Question for Catholics who are former evangelicals

I was born and raised in the Presbyterian Church up until my late teenage years. I felt a reverence for God there, the people were moral and ethical, and going to church was something we did regularly as a family. My mother was even in the bell choir.

However, I considered it more of a duty or obligation we performed each Sunday, kind of like marking off a box on our list, punching our spiritual clock, etc. Outside of keeping me away from serious sin, God had little influence in my life. During church, my mind would often wander to which NFL football game I would be watching on TV later that Sunday or to the girl I liked in school, etc.

I wanted control over every area of my life that my parents didn’t. I knew about God in many ways, but I truly didn’t know Him in a personal or meaningful way nor did God have much practical influence over my daily behavior. Nevertheless, I was considered a “nice boy” by most who knew me because I respected others and tried to be nice to everyone, including the unpopular kids who were ostracized by the cool kids.

However, I still felt a big spiritual void in my life that only Christ could fill.

One day in my teenage years, I was turning the TV channel and found a Billy Graham crusade on TV and was drawn to it. He made the Gospel come alive to me and his simple message that Christ died for my sins and wanted to be my Lord and Savior and forgive my sins if I repented and gave my life to Him resonated deeply within my spirit.

In short, I repented and accepted Christ in my life as my Lord and Savior at that time and that began a new faith journey for me in which God became real in my life as I relinquished areas of control to Him and trusted in Him. Life had a new purpose. I enjoyed going to church and became an active and enthusiastic participant. It’s almost like the Bible came alive because I knew the one who inspired its writing.

The experience of coming to Christ was a real, decisive, and life-changing event in my faith journey that I can look back on as the start of a much deeper and meaningful relationship with God that continues to this day. I have been growing and maturing in the Lord ever since, yet I know I am still a sinner who fails and needs God’s forgiveness on a regular basis.

I am now being drawn to Catholicism because I find it may enhance and deepen my spiritual walk even more. However, in the back of my mind I wonder what Catholics think of what I believe was a genuine ‘born again’ experience. Would they ridicule it or respect it?

I wonder whether it is common or uncommon for Catholics to come to God or begin their faith journey in this way.

As usual, I appreciate your feedback.

There are over a thousand-million Catholics in the world, so probably that many answers to your question.

While some Catholics will minimize the born-again experience, not knowing what it is; many others will respect someone’s faith experience for what it is.

Keep up the good search amigo.


Respect. I had a similar experience and consider it another way-station on my journey to the Catholic Church.

Actually, many cradle-Catholic I’ve met tell me that converts know so much more about the Faith. Not sure I believe that, as I’ve learned so much more about the Bible since my conversion.

Yes, many former Protestants like myself have had a born again experience before becoming Catholic. I found that is was another stepping stone in many on my way to the Catholic church

I was raised a cradle Catholic. A graduate of Catholic grade school, high school and university. After school and during my work career had a “born again” experience in a Protestant context. In my late 60’s now and have been back in the Catholic Church for over 20 years. It’s been interesting to say the least.


In my experience, those Catholics who have had a conversion experience, or spiritual awakening (we consider conversion an ongoing experience, but most of us have had what we may call a “conversion” experience similar to that of what Protestants may call “born again” )will understand and accept what you describe. Catholics believe one is “born again” at water Baptism, as the Scriptures say you must be born of Spirit AND water, and that Baptism remits your sins. There are some Catholics who will not understand your experience because they have not had one, either from non-belief, indifference, or unwillingness to turn one’s life over to God. Then there are those who have, since their earliest childhood memories, walked closely with the Lord and have grown in him quite naturally. It seems God works differently in different people. He knows their spiritual needs.

Those who have participated in the Charismatic Renewal may have received an infilling of the Holy Spirit which they may call “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”, but that is not a generally accepted term, and it in no way replaces water Baptism. However, that experience is not limited to those in the Charismatic Renewal, and I know many who have had a profound spiritual awakening and a sense of being filled with the Spirit in a special way, me and my daughter being examples, and most of my friends.

I do believe that most will respect it, once they understand it as a spiritual awakening, esp. if they are not just nominal Catholics.

I think that once you begin to appreciate the Sacraments and also to experience them, you will truly have a much deeper and profound experience of Christ’s presence in your life, esp. concerning the Eucharist and Confession. Also, if you come from a Pentecostal background, you might want to contact your Diocese about finding a Catholic Charismatic Prayer group to start attending. Really, there is something for everyone in the Catholic Church, many different types of spiritualities to explore, we are united in our beliefs, but we are also diverse in our spiritualities.

