As a third Millenia Xian i’ve had to admit a few things.. Jesus didn’t come back in the 80s, 90s.. shockingly not in 2000 nor in 2012.. I’ve heard the new date is 2027.
Brian Maclaren points out that Xians who’ve been sold the Apocalypse hype are more prone to the soul sort type of spirituality that tears us apart and doesn’t build up. Having studied biblical languages for 3 decades i’ve also had to admit many of us have been sold some pretty distorted stuff.. so what of this thing reincarnation. Why is it not a commonly held belief in Christianity anymore in the West especially?
It should be said that it was in the first few centuries before Christianity got co-opted by the Roman state, much as it has today by extreme right wingers, affectionately called the Alt. right. But what is the case for it in our day, surely the “it suffices for a man to live one life and en the resurrection,” just like it may make further sense to various conservatives to “be the husband of one life” while many still functionally believe more in serial monogamy these days. The biggest correlative for me though is the, “He created them masculine and feminine.” Why, because it shows that wide gap between our current western 2019 literal and a few Millenia ago metaphorical spectrum.
Economic reasons make the “one wife” thing more of an ideal to aspire to however may take most of a lifetime to get to best. Taking more as masculine and feminine aligns with what we see in nature as to the protective and nurturing roles within partnerships, rather than getting hung up on make and female. It also gives a good respectful filter to move forward in distinguishing best ethics inclusive of the LBTQ crowd. Reincarnation take a bit bigger leap for our modern audience, mostly because of how damn important we think we are in humanity . This kinda has surprised me more lately but not so at further thought. That maybe as we’re now sitting at 8 billion people in the world we need a philosophy that still retains an idea of individual importance.
To provide more of a case for something beyond these mere 70 years of ours within a 8 millioned populated world I think we do need to be respective of some clues we have in the scriptures that affirm the nature of God we’ve come to know intuitively. The first is where St.Paul talks about allowing the body to be destroyed to save the soul. The next is what I call Pauls shopping lists of sins he has in his letters and then his seeming dismissive attitude towards them at other times. Lastly is the character of God that is described and understood as we mature in Christ that seems to cause a crisis especially as we’re moving through the “teens” of our spirituality.
It is best summed up in St. Pauls, “I do what I don’t want, and don’t do what I need to.” Very common as we are maturing and not so much as we begin and enter into “Christ’s Rest.” This rest if you’ve not cognizant or seen it, comes about through a struggle with the more tribal and then legalistic aspects of spiritual development. I myself feel not far from that point now more in my spiritual 20s so I can speak to that. Basically the last phase before really starting to relax into a more expansive place in our Christian journey is this kind of chip on our shoulder that culminates in St. Pauls statement, “I wish I could be cut off from Christ so that the church can experience more.” Once it settles that God is still at the helm we can embrace our part of the everyday living out of the Spirit and allowing it to simply express the divine in obvious and SUBTLE ways.
It’s when we don’t constrict God into our world views and even more limited timeline that we find an even better and amazing divine view. It’s not what has been warned about by some “synagogue christians” that our brains leak out and everything becomes relative. We can realize a much more inclusive plan of creation and maturation. This is where reincarnation comes in I believe.
Whether you believe human life has been around a million, hundred thousand or so, or just ten thousand that’s a lot of lives to have been incarnated on this planet. Though the modern typical Judeo-Christian view makes sense that this life is it to a point, it doesn’t really account for the countless millions that have lived meaninglessly across time or suffered the innumerable atrocities. It’s here that we see one of reincarnations finest aspects, restoring dignity and meaning to those lives as part of a larger context of life or on the surface lives.
Next we have an account in the book of Acts that further makes this point but also affirms an even greater one. The story of Annias and Saphira and their lying against the holy spirit seems to connote a point of the character of God that is untenable who hold a more benevolent aspect to the Divine. In the story they are apparently struck dead which seems not a bit harsh given it takes people a while to mature into full spiritual awareness. The point has been taken that they were being made an example as to warn others.. but that’s not been my experience of the truer nature of God. Legalists go even further stating the importance to obey Gods rules, which can change at any moment it seems given the arbitrary nature of this supposedly unchanging God.
What if though, as we’ve seen in other places in scripture, the human form while being important and a “temple” is transitory in the sense of our higher life, the soul or spirit if you will, is concerned? Could this not bring back that God again is seen to be forever compassionate and loving but has still subjected us to various physical and spiritual/moral physics in order for us to be “better gods” ourselves. This sense of progress, aspiration, and a larger canvas has always excited me, much as I read Fr. Rohrs describing how the Universal Christ in other faiths recently.
As history lays out now we can also see that there could be a more “saving” faith that one could enter into that would overflow onto others much as it did at Pentecost and the first disciples. I have for a long time now seen something very intense happened at the cross that has been kind of cartooned by the faith that’s gone by it’s name popularly. If Christ was so focused as much as a laser beam into the person of Jesus in his life, then the crucification was not just an identification with our humanity but a creation of a new spiritual DNA. This is why in many ways churchianity has not gone beyond 1st century Judaism and where progressive Judaism has gone way beyond it and has accepted much of the Universal Christ.
Furthermore if the cross was merely to just pay the debt to appease the tribal deity then it was about as effective as the scapegoat which is not without merit. The trouble is when that bad accounting philosophy is transferred to a sweeping understanding of humanity and the essence of it was lost to break down the enmity that we have against each other… then it becomes counter and a block for it’s truer power to be realized. Think about it.. why did the Master say in Matthew 5 if your have ought against your brother, leave your offering?
By addressing the physics of our humanity in the spirituals a way could be provided to now stop the ceaseless lives we have to go through in order to be “fully human” like he was in that incarnation, divine. This was not wielding it around of course but did reflect the utmost humility of giving up physical rights for the greater good of others. So reincarnation brings back the dignity of humanity, the individual soul, and even God. The Cross doesn’t lose any of it’s power either because of the petty constriction of those worried about this short life. It restores it’s power by allowing it to be a vessel of immense historical importance and effect to the spiritual arc of humanity.
For those worrying about what about the “lying to the holy spirit” stuff.. it truly needs to be understood in this context as well. Imagine that at the cross a new kind of human “cell” was created, hence why the dead were found to be walking out of their tombs for a bit there as it says in one gospel. That the same environment, let’s say like a nuclear event like Chernobyl in most recent memory, that carried forward to those first years after it happened. Who knows really the magnitude of what happened next at Pentecost. Modern evangelists would love us to believe it was like a stadium event where a brilliant sermon was preached and the masses were now part of all these local congregations. Mainly because they have reduced the gospel effect as a “spate of words.” Where Paul sums it up aptly, I DID NOT COME TO YOU IN HUMAN WISDOM OR WILL.
We could I suppose think of it more like a woodstock or lollapalooza gathering.. but that would only bring forward the communal parts. Where the MLK marches were another aspect that they contained, especially as time went by i’m thinking. My best impression is of a feeling I got in my 20s when I first really read the new testament without my rose coloured church glasses.. asking what could have really happened to these people that wrote this. As I delved into the original languages i was captivated by their stark valuation and reverence for humanity, but I couldn’t dare to take their hunch at that point in my life. I had to experience more, make mistakes, big ones… then realize the frailty of this life and the grandness of the Mystery of it. I’m not sure what reincarnation is pointing to still.. I know that heaven is another thing we haven’t adequately explored.. that past “lives” can show us a few things, but that living in this process of life right now with greater awareness and articulation is better especially if we’re to catch the Spirit’s wind.