If you consider the central story of Christ's resurrection that lies at the very core of Christianity, one could argue that reincarnation and Christianity have more in common than people might think. When you examine beliefs that involve reincarnation with Christian beliefs, there are certainly some similarities, but there are also some significant and important differences.
Similarities Between Reincarnation and Christianity
The Christian Bible reports that after he was crucified, Jesus was placed in a tomb and on the third day his followers arrived to find the tomb empty. According to a man dressed in white who was near the tomb, Jesus had risen from the dead and was alive. During this period of Christ's second life, he appeared to his followers as reported in Acts (The New Testament).
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. - Acts 1:3
According to Christian beliefs, Jesus died a natural death and was dead for three days before he rose again.
Being Reborn to a New Life
In many respects, this is very much like reincarnation beliefs where a person dies and (many stories mention a period of a few days to a then later number of years) incarnates into another body and a new life. This concept is not unlike the resurrection of Christ in the following ways.
- The soul transferred from the world of the living into the afterlife for a short period of time.
- The soul remained in a spirit world for some time, either communicating with other spirits or performing other tasks.
- When the time was right, the soul came back into the earthly plane of existence.
Even though there are a few similarities between the resurrection and reincarnation, for the most part, they are very different concepts for a few important reasons. These reasons are listed below.
Differences Between: Reincarnation and Beliefs of Christianity
Overall, there are many differences between the idea of reincarnation and the central concept of resurrection in Christian beliefs. Some of the core differences between reincarnation and Christian resurrection include the following.
- The soul of Christ returned to the same body, not that of a newly born human.
- Christ's body was actually dead for three days, and the revival of that physical body is core to the idea of resurrection.
- The return of the soul in this resurrection scenario involved full memory of the past life, where reincarnation involves only partial or vague memories.
- The Christian resurrection is a one-time event that takes place only once for all souls after a period of waiting in the afterlife.
In many ways, the idea of resurrection is more like a near-death experience (NDE) than a reincarnation. In fact, many people who experience an NDE often tell of being offered a choice between remaining in the light or returning back to their old life. During this period (sometimes only a matter of minutes), the person's body is officially dead. However, once the person makes the choice to return and the soul enters the body again, the physical body comes back to life. Most people who go through this experience describe it as a life-changing event.
Christian Belief in Reincarnation
Ultimately, there is no intersection between reincarnation and Christian beliefs. Since Christians believe that every human soul has one shot at living this life right the first time before entering the afterlife and waiting for the judgment day of all souls, there is no place for reincarnation in Christian doctrine. This is also at the core of what differentiates Christianity from most Eastern religions.