Ask A Catholic: Born Again?
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By Mitch Finley
How is a Catholic born again?
Catholics and Protestants agree that to be saved, you have to be born again.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). When a Catholic says that he/she has been “born again,” the reference is to the transformation that God’s grace accomplished in him or her at baptism.
Evangelical Protestants typically mean something quite different when they talk about being “born again.” For an Evangelical, becoming “born again” often happens like this: He or she goes to a crusade or a revival where a preacher declares that one must be “born again” to be “saved.”
In fact, the term “born again” may not appear in the Bible. The Greek phrase often translated “born again” (gennatha anothen) occurs only twice in the Bible—John 3:3 and 3:7—and there is some doubt about how it should be translated. The Greek word anothen sometimes can be translated “again,” but in the New Testament, it most often means “from above.” In the century King James Version—first published in 1611—the only two times it is translated “again” are in John 3:3 and 3:7; every other time it is translated differently.
Evangelical Christians tend to think of being “born again” as a one-time event, a moment in time when he or she “accepts Jesus Chris as his/her “personal savior.” From then on, the person is “saved.”
Catholics, on the other hand, think of being “born again” at baptism as the beginning of a life-long process that is completed only at the end of life. A good, more detailed, discussion of this topic may be found on the “Catholic Answers” website, here. I recommend this article highly.
Additionally, this topic was discussion here in March, 2019.
Mitch Finley is the author of 30+ books on Roman Catholic theological topics and spirituality, all written to appeal to both non-academic and academic readers. Mitch holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University and an M.A. in Theology from Marquette University. He and Kathy Finley have been married since 1974 and are the parents of three grown sons. To learn more, visit his website.