Question: Do Christians believe in reincarnation? Is it taught in the Bible? If not, where does the idea come from?
The idea of reincarnation is a Buddhist teaching, and it is also taught in Hinduism and other Asian religions. Reincarnation, in its most simplified form, is the idea that after we die, we are reborn in another form. If we have lived a good life, we will be reincarnated in a higher form. But if we have lived a bad life, we will be reincarnated in a lower form. So, whether we have been good or bad will determine where we are reborn.
Buddhists believe that there are six realms: 1) The heavenly realm, 2) the demi-god realm, 3) the human realm, 4) the animal realm, 5) the ghost realm, and 6) the realm of hell. Hindus believe that the soul does not have a beginning or an end—it is eternal, immortal, ageless. But the Bible teaches that every soul has a beginning:
The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7)
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)
The Bible is clear that we have a beginning. But are we immortal? Do we have no end? From a Christian perspective we know that God alone has immortality:
The blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:15-16)
Here are two passages of Scripture that talk specifically about our future after death:
Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29)
It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
I am not an expert in reincarnation, but I do know it is not a Christian teaching. The Bible teaches that we live, die, and then comes the judgment. We have one life to live. We are not reincarnated into another form after we die.
The resurrection of Jesus (in a body) shows us what kind of body we will have when we die and are raised. Everyone who puts his or her faith in Jesus will have a resurrected body that is adapted for eternity. Take your greatest joy in life, multiply it a million times, and make it last forever—that’s what heaven will be like. I pray that you will be there (in your new body) to enjoy it!
PS: If you’d like to learn more on what the Bible teaches about death and the afterlife, check out Pastor Colin’s sermon series titled The Inside Story of Your Future Life.