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Why Reject Reincarnation?

Why Reject Reincarnation?

In Chapter 1, I explained that one of the purposes of apologetics is to defend Christianity against new heresies and false religions. Christianity today is facing more philosophical and religious opposition than at any time since the first centuries of the church. A host of Christian cults have emerged over the last 150 years that have become dominant religions in Western culture. The last few decades have also witnessed an unparalleled movement of Eastern religions into the United States. Many popular groups, such as the New Age movement, Christian Science, Bahai, and the Unity School of Christianity, maintain a pervasive Eastern flavor.

One common denominator of many of these various religious movements—and an area in which they have had tremendous influence in the West—is their belief in reincarnation as the guiding principle of salvation. Here we want to examine reincarnation, as well as other fundamental doctrines of the New age movement, and check them out against Christianity.

REINCARNATION

Reincarnation is an ancient religious belief found in many pagan religions. It teaches that through a series of deaths and rebirths, one can eventually purge oneself of all sins and ultimately reach oneness, or absorption, with the spiritual Absolute. There the human soul finds eternal peace.

Prior to the twentieth century, belief in reincarnation in the United States was confined to a few modest groups, such as the Unity School of Christianity and the Theosophical Society, that were practicing a form of quasi-Eastern religion. Today, however, many millions of people in Western countries (and hundreds of millions throughout the world) believe in reincarnation. Its teachings are being widely popularized by headline grabbers such as Jeanne Dixon and Shirley MacLaine. According to the late Dr. Walter Martin, 58 percent of Americans “either definitely believe in [reincarnation] or believe it to be a distinct possibility.”1

Westerners usually associate reincarnation with Hinduism. However, the concept of reincarnation, as it is understood in the West, is not the same as that taught by Hindus. When Westerners think of reincarnation, they generally envision death and then rebirth into another human form. Hence the term past lives.

The Eastern concept of reincarnation is more properly called transmigration. Like reincarnation, the soul goes through cycles of birth, life, death, and then rebirth, but the rebirth of the soul is not necessarily in human form. Depending on the sins committed in an earlier life, a person may come back as something else, say as a rodent or an insect. This, of course, is appalling to most Westerners, so transmigration has been redefined as reincarnation in order to make it more appealing.

Transmigration of the soul has its roots in karma: the belief in retribution in later lives for sins committed in earlier lives. Because it is possible for a soul to wander through every form of life, all living things, even the lowest form, are respected and preserved. In famine-ridden India, the Hindus’ reverence for all life, due to their belief in karma and the transmigration of souls, has resulted in a reluctance to kill cattle, rats, and even insects that consume thousands of tons of human food every year and carry numerous kinds of harmful diseases. People starve to death in the very streets where cows wander freely.

The danger of reincarnation to the church is twofold. First, reincarnationists claim that the Bible teaches reincarnation, thereby seducing many Christians into accepting unorthodox teachings and unbiblical interpretations of Scripture. Second, it opposes many of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian church, in particular the doctrines of the atonement, judgment, and resurrection.2

DOES THE BIBLE TEACH REINCARNATION?

Many reincarnationists claim that the Bible teaches reincarnation. They allege that the original authors of the New Testament actually sanctioned reincarnation but that later editors deleted this information. This is confirmed, they claim, because there are still “vestigial” passages in Scripture that openly teach reincarnation.3 This position has two problems, at least.

First, textual critics have confirmed beyond any doubt that not only is the New Testament we have today 99.5 percent accurate to the original manuscripts, but that there is no evidence whatsoever that later copyists deleted or added to the Bible. There is simply no evidence to support the reincarnationist’s view that portions of Scripture once favorable to their theology have been deleted.

Second, the “proof-texts” reincarnationists present as latent reincarnation passages are victims of poor exegesis; they do not stand up to even mildly critical scrutiny. We can see this by examining just three texts frequently cited by reincarnationists as their best evidence. If these three passages have been mistreated, we can safely assume that other passages have suffered the same fate.4

Matthew 11:7–14

In verse 14, Jesus said, “And if you care to accept it, he himself [John the Baptist] is Elijah, who was to come.” Reincarnationists claim that John the Baptist is the reincarnation of Elijah. But several facts refute this.

