General Synod, July 2018

A motion brought to the Synod by the House of Bishops ‘That this Synod welcomes and affirms the view of the majority of the House of Bishops that reincarnation is consonant with the faith of the Church as the Church of England has received it and a proper development in preaching the gospel of Christ to this generation’ was today approved by a large majority.

In a ground breaking speech proposing the motion the Archbishop of Hexham, the Most Revd Moses Ebagum countered claims of opponents that reincarnation had never been a doctrine of the Church, could not be construed as a legitimate development of the Church’s doctrine of everlasting life, and would be a further impediment to ecumenism with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Rome, he said, had unilaterally embraced the doctrines of Purgatory and Limbo (for which there was no scriptural precedent). If that wasn’t tampering with the doctrine of the afterlife, he wanted to know what was. ‘Anything they can do,’ he exclaimed to a hearty round of applause from lay and clerical members alike, ‘we can do better.’

The Bishop of Tonbridge Wells, the Rt Revd Judi Heinz, spoke powerfully. Surveys had shown, she declared, that more English people believed in reincarnation than accepted the divinity of Christ. It was time for the Church to fall into step with the majority. Women and other socially excluded groups, whose lives had been blighted first time round by prejudice and discrimination, deserved to be given a second crack at the whip.

A Legislative Group has been set up to detail the necessary changes to the Canons of the Church of England and the Canon of Scripture. It is expected to report by 2027.