What do you think of this "Are You Born Again?" tract?


#1

Are You Born Again? What does “Born Again” Mean?

A lot of “bible believing” Christians pass out tracts asking that very question. “Are you born again?” They always list scripture verses that show that you must be born again. The main one cited is John 3:3 and 5.

Here is John 3:1-5:
(1) And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
(2) This man came to Jesus by night and said to him: Rabbi, we know that thou art come a teacher from God; for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him.
(3) Jesus answered and said to him: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
(4) Nicodemus saith 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 again?
(5) Jesus answered: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

In verse 5 the “bible believing” Christian tract says that the “water” Jesus is referring to is the water your born from the first time as a baby in your Mother’s womb. How can we be sure that interpretation is correct? We can look to the early Christian writers and see what they said:


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” (First Apology 61 [A.D. 151]).

Irenaeus,…"‘And dipped himself,’ says [the Scripture], ‘seven times in Jordan.’ It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but it served as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’" (Fragment 34 [A.D. 190]).

Tertullian…“When, however, the prescript is laid down that 'without baptism, salvation is attainable by none” (**chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, “Unless one be born of water, he hath not life.’” **(On Baptism, 12:1 [A.D. 203]).

Recognitions of Clement…“But you will perhaps say, What does the, baptism of water contribute towards the worship of God? In the first place, because that which hath pleased God is fulfilled. In the second place, because, when yon are regenerated and born again of water and of God, the frailty of your former birth, which you have through men, is cut off, and so at length you shall be able to attain salvation; hut otherwise it is impossible. For thus hath the true prophet testified to its with an oath: 'Verily I say to you, That unless a man is born again of water, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. **Therefore make haste; for there is in these waters a certain power of mercy which was borne upon them at the beginning, and acknowledges those who are baptized under the name of the threefold sacrament, and rescues them from future punishments, presenting as a gift to God the souls that are consecrated by baptism. **Betake yourselves therefore to these waters, for they alone can quench the violence of the future fire; and he who delays to approach to them, it is evident that the idol of unbelief remains in him, and by it be is prevented from hastening to the waters which confer salvation. For whether you be righteous or unrighteous, baptism is necessary for you in every respect: for the righteous, that perfection may be accomplished in him, and he may be born again to God; for the unrighteous, that pardon may he vouchsafed him of the sins which he has committed in ignorance. Therefore all should hasten to he born again to God without delay, because the end of every one’s life is uncertain.”(Recognitions of Clement 6:9 [A.D. 221]).

(Cont…)


#2

Origen…"**The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving Baptism even to infants. For the Apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine mysteries, knew that there is in everyone the innate stains of sins, **which must be washed away through water and the Spirit." (Commentary on Romans, 5:9 [A.D. 244]).

Cyprian…"[W]hen they come to us and to the Church which is one, ought to be baptized, for the reason that it is a small matter to 'lay hands on them that they may receive the Holy Ghost,’ unless they receive also the baptism of the Church. For then finally can they be fully sanctified, and be the sons of God, if they be born of each sacrament; since it is written, ‘Except a man be born again of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’…[O]nly baptism of the holy Church, by divine regeneration, for the kingdom of God, may be born of both sacraments, because it is written, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’" (To Stephen, 71:72 [A.D. 253]).

Council of Carthage…“And in the Gospel our Lord Jesus Christ spoke with His divine voice, saying, “Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” This is the Spirit which from the beginning was borne over the waters; for neither can the Spirit operate without the water, nor the water without the Spirit…Unless therefore they receive saving baptism in the Catholic Church, which is one, they cannot be saved, but will be condemned with the carnal in the judgment of the Lord Christ.” (Council of Carthage VII [A.D. 258]).

