Born again (Christianity)

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In some Christian movements (especially Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism), to be born again is to undergo a "spiritual rebirth" (regeneration) of the human spirit from the Holy Spirit, contrasted with the physical birth everyone experiences. The term "born again" is derived from an event in the New Testament in which the words of Jesus are misunderstood by his conversation partner, Nicodemus: "Jesus answered him, 'Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.' Nicodemus said to him, 'How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?'"[Jn 3:3-4 NRSV] The Greek phrase in the text is in itself ambiguous, resulting in a wordplay in which Jesus' meaning, "born from above," is misunderstood by Nicodemus as "born again." In contemporary Christian usage, the term is distinct from sometimes similar terms used in mainstream Christianity to refer to being or becoming Christian, which is linked to baptism. Individuals who profess to be "born again" often state that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.[1][2][3] The phrase "born again" is also used as an adjective to describe individual members of the movement who espouse this belief, as well as the movement itself ("born-again Christian" and the "born-again movement").

History and usage[edit]

Historically, Christianity has used various metaphors to describe its rite of initiation, that is, spiritual regeneration via the sacrament of baptism by the power of the water and the spirit. This remains the common understanding in most of Christendom, held, for example, in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Anglicanism,[4] Lutheranism, and in much of Protestantism. However, sometime after the Reformation, Evangelical Protestants began to understand being born again[5] as an experience of religious conversion, symbolized by deep-water baptism, and rooted in a commitment to one's own personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. This same belief is, historically, also an integral part of Methodist doctrine,[6][7] and is connected with the doctrine of Justification.[8]

Such "'Rebirth' has often been identified with a definite, temporally datable form of 'conversion'." Its effects vary with the type of person involved:

With the voluntaristic type, rebirth is expressed in a new alignment of the will, in the liberation of new capabilities and powers that were hitherto undeveloped in the person concerned. With the intellectual type, it leads to an activation of the capabilities for understanding, to the breakthrough of a "vision". With others it leads to the discovery of an unexpected beauty in the order of nature or to the discovery of the mysterious meaning of history. With still others it leads to a new vision of the moral life and its orders, to a selfless realization of love of neighbour. ... each person affected perceives his life in Christ at any given time as “newness of life.” [9]

According to Melton:

Born again is a phrase used by many Protestants to describe the phenomenon of gaining faith in Jesus Christ. It is an experience when everything they have been taught as Christians becomes real, and they develop a direct and personal relationship with God.[10]

According to Purves and Partee,[11] "Sometimes the phrase seems to be judgemental, making a distinction between genuine and nominal Christians. Sometimes ... descriptive, like the distinction between liberal and conservative Christians. Occasionally, the phrase seems historic, like the division between Catholic and Protestant Christians." Furthermore, the term "usually includes the notion of human choice in salvation and excludes a view of divine election by grace alone".

The Oxford English Dictionary, finding examples going back to 1961, defines the adjective "born-again" as:

Of, pertaining to, or characterized by (an experience of) new birth in Christ or spiritual renewal; of a Christian: placing special emphasis on this experience as a basis for all one's actions, evangelical.[12]


Biblical foundation[edit]

The King James' Version uses the phrase born again three times. Two appear in chapter 3 of the Gospel of John. Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, a Pharisee described as "a ruler of the Jews", who says that, because of his miracles, Jesus is known "to be a teacher come from God". Jesus immediately replies: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."[Jn 3:3] [13] A few verses later the Gospel quotes Jesus as saying:

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. / The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.[Jn 3:7]

John's Gospel was written in Greek, and the Greek word translated as again is ανωΘεν (anothen), which could mean again, or from above. The New Revised Standard Version prefers this latter translation,[13] and both the King James Version and the Revised Version give it as an alternative in the margins. Hoskyns argues that it is to be preferred as the fundamental meaning and he drew attention to phrases such as "birth of the Spirit (v.5)", "birth from God (cf. Jn 1:12-13; 1Jn 2:29, 3:9, 4:7, 5:18)" but continues to claim that this necessarily carries with it an emphasis upon the newness of the life as given by God himself.[14]

The third and last mention of the phrase occurs in the First Letter of Peter. The King James Bible translates this as:

