Are Catholics Born Again?




At least every mainstream Christian knows that to be saved one must be born again. Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

The problem isn’t believing what Christ says, the problem is understanding what this means. For the Catholic being “Born again” refers chiefly to the transforming grace of God received at baptism; it refers to the continuous work of the Spirit in his soul. However, to the Protestant it often refers to something entirely different, it refers at least to a moment of emotio-psychological overflow ideally after hearing a minister deliver a sermon and inviting everyone to become born again probably by standing up and saying a few prayers. At this time the listener is invited to make a decision and after the prayers becomes “born again”, even though this person had already been baptized.

Being born again means being regenerated, to be brought from the death of sin to the life of grace in Christ; to be justified and be set free from the slavery of sin, to have the power of adopted sons, and the pledge of eternal life.

St Paul links this regeneration or being reborn with baptism:

6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  Rom. 6:1–22

The Greek phrase “gennatha anothen” is what is usually translated “born again” and it occurs twice in the Bible (John 3:3 and 3:7). And this is a questionable translation not accepted by some scholars. This is because the Greek word “anothen” though sometimes translated “again”, is mostly translated in the NT as “from above”. So you find some translations saying “born again” and others saying “born from above”.

The effects of baptism is important to consider. The sacrament of baptism confers grace, and this is a gift of God; his initiative. He is always the one to utter the call, ours is to respond by accepting. The work of regeneration or rebirth isn’t through the initiative of men, but by the action of God; by the action of his Spirit.

4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" 5Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:4-6)

What the Church understands from the teachings of Christ and the Apostles is that being “reborn” is to be regenerated through the waters of baptism, as St Peter compared being “saved by water” in reference to Noah and the ark (1 Pet. 3:20–21), and as Christ assures being born of “water and spirit”, all are in reference to baptism and the reception of the Holy Spirit who comes from above. The crux of the matter is we know to be saved we must be reborn, the problem is what this rebirth means. We cannot be saved by our own power, it must be God’s gift. If what we have does not come from above, we cannot be saved. Christ came from above to redeem us, so he sent the Holy Spirit from above to confirm us and make us Sons. If we do not have the Spirit of God in us, we cannot be saved; if we have not been baptized we cannot receive the Spirit.

Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ACTS 2:38

It is finally the Lord’s Spirit who grants us freedom, adopts us, unites us in the Body of Christ, and gives us eternal life.





25 comments

  1. marlon Reply

    Being a member of the Catholic church cannot make you born again. Neither becoming a member of what we call born again churches, It’s our new nature in Christ through the confirmation of the Holy Spirit that dwells in you when you receive Christ as Lord and Saviour… And surely, it is not the one you call water baptism to an innocent child can make you born again. Don’t be so fool not to confirm to the scriptures what was taught by the preachers you’ve heard and idolize…

    1. Pharaoh Reply

      I believe the post was explicit enough. I didn’t read anywhere that one must be Catholic or not. Rather, in connection with quotations taken from parts of Holy scripture, it made mention of first of water through baptism and then that of the Spirit. Jesus though Son of God was Himself baptised to set an example. But when He was still a baby, He was presented and dedicated in a temple.

    2. Mike Reply

      Amen. Baptism, or works, doesn’t save. The Holy Spirit saves us. We are all like Lazarus. God must do the calling, and the saving. Read, The Pharisee and the Tax Collector. One exalted himself by the things he does and is convinced God is with him. The Pharisee, however, could not so much as lift his eyes to Heaven but beat his beast and pleaded that God would have mercy on him. Jesus went on to say that it was the Pharisee who left justified. The Tax Collector trusted in his works. The Pharisee trusted in The Lord.

