atonement and reincarnation
Last night I had a discussion with a friend about whether the concepts of Christian atonement and reincarnation were compatible or could be reconciled. I've always seen the whole idea of this life as a test and redemption through Christ as a one-shot deal. If reincarnation is real, I don't see a place for the atonement - at least certainly not the same sort of place it occupies if this life is our only life. My friend Tesla* (whose religious beliefs can probably best be described as 'Christian alternative') sees Jesus as having achieved perfection through the process of reincarnation, and the Atonement as an act of mercy so profound that God granted him the right to forgive sin and in essence to help us move along the path of spiritual development more quickly. We also went off on about eight or nine tangents, but I won't go there.
Now I'm not asking you what you believe exactly. But if it interests you as a debate topic, I am interested in your ideas on whether you feel the two concepts can be considered compatible. (So, in other words, even if, say, you don't believe in reincarnation, assume it's real just for the sake of the discussion. Same goes for Jesus Christ - assume he existed and performed an act of Atonement for all humankind.) This is more about the concepts than any actual spiritual belief of individuals.
Do you think that the idea of redemption through a saviour can apply to many lives as it applies in most Christian doctrine to one life? Why might that work, or not work? I have some ideas to add, but I'm curious to see if anyone else has an opinion first.
By the way, I'd planned an Easter post with a Lent recap, but it's still in draft. Stay tuned!
*I love choosing nicks for people mentioned on this blog. It's become like a tiny hobby.