We need to ask the logical question, Did John himself think he was the reincarnation of Elijah? The answer is found in John 1:21: “And they asked him [John the Baptist], ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ And he said, ‘I am not.’” In short, the very person whom the reincarnationists claim is reincarnated denies the fact himself. But the evidence does not stop here.

Elijah never actually died, which is critical to the reincarnation process. He was taken bodily (“translated”—2 Kings 2:1–11) into heaven. Reincarnation requires that one die before his soul reappears in another body.

Moreover, since Elijah appeared with Moses at Jesus’ transfiguration (Matt. 17:1–3), he could not have been the reincarnation of John the Baptist. He was still Elijah.

So what did Jesus mean when He said that John the Baptist is Elijah? Jesus was referring to John’s function as a prophet in the “spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). This is in fulfillment of the Old Testament prediction of the coming of Elijah before the “great and terrible day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5; see Matt. 17:10–12). Jesus was not saying that John the Baptist would be Elijah himself.

John 3:3

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” Reincarnationists claim that this verse refers to rebirth into another body. However, a reading of the whole passage in context gives the proper interpretation.

Nicodemus is puzzled because he thinks Jesus is referring to a physical rebirth (3:4). But Jesus resolves his confusion in the following two verses: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit.” In other words, flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit. Jesus makes it plain to Nicodemus that He is talking about a spiritual rebirth. Reincarnation, on the other hand, demands a physical rebirth.

Furthermore, in 1 Peter 1:23, Peter refers to the “born again” state as “imperishable.” Born again into a physical body is not an imperishable rebirth; only a spiritual rebirth can be imperishable. So the biblical picture of being born again is incompatible with reincarnation.

John 9:1–2

“And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?’” The connotation here to a reincarnationist is that the man was born blind because of sins in his previous life (karma). However, if the entire passage is read, the reason for the man’s blindness is explained. In verse three Jesus replies, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents [thus reincarnation is not even a consideration]; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.” In other words, the healing of the man blind from birth glorified God and demonstrated His healing power.

It is a common ploy of cultists to lift a passage out of context and read their theology into it in order to use it as a support. With such an improper technique of interpretation, one can make almost any verse say almost anything. Proper biblical interpretation involves examining a passage within the context of adjacent passages, within the context of related passages, and within the context of the theological fabric of Scripture as a whole. Almost always the proper interpretation of such proof-text verses are readily seen when read in context with the entire passage. But reincarnationists bent on making the Bible say what it doesn’t ignore this procedure.

IS REINCARNATION COMPATIBLE WITH CHRISTIANITY?

The danger reincarnation poses to Christianity goes beyond a handful of misinterpreted verses. It actually challenges several of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. Let’s focus on three of them so we can clearly see that Christianity and reincarnation are not bedfellows.

THE ATONEMENT

Theologically, atonement is the technical term for the work of Christ in saving humanity. Literally, the word means “to cover,” and it conveys the idea that rebellious and sinful man is reconciled to God by the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross (Col. 1:20). By dying in the place of guilty man, Jesus paid for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2) so that believers stand forgiven and “righteous” before God (2 Cor. 5:21). The key to the atonement is that the work of Christ fulfills all of God’s requirements for our salvation (Rom. 5:8–10). There is nothing we can do to earn salvation. It is a free gift from God (Eph. 2:8–9). All we have to do to receive this gift is to accept by faith Jesus as Lord and Savior (Rom. 10:9; 1 John 4:15).

Reincarnation, by contrast, claims that only through the continual cycle of death and rebirth is the soul ultimately purged of sin and deemed worthy of eternal peace through absorption with the eternal All. This doctrine eliminates the need for a personal savior and for the sacrificial work of Christ. It turns salvation into a form of “works righteousness” in which our deeds rather than the death of Christ atone for our sins (Titus 3:5).