    3. RoFlo Reply

      Our holy mother and bride of Christ, the Roman Catholic Church, in all her knowledge and Truth, has through God seen fit to prepare us throughout key points in our lives by the grace of God transmitted through the holy sacraments. I submit to you all, being a lowly servant of Christ Jesus, that being both meanings – “born again” & “born from above” – are true and accurate. Being born of water and (Holy) Spirit is what happens in the sacrament of Baptism. This INDWELLING of the Holy Spirit comes to us through the faith of our parents, Godparents and the community (those gathered in church) in the sacrament of Baptism along with the blessing of the church via its authority given by Christ. The inFILLING of the Holy Spirit – such as what happened to the disciples when gathered at Pentecost – happens in the sacrament of Confirmation. In Confirmation, we start are adult lives in the Faith and freely receive the graces of the gifts mentioned in Isaiah (understanding, wisdom, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude, & holy fear of the Lord aka: reverance & respect for God). This infilling of the Holy Spirit does take place in Confirmation. However, I pray that we truly go back to our roots as church shown during Pentecost and pray to receive that same fire from the Holy Spirit which brought about the gifts mentioned in 1 Cor. 12 which build up the Church (divine faith, wisdom, knowledge, discernment, tongues, healing, miracles, prophecy, interpretation of tongues). These 9 ministerial gifts are given to us through prayer and obedience to God, doing what Vatican II tells us to do which is submitting our intellect & will to God so He can REVEAL Himself to us. If our church is to continue to be a beckon of light in the darkness of this world we must get back to doing this.

      I encourage you, my brothers and sisters, to look into the explanations and writings of Fr. John Hampsch on Baptism, Confirmation & the Holy Spirit. He explans the indwelling and infilling with eloquence and understanding from God much better than I. God bless you all. 🙂

  2. Joe Reeser Reply

    I don’t feel like you answered the question, at least not to my level of understanding. Yes or No?

    1. Rufodsouza Reply

      YES, YES & YES JOE REESER !!! YOUR “will” & “submission” is KEY !!! The Ceremonial Aspect is only for public-consumption !!
      rufus.

  3. vc Reply

    Why bicker? I’ve never been checked at the door while attending mass and told “you are not born again”. You know if the Holy spirit and Jesus is in your heart. That grace is what matters.

  4. Diosdado Sumalinog Reply

    The new born child is a human flesh it was baptized in a holy Catholic Church by the holy water and holy spirit in God’s name. These children were already born again. That which is the born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. If some groups says they should be matured enough before they born again, but how those disabled people, could be born again on this unfair and huge discrimination.

    1. ted eleazar Reply

      Acts 2:38 Peter replied,”Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit……….it is very clear that a baby don’t know what is repent? Peter is talking to people who understand what repent means…Peter is addressing the adult people after Jesus crucifixion in the Book of Acts Chapter 2…. that is why “Born Again” are referring to and adult who is, in repentance of his sins…. and accepting The Lord Jesus as his Lord and Savior

  5. Mike Loria Reply

    I am Orthodox which is very close to Roman Catholic. I had once heard this described very elegantly by an Orthodox priest. He said that we are in the process of being saved and will continue to be in the process until we die, at which time we will be saved. We see this life as a journey towards union with God. It is impossible to get there or even come close on our own. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.

  6. c Reply

    Being “Born Again” entails much more than a prayer or a sprinkling of water . It is a transformation that takes place in ones heart as they turn from their old self , to the sanctifying grace that is an in earnable gift that was imputed by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ! On the cross , the penalty for sin was poured out on Jesus, And the resurrection was proof of the atonement!!

  7. Steve F. Cameron, Pelham, AL Reply

    Don’t believe Satan’s lies. “Born of water…” refers to the human body being born into this world, when the mother expels her water and the child emerges. Lie #1 is: “born of water” refers to baptism. “Born of spirit” does indeed refer to praying the sinners prayer, offering repentance of sins and inviting Yeshua Messiah into one’s heart. Matthew 23:9 is explicit in what it says. Lie #2 is addressing a guy who calls himself “priest” as “father, which one can clearly tell FROM Matthew 23:9 that addressing that man as “father” is literally a sin. What many people do not realize is All Christians, male and female, are priests in accordance with Revelation 1:6. Lie #3 is confession of sin and the REASON one would do it. We are indeed called to confess our sins to each other, but to believe that a fellow sinner has the authority from God to forgive that sin on His behalf is ludicrous. 1st Timothy 2:5 is clear about confession of sin to Jehovah. Lie #4 is praying to sinners who have left this earth and gone on to eternity. I hear the deceived praying to Mary and to so-called saints hoping that they will approach Jehovah on behalf of the one praying. This is not only another example of wrongness as related to 1st Timothy 2:5, but is also disproved by Luke 16:26.

