Skip to comments.Catholic, Are You Born Again?
Posted on 02/07/2014 4:44:09 AM PST by GonzoII
Have you been born again, my friend? Thousands of Catholics have been asked this question by well-meaning Fundamentalists or Evangelicals. Of course, by born again the Protestant usually means: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior through the recitation of the sinners prayer?’ How is a Catholic to respond?
The simple Catholic response is: Yes, I have been born againwhen I was baptized. In fact, Jesus famous born again discourse of John 3:3-5, which is where we find the words born again (or “born anew”) in Scripture, teaches us about the essential nature of baptism:
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
At this point, a Fundamentalist or Evangelical will respond almost predictably: Baptism does not save you, brother; John 3:5 says we must be born of water and the Spirit. The Catholic will then be told the water of John 3:5 has nothing to do with baptism. Depending on the preference of the one to whom the Catholic is speaking, the water will either be interpreted as mans natural birth (the water being amniotic fluid), and the Spirit would then represent the new birth, or the water would represent the word of God through which one is born again when he accepts Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.
Amniotic Fluid vs. Baptismal Water
To claim the water of John 3:5 is amniotic fluid is to stretch the context just a smidgen! When we consider the actual words and surrounding context of John 3, the waters of baptism seem to be the more reasonableand biblicalinterpretation. Consider these surrounding texts:
John 1:31-34: Jesus was baptized. If you compare the parallel passage in St. Matthews gospel (3:16), you find that when Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened and the Spirit descended upon him. Obviously, this was not because Jesus needed to be baptized. In fact, St. John the Baptist noted that he needed to be baptized by Jesus (see Matthew 3:14)! Jesus was baptized in order fulfill all righteousness and to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, according to Scripture (cf. Matt. 3:15; Luke 1:77). In other words, Jesus demonstrably showed us the way the heavens would be opened to us so that the Holy Spirit would descend upon us through baptism.
John 2:1-11: Jesus performed his first miracle. He transformed water into wine. Notice, Jesus used water from six stone jars for the Jewish rites of purification. According to the Septuagint as well as the New Testament these purification waters were called baptismoi (see LXX, Numbers 19:9-19; cf. Mark 7:4). We know that Old Testament rites, sacrifices, etc. were only a shadow of the good things to come (Hebrews 10:1). They could never take away sins. This may well be why six stone jars are specified by St. Johnto denote imperfection, or a human number (cf. Rev. 13:18). It is interesting to note that Jesus transformed these Old Testament baptismal waters into winea symbol of New Covenant perfection (see Joel 3:18; Matthew 9:17).
John 3:22: Immediately after Jesus born again discourse to Nicodemus, what does He do? “… Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized.” It appears he baptized folks. This is the only time in Scripture we find Jesus apparently actually baptizing.
John 4:1-2: Jesus disciples then begin to baptize at Jesus command. It appears from the text, Jesus most likely only baptized his disciples and then they baptized everyone else.
In summary, Jesus was baptized, transformed the baptismal waters, and then gave his famous born again discourse. He then baptized before commissioning the apostles to go out and baptize. To deny Jesus was teaching us about baptism in John 3:3-5 is to ignore the clear biblical context.
Moreover, John 3:5 is not describing two events; it describes one event. The text does not say unless one is born of water and then born again of the Spirit… It says unless one is born of water and Spirit… If we hearken back to the Lords own baptism in John 1 and Matt. 3, we notice when our Lord was baptized the Holy Spirit descended simultaneously upon him. This was one event, involving both water and the Spirit. And so it is with our baptism. If we obey God in being baptizedthats our part of the dealwe can count on God to concurrently open the heavens for us and give us the Holy Spirit.
And finally, it would be anachronistic to read into Jesus use of water to mean physical birth in Johns gospel. In fact, St. John had just used a word to refer to physical birth in John 1:12-13, but it wasnt water:
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
St. John here tells us we are not made children of God by birth (of blood), or by our own attempts whether they be through our lower nature (of the flesh) or even through the higher powers of our soul (the will of man); rather, we must be born of God, or by Gods power. Notice, St. John refers to natural birth colloquially as of blood, not of water.
Washing of Water by the Word
It is perhaps an even greater stretch to attempt to claim the water of John 3:3-5 represents the word of God. At least with the amniotic fluid argument, you have mention of birth in the immediate context. However, the Protestant will sometimes refer to Ephesians 5:25-26 and a few other texts to make this point:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word
See? a Protestant may say, The washing of water is here equated to the word that cleanses us. If you couple this text with Jesus words in John 15:3, You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you, the claim is made, that the water of John 3:5 would actually refer to the word of God rather than baptism.
