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Enlightenment and Heaven

Postby Joint Venture » Sun Jun 10, 2018 3:24 pm

Is it possible that heaven is enlightenment in Eastern texts, and once we're in heaven, we spend an eternity (meaning a very long time but not forever) there, and then the whole "game" resets again (just to feel contrast with the bliss of heaven and being with God) and we're sent back to earth to get reborn several times? I know that the Bible doesn't discuss or says that reincarnation is false but hasn't it been proven through near-death experiences that reincarnation is true?
Joint Venture

Re: Enlightenment and Heaven

Postby jimwalton » Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:00 pm

It is not possible according to Christian theology, since you're in "ask a Christian." First of all, eternity means eternity, not "a very long time." The Greek word the Bible uses for "eternal" is αἰώνιον, and it means, "Eternal; ageless; endless; beginning now and lasting forever." It doesn't leave a door open for cessation at some (even extreme) time in the future.

Secondly, to claim the whole game rests again is an argument from silence, because the Bible mentions no such thing or even hints at such a thing. Hebrews 9.27 says, "Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,..." The author uses a term (ἅπαξ) that means not once merely as distinct from two or more times, but "once and for all." The event of death is decisive, and the possibility of it happening again is removed. So even though the Bible doesn't use the term "reincarnation," it does say that reincarnation is false. The biblical picture is that of transformation, not of reincarnation.

Third, religiously speaking, the Christian heaven is different from a state of enlightenment. Heaven involves an eternity in the presence of Christ. He stays God, and we never become God. Nirvana, or enlightenment, in Hindu texts, pertains to an individual's deification, so to speak.

Even for Hindus, Nirvana only finds meaning as an escape from an endless round of reincarnations. For Christians, heaven has meaning because of the presence of God.

Near-death experiences (coming back to your own life and body) are classed differently than reincarnation (coming back to a different body or life), so they don't qualify as reincarnation.

I conclude that it's not possible that heaven is enlightenment in Eastern texts, nor that the whole game resets, nor that reincarnation is possible in Christian theology.

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