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: / Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.[1 Peter 1:22-23]

Here, the Greek word translated as "born again" is αναγεγεννημενοι (anagegennemenoy).[15]


The traditional Jewish understanding of the promise of salvation is interpreted as being rooted in "the seed of Abraham"; that is in the 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.[16] 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.[15] 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)."[17]

Charles Hodge writes that "The subjective change wrought in the soul by the grace of God, is variously designated in Scripture" with terms such as new birth, resurrection, new life, new creation, renewing of the mind, dying to sin and living to righteousness, and translation from darkness to light.[18]

Jesus Christ used the "birth" analogy in tracing spiritual newness of life to a divine beginning. Contemporary Christian theologians have provided explanations for "born from above" being a more accurate translation of the original Greek word transliterated anōthen.[19] Theologian Frank Stagg cites two reasons why the newer translation is significant:

  1. The emphasis "from above" (implying "from Heaven") calls attention to the source of the "newness of life." Stagg writes that the word "again" does not include the source of the new kind of beginning
  2. More than personal improvement is needed. "...a new destiny requires a new origin, and the new origin must be from God."[20]

An early example of the term in its more modern use appears in the sermons of John Wesley. In the sermon printed under the title of A New Birth he writes "none can be holy unless he be born again", and "except he be born again, none can be happy even in this world. For ... a man should not be happy who is not holy." Also, "I say, [a man] may be born again and so become an heir of salvation." Wesley also states infants who are baptized are born again, but for adults it is different:

... our church supposes, that all who are baptized in their infancy, are at the same time born again. ... But ... it is sure all of riper years, who are baptized, are not at the same time born again.[21]

Denominational positions[edit]

For American Christians, The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics notes: "The GSS ... has asked a born-again question on three occasions ... 'Would you say you have been 'born again' or have had a 'born-again' experience?" The Handbook says that "Evangelical, black, and Latino Protestants tend to respond similarly, with about two-thirds of each group answering in the affirmative. In contrast, only about one third of mainline Protestants and one sixth of Catholics (Anglo and Latino) claim a born-again experience." However, the handbook suggests that "born-again questions are poor measures even for capturing evangelical respondents. ... it is likely that people who report a born-again experience also claim it as an identity."[22]


The use of the term “born again” to refer to Christian conversion is modern, presumably developing out the teachings of John Wesley and popularized in the ministry of 19th century tent meeting revivalists such as Billy Sunday, and D. L. Moody. An individual was encouraged to change their life and ‘come to Jesus.’ Even with these early revivalists, the use of the term “born again” to describe this experience of conversion is still not wide spread.[23]

Historically the classic text from John 3 was consistently interpreted by the early fathers as a reference to baptism.[24] Modern Catholic interpreters have noted that the phrase ‘born from above’ or ‘born again’ (John 3:3) is clarified as 'being born of water and Spirit' (John 3:5).

Catholic commentator, John F. McHugh notes, “Rebirth, and the commencement of this new life, are said to come about ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ πνεύματος, of water and spirit. This phrase (without the article), refers to a rebirth which the early Church regarded as taking place through baptism (1 Pet 1.3, 23; Tit 3.5).[25]

Setting these facts aside for the moment, what does the Catholic Church teach about conversion? In the book of Acts we have the record of a sermon preached by the Apostle Peter at Pentecost. Upon hearing this message a large number of pilgrims are “cut to the heart” and ask Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do?” Peter’s response is a summary of rites of conversion and initiation in Acts. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that the essential elements of Christian initiation are; “proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion” (CCC 1229). In response to primary proclamation of the Word, we see four elements to conversion-initiation: conversion or repentance, faith, Baptism, the reception of the Holy Spirit. These four essential elements then result in the person being admitted to Eucharistic communion as the completion of the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Eucharist.

In Acts 2:28 Peter specifically links Baptism to the ‘forgiveness of sins,’ “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins . . .” Almost identical words are used by Jesus at the Last Supper stating that His blood of the New Covenant will be shed “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28). These are also the exact words professed in the Nicene Creed, “I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” Catholics believe that the grace offered through baptism literally forgives sins. It is not merely an outward symbol. Later while recounting his conversion, Paul recalls the words of Ananias, “Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon his name” (Acts 22:16b). In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul uses typology to say that the Israel was baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). The Apostle Peter later uses the example of Noah to say that just as eight people were “saved through water” so this ‘prefigures’ baptism, “which saves you now” (1 Peter 3:20-21).