The Catholic Response
Beyond the obvious fact that there is nothing in the context of John’s gospel to even remotely point to “water” as referring to ”the word,” we can point out immediately a point of agreement. Both Catholics and Protestants agree that Jesus wordsunless one is born anew (or, again)speak of mans initial entrance into the body of Christ through Gods grace. Perhaps it would be helpful at this point to ask what the New Testament writers saw as the instrument whereby one first enters into Christ. This would be precisely what we are talking about when we speak of being born again.
I Peter 3:20-21: … in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Romans 6:3-4: “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”
Galatians 3:27: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
I Cor. 12:13: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one bodyJews or Greeks, slaves or freeand all were made to drink of one Spirit (See also Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16 and Col. 2:11-13).
If baptism is the way the unsaved are brought into Christ, no wonder Christ spoke of being born of water and spirit. Baptism is the instrument of new birth according to the New Testament.
If you liked this and would like to dive deeper into learning what Catholics believe and why they believe it, click here.
Born again to me means that moment that you, as a functioning adult, accept God as the all mighty rather than carrying on with the rote you ware handed growing up or otherwise a lack of training. It is the concept of understanding.
“The Catholic Response”
As a matter of fact, this ISN’T the Catholic response. This is only the response of a small and pitiful faction known as traditionalists who don’t read the catechism or listen to their Popes anymore, even as their Popes tongue-kiss the Koran and praise Islam, and who never fail to make excuses for the rampant liberalism that runs their church and makes their theology absolutely contradictory and damnable.
What the Papists actually teach is that non-believers, who have not been baptized, can be perfectly saved so long as they are willing to work for it, chief among whom are the Muslims:
841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”330
As for baptism, the scriptures also say that we would be baptized in “fire” as well (Matt 3:11), and yet, the Papists do not have the courtesy of roasting themselves instead of troubling innocent Christians with obnoxious assertions. That Simon Magus was also baptized, and yet, obviously, was never regenerated (Acts 8:13-24), and the Thief on the cross saved without it at all, along with Cornelius who was regenerated before baptism explicitly (Acts 10:44-48), I think we can safely conclude that baptism of water has no regenerating power within it. And, therefore, the power of regeneration resides in the Holy Spirit only, and not in any ordinance, which are signs and symbols for far deeper spiritual realities that have already occurred.
The focus on when a man is born again must be on The Lord, not the man, for a man has no more control over the work of the Holy Spirit than he does the wind. When one is born again he will believe, but The Lord had to work the miracle of the new birth in his heart first. A dead man cannot make himself come alive. Only God can do that. That’s what Christ Himself taught Nicodemus.
“Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.
I highly recommend the teaching series which is part of today’s $5 Friday special from Ligonier:
“The New Birth” by Dr. Steven Larson
What an ugly and venomous misrepresentation. Is twisting someone else's words like a pretzel some sacrament of your religion? Is name-calling like a petulant schoolboy another?
non-believers, who have not been baptized, can be perfectly saved
Certainly the Bible is clear that water baptism is not an absolute requirement for salvation (although it is a normative one); consider the penitent thief for example.
Then all that remains is whether there is such a thing as inculpable ignorance as an explanation for non-belief, and whether God chooses to overlook such ignorance at least sometimes. He's sovereign, remember, and gets to break his own rules.
can be perfectly saved
"Part of God's plan of salvation" does not equate to "perfectly saved," sorry.
so long as they are willing to work for it
LG doesn't say that Muslims are saved by "working for it". Neither is anyone else.
chief among whom are the Muslims:
The most egregious example of twisting. A cursory read of the source document makes it clear that "in the first place" referring to Muslims means "in the first place AFTER CONSIDERING ALL JUDEO-CHRISTIAN FAITHS, which the document has already done in discussing Catholics, then Orthodox, then Protestants, then Jews. Only viewed against all of the OTHER remaining religious classifications are Muslims "in the first place".
BTW, Mr. Staples is perfectly orthodox and in the mainstream of Catholic thought AFAIK, not some kind of fringe traditionalist as you paint him to be.
He's also ex-Assemblies of God -- you know, one of those groups you don't insult with derogatory names.
So since John 3:5 makes it an absolute imperative that one be baptized of water and the Spirit, and Rome holds that this water refers to baptism (though i am not aware if she infallibly defines this verse or 1Pt. 321 as teaching that), then you must hold that one must be baptized in order to be born again. Correct? It must be to be consistent.
But that is refuted by Scripture, (Acts 10:38-43; 15:7-9) and the Lord in Jn. 3 is interacting the natural man's understanding, that of Nicodemus, that "born again" referred to a physical birth, and thus the "water" aspect is added, as one must have two births, and water brings forth life in Gn. 1:20. And which is consistent with John, who contrasts the physical and the spiritual, with the physical never gaining eternal life, except faith in the atonement, and who goes back to the "beginning" often.
