Home > Chapter 9

Thinking over reincarnation

Cecilia and Susan strolled after lunch to their usual stop, the corner book store. Susan halted her companion to point at a book.

"See that?", she said, "Shirley MacLaine’s book ‘Out On A Limb’ has been made into a film. It was on TV last week."

"And did you enjoy it," asked Cecilia absent-mindedly as she fingered some birthday cards on the rack.

"I don’t know about enjoying it. I lay awake for a long while thinking over her weird experiences with psychics, meditation, extra-terrestrial beings and reincarnation. Especially reincarnation. Do you know something? My mother believes in it. And my brother told me Tina Turner is sure she had lived in Europe in a former life and is buying a mansion in Paris. What do you think?"

"I think I like Shirley’s voice better than Tina’s," replied Cecilia with a smile, moving to the counter to pay.

"Don’t joke, lah," Susan remonstrated, "do you think reincarnation is possible?"

Cecilia guided her friend by the elbow as they moved out of the store into the street.

"No Susan. I don’t think reincarnation is Biblical or logical. It’s so noisy here. Let’s go up to my office."

Soon they were on the thirtieth floor of Orion Building. As Susan helped herself to water from the refrigerator, Cecilia continued, "The Bible says that everyone must die once and after that be judged by God! (Hebrews 9:27) As Christians we believe that at death we go immediately in our spirits to be with Christ in heaven. (Philippians 1:21-23; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8) Reincarnation and the Bible teaching on the resurrection of the body are two entirely different things. God will give us our individual resurrection bodies on the day of judgment, (1 Corinthians 15:42-44; Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:28-32) not a reincarnation into some other bodies now when we die. Reincarnation says that when a person dies he or she is reborn in another form, usually another human, and this can happen hundreds and thousands of times."

"How soon after death does this take place?"

"I don’t think any believer in reincarnation is sure. Some say minutes, others hours to days or even longer."

"How do you know so much about the subject?" asked Susan.

"A Christian ought to be knowledgeable about what other people believe," Cecilia explained, "besides, I was once troubled by this teaching. I work for two Christian bosses, Raymond and Arthur, and discussion with them has been helpful. Reincarnation is only a theory. You must remember that, Susan."

"My brother says it’s a fact based on the scientific law of action and reaction," countered Susan.

"Almost everyone who has done physics knows of this law. What is the connection with reincarnation?"

"It works like this - you see, if you do good, you get good in return. If you do evil, you will be paid back with the same coin. The law is impersonal and fair."

"It sounds incredible to me that an impersonal law can judge people’s motives as well as their actions whether they are good or evil. This so-called law can also decide what quantum of debit or credit has been achieved. On this basis it then decides what kind of rebirth the person is to have and when. Sounds rather like an intelligent judge than an impersonal law."

Susan appeared to ignore this evaluation and went on. "If you do evil or fail to do good you will undergo many rebirths to enable you to clear up your debt. That’s the law."

Cecilia laughed and held up her hand.

"Hold on, Susan. You mean I am born Cecilia Chong because I am the reincarnation of someone else for whose sins I am paying? For whom and for what sins?" asked Cecilia in astonishment, "I thought you said the law was fair."

"I don’t know. But your job is so nice and you have such good bosses the sins you are paying for can’t be too bad," Susan quipped.

"Seriously, Susan. If I don’t know why I am reborn as I am, how can I avoid the same mistakes I made in my supposed former life? That aside, what about the wrong I do for which I am personally accountable? Looks like I have two debts to settle, my own and someone else’s of which I haven’t the faintest clue."

Both girls were occupied with their own thoughts. Cecilia broke the silence, suddenly sitting upright.

"I’ve just had a horrible thought. If I, Cecilia, did something really dreadful I may be reborn as an animal, say a dog. What chance have I of working through my debt? My chances of improvement get worse with each reincarnation!"

Just then Arthur returned from lunch, somewhat earlier than expected. When he learned what they were discussing he readily joined them.

"Firstly we have no proof that reincarnation really happens. It may be fantasy, a figment of imagination," he commented. "To link a fantasy to an established law such as action and reaction and then to call the fantasy a law is not acceptable."

"There is proof that reincarnation occurs. Research has been done on it. Books have been written," Susan averred. (See references.)

"What is the nature of the proof?" asked Arthur. "From what I gather it consists of interviews with people who claim to have lived previous lives. For instance a man says his former life was that of a grandfather from a house in another town far away from his present residence. When he visits that home, apparently for the first time, he seems to know how many rooms there are in the house and what can be found in any of the rooms. He is able to give intimate details of every member of the family that the dead grandfather knew, to everyone’s astonishment. Before long everyone is convinced he is indeed the relative come back from the dead."

