Born Again as An Infant

One thing that I never quite understood is that we are told that we are born again at baptism - as an infant. What troubles me are the scriptures in 1 John where it says that people who are born agina will keep the commandments, practice righteousness, not practice sin, believe Christ is the Son of God, love the brethren…and not commit mortal sin…

(1 John 5:18) We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.

Yet - why do we see so many Catholics not fitting this description? It seems to be saying that those who are turly born of God will act a certain way…others including…

(Galatians 5:24) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

(1 John 5:4) For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.

Confused :confused:

Why did Paul need to keep correcting all those churches to which he addressed his epistles, consisting as they did of the baptized?

The problem is there is no such thing as “once saved, always saved”. Baptism does not take away all capacity to sin, it removes original sin and imbues us with the sufficient grace to resist sin.

Put another way, absent baptism, we lack capacity to do much more than sin. With it, our consciences awaken and we possess enough of God’s grace to withstand temptation.

Of course, most of us still choose to sin, which is why the sacrament of penance and reconciliation is so important to restore what we have soiled.

I guess I am referring to the teaching of being “born again” at baptism…there seems to be conflict between the characteristics mentioned of the “born again” and those of many baptized Catholics that I congregate with…

The Early Church Fathers have associated “born again” with Baptism. This link should clarify that.

I am still not getting what I need…please read in my postings above.

The unfortunate truth is that people sin and sometimes sin seriously.

I think that your concerns are the result of the Holy Spirit working in you. Perhaps your good example and gentle evangelizing of your fellow Catholics would go a long way in changing their hearts.

Sin is everywhere and no church or individual is immune. We become holy and sanctified by God’s grace. We must pray and grow closer to God. All Catholics need to be aware of this and to fight off the influences of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

1 John 5:18 – This is an example of proverbial literature which John uses frequently. For example, see 1 John 1:8 – if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Proverbial literature tries to make a point by using an absolute, even though the absolute is necessarily qualified (here, as seen by 1 John 1:8 which seemingly contradicts 1 John 5:18).

What about . . .

Gal. 5:1-4 - Paul warns them to stand fast, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. He teaches that we can be in Christ, then be severed from Him and fall away from God’s grace. You cannot be severed from something unless you were previously connected to it.

Hope that helps.


Ryan :slight_smile:

Prior to Baptism, your soul has one nature. It is a result of the original sin created by Adam. However, at baptism, the very nature of the soul is changed. It is born again.

You loose those things that hinder the soul, and gain the ability to truely accept God’s grace and forgiveness…

Baptism does NOT forgive you of all sin ever commited, you commit, or ever will commit, though repentance for Adult Baptism is part of it, the purpose of Baptism is to remove ORIGINAL sin…

The soul goes into the water with the nature imposed upon it by the Sin of Adam, and it is Born again when it comes out, with no sign of that sin.

In Christ

And there is a difference for the confirmed Catholics and the baptized in adulthood Protestants?

If you could show me a sinless confirmed Catholic or a sinless Baptist or somesuch your point would be confirmed on the spot.

Otherwise, you may wish to reconsider your interpretation of baptismal grace and its signs.

Well, then, go and congregate with some “born again” Christians. You’ll find they have the same problem, notwithstanding their believers only baptism.

Today’s “Through the Bible” broadcast with Fundamentalist Evangelical, J. Vernon McGee (, discussed just this phenomenon as recorded by Paul in Romans 7: “The struggle of the saved soul.”

The old Adam and the new Adam will be at war until we breathe our last in the flesh.

Let’s clarify the question before we answer it.

I think that Cling2Cross is saying this:

  1. Assume being born again means being baptized
  2. One can be baptized as an infant
  3. Yet the Bible seems to say that being born again is essentially an act of the will in the one being born again, (which may or may not involve baptism)
  4. Yet such an act of the will is impossible for an infant
  5. So either being born again does not mean being baptized, or it is wrong to baptize infants.

Is this correct?

Not quite.

The assumption in #3 (that “the Bible seems to say that being born again is essentially an act of the will”) skews the entire line of reasoning, causing a false conclusion.

We ARE born again “of water and the Spirit” at baptism. However, the grace received at Baptism is a gift of God, not an act of our will. As such, the will of an infant is not necessary for the receipt of the Sacrament.

