09 ottobre 2006

What it Means to be Born Again

What it Means to be Born Again!

1 Peter 1:23You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.

The term "born again" has been bowdlerized into meaning a sort of overwhelming emotional experience. Indeed, many people assume that if you haven't had an emotional experience, you can't have been "born anew" in a biblical sense. But this is false. Being born again is rooted, not in emotion, but on the spiritual fact of entering into the life of the Blessed Trinity in the sacrament of baptism. Babies feel no emotion at this (beyond perhaps irritation at being woken out of a sound sleep by somebody splashing water on them). Nonetheless, the Spirit of God is poured out on them in the sacrament and the Blessed Trinity takes up his dwelling place in them. Likewise, many adult converts to Christianity have become Christians, not at the end of a crying jag, but in a rather laid-back way, emotionally speaking. That does not invalidate their conversion. To be born again is to receive the supernatural life of the Blessed Trinity into our souls. That can happen with a lot of emotion or with little emotion. It can be accompanied by serenity, storms of angst, or a simple prayer. Normatively, it happens in baptism but, if baptism is unavailable for some reason, it can happen through the baptism of desire. In any case, the core of it is not our emotion but the action of the Blessed Trinity, sharing his supernatural life with us. Indeed, if we focus on emotion as the be all and end all of being "born again" we can actually begin to worship emotion rather than God and demand that we have "that special feeling" or we will stop believing in God. Emotions are nice. But building our faith on them is exactly the sort of thing Jesus warned against. Build on the rock of God's promise of new life in baptism, not on the sands of emotion.

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