When Reincarnation Was a Christian Belief



This can be a lethal combination. And though we don’t like to think of a small group of individuals being able to shape our world to their liking, it’s happening all the time. And it’s nothing new.

Here’s a history lesson for you. One you might find very surprising.

In the early centuries of the Christian Church, disputes over doctrine were settled by bishops of the Church, through meetings called Ecumenical Councils. These Councils were major gatherings, which occurred infrequently, sometimes once in a hundred years. To understand the story of reincarnation and the Christian Church, we must go back in time to the year 330 A.D.

In that year, Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople, a city which today is called Istanbul. As a result, two centers of the Christian Church developed; the Western Church in Rome and the Eastern Church in Constantinople. The emperors of Constantinople controlled the Eastern Church and dictated policy as they pleased.

As an example, the Constantinople Emperor Leo III prohibited images and portraits from being kept in churches, so icons, paintings of saints, which today are so admired for their beauty, had to be removed from places of worship.  On the other hand, the Western Church headquartered in Rome refused to give up icons. Similarly, the Constantinople Emperor Justinian determined Church policy regarding reincarnation.

Before The 6th Century reincarnation was among the beliefs of Christianity. St. Gregory wrote, “Every soul comes into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of its previous life.” (for more evidence of that, either just Google it or click here.)

But in the sixth century, the Church became divided over the issue of reincarnation.

Western bishops in Rome believed in pre-existence of the soul, of previous lifetimes or incarnations, while Eastern bishops were opposed to it. Emperor Justinian, who controlled the Eastern Church, was against the doctrine of reincarnation. As an example of his interference in Church matters, Justinian excommunicated the Church Father Origen, who openly supported the idea of reincarnation.

To further his agenda, Justinian convened the Fifth Ecumenical Council in 553 A.D., with only six bishops of the Western Church in attendance. On the other hand, 159 bishops of the Eastern Church, which Justinian controlled, were present.  An image of our powerful friend Justinian is provided to the right.

At this meeting pre-existence of the soul was voted out of Church doctrine.

Because of a rigged vote at a religious council, one called by the Emperor, Justinian was able to manipulate what would become the beliefs of Christianity going forward by stacking the voting deck in his favor.

Pope Vigilius protested this turn of events and demanded equal representation between Eastern and Western bishops. Though the Pope was present in Constantinople at the time of the Fifth Ecumenical Council, he boycotted the Council in protest. Justinian not only ignored Pope Vigilius, but persecuted him.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states that the conflict between the Emperor Justinian and the Pope was so extreme that the Pope suffered many indignities at the hands of the emperor and was nearly killed.

Can you conceive today that a politician or head of state could dictate church policy to the Pope or that the Pope would boycott the biggest meeting at the Vatican in a hundred years? When power and influence, and politics and religion collide, it’s not so hard to imagine.


One of the most interesting reasons I’ve read as to why this particular doctrine was so threatening to Justinian and others is that if reincarnation is acknowledged and research demonstrates that souls can change religion from one incarnation to another, a religion’s claim to exclusive truth is negated. Which, ironically, is completely counterintuitive to the premise of religion in the first place; Religion, for the truth seekers.

Justinian was using religion as a means to control people, and if that religion can’s claim exclusive truth it’s less powerful.

I assumed the Christian church did not believe in reincarnation. Now or ever. I’m shocked at this revelation and sort of bewildered by what that all means.


It’s ok to question what you have been taught to believe. In fact, it’s insane not to.

‘The afterlife’ is kind of a main thing, if not the main thing, in not only Christianity, but in all religions.

The fact that reincarnation was once a pillar of Christianity and is now considered nothing short of heresy kind of just speaks to a long and bloody history of people needing to calm down about their specific religion and its very specific rules and ideas because, more likely than not, there’s some odd story or other reason more human than divine (like our good friend Justinian), as to why you don’t eat pork.

Written by Tiffany FitzHenry, author The Oldest Soul Trilogy

“FitzHenry’s The Oldest Soul Trilogy, being hailed as “The Da Vinci Code for Twilight fans.”

Voted #1 “The Best New Adult Series” – Goodreads

Eve has no idea she’s the oldest soul on earth, with a pre-wired connection to every other soul on the planet and that the boy she’s mysteriously drawn to, named Roman, has been her soul mate, her love of nearly three hundred lifetimes—until he tells her.

But what Roman doesn’t mention is that the new genetic test called Animus will soon expose what she is to the whole world and that he’s being tasked with the impossible; steering her, into the open arms of another, a boy named Jude. She’ll learn that Jude’s the only brand new soul on earth; the one who’s come to change the world, and that the future of humanity rests in their intertwined destiny. 

Readers Choice 5star-shiny-web version copy

Highly recommended if you’re looking for a quickly paced, page turner! Watch out Katniss Everdeen, Evelyn O’Cleirigh is here! Five stars!”Goodreads review The Oldest Soul – Animus

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