I'm teaching a class at my church on Heaven, and someone in the class brought up a question saying that your Heaven book teaches reincarnation. I told him, no, it didn't since Hindu reincarnation teaches that a person's soul comes back immediately after death into an insect, an animal or another person. What is the best way to refute this thinking?
This question arises, perhaps, from the different uses of the word “reincarnation”. Literally, reincarnation means “to become flesh again”. In this sense, yes, we will reincarnate, become flesh again, when we are given our new bodies. However, the accepted use of the term “reincarnation” today is more associated with the transmigration of the soul (one soul travelling from one body to the next), and this is a doctrine specifically refuted in the Bible (Hebrews 9:27, 2 Corinthians 5:11, Matthew 25:46). One soul to one body: 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. Perhaps an even better word than reincarnation to explain our condition between now and our new bodies is resurrection, as “risen from the dead” is a concept more frequent in the Bible, and more powerful, than “becoming flesh again”.
Julia (Stager) Mayo holds a Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary. She was previously part of the Eternal Perspective Ministries staff, and still does occasional research work for Randy Alcorn.