To me from my understanding, baptism is something one does as an adult as a public showing of your obedience to Jesus. It’s a public affirmation of your faith in him.
I have never seen any scripture indicating that babies were baptized.
“What an ugly and venomous misrepresentation.”
Don’t make me pull out a photo of Pope John Paul II tongue-kissing the Koran! It’s downright pornographic.
“Certainly the Bible is clear that water baptism is not an absolute requirement for salvation (although it is a normative one); consider the penitent thief for example.”
Only if we abolish the way you read your text, otherwise, you are hanged by it:
Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, HE CANNOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
“LG doesn’t say that Muslims are saved by “working for it”. Neither is anyone else.”
Meanwhile in the real world:
Sharing our experience in carrying that cross, to expel the illness within our hearts, which embitters our life: it is important that you do this in your meetings. Those that are Christian, with the Bible, and those that are Muslim, with the Quran. The faith that your parents instilled in you will always help you move on. (Pope Francis)
The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good. Yes, he can The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! Father, the atheists? Even the atheists. Everyone!.. We must meet one another doing good. But I dont believe, Father, I am an atheist! But do good: we will meet one another there. (Pope Francis)
“”Part of God’s plan of salvation” does not equate to “perfectly saved,” sorry.”
Whose twisting words? I said perfectly saved “so long as they are willing to work with it.” And that is the true and accurate teaching of your church, which you then defend with a mention of this dribble:
“Then all that remains is whether there is such a thing as inculpable ignorance as an explanation for non-belief, and whether God chooses to overlook such ignorance at least sometimes. He’s sovereign, remember, and gets to break his own rules.”
One of the problems with such claims of “inculpable” ignorance is that it is so broad that your Pope applies it to Atheists who he is sitting in an interview with. How ignorant can the Atheist be of Christianity when he is sitting right next to the Pope? Thus, in effect, the Papists teach salvation to the church only to Protestant conservatives, but universalism to Atheists who “do good”, under the logic that, if they truly were “informed” of Papism, they would convert.
The second but, actually, more serious problem is that there is no such thing as invincible ignorance, and all are damned who do not confess Christ as Lord and savior:
As the scripture says, all men are guilty before God, regardless of how much light they have received (Rom 3:19). As all men have received, to a certain extent, the law of God imprinted on their hearts, as well as the light of nature revealing the existence of God, therefore they are summarily rendered without excuse, (Rom 1:20, 2:14) and as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law (Rom 2:12). And again, for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God(Rom 3:9-11). And again, all those who do not know God have no hope, and lack God in the world (Eph 2:12).
And finally, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and, to come is to believe: But there are some of you who do not believe... This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father. (Joh 6:37, 64-65), thus it cannot be claimed that there are those who are saved who exist amongst horrid cults or false religions who deny the Father and the Son, since all those whom the Father gives to the Son do not stand idle, but come rushing into the arms of the savior according to His plan and promise.
1Jn_4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
If any man is in the world who never heard the Gospel, it was by the infallible power of God, and not by random chance, that he was left so abandoned. And, therefore, it was one of those whom God chose not to have mercy on, in accordance with His almighty sovereignty (Rom 9:18-21).
This is the true meaning of sovereignty. Not that God saves Muslims who deny Christ.
“Only viewed against all of the OTHER remaining religious classifications are Muslims “in the first place”.”
Actually, your religion equalizes them with Jews on the basis of “worshipping the same God,” albeit in a different mode. They do not consider Muslims to be on the same level as Hindus or Buddhists.
Whole households were baptized as recorded in scripture. Did they somehow keep the babies and infants outside the house while the sacrament was administered?
Matthew 19:14-15 "Then they brought children to him, so that he might lay his hands on them in prayer; and his disciples rebuked them for it. 14 But Jesus said, Let the children be, do not keep them back from me; the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. 15 And so he laid his hands on them, and went on his way. "
You contradicted yourself on whether baptism is necessary or it isn’t
“You contradicted yourself on whether baptism is necessary or it isnt”
Care to quote the contradiction?
I think we can safely conclude that baptism of water has no regenerating power within it. And, therefore, the power of regeneration resides in the Holy Spirit only, and not in any ordinance, which are signs and symbols for far deeper spiritual realities that have already occurred.
I’m trying to have an intellegent discussion with you. Why don’t you quit it with the insults and explain how the text is being supposedly manipulated or twisted?
humor me, please show me where you explained how the text is being twisted or manipulated?
I think you’re misinterpreting scripture.
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