Hi! I recently was chatting with someone on Christianity. I mentioned my Christian beliefs, and she was like “Oh, so you are a born again Christian!” As a Catholic, I know we are born again, but felt this was a missed opportunity to be a witness to the fact that as a Catholic I am a born again Christian. It’s been kind of bugging me, but I can’t seem to come up with a good solid answer to that to be a witness to my Catholic faith (most Protestants seem view being a “born again Christian” as being a protestant thing not a Catholic thing). I am looking for some good suggestions on responses to this. I don’t want to be an “in-your-face” kind of Christian, but always would like to have a few good response ideas for when the subject does come up especially to get the other person thinking a little bit
Be specific about how you were born again through baptism and not just acceptance of Jesus?
It’s difficult because there are different kinds of “born agains”. Baptism is probably the most divisive issue within Protestantism.
You can acknowledge the importance of having a life changing experience at an altar call, a personal relationship with Jesus and so forth. These things should never be negated. What you could say, gently, is that Jesus made it explicitly clear that “born again” means by WATER and the Holy Spirit. Water is never separated from spirit and spirit is never used as a symbol anywhere in scripture. You have the challenging task of introducing the sacramental principle, something that born-agains, a branch of evangelicalism, is sorely lacking.
Thanks for the suggestions so far!!
“… most Protestants seem to view being a “born again Christian” as being a protestant thing not a Catholic thing.”
As a Methodist for most of my life, I always believed that all Christians were “born again” through baptism. “Most Protestants” do not consider it a Protestant thing - it’s a Christian thing.
I have been asked the question when I became a Christian, or when I was born again.
As a Catholic, my response is that I was born again when I was baptized, That means that I have been a Christian since infancy.
Throughout life, we grow in our spiritual, or Christian life. This is as it should be. We make a commitment to Christ at Confirmation. I am old enough that Confirmation meant becoming a Soldier of Christ. It is our final step in the initiation process, a formal declaration and decision of Faith.
I do know that what many of my non-Catholic brothers and sisters are talking about another step, a Baptism of the Holy Spirit. As a Charismatic Catholic, I understand this next step, as dramatic as it may be, as one more step in my walk with Christ. It is a release of the gifts, the charisms that I have already received as a result of my Baptism and Confirmation, a deepening of my commitment to Christ. Again, it is not enough, since my Faith and my actions need to continue to grow to reflect what has happened within me.
As I talk about being “born again” I talk about each of these three steps, I say that I was born again through Baptism, that I have been confirmed in Christ. It is only at the end that I might mention that I have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as they understand it as a further step in walk with Christ.
I was baptized as a 1-year-old in my father’s childhood church in NoDak, but I didn’t know that myself until I was past middle age.
I also had a serious conversion “born again” experience in a little servicemen’s Pentecostal church in Japan when I was almost 30. That experience put me on the path that eventually led to my becoming Catholic. Would I have become Catholic without that “born again” experience and the years of study that followed it. I don’t know. The life that I was living at the time was more or less pagan (small p). Not exactly the kind of life that leads to Rome.
After Peter preached to Cornelius in Acts 10, the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured upon Cornelius and his family. They began speaking in tongues and glorying God.[Acts 10:23].
It is less important that they received this “born again” experience before or after Baptism. They were baptized into the body of believers. For those unfamiliar with Pentecostal and Charismatic terminology, this is what is meant by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. For Catholics, this is not a new Sacrament. Rather it is a release of the gifts already received through the gifts of Baptism and Confirmation. Since Baptism leaves an indelible mark, if you had already been baptized, it was a release of gifts already received.
Catholic teaching, and that of main stream churches, as mentioned by another poster and throughout scripture is that we are born again through Baptism. Our old self has been crucified, has died with Christ. It is with Him and through Him that we live and breath.
I think God prefers us ALL to be ‘in your face’ christians, meaning we should probably be talking to strangers about our faith, inviting them to mass, maybe learning some verses that are good responses to frequently asked questions by non-religious people.
Ive always thought very highly of the Pentecostal people that are VERY ‘in your face’…Ive seen them go up to complete stranger out in public, just start talking about the bible, about God, scripture, etc, they invite them to come to mass, even offer to drive sometimes, etc.
The Pentecostal church I was once a part of, I met some of the most devout people Ive ever met, those people really lived their faith, and they knew their verses, if a certain topic was brought up by a non-religious person, they usually knew a good verse that referred to or addressed it, before I joined the church, I was one of those non-religous people, and they were able to answer all my questions, they knew what I was talking about when I asked, eventually I gave in and went, ended up staying over a year, but I can honestly say, I was more happy back then, although Im not sure which religion Im a part of has anything to do with that.
On the other hand, many of the people I know at my Catholic parish, many times, when Ive asked them something bible related, I get shrugs, or they dont know, many times, they didnt even know what I was asking about was even in the bible…LOL
Im not joking here, I asked my dad once about all the killing in the OT, and why God would order people to kill others so often…he told me he did not believe me, wanted to see these verses, I showed him, he was speechless, said he had never once seen them…this is a 60 yr old who went to catholic grade school all thru catholic high school, has a masters degree, taught political science at a catholic college, and has been a catholic since he was a child…!!! I have another close friend my age, who has been a lifelong catholic, again, Ive asked him some things in the past, before CAF, he had NO idea what I was talking about…something is wrong here, or is it just my parish (its the largest catholic parish in my tri-state area too)
I very much get the impression, a large majority at my parish are only there, so they can call themselves catholic, or be seen in the ‘right’ places, they think just being at mass for one hour a week is good enough, if mass goes a bit long, I see people starting to check watches, etc. These kinds of people do not seem like a christian to me, and/or they arent really ‘living’ their faith.