"That’s interesting. Isn’t that proof enough that reincarnation has occurred in his case?" Cecilia ventured.

"No, I am afraid not," Arthur remarked.

"Why not?" Susan protested.

Arthur thought a moment before continuing.

"Because there is another equally valid explanation for what I have told you that has nothing to do with the spirits of actual people who have died, recently or long ago, entering other people’s bodies. Let me explain. I have a grandfather whom I am rather fond of. At age 87 he is mentally alert and he loves to talk of his youth. Let us suppose, Susan, he were to entertain you with stories of his good friends, the Tan family, which once lived at Selegie Road in the early 1900s. All the intimate details of the Tan family life, mind you."

Susan nodded.

"One day you walk down Selegie Road with your brother," Arthur continued with a twinkle in his eyes, "and you tell him about the Tan household that lived at that particular spot 70 years ago. Now he is not aware my grandfather has spoken to you. In reply to his question, ‘How do you know all this?’ you say, ‘I am the reincarnated spirit of the servant girl who worked with the Tan family. I was there when it all happened.’"

Susan laughed. "James - my brother - wouldn’t believe me."

"He can check the details of your story," Arthur urged in a serious tone, "and he will find they are true. What I am trying to illustrate is: because a man says he remembers he lived another life long ago it does not mean he actually did. He could be informed of the details of that other life by someone who knows of that other life. Do you understand?"

"Informed by whom?" Susan asked, gesturing with her hands. Arthur got up to get his Bible from a bookshelf.

"By spiritual beings, which unlike humans do not die and therefore continuously witness human history. These are the fallen angels that the Bible speaks about, also called demons or evil spirits. (2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 12:9-10) They are anti-God and anti-gospel. They communicate with selected people in order to plant the idea of having lived former lives. They want to convince them that the reason they ‘remember’ these details is because they really lived those lives. This is untrue as you can see because the details are not really ‘memory’. They are planted historical ideas which are, of course, mostly true if the trick is to work. Investigators are bound to check them."

"All this sounds like fascinating stuff from a novel. Danger. Intrigue. Deception by demons," Cecilia observed excitedly.

"It does, doesn’t it?" Arthur, still serious, declared. "But the stakes are high. Precious human souls are involved. Demons know this. They have a strategy. They have prepared the modern, technological mind to accept reincarnation by first popularising pantheism. This is another idea, not Biblical, that everything in the Universe is God.

If I have this idea that I am already divine it is logical to also think that I will join up with God as my destiny. The trouble is, you see, man has this universal feeling of guilt because he can’t deny he has this sinful human nature. The real reason he feels guilty is because he has broken God’s laws and is a rebel at heart. He is also proud which makes it hard for him either to admit his guilt or to accept God’s forgiveness. He wants to cancel his sins, get rid of his guilt by both paying for his sins through physical suffering and doing good to earn credit.

Reincarnation allows him to do this. It provides him with many lifetimes to achieve it. But as you can see by now it is a cruel, illogical system.

We should pray for and try to help those who are slaves to its miserable ideology. Tell them that the guilt they feel is due to their offending their Creator and that guilt can be removed by forgiveness of their sins through the Cross of Christ. Tell them that the righteousness God desires is to be found in Jesus Christ, not in ourselves. Tell them that true wisdom is found with the true God who sent Jesus.

The Bible says: ‘But God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ to be wisdom. By him we are put right with God; we become God’s holy people and are set free. So then, as the Scripture says, "Whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done."’" (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)

"Another part of the strategy is to get influential people to popularise reincarnation," Cecilia said.

"Like Shirley Maclaine," chimed in Susan. "I remember now that throughout the TV documentary she kept saying she was being prepared to be a teacher of spiritual truths by powerful spiritual forces outside her control. Even the title of her book was suggested to her."

"Oh dear," Susan said with a start, "look at the time. It’s almost two. I had better go."

"Right you are," Cecilia teased, "your spirit may be here but your body had better be back in your office."

As Arthur escorted Susan to the lift he left her with a question.

"Susan, many millions of Christians must have died since the Pentecost. Don’t you think it’s significant that there is no record whatsoever of a reincarnation involving a true Christian?"

Susan smiled, "I think I know why."


  1. Ian Stevenson. Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation. New York American Society of Psychical Research 1966.
  2. Helen Wambach. Reliving Past Lives: The Evidence under Hypnosis. New York. Harper & Row. 1978.
  3. Mark Albrecht. Reincarnation: A Christian Appraisal. Inter-Varsity Press. Downer’s Grove. Illinois 1982.


Next chapter: A bone of contention