don’t work through to what they actually mean, and how that meaning has real import to what we think and believe.  In the case of reincarnation, we should easily perceive that it means to “once again incarnate, or to re-incarnate.  In order for something to reincarnate, it must of first undergone incarnation previously, as it were.  Therefore inthe popular belief of reincarnation, souls keep incarnating, again and again.  Please note:  whether something is reincarnated 1,000 times, or 100 times, or just once, regardless of the number of times, it is still reincarnation.  Reincarnation is simply the belief that man cannot, and indeed never does die –given full expression.  Man (the true man, the inner self) simply changes housing (bodies) or possibly environments (as in heaven or hell, instead of earth; or under secular or other religious notions, the soul passes on to higher or lower plains of existence, instead of earth).  Please study the next two charts carefully:  notice the stark contrast present in each tieror step; read each pyramid from the bottom tier first, then up:  1, 2, 3, and 4.



4.  Reincarnation: a soul occupies (or reoccupies) a body

3.  Death:  only the body dies, the person or soulnever dies

2.  Creation of man:  ensoulment (incarnation) into a body

1.  Nature of man: DUALISM man has twonatures 




In the above graph we clearly see the individual foundations of each step as they serve the thought and action expressed; we see what reincarnation is built upon.  The progression is logical and consistent.  This is the order of reality necessary for reincarnation.  This is the belief system of reincarnation.   



In contrast, I now offer a graph giving the foundations for the Biblical doctrine of resurrection. 

User Comments

Concerning Dualism. I know that this is true, but as for reincarnation, that's against Biblical teaching and I accept God's Word as infallible when it is properly interpreted. (Scripture interprets scripture. Scripture is not of private interpretation.(2 Pet.1:20)./  When God created man (Gen.1:26)-God said, "Let 'Us' make man in Our image. It indicates God's plurality (Father, Son & Holy Spirit). How did God make us in His image? How are we different from animals? Animals are soul and body.  (1 Thess.5:23)-Has body, soul & spirit in the same verse. God, being Spirit, gave man a spirit. That gave man a higher intellect and a God conciousness that animals don't have. The soul & spirit in man are joined, this is his mind. But, for a christian they don't stay joined. (Heb.4:12)- The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword, even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow./ When a person submits to symbolic cleansing (Water baptism), Jesus, the Word of God, divides the soul from the spirit and indwells the spirit with God's Holy Spirit. That is spiritual baptism. The soul is our lower carnal, sinful nature. With the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in our spirit, we are sealed until the redemption of our bodies. (The Resurrection and Rapture of our new eternal body). There is nothing in the Bible that can be taken for reincarnation. That is heresy.

God madE man in his own image, which God is spirit. So God made man of spirit and God said, man is also flesh.....which is somewhat explained in Romans chpt 7, the Inner man & flesh man. Man being both flesh and spirit, the two war one against another. Remember 1Cor 15, flesh came, then spirit. This was all done to PROVE YOU...tHOSE WHO ENDURE UNTIL THE END SHALL BE SAVED.

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