Monday, March 4, 2013

Did the Christian Messiah Teach Reincarnation?

In studying the teachings of Orthodox Jews, one teaching I came across was the concept of reincarnation.  At first I dismissed the concept, but as I studied more about it, I started to realize that that the Jewish view of reincarnation was vastly different from what I had initially thought.  I always thought that people who believed in reincarnation believed that the entire person was sent back and reincarnated into another body.  I learned that the Jewish concept is more that a spark of one person’s soul can merge with our own and continue a process of rectification.  The Jews teach that the original spark of a soul that was given by God can be divided and reunited unlimited times.

According to Wikipedia, “Reincarnation is not an essential tenet of traditional Judaism.  It is not mentioned in the Tanach ("Hebrew Bible"), the classical rabbinical works (Mishnah and Talmud), or Maimonides’ 13 Principles of Faith. Medieval Jewish Rationalist philosophers discussed the issue, often in rejection. However, Jewish mystical texts (the Kabbalah), from their classic medieval canon onwards, teach a belief in Gilgul Neshamot (Hebrew for metempsychosis of souls: literally "soul cycle", plural "gilgulim"). It is a common belief in contemporary Hasidic Judaism, which regards the Kabbalah as sacred and authoritative, though unstressed in favor of a more innate psychological mysticism. Kabbalah also teaches that "The soul of Moses is reincarnated in every generation".   Other, Non-Hasidic, Orthodox Jewish groups while not placing a heavy emphasis on reincarnation do acknowledge it as a valid teaching.” (Wikipedia)

As I pondered the concept reincarnation, I thought of the fact that life comes from God through our DNA which is inherited from our parents.  This DNA is the blueprint that directs the formation of individual cells into our bodies.  We inherit physical and psychological traits from each of our parents.  Basically the spark of life from each parent is subdivided and then recombined to produce an entirely new individual with inherited characteristics from both parents.

Last month I came across an article describing how scientists had stored information or data on DNA .  Now if data can be stored on DNA and we inherit DNA from our parents, could it be possible that memories from some of our ancestors could be stored on that DNA and some people have the ability to access those memories?  If so, that would explain why some people can remember things from other lives and believe they are a reincarnation from that individual.  They have inherited a “spark” or memory from that person.

According to the New Testament, the Christian Messiah was asked about Elijah coming to prepare the way for the messiah.  His answer was that he had come and was John the Baptist.  The Disciples had assumed that the literal Elijah was supposed to come back.  Was the Christian Messiah teaching reincarnation?  Possibly, he was a Jew and that is what some Jews believed and taught and still do teach.  If so, then he was teaching that Elijah’s spirit or a spark of his soul was in John the Baptist.  An alternate explanation that most Christians believe is that John the Baptist was fulfilling the role of Elijah that was foretold prior to the coming of the messiah.

So do I believe in reincarnation?  I do not believe in the popularized notion of reincarnation that is portrayed in books and movies.  However, I think we have a stronger connection to our ancestors than modern thought accepts.  We inherited DNA from our parents and maybe even a spark of their souls that joined together to form our own.  Ultimately, God hard wired us for his purposes and who is to say if He injected some other sparks of souls to the mix.  After all, he is the potter and we are the clay of His workmanship.

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