    Don’t believe Satan’s lies. If you are trapped in any of these lies, and now find yourself questioning if they ARE lies, perhaps going to a Baptist church to speak with the pastor should be in your future.

    1. Rufodsouza Reply

      YOU, Steve F. Cameron, Pelham, AL., are “too” Devil Centric. Also, your : “perhaps going to a Baptist church to speak with the pastor should be in your future.” REDUCES “your argument” to the Catholic Priest, you alluded to before(in your comment) !!
      &, You are “all-over-the-place” with your OUT OF CONTEXT Scripture references !!
      Maybe, as an exercise, you should become Catholic AND leave it after you have learned what : “THEY truly believe !!”
      Without “actually KNOWING” what the other-side teaches, what RIGHT do you have, to put them down ??? !!!!!
      You make yourself ” ONE ” with the ACCUSER !!!
      TAKE THE CHALLENGE !!
      God-Bless,
      rufus.

    2. Electrogoodie Kenjay Reply

      Don’t be a self righteous person! You people have your own way of interpreting the bible. What benefit will you get from accusing us with those lies that you have enumerated when in fact it was so out of context? You need to read the whole chapter of it to know the meaning of its verses. You read the the Holy Bible by asking the Holy Spirit for guidance, understanding and wisdom, not just like reading it as if it was a newspaper, magazine or a comics!

      Luke 18:9-14: It’s better to be a humble sinner, than to think of yourself as better than anyone else. If you think highly of yourself and have a big ego, you will eventually be corrected and humbled by God. If you realize your actual situation is that of a sinner, unworthy of God’s approval through your own efforts, you will be exalted by God. If you recognize your own sinful nature and do not pretend to be better in God’s eyes (or any man’s eyes), you show yourself to be the type of person that God truly approves of.

    3. Guh Fii Yah Reply

      The Catholic Church had taught for the last 2k years that which was taught by Christ. The Holy Spirit issues forth from the Love of the Father and the Son. You know better than the Church. Teach on.

    4. RoFlo Reply

      Brother, I must tell you out of the love of Christ that you are sorely mistaken about many of the points you just raised. I understand where you are coming from considering that I have many protestant friends who try to live their Christian lives in the truth of Christ. But I must tell you that if you really want tbe WHOLE Truth and nothing BuT God’s Truth you will not find it in the Baptist church or any other Christian sect other than the Holy Catholic Church. God is not dumb, He set stewards over His flock through Jesus calling the 12 apostles as not only the first and closest to him to receive his instruction but also to interpret his Teachings and Truth throughout the centuries. The Baptists and all other Christian churches are not in accordance with God’s full plans for the transmittal of God’s grace to us because they are in disobedience – and some deliberately at odds – with the Holy See i.e. the Seat of Peter. God is a God of order and obedience, not picking and choosing pieces of His truth to follow or not follow, nor taking scriptures out of context to prove a point, as you just did. Satan quoted scripture to Jesus himself while Christ was preparing himself for his public ministry for 40 days in the desert, yet it is CHRIST’S interpretation as The Word made Flesh that is Truth. This discernment of scripture as authority to interpret as well as clarifying and teaching the dogmas of Christ Jesus was passed down through apostolic succession to the 12 by Christ’s own authority (including the forgiving of sins, as it is GOD who forgives sins, Jesus himself, acting THROUGH a priest by the authority which Jesus himself has passed down througg the priesthood). Your lack of understanding is something that God allows for you to have at this time so you may challenge yourself in order to grow in the Holy Spirit, thus growing in Christ. We should ALL pray for one another, that the Lord God will give us the discernment, knowledge, wisdom & understanding we need for Him to reveal his WHOLE Truth to us.

  8. Pat Reply

    Any person who calls him/herself “goodie” has little basis for judging others as being “self righteous.” Electrogoodie shows a sense of false humility. Really if we cannot boast of our faith what else can we boast about? I am a cradle Catholic who learns something new about her faith everyday and I am growing deeper in love with Our Lord in the process. This is the beauty of Catholicism which is rich in its traditional as well as scriptural teachings. It is not surprising when non Catholic Christians lash out at Catholic beliefs….I often wonder where they get their ideas from and how many books written by Catholics have they actually read, reading with open minds, before condemning Catholics so fiercely. Seldom do Catholics respond to criticisms with a sense of insult and anger that is apparent in the anti Catholic posts. Yes we are the one true faith as proven through apostolic succession from the apostle Peter 2000 years ago to our present Pope Francis. This is an undisputed fact.
    The Catholic Church must be blessed by the Holy Spirit to have survived so long whilst so many other Christian religions have either fallen by the wayside or split many ways due to conflicting views. Pray for unity of spirit if nothing else.

