What do you want to know about Evangelicalism? Pastor Rob Bryceson, of The Gathering House Church, and Elizabeth Backstrom, a member of The Gathering House, co-author this column. Submit your question here.
What does it mean to have a born-again experience?
Hi, thanks for writing in. A side note on stuff Christians say: I grew up Evangelical, and it wasn’t until I was older that I realized how sometimes it sounds like we’re speaking an entirely different language. I remember one of the first times I realized we say things in the church that people not in it might find odd. I was editing an article with quotes in it from a pastor, and a friend pointed out one of the quotes and asked, “Is that a typo?” The pastor had said “We do life together,” which is something I heard people in the church say all the time. I told her it wasn’t.
To your question, being ‘born again’ is another of those things Christians say, but it’s from a specific place in the Bible, namely the Gospel of John, chapter 3. Jesus is talking with a Pharisee (a religious ruler of the day) named Nicodemus. That itself is kind of a thing, because the religious rulers of the day mostly wanted to kill Jesus. Nicodemus was different – he wanted knowledge. He came to visit Jesus at night, which I’m assuming was kind of a secret, and said “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus says back to him, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asks. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
OK, let’s step out of the narrative for a second. Just let me say that this is one of those stories, growing up, that I just didn’t question. Being ‘born again’ was just one of those things you knew about and did. Not that it wasn’t important, but I didn’t understand why anyone would question it.
Now, looking back with the eye of someone who has spent a little time outside the church and come back, and a lot of time in the interfaith movement, I understand questions like these. Some of the things Jesus says are a definite ‘say what?’ moment. This is one of them.
- Help FāVS Keep the Conversation Going in the Time of COVID-19 - March 24, 2020
- Annual Greek Festival Takes Place This Week in Spokane - September 24, 2019
- Ask An Evangelical: Who is Your Leader? - August 15, 2019
- Ask An Evangelical: Satan, Hell and Demons - May 17, 2019
- Ask An Evangelical: Evangelical Views of the Christian Faith - February 24, 2019
- Jessa Lewis plans to bring Pop Up Church to Spokane - January 30, 2019
- Ask An Evangelical: Are some sins worse than others? - October 28, 2018
- #WhyIDidntReport — The Sound of Silence - September 27, 2018
- Ask An Evangelical: Do you believe in free will? - September 7, 2018
- Ask An Evangelical: Evangelicals and the Christian Right - August 2, 2018