Sometimes well-meaning and devout evangelical fundamentalist Christians will ask someone, “Have you been ‘born again?’” By this they usually mean have you had a personal encounter with Jesus during which you gave yourself to Him and received the Holy Spirit into your heart? They then
claim that without this experience you have not been saved. In response to this question we should understand that the main place that Jesus talks about being “born again” is in the Gospel of St. John, chapter 3, verses 1-6. Actually, Jesus talks there about being “born from above”. Nicodemus
misunderstands this as being born again. Jesus then explains that being born from above means being born of “water and spirit”. It seems obvious that what he is referring to is baptism. It is at baptism that we receive the Spirit of God who unites us with the Risen Lord. Having received that divine life, the same Spirit encourages and enables us to live out that life. As St. Paul says, once we have put on Christ (in baptism) we must live a new life, that of Christ himself. Understanding this, hopefully we can also understand that the term “born again Christian” is really a redundancy, a repetition. To be a Christian is to be born again. Once we have been baptized we have been born from above and do not need to be born from above again. Of course, we need to live out our baptism and recommit ourselves to it each day. Baptism isn’t magic which guarantees us heaven. It is the gift of God’s life which will bring us to heaven if we live it out. Nowhere in the gospels or in any of the letters of the Apostles do we find any mention of the kind of “born again” experience mentioned above as necessary for salvation. But in baptism we are all born from above (born anew, born again) and will be saved if we live out the life of the Lord which it gives us.