It is impossible to harmonize reincarnation with the biblical doctrine of salvation.

THE JUDGMENT

The Bible teaches that, at the very moment of death, the soul immediately leaves the body (see Gen. 35:18). At that moment, believers are ushered into the presence of God (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21–23) and unbelievers into hades (Luke 16:19–31). Hades is the abode of the unsaved between physical death and judgment. At the time of judgment, there will be a bodily resurrection of both the saved and the unsaved (John 5:29). The saved will spend eternity with the Lord in heaven (John 14:1–3). The unsaved will be cast into hell and be punished according to the degree of their sins and knowledge of God (Rev. 20:11–15; Luke 12:47–48). Matthew 25:31–46 describes hell as eternal and conscious separation from God (see 8:12; Rev. 20:15).

The theory of reincarnation, on the other hand, denies eternal separation from God and teaches that, through the endless cycles of death and rebirth, man’s soul will eventually be purged of evil and united with the all-embracing One. There is no hell in reincarnation.

Reincarnation denigrates the holiness of God by removing absolute and final judgment. It tells people that they have countless chances to right their wrongs through countless new lives, which is false. Reincarnation is also a reproach to God’s righteous justice because it punishes people in this life for sins they committed in past lives without allowing them to remember their past so they can avoid repeating their sins in the future. Finally, reincarnation removes any accountability on the part of man for choosing to reject Jesus Christ. If reincarnation were true, Jesus died for nothing.

THE RESURRECTION

The biblical doctrine of the resurrection teaches that man will die once (Heb. 9:27) and that at the resurrection his mortal body will be transformed into an immortal one (1 Cor. 15:42; see Rom. 6:9). This means that our resurrected body is a physical one, not a spiritual one. We know this because Jesus was resurrected in a physical body (Luke 24:39; John 20:27), and we are told that we will have a resurrected body similar to His (1 John 3:2; 1 Cor. 15:35–49).

Our resurrected body should not be confused with the state of our soul between physical death and the resurrection, as alluded to in 2 Corinthians 5:8. This “spiritual” (intermediate) body will last only until our physical resurrection. Our eternal body will be physical.

Reincarnation is entirely different than the Christian view of resurrection. Reincarnation entails the rebirth of the soul in a succession of many bodies. Whereas the resurrection is a one-time, final event, reincarnation is a continual process of birth, life, and death. While the Bible plainly speaks of one chance to receive salvation prior to the resurrection (Heb. 9:27), reincarnation speaks of countless chances to purge the mortal body of sin.

Reincarnation Is Not Christianity

Reincarnation

Christianity

Roots in Eastern religion

Roots in Judaism

Can have many physical lives

Only one physical life

At death, body reborn into another body

At death, only soul remains until resurrection

No resurrection

Resurrection

Can save self

Saved by grace

All eventually saved

Not all saved

Have many chances

Only one chance

No separation from God

Can be separated from God

No hell

Hell exists

IF REINCARNATION IS NOT FACTUAL, WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR IT?

It has been conclusively demonstrated throughout this book that the Bible is God’s only written revelation to mankind. God has not revealed spiritual truth through any other religious book.

Now we can also conclude from what we’ve seen about reincarnation that it does not have God’s sanction. It is totally incompatible with Christianity. So how can Christians account for the many well-documented stories of people recounting past-life experiences? There can be only two other explanations.

Psychological

The most common method of extracting past-life testimonies is under hypnosis. The human brain is the most complex and sophisticated object in the entire universe (outside of God, of course). Science has shown that the human brain is similar to a computer—any information stored within it is never lost. Past experiences, people we have met, sights we have seen, the information we have read in books, even long-forgotten events in our childhood—all such data are forever stored in our memory banks. So our subconscious mind is continually at work, absorbing, processing, and filing away this information, and through hypnosis it can often be recalled.

