I have been having an email discussion with a fine fellow who describes himself as an “orthodox protestant Christian.” He has nicely taken me to task for the LDS view of reincarnation. He came to the conclusion that the LDS church and I believe in reincarnation because of statements made by apostates like Michael Quinn, and because the Zohar has several references to reincarnation.
First, it is not now, nor ever was LDS doctrine that people reincarnate!
The Zohar makes some references to reincarnation. But I don’t hold to every idea the Zohar teaches. The Zohar is a medieval attempt to record the “oral traditions of the Jews,” in story form, which I think was largely successful. But, it is not without errors. I don’t require things to be pristine to learn from them.
Here are a few statements on reincarnation from LDS leaders.
“Every once in a while believers in reincarnation spring some story about persons who have returned to earth in another body. The Prophet Joseph Smith says that reincarnation is a doctrine of the devil…” (Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 5, Purported Visions)
“Reincarnation is a false doctrine. Men are born, die, and are judged once.” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vol. 3)
Here is a story from Joseph Smith's life, from his journal:
“He [Robert Matthews, alias Robert Matthias, alias Joshua the Jewish minister] said that he possessed the spirit of his fathers, that he was a literal descendant of Matthias, the Apostle, who was chosen in the place of Judas that fell; that his spirit was resurrected in him; and that this was the way or scheme of eternal life—this transmigration of soul or spirit from father to son.
I told him that his doctrine was of the devil, that he was in reality in possession of a wicked and depraved spirit, although he professed to be the Spirit of truth itself; and he said also that he possessed the soul of Christ. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 Vols. 2:307)”
There is nothing in the Plan of Salvation which supports reincarnation.