Regeneration/Born-Again

To those involved the justified by faith discussion or anyone interested, I suppose. I think we should spent some time talking about regeneration. What does it mean? Is it the same thing as born again or are we talking about different things? How does it happen? Can it be undone? Or whatever other things should be included here.

Kendy

“Regenerate” is Latin for “born again.” There is no difference.

Edwin

[quote=Kendy]To those involved the justified by faith discussion or anyone interested, I suppose. I think we should spent some time talking about regeneration. What does it mean? Is it the same thing as born again or are we talking about different things? How does it happen? Can it be undone? Or whatever other things should be included here.

Kendy
[/quote]

How does it happen?

Through Baptism we are born again. It is a miracle in which God removes original sin and any personal sin we have. This is why we baptize infants since we are born into original sin and we should not deny them the grace availible from God.

Does it mean the same thing as born again?

Depends on how you wish to define born again. The Catholic Church has always defined born again to “happen” during baptism.

From CA Library Born Again in Baptism
Justin Martyr

“As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, and instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we pray and fast with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father . . . and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19], they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, ‘Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:3]” (*First Apology *61 [A.D. 151]).

More recently, some protestants have started to teach that when we are born again, we have a heart change decision to follow Christ.

This is not the definition of the Catholic Church. In fact, the Catholic Church says that Faith presupposes the sacraments. And in the Catholic Church, baptism is a sacrament. So for a Catholic adult, a convert to the church, they would be “saved” (not a once saved go live like hell kind of saved, but confident of heaven if I continue to believe), and then would be “born again” once baptized for the first time.

Does this help or make it more confusing?

Maria

[quote=MariaG]How does it happen?

Through Baptism we are born again. It is a miracle in which God removes original sin and any personal sin we have. This is why we baptize infants since we are born into original sin and we should not deny them the grace availible from God.

Does it mean the same thing as born again?

Depends on how you wish to define born again. The Catholic Church has always defined born again to “happen” during baptism.

From CA Library Born Again in Baptism
Justin Martyr

“As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, and instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we pray and fast with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father . . . and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19], they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, ‘Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:3]” (*First Apology *61 [A.D. 151]).

More recently, some protestants have started to teach that when we are born again, we have a heart change decision to follow Christ.

This is not the definition of the Catholic Church. In fact, the Catholic Church says that Faith presupposes the sacraments. And in the Catholic Church, baptism is a sacrament. So for a Catholic adult, a convert to the church, they would be “saved” (not a once saved go live like hell kind of saved, but confident of heaven if I continue to believe), and then would be “born again” once baptized for the first time.

Does this help or make it more confusing?

Maria
[/quote]

Well, there’s a lot of baggage in this post since it was prompted by an issue which came up after a long dialogue (justification by faith is the thread). I am not entirely sure what you mean by faith presupposes the sacraments.

Kendy

[quote=Kendy]To those involved the justified by faith discussion or anyone interested, I suppose. I think we should spent some time talking about regeneration. What does it mean?

[/quote]

Spiritual birth, born of the spirit.

Same thing - Edwin knows what he’s talking about.

Baptism is the usual mode, but it is an act of God.

Nope.

[quote=Kendy]I am not entirely sure what you mean by faith presupposes the sacraments.
[/quote]

Faith goes before the sacraments. Catholics participate in the sacraments as a result of their faith. In the case of adult baptism, the adult asks for baptism because of his faith in Christ. In the case of infant baptism, the parents request baptism for their child because of their faith. In both cases, faith exists before the sacrament takes place.

I looked up “regeneration” in the Catechism to be sure I understood the term correctly. (CCC 1213, 1215, 784, 872, 1262; see also baptism.) I really liked the explanation so I cut and pasted a large section that explains Catholic teaching on being baptised and born again, and I highlighted parts I found most interesting.