However, in the process of recalling this information, our mind can easily play tricks on us. It can make us think we are remembering something from a past life when in fact we are simply recalling something or someone we actually had contact with either directly (personally) or indirectly (through books, movies, hearing other people’s accounts, etc.). We may enter a house we “just know” we have been in before, when in reality we were in a similar house years ago and just forgot about it. Or we may see a person we “just know” we knew from somewhere else, but in reality a similar person was described to us in a book. People have even been known to recall a language under hypnosis. But in all these cases, the apparent past-life experience is simply our subconscious memory releasing muddled information our mind had previously absorbed. This is a valid psychological explanation for many so-called past-life experiences, as Walter Martin relates: “The opinions of leading scientists, psychologists, psychiatrists and hypnotists are almost all [in agreement that it] is quite possible … to connect subconscious memories of ‘forgotten’ stories and facts with religious beliefs. Through hypnotic regression, it is possible to weave strange tales.”5

Supernatural

Dr. Martin observes several basic characteristics that frequently emerge when people regress to “past lives” through hypnosis.

•     People frequently speak in foreign languages they do not know.

•     The religious content of what they relate—their theology—frequently refers to God, Jesus, and so on, but it never actually acknowledges the Christian concept of God or that Jesus is our resurrected Savior. Reincarnationists insist there are many paths to God, not just Christianity. They deny Satan, sin, and hell because God makes no requirements of us. And the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God.

•     People usually don’t identify themselves as the persons speaking. In other words, they seem aware that someone other than themselves is speaking.

Now what does all this mean? We know reincarnation is not a fact because it contradicts divine revelation. In fact, reincarnation is hostile to Christianity. If psychological explanations don’t cover all cases, and if the events described in a past-life regression are actual facts that cannot be accounted for in a person’s present life, then there has to be some other valid explanation for what appears to be a support for reincarnation.

That explanation is frightening but real: A supernatural person other than God, one who hates Jesus Christ and His church, must be feeding information to the person experiencing a so-called past-life regression. It seems like reincarnation, but it is really deception. This deceiver must be familiar with the past lives of countless people and capable of taking this information and tricking others into thinking that the experiences of a long-dead person actually apply to them in a former life. The only sinister supernatural person capable of doing this is Satan.

Let me inject another bit of evidence in support of this explanation. Another common way people “discover” they have lived before is through clairvoyance. They visit a medium who informs them that they have lived previously and then sets about to fill them in on their previous life. The Bible makes it plain that such occultic practices are right from Satan (Deut 18:11–12).

The Bible teaches that the temporary ruler of our fallen world is Satan (John 12:31; 1 John 5:19) and that his greatest desire is to thwart and distort God’s plan of salvation through Christ (Matt. 4:1–11). Jesus calls Satan a murderer and states that whatever he says is a lie because “he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Satan works primarily through deception (Gen. 3:1–7). He is able to perform what appears to be supernatural deeds (Exod. 7:11–12; Rev. 13:13). Counterfeiting a language, for example, is no problem for him. Furthermore, through his army of demons, he is able to influence the minds and actions of humans (Matt. 16:21–23). It is biblically certain that unbelievers, especially those who have submitted themselves to occultic practices, are vulnerable to satanic persuasion. Hypnosis and clairvoyance for the purpose of past-life regression is certainly an occultic practice. Consequently, many past-life experiences unexplainable by psychological phenomena are likely satanic deceptions.

The good news is, we can “resist the devil and he will flee from [us]” (James 4:7). The apostle John reminds us that “greater is He [Jesus] who is in [us] than he [Satan] who is in the world” (1 John 4:4) and that “the evil one does not touch him” who is born of God (1 John 5:18). We can identify Satan’s deception and test the spirits to see if they are from God. And the test is simple: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist” (1 John 4:1–3).

Reincarnationists deny that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God, that He is God come in the flesh. Instead, they teach a religion of self-salvation through endless repetitions of death and rebirth. In spite of the hopelessness of this cyclic drama, reincarnationists try to paint a picture of a pleasant journey to spiritual fulfillment. But this too is part of Satan’s deception. It is not at all in harmony with the true doctrine of reincarnation as taught in the Hindu archetype, transmigration. In no religion in the world have people suffered in such vast numbers or in such hopeless misery as the victims living under the dark cloud of the Hindu religion.

