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Re: Theos-World Anathema of Reincarntion by RCC in sixth century

Mar 11, 2002 04:56 AM
by Larry F Kolts

Brigitte, Gerald, Leon, et al,

Well, it's time for me to stick my two cents in again.

There has been quite the usual go around about reincarnation and karma.

Let me once again state that as a believing Theosophist, I fully accept
the reality of both reincarnation and karma. I would have to acho many of
the points Dallas and others have made.

My problem has been, not the substance of the teaching of reincarnation,
but rather the arguments used to support it. The present discussion
illustrates this problem.

I find that most theosophists equate the doctrine of reincarnation with
that of the preexistence of souls and use the arguements for the latter
to justify the former.

Brigitte had pointed out that the early Christians passed this edict
against the doctrine and that Christianity ever since had fallen into

The exception is Mormonism. Mormons believe in what they call pre-mortal
existence but NOT in reincarnation. Reincarnation implies cyclic
progression, a return to the mortal state over and over again, hopefully
ever spiraling upwards in evolutionary progression over long eons of

Pre-mortal existence is linear progression. Mormons hold that we were all
once "intelligences" for countless ages of time, and at some point became
clothed in a spirit body, again for many, many years and now have been
born into a physical body, will die, becoming again just a spirtual body
and then be resurrected into a more glorious body, telestial, terrestrial
or celestial, depending on which is merited. To them all this happens
only ONCE in a linear fashion.

It is clear that the document Leon posts is referring to the
pre-existence of souls and nowhere mentions reincarnation. Most of the
Bibical references used to justify reincarnation apply equally well to
the Mormon concept.

When I was first introduced to theosophy by my wife Lisa, she would drag
out all these Bibical quotes and say "see this proves that the early
Christians belived in reincarnation", to which I would reply " No it
doesn't, it simply gives evidence in a belief in pre-existence. There are
actually a few that lend towards reincarnation, but most do not, and this
document does not.

Do you see my point?


On Mon, 11 Mar 2002 03:01:34 EST writes:
> 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. 
> I.
> IF anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall 
> assert the 
> monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.
> II.
> 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.
> III.
> 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.
> IV.
> 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, 
> writes:
> >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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