- Religion and Philosophy
Born Again Christians
What is a "Born Again Christian"?
I have several dear friends and family members that have, over the years, become "born again Christians." The term itself is odd, but we'll get to that later. What I'd like to examine is what apparently causes a person to decide to take their otherwise fairly normal life and dedicate it almost exclusively to Jesus.
I do not wish to pass judgment at all here. I love each and every one of the people of whom I speak, but even my own priest and I can have a conversation that does not include attribution to every good thing happening in the world to the blessings of the Lord. I attend church regularly. My children go to Sunday School. But as a T-shirt I've seen said, "I'm not Born Again. I was Born Right the First Time." Obviously, I do not understand what it means to be a "born again" Christian.
Technically, there are passages in the Bible that are read to require people to be "born again," in order to pass into the Kingdom of Heaven. As Jesus talked with Nicodemus, He said "...Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said 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?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again ...." (John 3:3-7). In this passage, Nicodemus was required to have a change of heart to become reborn. From the Catholic perspective, rebirth can occur through holy baptism.
Born Again Christians: Lead by Example
There certainly is NOTHING wrong with a change of heart to give you the keys to everlasting salvation. However, there are a few attributes that can result from rebirth among people claiming to be "born again Christians." These are not the rule, of course, and many people peacefully live their lives happily after transforming their lives to the glory of Christ.
It is my personal belief that religion is largely your own experience and, though practiced weekly (or perhaps more often) in communal settings, you and your family should ensure that other people with whom you share your beliefs and perspectives are willing to listen.
Of course, you can always lead by example. Just my two cents.
Fervent Conviction of Born Again Christians
Some people appear to have taken a skeptical view of God, and perhaps the afterlife, and reversed it to one of unquestioning acceptance. Familiar strains from the Hymn "Amazing Grace" come to mind, "I was blind, but now I see!"
Of course, faith itself does demand acceptance to some degree of the unknown; the unexplained mysterious forms the basis of many religions of the world. But some so-called "born again Christians" are so convinced of the reality of the miracles of their faith that they may openly proclaim it to many people.
Gone is any sense of questioning or wonderment. It simply seems to be fact that certain miracles occurred. And they will tell us all about it.
Avoidance of "Sinful" Behaviors by Born Again Christians
Many Born-again Christians take a puritanical approach to life, giving up alcohol, smoking, cursing, even sex! Of course, I am not advocating that this is a bad thing, in itself, particularly if the person had a drinking or drug problem to begin with.
But, the proclamation (overtly or covertly) that anyone that engages in these behaviors is sinful can be annoying, if it is part and parcel of the rebirth.
I was taught that Jesus loved everyone, and that only God would judge us at the end. So, I do bristle at the thought that the people who have been "born again" might step into God's shoes (should He wear them) and judge me for my shortcomings. I do a good enough job of that myself, thank you very much.
Frequent Attendance of Church
This is usually accompanied by dedicating huge sums of money to the church, as well. Once again, I don't mind at all if you wish to spend your time and money that way. I give a great deal of time and money in furtherance of charitable causes, and I don't feel the need to defend myself either here, or before the Lord. The guilt factor does get old, however, if it is offered up. And the sense that perhaps people that truly cannot afford to tithe to the extent demanded are doing so gives me some consternation. But, I must mind my own business.
Have you been Re-Born as a Christian?
Re-birth can mean more than just a myopic view of dedication to Christ. It should also include a recognition of the individual's placement within the world, including his or her relationship to Christ and God and humankind in general.
This means not to elevate oneself to the level of God. It is laudable to take vows, have a change of heart, go to church frequently, and tithe to the extent possible. But if you do not know what is in other people's hearts, do not pass judgment.
That is not your role.
I hope that my research here has improved my understanding of born-again Christians, as well as others. The generalizations here are certainly not representative of Christians as a whole, or reborn Christians, specifically. Again, I speak solely from the heart and personal experience. If you have been re-born, or have a relationship with a re-born Christian, I would love to hear about it. Please leave me a comment below.