Yes, I understand the structure of the church and see the benefits of it.
May I say that reincarnation is the only radical departure from orthodoxy I can think of at the moment. Indeed I have embraced quite a bit of Catholicism - the saints, the mystics, the Real Presence, I even pray to the Blessed Virgin occasionally - enough to leave my ancestors spinning in their graves (warming up for the resurrection ). That's why the Episcopal Church suits me. It has the orthodox teaching, even Apostolic succession, but is a little more inclusive and permissive than Roman Catholicism, from what I gather.
Phil, you seem a little firmer in your stance against reincarnation than you did at the start of this thread back in 2001, where you acknowledged the empirical data and Ian Stevenson's research, and said you were, like johnboy, agnostic but curious. Can I ask how and why your thinking may have developed since then?
Yes, I did read back some of the earlier discussions -- over 12 years ago now. That was really the beginning of a serious look at the topic for me, which has included Christian writers who are very much inclined to accept reincarnation (Gedes McGregor, for instance).
Who knows? Maybe we do reincarnate. But I think there are other explanations for what people experience as past life memories, as we've touched on above. Then there's the philosophical implications, which seem problemmatic (one soul, many bodies). Also, there's no theological necessity for it, at least with regard to transmuting karma through multiple lifetimes. Finally, the spiritual implications seem unsavory as also noted above.
I do recognize that people on the spiritual journey need to give at least one, long look at their past to forgive and let go of what encumbers going forward. I suppose "past lives" could be part of that, especially if one treats the material as "stuff" that is there for whatever reason. If it diverts one down a path of past-life exploration, that would be probably be a fruitless venture, imo.
Now for the unexpected: Buddhists Against Reincarnation.
Thanks for this, Phil. 12 years is a long time. Everything about you will have changed since then.
And Geddes MacGregor...hadn't heard of him...another Episcopalian Scot with a belief in reincarnation...interesting.
I had closed this topic, but am re-opening to call attention to this very fine and thoroughly researched article:
That site relies on a quotation from Paul Carus's nineteenth-century anthology, The Gospel of the Buddha. Despite Googling around, I can't find any authentic, original source for the passage they quote. I suspect that Carus took a few liberties with the primary materials.
Today's great Buddhist skeptic is Stephen Batchelor, author of Buddhism without Beliefs. I haven't read it. It's probably just as well there isn't a Kindle edition, otherwise I'd buy it, despite the fact that I'm already reading another Kindle book, which I probably won't finish. Amazon must be making a fortune off people like me.
He is indeed an interesting fellow. Born in Glasgow in 1909. Bachelor of Divinity from the University of Edinburgh. Further education at Edinburgh and Oxford. Assistant at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. Emigrated to the United States in 1949 and taught at Bryn Mawr and University of Southern California. Wrote a whole series of books on esoteric Christianity and a couple of sentimental books about Scotland. He was originally ordained into the (presbyterian) Church of Scotland; I don't know at what point he joined the Episcopal Church.
How are his books, Phil?
Derek, I have the MacGregor book as a spiritual directee wanted me to read and discuss it with him years ago. As I recall, it's a transcription of some lectures he gave, and so isn't easy reading. As one Amazon reviewer notes, "the book sorely needs an editor, or plainly a new author to get some of the ideas across. There are so many clutter words, and poor sentence structure that it does indeed make it quite a task to sift through this book." That was my sense as well -- tough going.
What I came away with was that it was primarily a rehashing of Origen's ideas about metempsychosis. MacGregor wasn't convinced by the early Church's reasons for rejecting the idea. He did not accept that humans would reincarnate as other species, but neither did he establish a rationale for the need of reincarnation in terms of salvation or ongoing human development. He was favorably impressed with Ian Stevenson's work, but seemingly unaware of the critiques of it, which were substantial. Stevenson's research did not convince the scientific community, and MacGregor's book did little to raise the topic to front-burner status in Christianity.
Ah, okay. Perhaps I'll read his sentimental book about Scotland instead. Occasionally I'm in the mood to wallow in unfulfilled yearnings for the old country.
And as we all know, Origen is proof that "early Christianity taught reincarnation, but the doctrine was suppressed." Right? Wrong! According to an article by John S. Uebersax, that's an "urban myth." Modern research using Google shows that the Origen and reincarnation thing is based on misquotations and dubious translations that don't stand up to scrutiny.
Good find! And good work by John S. Uebersax! Anyone can prove anything if you clip the words of your sources in such manner as to have them agreeing with you.
Even if Origen or someone else had taught some version of reincarnation, what so many misunderstand is that he was but one theologian, and a very early one, at that, to even address the topic. His writings and opinions would need to be considered by the wider Christian community, and the eventual verdict would not be based on one person's writings or opinion, not even a pope's. It would be rooted in the Christian community's sense of the faith. The typical New Age critique misses this point completely, and fails to comprehend how doctrine is developed.
I don't believe the NT gospels are clear concerning the subject.
However, I invite you to think a moment about time. Do you consider time as a linear or as a circular concept? We usually experience our day as a unique unit, and tomorrow as another unique moment, etc. In other words, we experience it in a linear fashion. We are born, we live, we die, and the end. If we consider this is a circular way, the moment we die becomes also the moment we are born. There are a few references in the NT that I see as a reference to time as a circular happening:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. (Rev 1, 8)
To me, it makes more sense to interpret it as something circular, hence also my nickname
Also, we go through this process on a daily basis, even though we never may have thought about it as such: falling asleep... The process of falling asleep, entering deep sleep, going to light sleep and waking up, has similarities with the process of incarnation, being born, living, and to die. I believe this is well documented and explained in Buddhist theory.
aion, the teaching of the Church (which includes the Gospels) is clear on this matter.
Time is linear, not circular. It moves from past toward future. The Christian view is that history is moving linearly toward a fulfillment in Christ.
Maybe take some time to read the thread?
I'll get to the article, Phil. I just haven't had time and it seemed a little long and fairly deep. I skimmed the first couple of paragraphs and the approach is very logical, rational. I'm sorry that I can't seem to shake the need to follow my deepest intuitions about this issue however, much as it separates me from orthodoxy.
My interest now lies in bringing in Buddhist ideas about this, time (as aion mentioned), and the oversoul metaphysic, along with a renewed interest in Earth spirituality drawn from my country's ancient past, into the context of deep devotion to the Lord Jesus and his cross. It seems to be my path. Any intellectual or theological anomalies will have to be fleshed out along the way, because really, it's intuition and experience which are leading... of necessity, in my view.
I'll try not to use SP as a sounding board. I don't want you all shouting at me .
OK, OK, I'm closing the thread again, as we're just going over old ground again and again.
May we all live this life to the full! This message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil,
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