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Anathema of Reincarntion by RCC in sixth century

Mar 11, 2002 00:01 AM
by leonmaurer

With reference to the below discussion by Muehlegger... Apparently prior to 
the sixth century, the Christian doctrine included a belief in reincarnation. 

Some many years ago, while in the ULT library in New York, I remember coming 
across a document, written in English (translated from the original Latin) -- 
that was purported to be the "Anathema" issued by the Church at the Fifth 
Ecumenical Council at Constantinople (called by the Roman Emperor Justinean). 
As I remembered it, this canon forbade the teaching of Reincarnation and 
Karma as it was understood and believed in by Jesus and by early Church 
teachers, among other so called "Heretics," including Origen. I found it 
recently on the web. Excerpts from the Anathema, along with a short 
introduction, follows: (from the Medieval Source Book:

Although Eastern religions accept reincarnation as part of their doctrine, 
Christianity has rejected it since 553 AD, when it was dropped from their 
doctrine at the Fifth Ecumenical Council at Constantinople. At that time, 
the Roman Empire was divided into two parts: the Eastern Empire at 
Constantinople and the Western Empire at Rome. It has been noted historically 
that the rejection of reincarnation was personally motivated by Justinian, 
the Emporer of the Eastern Empire, and his wife, Theodora. Although the vote 
at the Council relied on bishops from both the Eastern and Western Empire, 
only two bishops from Rome came to Constantinople to vote. As two previous 
popes had been murdered after they denounced the dropping of the belief of 
reincarntion of the Bible, many of the Roman bishops were afraid to vote 
against the wishes of Justinian. After the vote, all Bibles were confiscated 
throughout both empires, burned and rewritten. 

Below is an excerpt from the Fifth Ecumenical Council. 

IF anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the 
monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.

IF anyone shall say that the creation (thu paragwghn) of all reasonable 
things includes only intelligences (noas) without bodies and altogether 
immaterial, having neither number nor name, so that there is unity between 
them all by identity of substance, force and energy, and by their union with 
and knowledge of God the Word; but that no longer desiring the sight of God, 
they gave themselves over to worse things, each one following his own 
inclinations, and that they have taken bodies more or less subtile, and have 
received names, for among the heavenly Powers there is a difference of names 
as there is also a difference of bodies; and thence some became and are 
called Cherubims, others Seraphims, and Principalities, and Powers, and 
Dominations, and Thrones, and Angels, and as many other heavenly orders as 
there may be: let him be anathema.

IF anyone shall say that the sun, the moon and the stars are also reasonable 
beings, and that they have only become what they are because they turned 
towards evil: let him be anathema.

IF anyone shall say that the reasonable creatures in whom the divine love had 
grown cold have been hidden in gross bodies such as ours, and have been 
called men, while those who have attained the lowest degree of wickedness 
have shared cold and obscure bodies and are become and called demons and evil 
spirits: let him be anathema.

In a message dated 03/09/02 5:48:10 PM, 

>One of these legends claims that Christianity once did include the 
>belief in reincarnation, but that the powerful dignitaries of the 
>church have hidden this fact from ordinary believers. The Mahatma 
>Letters, Esoteric Buddhism or The Secret Doctrine however say nothing 
>on the matter.
>Neither does lady Caithness (a famous Theosophical pioneer ) in 
>texts devoted specifically to the theosophical interpretation of 
>Christianity and the Bible. As for Sinnett, he merely notes his own 
>utter disbelief in the "dreary blank" to which departed souls are 
>said to go in Christian Protestant theology, while awaiting the day 
>of judgment.( Sinnett Esoteric Buddhism, pp. 132 f.) 
>The earliest textual occurrence of the legend that links Christianity 
>with reincarnationist beliefs next appears to be in a book published 
>in 1888 by theosophist E.D. Walker, Reincarnation: A Study of 
>Forgotten Truth. The earliest mention in the sources ana-lyzed
>here is only a few years younger, in a popularization of the 
>mythology of The Secret Doctrine, William Q Judge's the Ocean of 
>Theosophy, published in 1893.

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