Lactantius…“But you will perhaps say, What does the, baptism of water contribute towards the worship of God? In the first place, because that which hath pleased God is fulfilled. In the second place, because, when yon are regenerated and born again of water and of God, the frailty of your former birth, which you have through men, is cut off, and so at length you shall be able to attain salvation; hut otherwise it is impossible. For thus hath the true prophet testified to its with an oath: 'Verily I say to you, That unless a man is born again of water, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore make haste; for there is in these waters a certain power of mercy which was borne upon them at the beginning, and acknowledges those who are baptized under the name of the threefold sacrament, and rescues them from future punishments, presenting as a gift to God the souls that are consecrated by baptism. Betake yourselves therefore to these waters, for they alone can quench the violence of the future fire; and he who delays to approach to them, it is evident that the idol of unbelief remains in him, and by it be is prevented from hastening to the waters which confer salvation. For whether you be righteous or unrighteous, baptism is necessary for you in every respect: for the righteous, that perfection may be accomplished in him, and he may be born again to God; for the unrighteous, that pardon may he vouchsafed him of the sins which he has committed in ignorance. Therefore all should hasten to be born again to God without delay, because the end of every one’s life is uncertain.” (Divine Institutes, 5:19 [A.D. 310]).


As you can see, the early Christians believed that when Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” in John 3:5, they believed him to be referring to Baptism.

This is one reason why the Catholic Church doesn’t go by “Bible Alone”. It’s shown here that it’s very easy to take an important piece of scripture and make it mean something the early Christians never believed.

Another reason the Catholic Church doesn’t go by “Bible Alone” is because the Bible belongs to the Catholic Church. If it weren’t for the Catholic Church, there wouldn’t be any Christian Bible at all. So since the Bible belongs to the Catholic Church, Only the Catholic Church can say what the Bible means. The Catholic Church IS The Original “Bible Believing” Church.

Please let me know what you think should be added, taken away, or corrected.

Thank you,
Tabitha


#3

This is complete and total error! It is a private, and twisted, interpretation of scripture. Why did Christ call for baptism? Why was Paul baptized in Damascus by Ananias? Why did Christ Himself submit to baptism? Water baptism is the “ordinary” means of cleansing of original sin. There are two “extraordinary” means: the baptism of desire, and the baptism in blood, but these are the exceptions. You can read up on this right here at CA, or at:

newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm

Your answer to them? “YES!” I am born again! I am saved! Jesus Christ is my Savior! I have a personal relationship with Jesus! All of this is 100% true. However, if you are Catholic, and worthily receive the Body and Blood of Christ at mass, you have a relationship with Christ that would knock them to the ground! You carry Christ within you. You can go spend time in His physical presence at the Tabernacle. They cannot. Pray for them. They are in a church that is a stepping stone to Catholicism. Be patient with them, and do not waver on your faith!

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Christ’s peace.


#4

Whoa, hang on there, Sparky. What part of Tabitha’s post are you objecting to? The quote from the non-Catholic tract? I’m pretty sure she included it so that she could rebut it, which she did.

Are you objecting to the Scipture and ECF quotes she used to defend the Catholic view? It all looks in order to me. :shrug:


#5

I normally reserve harsh language… but…

Anyone that holds this belief, and not out of ignorance, is blatantly denying truth at best, and is out right lying at worst. They hold these beliefs usually to show ‘the Catholics are evil’ and then complain about twisting of scripture. This is a NEW interpretation, maybe only 100 years old… it has never been held by Christians of all denoms until recently…

And it is flat out wrong…

As mentioned, this has more to do with showing how the Catholic Church is wrong than it does with scripture…

In Christ


#6

Not bad Tabitha…but your post should have had some kind of quote box around the n-C portions because it’s confusing the way you wrote it. I think that is what some folks are responding to.

As for this topic. I have some stuff on my blog that you may want to look at and draw from. (Please feel free :slight_smile: )
Who REALLY Preaches “A Different Gospel”?
How Is A Catholic Saved?
Baptism


#7

I objected to the tract’s beliefs. That is clearly error, and even most Protestants agree that it is error. All of my retorts are those that can be used when challenged by Evangelicals or Fundamentalists. Regarding Catholicism, they usually have heard a lot and know a little.