  9. Mario Simonelli Reply

    BORN AGAIN

    Many books have been written but ambiguity, I believe, still surrounds this subject. Nothing in what I have read or in what I have heard from preachers has explained the fundamental differences between seeing the Kingdom of God, and entering the Kingdom of God.
    For we read in John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said to him, truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
    And in verse 5 we read: “Jesus answered, truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”
    From the above verses we learn that there are two stages of transition if you like: one is to enable men to see the Kingdom of God and the other is to enable men to enter the Kingdom of God.

    Like everything else in our lives, the spiritual journey also begins at birth. We must realise therefore that when we are born our spirit is agnostic. In other words, we do not know if there is a God or not. However as we grow up, at some point in time of our life (mostly before or in our early teens), we will make that decision based on our own observation of the awe of creation.
    I personally remember when I made that decision. It was based on my reason and discernment which came about from an ordinary lesson of religious education that I had attended months before in Rome, which taught that the world was so beautiful that it could not have evolved by itself. Hence I thought while I was observing my surroundings during the summer holiday at my grandfather’s farm, that there must be a Creator. All of the natural things and animals that surrounded me could not have happened by themselves, it was all too perfect.
    At that time, unbeknown to me, my innocent fleshly spirit was born again as a believer and willing to accept the religion of my ancestors. That religion in turn taught me to have faith in its doctrines and led me through the journey described in Galatians 3:23 to chapter 4:6, but now we will read only Galatians 4:1-6: “Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything. But he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental RELIGIOUS DOCTRINES of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order that He might redeem those who ARE under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!”’

    With that uncomplicated history I can understand, where Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, was coming from when he spoke to Jesus. So in order to explain a number of important points on this subject we will read various scriptures from John 3:1-21: “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night, and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him.’”
    Without realising it, Nicodemus had made a very important confession of faith to Jesus, by saying, they knew that Jesus had come from God as a teacher. By saying that, he demonstrated that he and others were believing and able to see the Kingdom of God in Jesus, for they recognised that God was performing miracles through Him. Jesus in turn confirmed that Nicodemus and others where able to see the
    Kingdom, for He answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (Jesus’ words can also be understood to say; only a believer can see what you said.)
    Unfortunately, Nicodemus did not recognise Jesus’ answer as a confirmation of his ability to see the Kingdom, for he was thrown completely out of balance because he could only think of having to be born again from his mother’s womb. Jesus however, in correcting Nicodemus’s misunderstanding, moved to the next spiritual transition by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” (Jesus’ words can also be understood to say; unless one is converted and repents he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.)
    It is obvious that Nicodemus had no trouble seeing the Kingdom of God in Jesus because he was a God-fearing man, honestly believing in the existence of God, trusting his spirit, which was born again as a believer through his Jewish religion.
    Therefore we can be certain that all who earnestly believe and have a fear of God, regardless from which doctrine their faith was born, has the capability of seeing the Kingdom of God. (Remember the Roman centurion, Matthew 8:10 and the Canaanite woman, Matthew 15:27 – 28.)
    Now to understand the transitional meaning of being “born of water and the spirit”, one has to consider that the Lord is telling us that a conversion of our beliefs and attitude has to take place through our immersion in the water of the word, and to live our lives according to our new understanding of godliness which comes from that word. That is to say, this conversion has to move us from a faith based on religions doctrines to a lifestyle of godliness so that we might eventually share His Divine character.
    However we should recognise also, that the faith based on religious doctrines has the capability of developing into two vastly different kinds of faiths, for Jesus said in John 3:6, “That FAITH which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that FAITH which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” We can see the difference between these two faiths if we are able to compare the faiths of Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob. (Or see the different attitude in the faith of the apostle Paul before and after his conversion to Christianity.)
    Those who have a religious worldly faith but do not have godliness, do not see or understand the divine nature of the Kingdom, nor do they see the need to be converted to the truth of the grace of God, for those believers do not practice goodness. As it is written in John 3:20-21: “For everyone who IS OF THE FLESH hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practises the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
    In Matthew 18:3 there is a confirmation of the necessary action to be taken by sincere religious people who seek to enter the grace of the Kingdom, for Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
    So we now know also that the expressions “born again, renewal, converted, become like children, repentance,” are all saying the same thing, and that we are meant to mature in His life, which is clearly confirmed in Ephesians 4:23-24, for it says: “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the New Self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
    This conversion, or entrance into the kingdom can be dramatic as it was in Paul’s case; keeping in mind that Paul’s zealous Jewish faith was extremely honest. That zealous and honest faith is the reason for which the Lord converted him from being a faithful violent person to a faithful loving person in such a dramatic way. Or the conversion can take some time, as we read in 2Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as the Lord allows the spirit.”
    Therefore, if we see the kingdom of Christ and earnestly desire to enter into the freedom and blessings of that kingdom, we should follow the advice of 2Peter 1:5-11, because these scriptures are very specific about how we should progress from faith to love, for we read: “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, YOU WILL ACQUIRE knowledge; and in your knowledge, SUPPLY self-control, and in your self-control, YOU WILL ACQUIRE perseverance, and in your perseverance, YOU WILL ALSO ACQUIRE, godliness; and in your godliness, SUPPLY brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, YOU WILL ACQUIRE love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practise these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
    So we should all examine and ask ourselves, who are we like? Are we like Nicodemus, the Roman centurion, or the Canaanite woman, whose religious faith was praised by Jesus. Or are we on a holy journey by following 2Peter 1:5-11? As a consequence of that, we are doing Cornelius’s love deeds (Acts 10:1-2), not because we want to be saved, but because we are living in the spirit and true character of the children of God.
    I believe and hope that the above article clarifies for you the myths and ambiguities about being born again. But even if you have only now learned of the existing differences between seeing and entering the Kingdom of God, take courage, you are already half way there.
    Glory to God

