The central claim of Christianity, that the pre-existent Son
of God was incarnated in the man Jesus, that Jesus was the
Christ (or Anointed One), and that Jesus died an agonizing
death and three days later came back to life in the flesh. Underlying
Christianity is a belief in the goodness of material creation
and the necessity of a body for a human individual to be
a complete person. Future existence will be in a ‘‘spiritual
body,’’ though there is some disagreement as to what the Apostle
Paul means by that term (I Cor. 1544). Jesus in his resurrected
body, as recorded in the gospel accounts and the books
of Acts, had what appeared to be a physical body. He ate food
and invited Thomas to touch his body. Again, he did extraordinary
things such as suddenly appear in a closed room.
Many Spiritualists’ and Christians’ acceptance of Spiritualist
claims have argued for ‘‘resurrection’’ in what might be termed
an astral or light body, a non-corporeal body suitable for life
in an existence analogous to earthly life but quite distinct from
the material world.
As the theory of reincarnation has become the dominant belief
within the New Age community, there has been an attempt
to confuse the two terms both out of ignorance of Christian belief
and in an attempt to lessen the tension in a society in which
the majority believe in ‘‘resurrection’’ in a Christian sense.