Catholic, Christian question

Is a Catholic ever “born again”? Is this term only for evangelical Christians and what consists of being born again? If you are raised and baptized in a certain church do you get “borned again” :dubious: at a certain age like Confirmation or something?

It depends on how you define “born again.” The RCC claims that the born again experience occurs with the sacrament of baptism (though they don’t really use that phrase very often) – including infant baptism (the same criterion is used by other conservative traditions like Lutheranism, Anglicanism and Orthox traditions) What evangelicals usually mean, though, is the blubbering, down on your knees, repent and accept Jesus as your saviour scenario. Evangelicals tend to deny that infant baptism can count as truly being born again because they argue (with some reasonability) that the choice should be informed and conscious.

In both Catholicism and in Evangelical traditions there is a perceived "born again’ experience of salvation but they define it differently and evangelicals don’t tend to accept infant baptism as valid.

The phrase “born again” is pretty much an expression of liturgy and theology among a certain number of Protestant* denominations. The concept of being “born again in the Spirit” is part of Catholic Baptismal theology, but it is not a phrase that is used, (partly because Catholics employ infant Baptism, but even among adult converts it is simply not the expression used). The more common phrases used in Catholic theology are “rebirth” and “reborn” rather than “born again.”

  • Protestant used in the broad sense of all the Christian churches other than “Old Catholic” denominations that can, at one point or another, trace their origins to some person or group who separated from the Latin Rite subsequent to 1500, rather than limited to more restrictive meanings.

This is not the reason I asked the question but, if someone asks a Catholic who is on track with sacraments and such if they have been born again what is the correct response? Besides the obvious “I am of the True Faith you nut.”

The answer in the Church’s eyes would be yes, in the soteriological sense, but they would be more likely to use the term “reborn” than “born again” I think the term “regeneration” gets used as well. (Tom, am I getting that right or mixing it up with something else?)

As far as a Catholic is concerned, he has been born again of the spirit through baptism. Whether an evangelical type would accept that answer is another question.

I am a young but well-studied Catholic, and I affirm everything Diogenes has said in this thread up 'til now. He also said it better than I probably ever could :slight_smile:

So in general if a Catholic answers with a simple yes, if the inquisitor knew all the details would he or she consider the Catholic deceptive or even lying? In the evangelical’s mind does the Catholic’s status as “reborn” count the same as their "born again’ as far as hellfire and the like?

In the evangelical’s mind, generally no. But the Catholic would not be lying or deceptive. The Catholic would sincerely believe that the answer was yes. We just have two different sets of criteria for the same soteriological event. The Catholic definition existed first, though, for whatever that’s worth.

Depends on the Evangelical. The more extreme believers of that tradition would say that the Catholic was wrong–it would take someone who was beyond extreme to claim the Catholic was lying. OTOH, any number of Evangelicals would accept the statement, recognizing that we are all heirs to a common (if shattered) tradition and that the various ways in which we express that tradition do not, in themselves, separate us from God. (The views of Evangelicals that make it into the media are not necessarily representative of “Evangelicals” (as though they were any more monolithic than the false stereotype of the RCC). I knew a very conservative Fundamentalist Baptist minister who still found it appropriate to join with Catholics in ecumenical services. He was condemned by the Baptist pastor on the next block for consorting with papists, but he was still there at the service.)

(These days, you would also find rather few, (sadly too many, but still rather few), Catholics who would claim that Catholicism is the One, True Faith.)

It is my hope for the future that Ecumenicsm grows!

Here’s some Biblical sources about being Born Again:

John 3
1 Peter 1

Being a ‘Born Again’ has been used with a negative connotation in recent years as someone who is a far-right evangelical nut, almost interchageably with “fundie.” But it’s really a key componant in most main-line Christian churches, whether it’s described as rebirth or whatever. And for most mainline Christians it’s not a trembling moment with tongues of fire and falling on the ground.

I had a Sunday School teacher describe being Born Again as a combination of two things: making a decision to follow Jesus, then changing how you live your life. Which means it’s more like beginning a journey through the birth canal, rather than experiencing a wild moment where you pop out of the spiritual vagina.

So I would agree with tom & Diogenes that Catholics can believe they’re reborn just like any Evangelical, whether the Evangelical believes the Catholic or not. In fact such a disagreement just helps to illustrate why there are so many different Christian churches.
I was raised Calvinist, fwiw.

Actually, if someone asked me if I’d been reborn, and depending on how snarky I’m feeling, I might ask for clarification or say yes. Normally, people who ask that are actually using the wrong words: they don’t want to know whether I’m “saved”, “born again” or “a Christian”, but whether I belong to a Protestant branch close to their own. So if I’m feeling nice I ask for clarification hoping to fight some linguistic ignorance and if not…

I’ve never seen a 7th Day Adventist as angry as when one approached me asking “good morning, sister, are you a Christian?” and I, knowing full well what she meant and having a snarky day, brightly answered “yes sister, thank you, I’m a Christian, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman*, by the Grace of God!” (I later confessed for “inducing others to anger”, eh)

  • Directly from one of the versions of the Credo, I’m not sure whether there’s an English version with that line.