REINCARNATION AND THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT

For reincarnation to “work,” it must fit within a religious framework that endorses an impersonal god who plays no role in man’s salvation. In recent years, just such a “new” religion has invaded Western culture, and it may prove to be the most influential, seductive, and damaging religious movement ever to threaten the Christian church. It’s the so-called New Age movement.

Reincarnation is only one doctrine—although perhaps the most pervasive—in this growing religious movement, so it is worth taking the time to become familiar with its companion teachings.

WHAT IS THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT?

Actually, the New Age movement is not new. It is simply the resurgence of ancient occultic practices mixed with Eastern pantheism (in particular, Hinduism) in a recipe tailored specifically to feed the spiritual hunger of Western secularized man. The New Age movement is secular humanism with a cosmic ingredient. It maintains the humanist motto that “man is the measure of all things” and the humanist goals of global peace, prosperity, and unity, but, to make humanism more spiritually palatable, it sugars it with “God.”

However, God, as used in the New Age movement, is not the infinite-personal-creator God of the Judeo-Christian religion. Rather, their deity is a form of human potential. In man’s search to find God, he discovers that all along God resided within himself. Man is God. Or to put it more accurately, man is one with the God-force that permeates all things and composes all things. Thus, secular humanism remains intact because man is still the standard. God is not a power over man but a divine potential within man that allows him to become one with God. The divine within man awaits to be released, and this will eventually happen on a worldwide scale (the goal of the New Age movement). When it does, a tremendous evolutionary transformation will occur within humanity that will usher in a new age of prosperity, peace, and world order. This will be the salvation of mankind, heaven on earth.

The New Age movement is very seductive and dangerous. Most people are unaware of its widespread infiltration into both Western society and into the Christian church, where it is changing traditional moral and spiritual values in a subversive and insidious fashion. As a result, some Christians unwittingly become involved in New Age practices. For example, many Christians read their horoscopes daily, “play around” with Ouija boards, have their palms read, visit fortunetellers, or attend yoga classes. Although usually done in innocence, Christians engaging in these practices are tinkering with the occult. And the origin and power of the occult, in all its diversified forms, is Satan. The New Age movement encourages, through its philosophy and religious practices, satanic involvement. Most assuredly, where Christians fail to be on guard, Satan will make advancements into the church and into individual lives. We already saw how this can happen through the deception of reincarnation.

The New Age movement also promotes ungodly values that appeal to man’s basic (and fallen) desires. It encourages covetousness and greed by promising prosperity and success. It arouses our pride by claiming we can be in complete control of our own destinies, even create our own realities. It promotes idolatry by encouraging us to seek after our own concept of God, thus avoiding accountability to the creator. Finally, it rationalizes moral infidelity by promoting a relative ethical system centered on man’s personal desires and wants in opposition to God’s standards.

HOW DO THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT AND CHRISTIANITY COMPARE?

God

The dominant world view of the New Age movement is pantheism, and it surfaces in Christian Science, Unity, Bahai, Transcendental Meditation, Hare Krishna, the Church Universal and Triumphant, the Unification Church, and many other religious philosophies. Pantheism teaches that all of the universe is somehow part of God’s essence. Rather than a personal Being, God is an impersonal Force (or Principle, Intellect, or Energy) that permeates the universe. Thus, God and nature are one because God cannot be separated from nature in pantheism. This impersonal It is not the creator of Christian theism. It and nature are one and the same. There’s no distinction between man and It either. This is the reason New Agers can say man is divine.

Pantheism is thoroughly antithetical to the Christian view of God. The God of Scripture is not an intangible Force, one in essence with nature. The Bible reveals that God transcends nature as its creator and sustainer (Col. 1:16–17). He is a personal God. He is infinite and not to be identified with His creation. The apostle Paul warns that worshiping creation rather than the creator is exchanging “the truth of God for a lie” (Rom. 1:25). The God of Scripture is impossible to harmonize with the It of pantheism.