Baptism gives the grace of forgiveness of all prior sins; it makes the newly baptized a new creature and adopted son of God (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 1:4); it incorporates them into the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:25) and creates a sacramental bond of unity leaving an indelible mark on our souls. (CCC 1262-1274). The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes; "Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated"(CCC 1272).

As part of this complex series of events we also receive in a more profound way the gift of Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is involved with each aspect of the movement of grace. "The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion. . . Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high” (CCC 1989).

What one might call the ‘normal Christian birth’ involves faith, repentance, baptism and the reception of the Spirit. The Catholic Church also recognizes that under special circumstances the need for water baptism can be superseded by the Holy Spirit in what is often called a ‘baptism of desire.’ Such is the case when catechumens die or are martyred prior to receiving baptism. (CCC 1260).

Returning to the experiential dimension of conversion. Is it possible to be baptized as an infant and yet not to have made a decision to make this faith a personal attachment? St. Pope John Paul II wrote about this more than thirty years ago when he noted “the problem of children baptized in infancy [who] come for catechesis in the parish without receiving any other initiation into the faith and still without any explicit personal attachment to Jesus Christ” (Catechesi Tradendae 19).[26] He notes further that “being a Christian means saying ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ, but let us remember that this ‘yes’ has two levels: It consists in surrendering to the word of God and relying on it, but it also means, at a later stage, endeavoring to know better - and better the profound meaning of this word” (CT 20).

Comparing this to contemporary theologies of being ‘born again’ one could say that baptized Catholics also need explicit personal attachment to Jesus Christ. In many cases Catholics may still need to hear the preaching of the gospel with ‘a call to conversion’ in order to be re-evangelized and reach the fullness of their salvation. Helping Catholics to achieve this 'fullness of faith' has been termed the New Evangelization. The term 'New Evangelization' became a characteristic expression of St. Pope John Paul II during his pontificate. Earlier Pope Paul VI called evangelism the ‘deepest identity’ of the Church and St. Pope John Paul II continued and extended this vision.[27]

Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) is truly an inspiring manifesto for the missionary reform in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis wishes firstly to “to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization” marked by the joy of the Gospel and secondly to point out “new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come” in relation to this evangelical mission (EG 1).[28]

Pope Francis issues a challenge; “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them” (EG 3). It is principally through our personal encounter with Christ that we gain the love and joy which is “the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization” (EG 8).[29]



The Lutheran Church holds that it "thoroughly teaches that we are cleansed of our sins and born again and renewed in Holy Baptism by the Holy Ghost. But she also teaches that whoever is baptized must, though daily contrition and repentance, drown The Old Adam so that daily a new man come forth and arise who walks before God in righteousness and purity forever. She teaches that whoever lives in sins after his baptism has again lost the grace of baptism."[30]


The phrase is mentioned in the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church in article XV, which is headed "Of Christ alone without Sin". In part, it reads: "sin, as S. John saith, was not in Him. But all we the rest, although baptized and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things: and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."[31]


The Reformed churches reject both the Catholic/Lutheran and Methodist/Evangelical concepts of being born again. Here, "regeneration, the equivalent to being 'born again,' is the inward working of the Spirit which induces the sinner to respond to the effectual call". This is "the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel."[32]":[33]

In Reformed theology, "regeneration precedes faith."[34] Samuel Storms writes that "Calvinists insist that the sole cause of regeneration or being born again is the will of God. God first sovereignly and efficaciously regenerates, and only in consequence of that do we act. Therefore, the individual is passive in regeneration, neither preparing himself nor making himself receptive to what God will do. Regeneration is a change wrought in us by God, not an autonomous act performed by us for ourselves."[35]

Methodism and other Evangelicals[edit]