I did not see people like this at the Pentecostal church I went to.
I’m not so sure that we need to be “in your face.”
There are many ways to evangelize. I like the expression attributed to St. Francis. “Preach always and if necessary use words.” People are drawn more to God more by our loving actions than they are our words.
God did not come to us in written form, but incarnate. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The written words of scriptures are meant to bring a person to God, to a relationship with God and with His people.
I remember going to a conference and hearing, “It is possible to be so filled with the zeal of God that lose sight of God.” That’s why listening is such an important element of prayer. What exactly is God’s Will for my life, and what does He want me to tell this hurting person.
God does want us to remove all that is unholy in our lives. As we read the Old Testament, we see a pattern. As other things become more important in peoples lives, God allows Jerusalem to be destroyed, but His mercy is restored whenever the Israelites repent and return to Him. Even the temple cannot have priority over God.
When we make the Sign of the Cross, we remember who we are as children of God. It is a reminder that we have been “born again” through Baptism. As a child born into this world needs to be nurtured in order to grow, we too need to be nurtured by Word and Sacrament continuously throughout life.
I have always had mixed feelings about the evangelical Christians i see sometimes preaching in our town centre on a Saturday afternoon. On one hand a feeling of admiration at the courage they have. On the other the seemingly central focus of preaching hell for sinners i don’t think has the result of converting the heart of any non believers. For me evangelisation is about looking for opportunities to provoke discussion and, usually and unfortunately here in the UK, you have to start right at the beginning by talking about the evidence for intelligent design rather than go immediately to the Bible or to Christ.
I used to feel that way too. All of my family have left Catholicism for Evangelical churches. I used to think that maybe they are good Christians at least. But alas, over the passing decades I noticed ENTIRE GENERATIONS of nephews and nieces, and now great nieces and nephews who are not baptized. I pleaded with one sister when her babies were born to have them baptized. But her blind guides told her this was foolishness. Now her adult children have become atheists, and their own children are not baptized either. My sister is upset at this outcome, yet still can not see how baptism matters. BTW, she (and all the rest of my 7 siblings) went to all Catholic schools growing up, including High School.
I’m sorry to say, that good innocent people are being used to do the devil’s own work. :eek:
These Evangelicals are fervent in their desire to eradicate the Sacraments, especially Baptism, and are making alarming inroads into Central and South America, not mention other parts of the world.
I refrain from calling them Protestants, because they don’t believe in any of the Sacraments, nor a visible Church, nor the Priesthood etc. which most main line Protestants still profess.
I was born again when i realized that attending Holy Mass is not only an obligation but a gift from Jesus, along with receiving the Holy Eucharist.
Steve Ray has an excellent audio presentation about being “born again the Bible way” as a Catholic.
It’s called, “Born Again, Faith Alone” and you can find it on youtube or download from Lighthouse Catholic Media.
I see that you have as your signature Blessed John Newman. Do you have his quotations on infant baptism? One of the things that would help with your discussions with your sister would be to know a bit about the history of how the evangelical churches developed, and why they are so anti-mainline churches, not just the Catholic Church.
If you can show through scripture, that whole households were baptized, in time perhaps your sister may come to see the logic behind infant Baptism. Continue to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit, reminding her that our Lord did not come to us in a tidy book all bound together. Rather He came incarnate in the flesh. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The words of scriptures are meant to lead us to the Word incarnate.
Baptism is considered to be rightly received, when there is no positive obstacle or hindrance to the reception in the recipient, such as impenitence or unbelief would be in the case of an adult; so that infants are necessarily right recipients of it, as not being yet capable of actual sin.
Yes, the topic came up again at a recent wedding (her son had to be baptized before he could marry a Greek Orthodox girl.) I used those very arguments you mentioned.
But the problem is they only have ears for their Evangelical ministers. They mistrust Catholics and anything they say as words coming from the serpent.
I do pray for them. I know that God does hear my prayers, and will give them the grace they need.
Part of ecumenicism means that we can visit and participate in the worship services of other denominations, provided of course that we first go to Sunday Mass. When I lived in a small town in WI, I was such a familiar sight at some of the little churches that often only the pastor would know that I did not belong to the congregation.
It is amazing that one who would preach so vehemently against obedience to Rome would actually preach about the importance of obedience to the local pastor. Only the pastor of the Assembly of God tried to persuade me to leave the Catholic Church, as he himself had done. One day he used the story of Jonathan’s obedience to David in a sermon to his congregation on the importance of obedience to him.
I have many conversations with non-Catholics about Faith. They do not know until they have already realized that I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that I am a Catholic. That’s when I will get the question, “Where do you go to Church?” or “When were you born again?” It opens the door to evangelization, of letting people know what the Catholic Church actually teaches.
Returning to that small town in WI, and the Assembly of God Church. One day after the prayers of the faithful, I was approached by one of the women who had prayed for the conversion of Catholics. As I talked about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, I revealed that I was Catholic, and she responded, “I didn’t know that Catholics believed that!”
You might like Basil Butler’s Always Inspired from Sophia Press. The priest who taught Bible studies while I was overseas recommended the Catholic Answer Bible. I would recommend using the RSV for any Biblical discussion so that you can have a translation in common.