Why do we need to be "born again" with water (and spirit) anyway?


Why do we need to be born again with water? Why isn’t it just spirit like the Born-Again Christians believe? What is the necessity and significance of water?

I just don’t see why water’s in the process. It’s all about getting grace, so water…???



The water is the physical, outward sign of the grace conveyed.

Catholics (and Orthodox, and some “high church” Protestants) have a generally sacramental approach to the ways in which we approach God and receive His grace. That is, there are physical words, acts, and materials associated with each means of grace that make it obvious both to the person receiving and to the community that the person has in fact received that grace.

Protestants descended from the “radical Reformation” wing tend to treat sacramental acts as having no actual effect (even if they continue to perform them in obedience to Christ), and frequently operate more on the basis of internal feelings as a measure of whether one has received God’s grace.

Now, God can operate outside the sacraments and dispense His grace as He wills. But unless He provides some kind of miraculous sign to go along with it, we cannot know when he has done so. The seven sacraments, on the other hand, have been passed down to us from Christ and the apostles as visible and frequently public signs through which God has promised to dispense His grace.

So, while God does not need the physical means to dispense His grace, it’s very helpful for us as body-spirit composites to experience a physical act that goes along with the reception of grace.

Catholics, generally, don’t look at our internal feelings as being completely trustworthy when it comes to supernatural experiences. Certainly an experience of grace can be accompanied by good feelings, but that is not always the case. Consider the recent revelation that Mother Teresa had no internal experience of God for half a century. Certain Christians might seriously question the state of her soul given such circumstances, but we prefer to look at the objective realities (that she regularly received the sacraments and produced great fruit in her life) than to give feelings pride of place.



God disposes his grace to us as befits our nature as well as according to His purpose. We are created from the earth, we are physical beings. Throughout the Scripture, Old and New Testaments, the blessed Trinity uses physical means as signs of inward grace. Think, for example, of the Covenant with Noah, where he uses a rainbow and sacrifice to compact his love for Noah, his family and their offspring. God could have chosen to just use an inner spiritual sense to manifest this if He had wanted to.

This pattern does not cease in the New Covenant with Jesus and us, as His brothers and sisters. In keeping with the steadfast love of the Incarnation, God the Father sends Jesus to use water, mud, wine, bread and fish to manifest the inbreaking of the Kingdom. If he had wanted to, God the Father could have sent Jesus in the form of a pure spirit, known only as an inward manifestation. Instead, such is His respect for His created beings, that He sent His Son in human form, so that the human person in all his/her dimensions could be saved. If God did not assume the physical dimension of existence into His grace, we could not be saved bodily, through the Resurrection. Yet, it was His will to save the physical creation, with the human person as its pinnacle, by taking on and using the physical world to accomplish His good purpose.

If this doesn’t convince you, try listening to Scott Hahn’s tapes on the seven Sacraments, available from St Joseph Communications. He quotes chapter and verse and expands more eloquently than I could on how the sacramental view is the only scriptural view there is. Only Catholicism and Orthodoxy take our physical nature seriously enough to be able to proclaim legitimately, “I believe in the Resurrection of the dead”. And if there is no Resurrection, as St Paul said, we are most to be pitied of all men (and women).

God’s blessings of the Covenant of Jesus be with you.


Usagi and Tybourne gave great explanations, so I won’t cover their ground again. I wanted to point out that most people who have had what they call a “born again” experience haven’t been baptized again in that experience (one cannot be rebaptized as water baptism leaves an eternal mark upon the soul of the baptized). What those who claim to have had a “born again” experience have really had is what the Catholic Church calls “an awakening to faith” experience.

If you were to ask most people who had such an awakening to faith, they will tell you they were either baptized or presented before their faith community as a child. Those who were baptized have already received the Holy Spirit in their lives, and the others have at least had a promise of future faith in Christ made by their parents. Their awakening to faith didn’t happen in a vacuum. Even those who had no religious upbringing or a non-Christian one who have such an experience of Christ are drawing upon the grace God gave to them for he gives every person a measure of grace, as St. Paul tells us.

So, the “born again” experience is not the same a baptism nor can it take it’s place. For although God is not restricted by the sacraments, he expects us to use them as the ordinary means of obtaining saving grace.


This is very true about God not being limited. A good example to give is that of Cornelius. He recieved that “born again baptism in the HS” experiences, but the first thing Peter did was baptize him. This is also show in every instance where people had a spriitueal awakening. The first thing that occurs is baptism with water.


I think it is because a dirty cloth can became a new one when it is washed in water

There is some physical washing (your body with water) as a dirty cloth, and also a spiritual washing by the Holy Spirit


Because Jesus Himself went down to the River and was Baptized with water as an example to the apostles and to us, although He did not need Baptism Himself. Jesus clearly taught the apostles about Sacramental Baptism with water as one of those things which the Bible says that He taught to them that is not recorded in the bible. We of course have the Great Commission to Go, Teach, and Baptize, this of course is water Baptism.


I think it is very clear in scripture that Jesus trained the Apostles in how to baptize. Although I think it did not become Triune until the great commission, when the baptism of repentance was merged with the seal of the HS.

John 4:1-2
4:1 Now when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2(although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples),

This is a clear indication also that the baptizer is Jesus Himself, even though it is a disciple adminstering the sacrament.:thumbsup:


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