In Methodism, the "new birth is necessary for salvation because it marks the move toward holiness. That comes with faith."[36] John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, held that the New Birth "is that great change which God works in the soul when he brings it into life, when he raises it from the death of sin to the life of righteousness" (Works, vol. 2, pp. 193–194).[36] The Articles of Religion, in Article XVII—Of Baptism, state that baptism is a "sign of regeneration or the new birth."[37] The Methodist Visitor in describing this doctrine, admonishes individuals: "'Ye must be born again.' Yield to God that He may perform this work in and for you. Admit Him to your heart. 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.'"[38]

The belief in the New Birth is something that Methodists share with other evangelicals.[39] In The Encyclopedia of Protestantism, JG Melton states that "In churches that emphasize evangelism, the 'born-again' experience tends to become the norm, and everyone is expected to recount such an experience."[40]

"Although many evangelicals allow that conversion can be a process, generally they see it as a specific, identifiable moment of time when a person simply and sincerely trusts in Jesus Christ as savior."[13] They understand Romans 10:9 to indicate a requirement of salvation: "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." So, "to be born again" means "to be saved" because to be saved, one must confess Jesus is Lord with one's mouth and believe it in one's heart. Also, to be born again means to follow Romans 10:10 that "with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved".[41]


Jehovah’s Witnesses[edit]

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that individuals do not have the power to be born again, but that God calls and selects his followers "from above". They interpret Jesus' statement that one must be born from "water and the spirit" to enter the kingdom of God, as a necessity rather than as a command.[42]

Disagreements between denominations[edit]

The term "born again" is used by several Christian denominations, but there are disagreements on what the term means, and whether members of other denominations are justified in claiming to be born again Christians.

A Catholic website says:

Catholics should ask Protestants, "Are you born again—the way the Bible understands that concept?" If the Evangelical has not been properly water baptized, he has not been born again "the Bible way," regardless of what he may think.[43]

On the other hand, an Evangelical site argues:

Another of many examples is the Catholic who claims he also is "born again." ... However, what the committed Catholic means is that he received his spiritual birth when he was baptized—either as an infant or when as an adult he converted to Catholicism. That's not what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus he "must be born again" (Jn 3:3-8). The deliberate adoption of biblical terms which have different meanings for Catholics has become an effective tool in Rome's ecumenical agenda.[44]

The Reformed view of regeneration may be set apart from other outlooks in at least two ways.

First, classical Roman Catholicism teaches that regeneration occurs at baptism, a view known as baptismal regeneration. Reformed theology has insisted that regeneration may take place at any time in a person's life, even in the womb. It is not somehow the automatic result of baptism. Second, it is common for many other evangelical branches of the church to speak of repentance and faith leading to regeneration (i.e., people are born again only after they exercise saving faith). By contrast, Reformed theology teaches that original sin and total depravity deprive all people of the moral ability and will to exercise saving faith. ... Regeneration is entirely the work of God the Holy Spirit - we can do nothing on our own to obtain it. God alone raises the elect from spiritual death to new life in Christ (Eph. 2:1-10).[45]

Public stances[edit]

In recent history, born again is a term that has been widely associated with the evangelical Christian renewal since the late 1960s, first in the United States and then later around the world. Associated perhaps initially with Jesus People and the Christian counterculture, born again came to refer to a conversion experience, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in order to be saved from Hell and given eternal life with God in Heaven, and was increasingly used as a term to identify devout believers.[13] By the mid-1970s, born again Christians were increasingly referred to in the mainstream media as part of the born again movement.

In 1976, Watergate conspirator Chuck Colson's book Born Again gained international notice. Time magazine named him "One of the 25 most influential Evangelicals in America."[46] The term was sufficiently prevalent so that during the year's presidential campaign, Democratic party nominee Jimmy Carter described himself as "born again" in the first Playboy magazine interview of an American presidential candidate. Modern musicians such as Little Richard,[47] Mark Farner, Dan Peek, Donna Summer, Bob Dylan,[48] Kerry Livgren, Dave Hope, Dave Mustaine, Nicko McBrain, Roger McGuinn, Ted Nugent, Kanye West, Carrie Underwood, Johnny Cash, Brian Welch, Keith Farley, Cliff Richard, Charlie Daniels, Randy Travis, Alice Cooper, Steven Tyler, Mariah Carey, Nick Cannon, and Lou Gramm[49] were artists whose born again conversions had an impact on modern culture. Others such as department store magnate James Cash Penney, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, actor/martial artist Chuck Norris, wrestlers Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, AJ Styles, Ted DiBiase and Sting, and actors Jesse McCartney, Kirk Cameron, and Mr. T are also mentioned as being born again. Born-again athletes like quarterbacks Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and former Rams Super Bowl XXXIV-winning quarterback Kurt Warner, Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones, boxer Katie Taylor and Houston Rockets player Jeremy Lin. Former Alabama governor and American presidential candidate George Wallace became born again in the late 1970s, which led him to apologize for his earlier segregationist views.