Point: Replies here are “sola scriptura” in that they are merely printed words, and their clarity cannot be assured and misinterpretations are guaranteed. Without an authoritative and live teacher to correct error, words are twisted. This is the beauty of the Catholic faith.

Sorry if my lack of clarity caused concern!

Christ’s peace.


#8

This points to why “sola scriptura” is improper. If we were on a chat line with Tabitha, this confusion would never have occurred! But, the printed word, without Tabitha’s authoritative interpretation of her own writings, is as easily misunderstood as the bible.

Christ’s peace.


#9

It’s meant to be a tract to give to those who give me a “born Again” tract that uses John 3:3-5 except they believe that Jesus’ word “water” means being born from the womb. I have read the pages you gave and niether of them speak about their misunderstanding of John 3:3-5.


#10

Ah, I see. Okay.I had hoped that the “different gospel” tract might help some since it shows the error of their teaching that Baptism does not wash away sin and begin the rebirth.

It’s a complicated problem for them because there is so much that they miss from the New Testament on this aspect of the Christian faith.

You make a good case scripturally. I like that, and that is very important to them because of their adherence to Sola Scriptura.

I also like the ECF references, which will generally be less well received by them, partly because most n-Cs are woefully ignorant of them, and (again) due to SS they tend to be suspicious of/reject any extraBiblical sources. Yet in supplying them you make a good point from history and Sacred Tradition. I especially like the way you are trying to make this as comprehensive as possible.

That is a tough topic to address in a small tract though because when it is received, most n-Cs will sort of slide off to the rest of their “way of salvation” passages to get into their beliefs on faith alone, (Sola Fide), and that works have no part in salvation, (since most consider Baptism a “work”).

I also came up with a tract of my own but even that is less than satisfactory IMO. :frowning:

One thing that I have found of value is to counter with your own personal testimony about your own rebirth experience. Here’s mine.

I’ll try to keep an eye on this thread and see if I can offer any other help along the way.
God bless! :slight_smile: :thumbsup:


#11

That’s a good practical insight. :thumbsup:


#12

This has to be the most twisted interpretation in all of Protestantism. It is so BIZARRE!

Somebody asks Jesus how to enter the kingdom of God, and Jesus says “well, first thing is, you have to be born of your mother”. So all those who read the gospels and haven’t been born of their mothers now say “aw shucks!” and walk away disappointed. All those hearing the gospel of Christ but not having been born of their mothers, well they’re just plain out of luck.

I mean, what a ridiculous interpretation! How can anybody claim this with a straight face?! This is the kind of thing you end up with when you reject the teaching of the Apostles handed down by the Church, and replace it with traditions of men.

Besides, that means that all the millions upon millions of aborted and miscarried babies throughout the ages, the true innocents, have no hope of heaven. Anybody want to sign on to that belief? I didn’t think so.


#13

voice…:clapping:

Good point… I didn’t even think about that…

If you have to be born to get into heaven, so does that mean that aborted babies go to hell…

If they say no, then the only other meaning could be that it isn’t a person until AFTER birth… sounds awfully like the pro-abortion position…

In Christ


#14

A baby may have meconium (stool) stained amniotic fluid, which is often more like pea soup than water. Is that baby still born of “water”?


#15

Um… maybe a cop out, but when asked I usually say, “Amen, brother! I am born again … in baptism.” But I usually don’t like talking to those folks.


#16

**It would be helpful if there were some way of knowing just what was wrong with the tract - why isn’t it quoted at all ? **

**As for the limitations of “printed words” - was the CCC written in heaven by angels ? :rolleyes: It & the Holy Bible are both bodies of text, & neither of them is self-explanatory: were it not so, the meaning of the CCC would not be as debated as that of the Bible is. **


#17

Since neither scripture nor the CCC are self-explanatory, the Lord has provided an authoritative church to interpret the writings. It has worked well for the oldest human organization on earth. That others do not understand it, or vehemently disagree with it, bears not one bit upon either its authority or the truth she teaches. And if this appears to be arrogance, I assure you it is confidence.