I partially agree, but note that in Baptism, we ARE forgiven for all previous sins (whether original or personal), up to that point, but NOT future sins.

Infants who are baptized aren’t guilty of any personal sins, so only the stain of Original sin needs to be washed away. An adult who is baptized is forgiven not only for original sin, but for all personal sins they have committed.

Those who enter the Church in adulthood are baptized, then confirmed, and then receive the Eucharist. Both confirmation & the Eucharist require that one is in a state of grace to receive them. If baptism did not forgive all of their previous sins, then Mass would have to break so they could go to confession before being confirmed and receiving the Eucharist.

Since Baptism forgives sin, regenerates us, and relieves us of the enslavement to sin (we still are inclined, but at least not enslaved), baptism of infants is a good thing.

Correct. Again, We are born again (“of water and the Spirit”) in Baptism.

Your confusion in regards to those particular passages may be as simple as an issue with bible translations. For example, in my NAB Bible, the word “begotten” is used instead of “born again” in the verses

*"We know that no one begotten by God sins; but the one begotten by God he protects, and the evil one cannot touch him.

Since Christ is “God’s only begotten Son”, that sounds like John is speaking about Jesus in that particular verse, not all baptized people.

Still, I understand some of your confusion. In many places throughout the Bible we are exhorted to avoid sin (“we cannot sin and still remain in Christ”, etc.) while at the same time, it says we are all sinners & can’t truthfully even claim to be sin free. I know that they can’t be contradictions, and think it has to do with the issue of concupiscence, & between the Catholic & Protestant views of it. I’m meeting with my parish priest in a couple of days to discuss it, & will let you know what I find out.




OK now, so we’re assuming I laid out the argument correctly, though I haven’t received confirmation from the OP.

But to be fair, if you’re going to refute #3, you should use the Bible.

(Note that I have not argued one way or the other. I have merely laid out what I believe the OP’s argument to be, because I don’t think other people were actually addressing it.)


The assumption in #3 (that “the Bible seems to say that being born again is essentially an act of the will”) contains a logical error.

According to 1 Peter 3, Baptism “now saves you.”

If being born again in baptism is an act of our will, then an act of our will “saves us.”

If a personal act of will saves us, we are responsible for our own salvation, no?

To avoid claiming responsibility for our own salvation, wouldn’t this require that God forces our will for us? But then, that gets us into a discussion on free will, which definitely isn’t the point of the OP.



I hope you found some of the Scriptures eluding to the Baptism of children, or see how the others showed you how that was the understanding of the early Church.

Another way to understand infant baptism:

Consider how often times when someone is “unable” to come to Jesus or receive Him normally…that someone imparts it on that person’s behalf. Like the sick servant of the centurian **is healed because of the centurian (Matthew 8:5-13), who vouched for the “unable” servant. Then there’s the paralytic who is brought to Christ on behalf of other believers because he was “unable” to do so on his own. The paralytic was healed because of the faith of the others **(Mark 2:1-5).

The premise is the same for infant baptism…like the servant or the paralytic, the children are “unable” to receive a “believer’s” baptism, yet it is through the faith of the Church by which they are brought into the Body of Christ. And they are to walk in the faith of their own accord when able.

Don’t forget, Jesus said to let the little children come to Him. (Mk 10:14)

1 Cor 12:13 states, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” This passage is referring to Jesus body. Jesus’ body refers to the Church. Baptism is how we become members of the Church. One act of faith cannot accomplish this.

Rom 6: 3-4 states, “Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.”

First, that’s not a logical error. A logical error would be an informal fallacy like begging the question, or a formal fallacy such as affirming the consequent.

And yes, the Church it is our will (as a response to grace) that saves or damns us. We are not Calvinists.

I’m not exactly sure what you’re saying in this sentence. I agree that we are not Calvinists.

However, I disagree that our response to the grace received at baptism is what causes us to receive that grace.

Perhaps I simply fail to understand your view that the Bible claims that baptism is an act of our will?


Are you asking how infants can fulfill the Scripture passages you quoted?
Or are you asking why so many Catholics do not seem to fit the picture of a Christian as spoken of in those passages?
Or both??


I did not assert #3. I was trying to lay out the argument as I understood it, because there seemed to be confusion early in the thread. The original poster never returned, so it doesn’t matter any more.

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