  10. mb Reply

    Peace my dear friends. God Love us all and he give us freedom to choose wright or wrong. One thing I’m proud about Catholic we don’t critisize other religions. GOD BLESS

    1. Mario Simonelli Reply

      @mb, I speak to Catholics because I came from that beautiful group of people, I was blessed with the knowledge of God; do you think I should keep that knowledge to myself. The apostle Paul also shared his knowledge given to him and the religious people of that time got offended by it. Christianity was never meant to be a religion, true Christianity is a way of life.

  11. migs Reply

    Born again and you are already saved? give me a break. Your salvation is not guarantee unless you have faith and do good works. Salvation is a process. Did Jesus preach to people that just believe in me and you are automatically save. The answer is a big NO! He even told his disciples to do good works. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me‘“ (Matthew 25:41-45).

    Born again statement in the Bible is about baptism on water and spirit. So yes when you are baptised to Church Jesus founded, you have good chance to attain salvation unless you move away from God by being sinful. Since Jesus Christ is all knowing, He knew men are naturally sinful so Jesus initiated the sacrament of confession or reconciliation to bring ourselves to God. “If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” John 20:23 So yes, the early Church has a mechanism to forgive sin like we have it now in the Church.

  12. Rose Marie Benoit Reply

    Born again means to be renewed in the spirit. Jesus says ” do not argue senselessly over religion.

  13. Mike63 Reply

    Church, no matter the denomination, cannot save anyone.
    Man cannot save man. Man and God cannot save man. Only the Spirit can save. And transform. And impart the very same righteousness as Jesus Christ on the saved one.
    It is a total and free gift from God who alone paid the full price and gets all the glory for it. All we need do is hear the Gospel and ask for His gift.
    Some people have a problem with this because they want to ‘contribute’ to their salvation. Our hope can’t be in ourselves but only in Him alone.
    Peace.

  14. Julius Reply

    This is just how some will be arguing whether or not child baptism saves, whether being Catholic saves etc and the Lord will return. It may be too late. Instead of believing your own and acting on it to save yourself you keep arguing about what others believe. I am Catholic and proud to be. God bless all.

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