Edgar Cayce's Mysteries of Reincarnation

During the Asian Pastoral Experience I became more curious about the doctrine of Reincarnation. One of the most famous teachers of that doctrine in our country was a twentieth century seer called Edgar Cayce. From our local library I obtained a copy of a book about him: Intimates Through Time (Edgar Cayce's Mysteries of Reincarnation) by Jess Stearn.

While I would agree with Hamlet:

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

still I did have some questions after reading it. Do Buddhists or Hindus also claim to remember previous lives? Has anyone remembered a language from a former existence? Devotees of Cayce would not doubt have a ready answer to those questions, but particularly the second bothered me as I read the book. They seemed to have such detailed and vivid remembrances, but no one gave evidence of being able to speak Persian, Aramaic or Atlantan!

They did appeal to evidence which is common to the human experience, especially the phenomena of deja vu and love at first sight. Of course the idea of knowing someone in a previous life is very romantic, but I offer could better explanations for such mysterious phenomena. However, that would be a whole other story.

What I found myself most critical of was the blending of reincarnation with Christianity. The toughest question they bring up is the saying of Jesus that John the Baptist is Elijah. (I explain what that means in response to a letter about reincarnation and the Bible.) The other claims to reincarnation teaching in the Bible are exceedingly weak. For example, they cite Jesus words that a "man must be reborn" (John 3:5) as evidence of their doctrine! Other than that they posit a massive cover-up involving rewriting the Bible and an enormous library of patristic texts.

Having said this I do not want to look down on a doctrine which has been held by so many human beings. Obviously there is much about it that is highly attractive to the human spirit--and it does have a lot more say for it that the reductionism of Naturalism. What I am saying is that it simply cannot be honestly blended with Christianity. As C.S. Lewis pointed out, there are really only two religious choices: Hinduism or Christianity. And the only question is not, which is most attractive, but Which is true?

Fr. Phil Bloom