**VII. THE GRACE OF BAPTISM **

1262 The different effects of Baptism are signified by the perceptible elements of the sacramental rite. Immersion in water symbolizes not only death and purification, but also regeneration and renewal. Thus the two principal effects are purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit.65

For the forgiveness of sins . . .

1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.66 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

1264 Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, “the tinder for sin” (fomes peccati); since concupiscence “is left for us to wrestle with, **it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ.”**67 Indeed, "an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules."68

“A new creature”

1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature,"69 member of Christ and co-heir with him,70 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.71 1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:

  • enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
  • giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
  • allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
    Thus the whole organism of the Christian’s supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.

St. Basil the Great (d. AD 379): “***And in what way are we saved? Plainly because we were regenerate through the grace given in our baptism.***” (On the Spirit,10:26)

I agree that the sacramental means is normative, but God also baptizes extra-sacramentally, like he did with Cornelius (Acts 10).

However, have you noticed that in Acts 10, even though Peter knew Cornelius was already baptized in the Holy Spirit, he “commanded” him to be baptized in water just the same. Yes, the word used in Scripture was “commanded” (Grk “prostasso”). It’s almost as if Peter had some hierarchical authority that he possessed which gave him “command” authority over these already born-again Christians. :whistle:

Acts 10:47-48
"Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

**Faith goes before the sacraments. Catholics participate in the sacraments as a result of their faith. In the case of adult baptism, the adult asks for baptism because of his faith in Christ. In the case of infant baptism, the parents request baptism for their child because of their faith. In both cases, faith exists before the sacrament takes place. **

Now, in the case of a child baptism, how do the parents faith mean anything for the child? How can one be regenerated if they don’t have faith. If they reject their faith as adult is their regeneration undone?

**By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.66 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God. **

How is this different than once saved always saved?

“A new creature”

1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature,"69 member of Christ and co-heir with him,70 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.71 1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:

  • enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
  • giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
  • allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
    Thus the whole organism of the Christian’s supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.

I was under the impression that that is what confirmation is supposed to do. I thought that was when you receive the Holy Spirit?

I am particular confused about how you see the role of faith in regeneration. I am not sure how you can have regeneration without a personal confession of faith, which a baby cannot make?

Kendy

Kendy,

I believe Catholicism teaches that faith is consequent with regeneration or justification. In the Rite of Baptism, the adult or the godparent is asked, “What is it that you ask of the Church?” The answer is “Faith.”

"***The justification of a sinner, which is the change from the state of sin to the state of grace, is not a gradual change but an instantaneous one. ***The effective factor in this change is the infusion of grace, and this is an instantaneous act. Sometimes, indeed, the soul is gradually disposed, by successive influences, to receive justification. But the actual justification does not consume time, or admit of successive degrees or steps. (MSgr. Paul J. Glenn, A Tour of the Summa pg. 182)

From MSgr Paul Glenn, Tour of the Summa,

***Santifying grace ***sets man directly in line with God, his last end. ***Gratuitous grace ***stirs man and prepares him to get in line with his last end. Thus a man observing a miracle (wrought by the gratuitous grace of miracles in the person God uses and instruments to perform the miracle) may be stirred to repentance or to deeper piety, and so be moved to obtain sanctifying grace.

… By accepting cooperating grace, we enter into the disposition which prepares us for the receiving of sanctifying or habitual grace.

In so far as the human will can thus (by accepting cooperating grace and using it) make preparation for grace, it can set up no necessity or demand that grace should actually follow upon the preparation. my note: This is why I think the non-Catholics are biased against our terminology of “cooperation,” as they believe we think our understanding of cooperation sets up some kind of condign obligation upon God to give us sanctifying grace [aka ‘merit’] . This, of course, is an incorrect understanding of our use of “cooperation.”].

(pg. 180-181)

[quote=itsjustdave1988]Kendy,

I believe Catholicism teaches that faith is consequent with regeneration or justification.

