An ever-growing number of people in both the church and the culture have come to believe that reincarnation and resurrection can be reconciled. In fact, multitudes have embraced the odd predilection that Scripture actually promotes reincarnation. In reality, however, the Bible makes it crystal clear that reincarnation and resurrection are mutually exclusive.
To begin with, the resurrectionist view of one death per person is mutually exclusive from the reincarnationist view of an ongoing cycle of death and rebirth. The writer of Hebrews emphatically states that human beings are “destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27, emphasis added). In sharp contrast to a worldview in which humanity perfects itself through an endless cycle of birth and rebirth, the Christian worldview maintains that we are vicariously perfected by the righteousness of Christ (Philippians 3:9).
Furthermore, the biblical teaching of one body per person demonstrates that the gulf between reincarnation and resurrection can never be bridged. Rather than the transmigration of our souls into different bodies, the apostle Paul explains that Christ “will transform our lowly bodies” (Philippians 3:21, emphasis added). He explicitly says that the body that dies is the very body that rises (1 Corinthians 15:42–44).
Finally, the Christian belief that there is only one way to God categorically demonstrates that resurrection and reincarnation can never be reconciled. As Christ himself put it, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, emphasis added). If Christ is truly God, his claim to be the only way has to be taken seriously. If, on the other hand, he is merely one more person in a pantheon of pretenders, his proclamations can be pushed aside easily. That is precisely why the resurrection is axiomatic to Christianity. Through his resurrection Christ demonstrated that he does not stand in a line of peers with Buddha, Baha’u’llah, Krishna, or any other founder of a world religion. They died and are still dead, but Christ is risen.
Ultimately, resurrection and reincarnation can never be reconciled because the former is a historical fact while the latter is but a Hindu fantasy.
Adapted from Resurrection
For further study, see Hank Hanegraaff, Resurrection (Nashville:Word Publishing, 2000), Chapter 14.
“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”