Man

Because man is part of God’s essence, according to New Age theology, he too is divine. However, says the New Ager, the mass of humanity is ignorant of their divine potential. Thus the goal of the New Age movement is to awaken and release the divine essence in every human being. All knowledge and truth resides within man, not in a God outside and above man, and by awakening this divine potential, mankind will usher in a new age. Man will become God and the ruler of his own destiny.

The Bible, on the other hand, makes it plain that man is not divine. Although created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), we are still created and only human. With regard to purely physical creation, man is no different than the rest of animal life (Eccles. 3:19–20). Nor does man exhibit a single attribute that distinguishes God as God (e.g., omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, sinlessness, holiness, eternality). More than once, the Bible condemns any action on the part of man or angels to seek or claim divine status (see Ezek. 28:1–10). Satan was cast out of heaven because he attempted to exalt himself as God (Isa. 14:13–15). Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden because they yielded to Satan’s temptation that they could “be like God” (Gen. 3:5, 22–23). The New Age doctrine of man is antithetical to biblical revelation.

Sin

It follows that if man is divine, he must also be innately good. New Age philosophy totally rejects the biblical concept that sin is rebellion against God. To the New Ager, God is not a moral Being. In fact, what Christians call sin is actually amoral actions (neither moral nor immoral) that occur out of ignorance. Once one realizes his divine potential and gets in tune with God’s essence, and thereby achieves right information, the so-called sin issue will vanish.

New Agers recognize no distinction between good and evil in an absolute sense. The concept of oneness—that all is God—prevents this. Sin must not exist in the sense we normally think of it. Rather, evil, like good, is all part of the cosmic balance. Because man is innately good, once he understands or becomes educated as to what is right and “moral,” he will make the right decisions. However, since there is no absolute standard of right and wrong outside of man’s own thoughts and feelings, ethics are relative. Man, not God, is the determining factor of what is right and wrong. Thus morality is subject to whatever individuals desire. Man is responsible only to himself and for himself.

This philosophy clearly denies biblical revelation and what we observe in the real world. The Bible teaches that sin not only concerns our actions but also our condition. Since the fall of Adam, man has a natural tendency to sin. It is out of this sin nature that people perform sinful acts, not only gross acts such as murder, but also sins we hardly realize we do. For example people steal pens and notepads from work. We tell white lies to save face. We fudge on our income taxes. Perhaps the best example of our innate sin nature is seen in children. Children must be taught to be good. By nature they lie, steal, cheat, and hit other children. So what the Bible reveals man confirms: we are corrupt in our very nature and, except for Jesus Christ, we all sin (Rom. 3:23; 1 John 1:10). Once again, New Age philosophy is antithetical to the Bible, not to mention its incompatibility with the world we experience.

Jesus

One of the common threads of deception weaving through New Age ideologies is the practice of calling Jesus “divine.” New Age religions separate Jesus the man from Jesus the Christ. As a man, Jesus possessed the same divine potential that all men do; although, in His case, He succeeded in perfecting and manifesting this divinity more than most. But the divine potential, the “Christ spirit” perfected in Jesus, was also perfected in Krishna, Buddha, and other religious teachers. Jesus was a Christ—He achieved the status of Christhood—but He was not the Christ. There is no the Christ. Thus, Jesus is not the incarnate Son of God who sacrificed Himself on the cross to bring forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who accept Him. Instead, Jesus is just a man who, like some other great individuals, realized His divine potential and thereby became a “son of god” in the same manner anyone who fulfills his divine potential can become one with God’s essence.

That Jesus is not just another guru of pantheism is clear from even a cursory examination of the Bible. Jesus taught that God is personal, not impersonal (Matt. 6:9). God can be known; He is not unknowable like the god of pantheism. Second, Jesus taught that God created (Matt. 19:4). As creator, God stands apart from creation; nature is not a part of God’s essence. Third, Jesus taught that man is not divine but fallen (Mark 7:21–23) and in need of a Savior (John 14:6). Fourth, Jesus recognized a clear distinction between good and evil and taught that man is to obey Him (John 14:15). Fifth, and most importantly, Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the holy Messiah, the Savior of the world, God in human flesh, not just a man who discovered his divine potential (John 10:30; 14:7, 9).

