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Dear Catholic.com visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.

The Man Born Blind Did Not Reincarnate

Jimmy Akin

Recently I was on an internet forum devoted to reincarnation, and I left a comment identifying problems with the claim that reincarnation was a common belief in early Christianity.

I then received the following inquiry:

Then how would you interpret this part from John 9?

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’

‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus.”

This passage is often used by reincarnationists to suggest that Jesus’ disciples were envisioning the possibility that the man born blind had sinned in a prior lifetime.

I responded:

There seem to be three non-reincarnationist explanations: (1) The disciples are raising the possibility of the man himself sinning purely as a hypothetical, expecting it to be knocked down, (2) they are envisioning the possibility of the man sinning while he was still in the womb, (3) they are considering the possibility that the man may have sinned in a spiritual pre-existence, but without supposing it was during a prior biological lifetime (like the heterodox early Christian writer Origen proposed).

Given the Gospel of John’s emphasis on resurrection as the fate of human beings (e.g., John 11:24-26), with Jesus and his resurrection as the exemplar of human destiny, one of these three non-reincarnationist interpretations would seem to be indicated.

The inquirer then indicated that he liked my response. It’s always nice when people coming from different viewpoints can dialogue constructively!

 

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