Book Review: Christians, Remember Your Past Lives: Learn How

Christians, Remember Your Past Lives: Learn How, by Douglas Casimiri

It is unclear exactly what audience the Tampa-Bay based author of this book is aiming for in this very brief volume that not only doubles as a claim of the Christian nature of reincarnation but also a guide to becoming a past-life and age-regression facilitator. What is praiseworthy about the book is that its bluntness and openness about its several interrelated agendas makes it transparent and therefore less offensive than it could have been to Christian sensibilities. It is clear that the author speaks from firm, even dogmatic, convictions and feels no need in disguising his opinions or his Gnostic roots. It is also clear that the author senses in the rise of New Age and syncretism among many nominal Christians an opportunity for financial gain that is far more lucrative than a Tampa-based career as a karate sensei and “intuitive reader.” Fortunately, I suppose, I happen to be an intuitive reader myself, albeit of a different kind.

It is less obvious why I am reading and reviewing this book. This particular book was first of interest to me because of my interest in addressing the issue of gnostic Christianity, something that was of great importance in the early Church of God as a rival belief system to that of the Bible, with its own gospels like the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas and many other writings [1]. What I was hoping for from this book was some sort of in-depth, well-cited defense of gnosticism that addressed major texts and that facilitated research into the larger issue of contemporary gnosticism, which is a great deal more open that it has been for many centuries. The author correctly notes the early spread of gnosticism as well as its importance to the Cathars, who are often praised for their opposition to Roman Catholicism rather than critiqued for their deviant practices and unbiblical teachings. This book, though, is totally bereft of scholarly citation, despite the fact that it includes a short list of references at the end.

What this book does contain in spades is a lot of very strongly worded and dogmatic statements that fill every page and almost every sentence of this work. Some of the more dogmatic statements include: “Past-life regression is essential for improving the quality of your present life.” and “Most therapists already know the value of age and past-life regression,” both quotes that occur on page vii, the first page of the preface. Dogmatic statements like this need evidence to back them up, rather than an author who apparently expects his author to be accepted even as he rails against the authority of a corrupt and authoritarian government as well as the authoritarian tendencies of the Roman Catholic Church, marking him as anarchical when looking at authorities above but authoritarian within his own realm of thought and practice. So many of the claims of this book are made without citation and without warrant, including the claim that Jesus Christ believed in reincarnation and that Jesus Christ Himself was a reincarnation of the Buddha, who was indeed a counterfeit Christ.

In fact, although this book seeks to present the value of reincarnation, which has always been a difficult sale in the West, at least until the rise in popularity of New Age and generally Eastern religious beliefs, what this book really reveals is the dark spiritual reality that may lie underneath many of the claims of past-life regression. Even though the soul that sins shall die, and the fact that we are all appointed to die once, and then the judgment (this author, as might be expected, stoutly denies the reality of the mortal soul, the doctrine of the resurrections, and the reality of a final judgment), all of which are consistent aspects of biblical thought from the beginning and not merely post-Babylonian add-ons, contrary to the author’s claims, there are spirit beings who do possess knowledge of the past who are willing to grant that knowledge, as well as demonic influence and possibly even possession, to those who make themselves susceptible to such influences. The fact that this particular book describes practices like seances and transcendental meditation and astral projection as part of the “non-judgmental” meditation that people are supposed to undertake to open their own minds to some deeper reality that lies beneath our mundane truths suggests that the author wishes for his readers to deliberately open themselves up to dark spiritual influence and then claim those dearly bought insights as irrefutable evidence of our own past lives.

What is most predictable, but also most disappointing, about this book’s handling of the Bible is its use of false dilemmas (especially concerning the obvious reference to John the Baptist as Elijah) as well as a failure to examine such passages in depth or in context. For example, John the Baptist did not think of himself as Elijah because he was not a reincarnation of Elijah, but rather someone who did the same sort of work that Elijah had, fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi in turning the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers before the coming of Messiah, a scripture that appears to have a future relevance as well. The fact that this is not referring to a reincarnation is evident by the fact that Moses and Elijah themselves were seen in a future vision during the Transfiguration, which would not have been possible if Elijah’s soul had already migrated to John the Baptist). Likewise, the book cites passages about the judgment and the resurrections and comes up with a novel reason to dislike Paul–for his supposed opposition to Judaism (itself largely imaginary in the minds of gnostic Christians of various types) and its supposed belief in reincarnation, when the Pharisees themselves (including Paul) believed very clearly in the doctrine of the resurrections, denied by the Sadducees.

There are too many interpretative matters to do justice in a short book review like this one, but suffice it to say that while this book may be treasured by gnostic Christians as well as those with New Age leanings, it is not likely to be popular with too many Christians who are aware of their Bibles as well as the intellectual pedigree of gnosticism. Fortunately for the author, many Christians are not able to tell the difference between genuine biblical truth and blatant misrepresentation. Perhaps most troubling of all, the author seeks to gain from the legitimacy of procedures like regression analysis that are used to help survivors of child abuse recover some knowledge and insight from their traumatic early lives as a way of providing a fig leaf for the legitimacy of his own methods at uncovering illusory and imaginary insights into imaginary past lives, something that ought to trouble anyone for whom the legitimate uses of such therapeutic methods are of great personal importance. Still, those seeking legitimacy for their own methods and alternative views will seek that legitimacy on whatever possible ground exists.

[1] See, for example, the following posts:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/pm-dawn-and-the-gnostic-revival/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/on-the-appeal-of-gnosticism/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/the-trouble-with-gnosticism/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/book-review-johns-gospel-the-way-it-happened/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/book-review-the-ragamuffin-gospel/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/book-review-in-search-of-ancient-wisdom/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/when-greek-minds-try-to-understand-hebrew-texts/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/book-review-documents-of-the-christian-church/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/book-review-buddha-dharma-sangha-buddhism-and-the-buddhist-life-in-thailand/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/book-review-early-manuscripts-modern-translations-of-the-new-testament/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/book-review-the-dark-side-of-christian-history/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/book-review-spirit-of-antichrist/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/book-review-primitive-christianity-in-crisis/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/satans-mixed-strategy-on-authority/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/thomas-didymus-the-man-and-the-myth/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/on-the-difference-between-greek-thought-and-hebrew-thought/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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