The Bible explicitly teaches that anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ—the Son of God—is an antichrist (1 John 2:22) and that there are many antichrists in the world even today (1 John 2:18). The New Age movement denies this fact about Jesus.

Salvation

Because man is not sinful but innately good, he does not need to be saved. And because Jesus is not the only way to salvation, He is not the Savior. God can work through many religions.

Most New Agers believe in reincarnation and accept the doctrine of karma. If one experiences good karma in this life, he will release his divine potential and continue to move forward in future lives toward becoming one with the divine essence. Thus, salvation to a New Ager is not redemption through the work of Jesus but liberation from the illusions of this life and unity with the god-essence. Ultimately, everyone will be saved.

On the other hand, the Bible makes it clear that sin is real and that it is present in all human beings (Rom. 3:23). Scripture is equally clear that the only path to salvation is Jesus Christ (Acts. 4:12; John 14:6). Moreover, the Bible teaches that there is a literal heaven, that Jesus will return a second time to receive His followers, and that believers will spend eternity in heaven with Him (John 14:1–3). This is the Bible’s view of salvation. Salvation is not unity with the god-essence. And finally, as we already saw, the Bible condemns reincarnation by stating plainly that every man will die only once (Heb. 9:27) and that following death there will be the resurrection and judgment of both the saved and the lost (John 5:28–29).

Occult

A common element in New Age religion is involvement in the occult (the word occult carries the idea of secret or mysterious practices, often involving supernatural elements originating with Satan). The goal of New Age practitioners is to release the divine within. This entails developing a new, transforming awareness of oneself in relation to the god-force. To release this divine potential and to attain a new level of reality, altered states of consciousness are frequently sought through transcendental meditation, yoga, self-hypnotism, internal visualization, biofeedback, and other methods. Enlightenment is also sought through more direct occultic practices, such as the use of human mediums to contact the spirit world (often called channellers) or divination (using crystal balls, palmistry, tarot card reading, astrology).

The Bible clearly condemns such practices and warns of the dangers of tapping into the spiritual (satanic) realm (Lev. 19:26, 31; Deut. 18:10–12). The only true and reliable source of spiritual truth is God’s Word, the Bible. The only medium to understanding the Bible is the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10–14). And the only path to salvation is Jesus Christ.

Christianity Is Incompatible with New Age Beliefs

Teachings

Christianity

New Age

God

Personal

Impersonal

Triune

Pantheistic

Creator

A part of nature

Man

Human

Divine

Sinner

Innately good

Sin

Real

Amoral or illusion

Rebellion

Ignorance

Ethics

Absolute

Relative

Jesus

Human and divine

Human only

Sinless

Good person

Resurrected

Not resurrected

Savior

We save ourselves

Unique

We can all be “Christs”

Salvation

Only through Jesus

Reincarnation

Judgment

One chance

No judgment, many chances

Heaven

Abode of the saved

Absorption with the god–force

Hell

Abode of unsaved

Myth

Occult

Satan real

Satan myth

Condemns occultic practices

Encourages occultic practices

[1]

 

 

1 Walter R. Martin, “Reincarnation and the Bible,” CHRISTIAN RESEARCH NEWSLETTER (August—September, 1990), 5.

2 Walter R. Martin, THE KINGDOM OF THE CULTS (Minneapolis, MI: Bethany House, 1981), 289–291.

3 Joseph P. Gudel, Robert M. Bowman, Jr., and Dan R. Schlesinger, “Reincarnation—Did the Church Suppress It?” CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL (Summer 1987), 9.

4 Unless noted otherwise, the remaining scriptural citations in this chapter are from the nasv.

5 Martin, THE KINGDOM OF THE CULTS, 293.

[1]Story, D. (1997). Defending your faith. Originally published: Nashville : T. Nelson, c1992. (179). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

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