Friday, October 14, 2011

Hebrews 9:27

Regarding an objection that might be made - Hebrews 9:27 - here's a note from a Lutheran: the late great Gerry Palo:

"Whenever the question arises whether it is possible to reconcile the idea of reincarnation with Christianity without sacrificing the essential Christian beliefs about the uniqueness and divinity of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the Earth and man, and the veracity of the Bible, sin, salvation, and the Last Judgement, someone invariably raises the apparently justifiable objection that Hebrews 9:27 proves that reincarnation is incompatible with Christianity.
"In the following paragraphs from Christianity and Reincarnation, Rudolf Frieling discusses this verse and the whole of Hebrews in context to show that it does not conflict with reincarnation."

From Christianity and Reincarnation by Rudolf Frieling:

"Something from the Letter to the Hebrews should also be mentioned which is often carelessly quoted as a negation of the idea of reincarnation: 

'And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgement' (9:27)......

"It is the Letter to the Hebrews which again and again uses the word 'once' (hapax or ephapax) in relation to the deed of Christ in order to make it quite clear that Christ made the descent into the sphere of death, into sarx, through Golgotha once and for all, and that His 'coming again' will be a spiritual event occurring under entirely different conditions. The idea of death is here used as indicative of something irrevocable and decisive that concludes a man's life on earth and happens in the course of it only once.

"A mortal on earth is thereby able to understand just what in the highest sense is meant by 'once' in relation to Christ's deed......

"This uniqueness of the experience of death would not be affected by thoughts of reincarnation. As a particular person, a man dies only once. In a following incarnation, the eternal individuality that goes through all of them builds up another person, through which it 'sounds' (per-sonat - The word comes from the latin 'persona', an actor's mask. Translator's note.) But death is something that happens once to each person. After that--judgement. This would also be affirmed from the point of view of reincarnation. Death is followed by the experience of the sternest trials.

"Besides, the original text of that Letter to the Hebrews does not say 'the judgement', but only 'judgement' (krisis).

"There is indeed also in the New Testament the concept of a Last Judgement but that does not exclude 'judgement' being experienced 'already now' in each case after death. There are also moments even in earthly life when one can be profoundly shaken by the experience of a 'judgement'. It meant judgement for Peter when he said to Christ: 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord' (Luke 5:8).

"Thus, this sentence from the Letter to the Hebrews contains nothing that would stand in the way of the possibility of repeated lives on earth.

[Note: In the following chapters Frieling discusses in depth the reality of the Last Judgement and its treatment in the New Testament. Just as this Christian view of reincarnation differs with the oriental one in that it acknowledges the divinity of Christ and the central and world changing significance of his incarnation, death and resurrection, so it also takes seriously the idea of the Last Judgement - an idea that even many modern Christians deny or at least would rather not think about.]"

"Christ is not the teacher, as one is wont to say, Christ is not the inaugurator, He is the content of Christianity."
- Schelling.

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