Also, the way we study the Bible is quite profound. There are some marvelous scripture scholars whose books on Scripture you might want to read, such as Dr Scott Hahn and Jeff Cavins. I hope this helps.

The depth of Catholicism is truly remarkable.

I think most Catholics will respect your born-again experience (or experiences, if you get re-born again). As a former evangelical now Catholic, I think the only place you might get pushback is if you claimed your born-again experience made you spiritually perfect.

I had a similar experience as a teenager. Ironically Billy Graham had a huge influence on my life in those days. I truly believe that my born-again experience led me to my eventual Catholic conversion many years later. I truly “came home”. Most of my fellow Catholics have regarded my experiences with respect. I will pray for your journey of faith.

I’d say most Catholics would respect your experiences. Even though I was born Catholic and went to Catholic schools for 12 years… it didn’t make sense to me until much later and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. (Would that be the Holy Spirit?) It has been a wonderful journey.

Praying for you on your journey…

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.

I had a “born again” experience in my life about twenty years before I became a Catholic. I don’t talk much about it. I found that too many Evangelicals were dismissive of it. On the positive side of that some of these Evangelicals were emphasizing continued growth on the part of a Christian not just a one time prayer.

Thanks to all for the replies. I appreciate it.

Thanks, CB. I can really relate to what you said. I appreciate you taking the time to explain things so well. You also answered an unasked question of mine, which was about whether there were Catholic Charismatic groups out there and if they were accepted by the Catholic Church. Sounds like the answer to that question is “Yes”.

Hi 1newcatholic,
In no way would I ever claim that my experience made me spiritually perfect. It was just a spiritual awakening in which I acknowledged that I was a sinner and that I needed the Lord’s forgiveness and presence in my life. It kick-started my faith journey and set a new course in my life towards God.

In some ways, it made me even more aware of my many imperfections.

I have experience being born again and grew up in evangelicalism.

Your born again experience was your first response to God’s grace in your life. He knocks on the door of everyone’s heart everywhere and you responded and began a journey that is now leading you into Christ’s church, the fullness of his truth.

I think explaining it in this way makes sense from a catholic perspective.

But don’t worry about what other people think. This is YOUR journey and your answer to Gods call.

Thanks, Jon S. I have followed some of your posts and I have a lot of respect for your perspective on things. I appreciate the advice. It makes sense.

Praise God :slight_smile:

I thinking you were talking to Catholics who are passionate about their faith many wouldnt use the exact language you would but would say they had a conversion or multiple conversion experiences as an adult

Hi Tommy,

I am one of those who had such an experience…after I left this college to go to this city as my first step in going into the missions.

While at the prior college, I met Protestant charismatics and experienced their great fervor on passages from the Bible…and a little about their walk in the Spirit.

Once I came to the missions to work along side priests, the movement stopped and now the Holy Spirit was leading me to get into a missionary working experience with them. From there, I learned more about the walk in the Spirit within the Church from these priests…and later back home, I began to experience Christ more intellectually in the lives of the saints, devotions, the catechism, and then into theology through my archdiocese.

It is a growth process and we have significant peaks in our lives…and if you talk to a Catholic on a personal level and they sense they can trust you, they will open up about personal and unique and supernatural experiences they have had with the Lord.

Praying for you…I finished a seminar on the papacy and heard a protestant say behind me it was all too intellectual for him. I turned and told him I think protestants look more at the pope than we do. I encouraged him to get a catechism, read the Prologue to get our perspective in how we approach the Bible with our faith and then learn about our beliefs regarding Christology…in the breakdown of the Nicene Creed that is presented point by point in the universal Catholic Catechism.

We focus on Christ within the Church…and once you experience Him, you will experience His life, His Holy Spirit…the same…as the Holy Father, the bishops and lay…we are all equal People of God, Christ our focus and there are countless charisms by so many but always bringing us to the one, same Lord.

Our life comes from Jesus in Word and Sacrament in the Mass…Jesus is the center of the Mass…we together entering into God’s time all being drawn together closer to Him.

I was raised Assemblies of God. I had my “born again” experience at 18. Whilst I knew about God and believed in God my entire life, I did not start to trust God until that moment. It was a deeply spiritual and pivotal moment in my life.

Some Catholics will belittle our experiences. I try to be charitable and assume that they do not understand what I experienced and as such don’t realise that they are belittling something very important to me. I find I get more kick back about using the term “born again” as Catholics believe we are born again at baptism. It’s a language issue but some people can’t get past it. I may start using awakening as someone did earlier in the thread.

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