Does “saved” mean the same thing as “born again”?

While you or i are; “Reborn into Jesus” whether we are saved would depend on how we lived our lives with Jesus being our guide.
John the Baptist (1st John) would be the best read for this.
that was the 1st book of the bible i read. as i had a very hard time starting with Genesis.

Generally, yes, although you can get different variations on that.

In one sense, being saved means having been saved by the acts of Jesus in his death and resurrection, so for a great many Christians, being saved applies to everyone in the world with variations among different groups as to whether one must first be a Christian and be baptized to get the benefits or whether God will find a way to save persons even outside Christianity. (Catholics are among the groups that hold the latter belief.)

In a different sense, being saved is the act of (adult) repentance and conversion to Christianity (or, sometimes, the particular denomination of Christianity). Catholics would accept that as one meaning of the word, but clearly do not limit it to that meaning.

Then there are the two traditions within Christianity that see being saved differently: among one group, being saved still permits that one might throw away that salvation, so that a person who has been baptized (plus whatever other actions are required–from none to some list of good behaviors) might eventually lose that salvation by turning from God; in the other, one cannot lose what Jesus has given, so that there is no way for a person to not be saved once one has been saved. (The general response to a tale of a born again, saved Christian who goes out and does wicked deeds is that the person was not “really” saved when he went through the motions of being born again, even though he might have truly felt that he had been at the time and even though he lived the next twenty years as a good Christian before throwing it all away. I have never understood that particular belief and so I do not know a way to explain it that does not subtly mock the person who holds it, for which I apologize.)

So while there is one group for whom “being saved” is an equivalent verb phrase to “being born again,” you can get a rather wide variety of responses to the question “Are you/Is he saved?” (and you can even get different responses from the same person depending on the context in which you are using it).

The “born again experience” so beloved of evangelical Protestants (with good reason, I might add) is a sense of having had God enter into their lives to (a) give them assurance of their salvation, (b) “convict” them of their sinfulness and instill a need for repentance [“convict” in quotes because it’s a specialized, jargonic use of the term, not equivalent to what a judge or jury does at trial but rather meaning instilling a sense of ruefulness about one’s past], and © bring about a new sense that one’s eyes have been opened to various things including the work of God in the world about oneself, the real meaning underlying the Bible, etc.

There are Catholics who have in fact had such an experience. But, as Diogenes and Tom~ note, the sense in which Jesus and Paul speak of spiritual regeneration is understood by sacramental theology to be the process effectuated in and begun at baptism, an act of God’s grace rather than the human response to that grace noted above.

To “be saved” is to have been the recipient of God’s grace – differently understood as having been brought through the “born again” experience, or as having received that grace through the sacraments, and in particular baptism as the spiritual equivalent of adoption into God’s family.

The basic problem here is that the two groups are using the same vocabulary to mean two distinct things, one a subtle process-oriented sacramental action by God acting through His ministers, and the other a deep internal experiential change in personal convictions. And it is very difficult to talk meaningfully across that divide.

And here’s one more which, although it doesn’t use the words “born again,” is relevant to the concept: Romans 6. Here, Paul is talking about being “dead to sin” or to the “old self,” and he’s (sybolically or metaphorically or somehow) identifying “being saved” or “being a Christian” with Christ’s death and resurrection. (For those Christian denominations that practice baptism by immersion, the process is supposed to symbolize the person’s death to his old, sinful self, and resurrection “in Christ.”) This may also be Paul’s point in II Corinthians 5:17: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (Disclaimer: I am not a theologian.)
In practice, the term “born again” is primarily used to describe someone who has converted, often in a sudden or dramatic way, to Christianity—especially to one of the more evangelical branches, which emphasize the importance of conversion or “being saved”—from being a nonchristian.
Wikipedia’s article on born-again Christianity is worth a look.

Answering that I was Catholic stopped working against the more ardent Wheaton College students decades ago. Claiming to be Jewish shut them up for a while until I bumped into some who realized that made my salvation an extra-special prize. I’ve been saving “Sorry, but I’m Wiccan,” except they stopped accosting random strangers at the mall. :frowning:

Complicating matters is the fact that there’s a Charismatic movement in Catholicism that shares a lot of terminology and attitudes with Evangelical Protestantism, and Charismatic Catholics tend to use the term “born again” or “spirit filled” to describe themselves.

I think this is the heart of it. If someone asked me (RC) if I had been born again, I’d tell them I’m perfectly happy with the faith that I’m folllowing, have a nice day. If some one asked me about being saved, to me that refers to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, which saved all of God’s children.

I was taught that we are baptised as infants to erase the mortal sin of how we were conceived, with godparents standing by to answer in our stead, and to take up the slack if our parents fail to raise us in the church. At the sacrament of confirmation you take those vows on yourself as a young adult, (which is closer, I believe to how born again christians do baptism, at a much later age). The vows are renewed again every year at the Easter mass. (Do you reject satan and all his empty promises, etc.)