"***The justification of a sinner, which is the change from the state of sin to the state of grace, is not a gradual change but an instantaneous one. ***The effective factor in this change is the infusion of grace, and this is an instantaneous act. Sometimes, indeed, the soul is gradually disposed, by successive influences, to receive justification. But the actual justification does not consume time, or admit of successive degrees or steps. (MSgr. Paul J. Glenn, A Tour of the Summa pg. 182)
[/quote]

Do you mean that regeneration occurs as a result of faith? If that is the case, how does it work in the case of a child?

Kendy

[quote=itsjustdave1988]From MSgr Paul Glenn, Tour of the Summa,
[/quote]

Santifying grace sets man directly in line with God, his last end. Gratuitous grace stirs man and prepares him to get in line with his last end. Thus a man observing a miracle (wrought by the gratuitous grace of miracles in the person God uses and instruments to perform the miracle) may be stirred to repentance or to deeper piety, and so be moved to obtain sanctifying grace.

… By accepting cooperating grace, we enter into the disposition which prepares us for the receiving of sanctifying or habitual grace.

Kendy: Ok, I am going to need you to translate that into some non-catholic language:)
… In so far as the human will can thus (by accepting cooperating grace and using it) make preparation for grace, it can set up no necessity or demand that grace should actually follow upon the preparation. [my note: This is why I think the non-Catholics are biased against our terminology of “cooperation,” as they believe we think our understanding of cooperation sets up some kind of condign obligation upon God to give us sanctifying grace [aka ‘merit’] . This, of course, is an incorrect understanding of our use of “cooperation.”].

**Kendy: I am not at all familiar with this, or at least in the way that it is worded here. Are you saying that non-catholics think that catholics believe that if they do X, then God is obliged to to Y. As a protestant, I do think God is obliged (bound by His promises) to do certain things, but…oh, I am sorry. You have completely lost me.

Kendy**

Ah… here it is…

Baptism is the sacrament of faith.54 But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the godparent is asked: “What do you ask of God’s Church?” The response is: “Faith!” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1253)

"The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the Body of Christ and, finally, to give worship to God. Because they are signs they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it. That is why they are called ‘sacraments of faith.’"44 (CCC 1123)

It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes and sustains my faith. Everywhere, it is the Church that first confesses the Lord: “Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you”, as we sing in the hymn “Te Deum”; with her and in her, we are won over and brought to confess: “I believe”, “We believe”. It is through the Church that we receive faith and new life in Christ by Baptism. In the Rituale Romanum, the minister of Baptism asks the catechumen: “What do you ask of God’s Church?” And the answer is: “Faith.” “What does faith offer you?” "Eternal life."54 (CCC 168)

[quote=Kendy]Are you saying that non-catholics think that catholics believe that if they do X, then God is obliged to to Y.
[/quote]

Yes, that is often claimed about Catholicism. Yet, it is not true. Think of it this way, stripping the above from Catholic theological speak as much as possible… :o

Sacraments are prayers which have been prescribed by Jesus Christ. When we pray, we certainly have hope that what we pray for will be answered by God. However, our prayer does not OBLIGE God to give us what we pray for. Our hope derives from our faith that God will answer our prayers. It is not a work that required God’s payment.

In the Sacrament of Baptism, it is a prayer prescribed by the Church with matter, form, and intent. The matter is water, the form is Trinitarian, and the intent is that the recepient of baptism receives the Holy Spirit, and the minister of baptism do that which the Church intends.

The Sacraments presuppose faith, because one does not pray to God unless they have at least “little faith” which presumably gives hope that the prayer will be answered.

God sometimes blesses some for the faith of others. For example, the paralytic in Holy Scripture was healed and forgiven of all his sins by Jesus Christ due to the faith of his friends. Thus, faith certainly is a prerequisite for Sacramental prayer, or any prayer for that matter. But it can be the faith of a believing community which prays that the Holy Spirit be poured upon the infant child, such that they are indeed “born again.” Better to start out “born again” as a child than to wait till sin is crouching at the door. We believe our Sacramental prayer is answered even if the infant cannot yet have faith, because it is OUR prayer.

