Born again (Christianity)

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In Christianity, born again refers to a "spiritual rebirth" (regeneration) of the human person, contrasted with the physical first birth everyone experiences. The origin of the term "born again" is the New Testament: "Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.' "[Jn 3:3 TNIV] [1] It is a term associated with salvation in Christianity.

Throughout most of Christian history, to be "born again" was understood as spiritual regeneration via the sacrament of baptism. This is still the understanding in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. However, beginning with the Reformation, being born again[2] is predominantly understood by Protestants (Episcopalians and Lutherans are two notable exceptions to this understanding) to be an experience of conversion symbolized by water baptism, rooted in commitment to one's personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. A metaphorical rebirth occurs when a person accepts Jesus as the Messiah and receives the Holy Spirit. Within evangelical Protestantism, the term "born again" has come to be associated with a new concept, an experience of conversion, defined as mental assent to the acceptance of Jesus Christ as one's personal Saviour.[3]

Contents

Origin

John 3 is the first mention of "born again" in the Bible as spoken by Jesus while teaching Nicodemus, a rabbi of the Jewish sect known as the Pharisees. The traditional Jewish understanding of the promise of salvation was that being rooted in "the seed of Abraham" referred to physical lineage from Abraham. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that this doctrine was in error—that every person must have two births—the natural birth of the physical body, the other of the water and the spirit.[4] This discourse with Nicodemus established the Christian belief that all human beings—whether Jew or Gentile—must be "born again" of the spiritual seed of Christ. The Apostle Peter further reinforced this understanding in 1 Peter 1:23.[original research?] The Catholic Encyclopedia states that "A controversy existed in the primitive church over the interpretation of the expression the seed of Abraham. It is [the Apostle Paul's] teaching in one instance that all who are Christ's by faith are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise. He is concerned, however, with the fact that the promise is not being fulfilled to the seed of Abraham (referring to the Jews)."[5]

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