Chuck Colson[edit]

In his book Born Again (1976 and 2008), Watergate conspirator Chuck Colson describes his path to faith in conjunction with his criminal imprisonment and played a significant role in solidifying the "born again" identity as a cultural construct in the US. He writes that his spiritual experience followed considerable struggle and hesitancy to have a "personal encounter with God." He recalls:

... while I sat alone staring at the sea I love, words I had not been certain I could understand or say fell from my lips: "Lord Jesus, I believe in You. I accept You. Please come into my life. I commit it to You." With these few words...came a sureness of mind that matched the depth of feeling in my heart. There came something more: strength and serenity, a wonderful new assurance about life, a fresh perception of myself in the world around me.[50]

Born-again and US politics[edit]

The first President of the United States to publicly declare that he was born-again was Jimmy Carter in 1976.[51] "In the 1980 campaign, all three of the major candidates ... stated that they had been born-again"[52]

Sider and Knippers[53] state that "Ronald Reagan's election that fall [was] aided by the votes of 61% of 'born-again' white Protestants."

The Gallup Organization reported that "In 2003, 42% of U.S. adults said they were born-again or evangelical; the 2004 percentage is 41%." Also, "Black Americans are far more likely to identify themselves as born-again or evangelical, with 63% of blacks saying they are born-again, compared with 39% of white Americans. Republicans are far more likely to say they are born-again (52%) than Democrats (36%) or independents (32%)."[54]

Haiven, in speaking of "born-agains",[55] refers to them as having "a type of intolerance". She says, "The instant and thoughtless panaceas of born-again Christianity will be seen as a vast sanctuary by millions of North Americans." She asks, "Is this sanctuary really a recruitment camp for right-wing movements? It would be naive to think otherwise."

The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics,[56] referring to several studies, reports "that 'born-again' identification is associated with lower support for government anti-poverty programs." It also notes that "self-reported born-again" Christianity, "strongly shapes attitudes towards economic policy."


Biblical arguments[edit]

The quotation from the Gospel of John has raised some questions about the meaning and authenticity of the phrase "born again". In the chapter, Nicodemus is puzzled and asks Jesus what he means by saying that "Ye must be born again". He questions: "How can a man re-enter his mother's womb?" Scholar Bart D. Ehrman says that this confusion is because in Greek (the language of the gospel) the word again is ambiguous. It might mean again or a second time or from above, which would explain Nicodemus' confusion. However, the Jews at Jesus' time were actually speaking Aramaic, in which language there would not have been a double meaning. Ehrman says that this raises questions about the authenticity of the dialogue, the meaning of the words, and, therefore, the use of the phrase.[57]

A 19th-century source notes that the phrase was not mentioned by the other Evangelists, nor by the Apostles except Peter. "It was not regarded by any of the Evangelists but John of sufficient importance to record." And, without John, "we should hardly have known that it was necessary for one to be born again." This suggests that "the text and context was meant to apply to Nicodemus particularly, and not to the world." Otherwise, it would have been mentioned more often. [58]

Names inspired by the term[edit]

Main article: Renatus

The idea of "rebirth in Christ" has inspired[59] some common European forenames: French René/Renée. Αlso used in Belgium the Netherlands and Great Britain, Dutch Renaat/Renate, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese Renato/Renata, Latin Renatus/Renata, which all mean "reborn", "born again".[60]

See also[edit]