The ways of the church are indeed mysterious, as they came from the Lord, Who is mystery itself.

Christ’s peace.


#18

Yes , the notion that being born of water means amniotic fluid is truly a bizarre idea. Totally insane. It indicates a really desperate attempt to get around the obvious meaning.

To say that “born of water” means amniotic fluid is the same thing as saying, “First, you have to be born”! Duh, I guess so, we have to be born, that is, we have to be in existence already before we can be born again. Tell us something we don’t know. Something that isn’t redundant.

If we read a little further in scripture following these passages, what do we find that happened? Why, examples of someone being baptized!

Furthermore, is there evidence that in antiquity they used the expression “born of water” to indicate being born of woman? And, are there instances in scripture where that phrase is used in that sense?


#19

**So how is the interpretation to be interpreted, when Catholics differ about what it in turn means :frowning: ? ****The answer given pushes the problem back a step, but it does not solve the problem - it’s equivalent to accounting for God by saying God was in turn created. **

There is a second issue: I think you may be confusing “mystery” with “irrationality”. An illustration:

**To someone unfamiliar with binary, it may be a mystery how the value written in binary as 10 can be the same value as what he writes as 2. For someone familiar with both, the difficulty is understandable, but not insurmountable; he knows it is not, as he knows both the answer, & how to work it out: unlike the hapless denarist, who is familiar with denary, & with denary alone. **

**Mysteries are a bit like that: they are not within our ability to know in their fullness, any more than they were for Job & his friends,or for the Psalmists - or even the Apostles. Yet they are not utterly incommunicable - our tiny & clouded & crooked minds can receive something of them, slight as that may be. **

**IOW - they have their own coherence. So does a skeleton; all human beings need skeletons, even though humans are not reducible to skeletons. **

**With irrationality, there is no coherence - irrationality does not require the bones to be where they should be if they are to form a human skeleton; it allows the bones to lie in a heap of unconnected, disunited, unrelated bits & pieces. **

**Irrational knowing is no less incoherent - the analogy of faith is destroyed, & a place prepared for any old rubbish to wash into our hearts like a tide of sewage. The “shape” of the Faith is lost, because anything might be related to anything. To teach X while rejecting Y then becomes arbitrary - so it becomes impossible to internalise the faith: it has ceased to be organic, so it ceases to be intelligible, & is taught because it’s taught because it’s taught because it’s taught because…and so on :frowning: **

**That is why rationality is important - not only does it protect us from the great evil of superstition, but it allows us to have a connected, dynamic, organic, unified vision of the contents of the Faith; incomplete as it must be. It allows us to feed both mind & heart, & to step securely from the less obscure to the more obscure. This is because it is coherent, so that some things cannot be true if it is true: whereas incoherence allows any old thing to be true. That is why Catholicism thinks theologically - rather than taking its subject matter in a disconnected, inorganic, incoherent manner. Believing doctrines is not going to be fruitful for the Church, which is a body - something organic, united, coherent, dynamic, living, interconnected - unless they can be viewed theologically. Mystery is essential to theology - irrationality poisons it :frowning: **


I’m still wondering what the tract says…


#20

This quote from the “Just for Catholics” website in very enlightening.

Does “water” mean baptism?
Like the Church Fathers, modern Catholic authors presuppose that water means baptism. They rarely attempt to provide supporting evidence.

I guess it doesn’t matter what Christianity has taught through out the ages, that doesn’t count as supporting evidence of what the bible teaches.

Like Martin Luther said “Since then Your Majesty and Your Lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason–I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other–my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me.”

In this case, even if the Church Fathers agreed with each other on what “born again” meant, unless the protestant is convicted by their own interpretation of scripture and their own plain reasoning they can’t accept this teaching.


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