For an adult, Scripture says they must repent and be baptized. Infants dont’ require repentence because they have no personal sin. However, everyone is required to be “born again” and Scripture doesn’t imply any exception.

For adults, about 1 year of teaching is required by Catholic procedure before one can be baptized. We don’t want people making an oath (Latin for oath is “sacramentum”) to God without knowing and assenting to what is prescribed by the oath. It is also part of the initiation process to determine if the catechumen has repented of sin and is ready to become Christian.

For infants, it is an oath made by the parents and godparents to raise the child in the Faith. The parents and godparents need to be instructed by the pastor or deacon prior to baptism. Some priests have refused to baptize infants because the parents themselves were not living a Christian life and there was no evidence the “oath” they were about to make was being made in good faith.

[quote=itsjustdave1988]Yes, that is often claimed about Catholicism. Yet, it is not true. Think of it this way, stripping the above form Catholic theological speak as much as possible…

Sacraments are prayers which have been prescribed by Jesus Christ. When we pray, we certainly have hope that what we pray for will be answered by God. However, our prayer does not OBLIGE God to give us what we pray for. Our hope derives from our faith that God will answer our prayers. It is not a work that required God’s payment.

In the Sacrament of Baptism, it is a prayer prescribed by the Church with matter, form, and intent. The matter is water, the form is Trinitarian, and the intent is that the recepient of baptism receives the Holy Spirit, and the minister of baptism do that which the Church intends.

The Sacraments presuppose faith, because one does not pray to God unless they have at least “little faith” which presumably gives hope that the prayer will be answered.

God sometimes blesses some for the faith of others. For example, the paralytic in Holy Scripture was healed and forgiven of all his sins by Jesus Christ due to the faith of his friends. Thus, faith certainly is a prerequisite for Sacramental prayer, or any prayer for that matter. But it can be the faith of a believing community which prays that the Holy Spirit be poured upon the infant child, such that they are indeed “born again.” Better to start out “born again” as a child than to wait till sin is crouching at the door. We believe our Sacramental prayer is answered even if the infant cannot yet have faith, because it is OUR prayer.

For an adult, Scripture says they must repent and be baptized. Infants dont’ require repentence because they have no personal sin. However, everyone is required to be “born again” and Scripture doesn’t imply any exception.

For adults, about 1 year of teaching is required by Catholic procedure before one can be baptized. We don’t want people making an oath (Latin for oath is “sacramentum”) to God without knowing and assenting to what is prescribed by the oath. It is also part of the initiation process to determine if the catechumen has repented of sin and is ready to become Christian.

For infants, it is an oath made by the parents and godparents to raise the child in the Faith. The parents and godparents need to be instructed by the pastor or deacon prior to baptism. Some priests have refused to baptize infants because the parents themselves were not living a Christian life and there was no evidence the “oath” they were about to make was being made in good faith.
[/quote]

Yes, we are all required to be born again, but let’s say a baptized person becomes an adult and does not believe. Let’s say from the earliest age that they were able to form any conception of God, rejected the church’s teaching? Do you maintain that that person has been born again?

Kendy

[quote=Kendy]Now, in the case of a child baptism, how do the parents faith mean anything for the child? How can one be regenerated if they don’t have faith.
[/quote]

The parents brought physical life to the child and their faith brings about baptism to give spiritual life to the child. The child didn’t need to consent to be born in the first place, so why is consent needed to be “re-born”?

[quote=Kendy]If they reject their faith as adult is their regeneration undone?
[/quote]

Not undone, but rejected. The person was still baptized and that can not be undone.

