@ljubilee you have raised several challenging questions about issues that, as a long-time Christian, I tend to take for granted. Thank you for prompting us to think through what we believe. I would like to respond to just one for now — reincarnation.
I think that those who believe in reincarnation and we who believe in resurrection desire the same thing: We want to enter a better life after this. Reincarnation and resurrection approach this differently and are mutually exclusive. The question is, which one is true?
Reincarnation is a closed system, and therefore without end and without hope. As you said,
This means I enter this particular life flawed and leave it, maybe better, but still flawed. The process relies on those within it to improve themselves and itself is powerless to cure them. At best, each reincarnation offers not only an opportunity to improve but also the opportunity to make more mistakes, which we all know we keep on making. So we must come back and try again — endlessly.
In this sense, reincarnation is much like the Old Covenant law in the Bible, where worshipers had to sacrifice repeatedly because of their endless sinning. “These same sacrifices which they offer continually year after year can never make those who approach perfect” (Hebrews 10:1).
The Law with its sacrifices and reincarnation with its cycles are closed systems — there is no breaking out of them because we are left with our proneness to sin. Neither system perfects us. All these can do according to Hebrews 10:3 is leave us “with a reminder of sins every year” (or every life time, in the case of reincarnation). We need a way out, we need something that will take away sin.
This brings us to the gospel and resurrection. Jesus does what The Law and reincarnation cannot do. He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus purged our sins (Hebrews 1:3), he sets us free from sin (John 8:34-36) and by his death Jesus shed his blood for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28). All of these are ways of saying that Jesus “now, once in the end of the world, has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
The Law and reincarnation remind us there is no end to sin and we’ll always need another sacrifice, another reincarnation, but Jesus says, “It is finished.” There is an end to the law (Romans 10:4), and an end to life as we know it — life where sin goes on and on. In Christ, old things pass away and all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). We no longer need to practice sin because Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:7-9). And we therefore do not need to return to this life repeatedly. One resurrection into eternal life is sufficient.
A better life — eternal life — not only is possible, but has been secured by the gift of our heavenly Father, who so loved us that he gave his only Son. To those who long for a way out of endless striving, Jesus proclaims, “I am the door. I am the way. I am the resurrection and the life.” In him the endless has an end, and we are given a new beginning.