Mrs. TAE came out of nowhere the other day and suggested to me that she was pondering reincarnation as an actual mechanism of human souls.
At the time, I didn't think much of it, she is allowed to think about whatever she wants, and mostly I was just grateful I have a wife who isn't afraid to ponder deep, controversial ideas and discuss them with me.
But I got to thinking about it the later that day and realized maybe she was on to something.
A few weeks ago at church we were listening to a sermon entitled "why do bad things happen to good people?" The minister challenged us to try to figure out why a 31 year-old woman's infant daughter had suddenly perished from an aggressive and untreatable form of leukemia. The woman had asked the minister, in a moment of (totally understandable) anger and betrayal "why did God kill my baby?"
Now, the practical side of all Christians immediately thinks "God did not kill your baby, cancer killed your baby", but deep down, all Christians have to wonder why God didn't stop the cancer. "God created the universe!" we all think in our minds, "why didn't God stop the cancer from killing a helpless little baby?" Then we all ponder what exactly is the level of interaction God has with our daily lives.
Early Christian writers struggled with the idea that baptism was (or maybe was) the only way through which a soul could achieve Heaven. Early Christian writers believed that all unbaptized souls were doomed. This included pagans, "heathens" that lived outside the influence of Christianity, and children who had not been baptized before they died. But it really rubbed some early Christians the wrong way that little babies went to Hell. So Christians modified their ideas, and Purgatory was born, as a sort of Heavenly practice area, where souls could sort of wait around until they accepted Christ and ascended, or did the opposite and descended.
Anyway, there are varying theories of the exact makeup of the afterlife, and how exactly non-christians and pre-christians are Judged.
I'd like to offer up a theory of my own. Now I am not saying I believe this, but as I was sitting there, chuckling that my wife was pondering reincarnation, I realized that maybe, just maybe, she was on to something. What if a little baby that suddenly dies goes to the afterlife, and the Defense Attorney Angel says to God: "I have insufficient evidence to present a solid defense on behalf of this soul." And the Prosecution Angel says "I have nothing on which to build a case against this soul." and God says (in a very deep voice, of course) "In that case, let this soul return to the Mortal Coil until a time at which it can be properly Judged.
Because, you know, God is fair. If a soul only was on Earth a few days, how could it possibly be Judged? If a baby had never heard the name Jesus before, how could it accept Jesus as its Lord and Savior? It seems to me that maybe all souls that are taken before their rightful time might experience this exact scenario (though probably more cosmic and less "Law and Order") and be reincarnated into a new person so they have sufficient chance to accept Christ.
And then I realized that this is essentially what many Hindus believe. A soul, they say, is reincarnated over and over, climbing up and down a ladder of enlightenment until sufficiently righteous, when at last the cycle is broken via salvation.
Could this be right? Could this be where Hindus and Christians can agree?