[quote=Kendy]In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

How is this different than once saved always saved?
[/quote]

I thought you’d find that part interesting. :slight_smile: Nothing remains that would stop us from going to heaven because God provides us with all the grace we need. Yet we must continue to co-operate with His grace. We still must wrestle with and resist future sins. Other parts of the catechism point out how those future sins might impede entry into the kingdom if we don’t resist them. That’s how it differs from once saved always saved. But the Catholic Church teaches that heaven is assured to any baptized Christian who doesn’t die in a state of mortal sin.

[quote=Kendy]I am particular confused about how you see the role of faith in regeneration. I am not sure how you can have regeneration without a personal confession of faith, which a baby cannot make?
[/quote]

I see this re-generation as a starting point in the spiritual life, not an ending point. I promised at my children’s baptism that I would bring them up knowing Christ. My younger children can tell you already about Jesus and they have the faith of a child that Jesus said we all should have. I already see evidence of faith in one of my children who’s not even two years old yet.

]The parents brought physical life to the child and their faith brings about baptism to give spiritual life to the child. The child didn’t need to consent to be born in the first place, so why is consent needed to be “re-born”?

**Kendy: We are re-born by the power of the Holy Spirit, not because we will it or consent to it. However, I can’t think of a passage of scripture where justification, saved, or regeneration is disconnected from one’s personal faith. I was looking for the passage that says to those who believe, He (the Holy Spirit) gave the power to be called children of God, but I couldn’t find it. maybe, you remember. But Romans 10:10 provides another example of this. Justification must be linked to believe. **

Not undone, but rejected. The person was still baptized and that can not be undone. I thought you’d find that part interesting. :slight_smile: Nothing remains that would stop us from going to heaven because God provides us with all the grace we need. Yet we must continue to co-operate with His grace. We still must wrestle with and resist future sins. Other parts of the catechism point out how those future sins might impede entry into the kingdom if we don’t resist them. That’s how it differs from once saved always saved. But the Catholic Church teaches that heaven is assured to any baptized Christian who doesn’t die in a state of mortal sin. I see this re-generation as a starting point in the spiritual life, not an ending point.

Kendy: That makes sense. I agree that regeneration is a starting point and not an end, but for me that raises the question what does regeneration mean? For me, it means “being a new creature,” it means all things old things have passed away." Are you saying that a baptized child experiences this transformation, that an unbaptized 10 month old is fundamentally different than a baptized one? This despite the fact that neither have any knowledge of Christ?

I promised at my children’s baptism that I would bring them up knowing Christ. My younger children can tell you already about Jesus and they have the faith of a child that Jesus said we all should have. I already see evidence of faith in one of my children who’s not even two years old yet.

I am not one of those who believe that you have to be able to pinpoint the second of your born-again experience. However, children believe whatever their parents tell them, including in Santa Claus. That seems to be different than having conviction.

Kendy

Baptism is the sign of being reborn into the family of God, the covanental sign, just as circumcision was the covanental sign in the Old Testiment. Just as children from the family of Israel are entered in to membership as children (and as Christ himself fulfilled this at 8 days when he was presented at the temple by his parents), so children now are brought into the family of Christ through baptism.

For those who did not have the benefit of being born into the family of Christ as infants, and the subsequent education that is the responsibility of the parents, that education must precede the taking of the covanental oath.

CARose

[quote=CARose]Baptism is the sign of being reborn into the family of God, the covanental sign, just as circumcision was the covanental sign in the Old Testiment. Just as children from the family of Israel are entered in to membership as children (and as Christ himself fulfilled this at 8 days when he was presented at the temple by his parents), so children now are brought into the family of Christ through baptism.

For those who did not have the benefit of being born into the family of Christ as infants, and the subsequent education that is the responsibility of the parents, that education must precede the taking of the covanental oath.

CARose
[/quote]

Good answer. I think the circumcision parallel is particularly compelling.

Kendy

well…

i think there is much confusion among evangelicals about being born of the Spirit…which many have coined born again…and a conversion experience…

i know i did…in fact, this misunderstanding almost took me out of the Church…

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