  • Altar call – invitation to become a Christian; given at a church service or event.
  • Baptism – referred to in Jesus' born-again discourse with Nicodemus ("born of water and spirit")
  • Baptismal regeneration – overview of doctrinal debate about the effect of the baptism rite.
  • Born-again virgin – a person who, though not still a virgin, chooses to live as one.
  • Dvija, or twice-born – in Hinduism, a person who has formally taken on the roles of one of the first three castes.
  • Evangelism – the preaching of the Christian Gospel to others with the object of conversion.
  • Holy Spirit – referred to in Jesus' born-again discourse with Nicodemus ("born of water and spirit")
  • Monergism – the belief that being born again is entirely God's work (and not the believer's work)
  • Sinner's prayer – the prayer of a person seeking forgiveness and wanting to become a Christian.
  • Justus Velsius – a 16th-century Dutch dissident who promoted the view that through a new birth man could become like Christ


  1. ^ Robert M. Price (1993). Beyond Born Again: Toward Evangelical Maturity. Wildside Press. ISBN 9781434477484. Retrieved 30 July 2011. "I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." If you are an Evangelical Christian you can remember saying these words probably more times than you can count. If on the other hand you are not "Born Again," you may have heard this phrase from an Evangelical inviting you to establish such a relationship with Christ. 
  2. ^ Erica Bornstein (2005). The spirit of development: Protestant NGOs, morality, and economics in Zimbabwe. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804753364. Retrieved 30 July 2011. A senior staff member in World Vision's California office elaborated on the importance of being "born again," emphasizing a fundamental "relationship" between individuals and Jesus Christ: "...the importance of a personal relationship with Christ [is] that it's not just a matter of going to Christ or being baptized when you are an infant. We believe that people need to be regenerated. They need a spiritual rebirth. The need to be born again. ...You must be born again before you can see, or enter, the Kingdom of Heaven." 
  3. ^ A. B. Lever (2007). And God Said... ISBN 9781604771152. Retrieved 30 July 2011. From speaking to other Christians I know that the distinction of a born again believer is a personal experience of God that leads to a personal relationship with Him. 
  4. ^ See the section on Anglicanism in Baptismal regeneration
  5. ^ "born-again." Good Word Guide. London: A&C Black, 2007. Credo Reference. 30 July 2009
  6. ^ Samuel Fallows (Bishop); Herbert Lockwood Willett (1901). The popular and critical Bible encyclopædia and scriptural dictionary, fully defining and explaining all religious terms, including biographical, geographical, historical, archæological and doctrinal themes, to which is added an exhaustive appendix illustrated with over 600 maps and engravings. Chicago, Howard-Severance Co. Retrieved 19 October 2009. The New Birth. Regeneration is an important Methodist doctrine, and is the new birth, a change of heart. All Methodists teach that "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." It is the work of the Holy Spirit and is a conscious change in the heart and the life. 
  7. ^ Charles Spencer Smith, Daniel Alexander Payne (1922). A History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Johnson Reprint Corporation. Retrieved 19 October 2009. Whatever the Church may do, and there is much that it can and should do, for the betterment of man's physical being, its primal work is the regeneration of man's spiritual nature. Methodism has insisted on this as the supreme end and aim of the Church. 
  8. ^ Robert Southey; Charles Cuthbert Southey (16 March 2010). The Life of Wesley: And the Rise and Progress of Methodism. Nabu Press. Retrieved 5 July 2011. Connected with his doctrine of the New Birth was that of Justification, which he affirmed to be inseparable from it, yet easily to be distinguished, as being not the same, but of a widely different nature. In order of time, neither of these is before the other; in the moment we are justified by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Jesus, we are also born of the Spirit; but in order of thinking, as it is termed, Justification precedes the New Birth. 
  9. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, entry for The Doctrine of Man (from Christianity), 2004.
  10. ^ Melton, JG., Encyclopedia Of Protestantism (Encyclopedia of World Religions)
  11. ^ Purves, A. and Partee, C., Encountering God: Christian Faith in Turbulent Times, Westminster John Knox Press, 2000, p. 96
  12. ^ Oxford English Dictionary.
  13. ^ a b c d Mullen, MS., in Kurian, GT., The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, J. Wiley & Sons, 2012, p. 302.
  14. ^ Hoskyns, Sir Edwyn C. and Davy, F.N.(ed), The Fourth Gospel, Faber & Faber 2nd ed. 1947, pp. 211,212
  15. ^ a b Fisichella, SJ., Taking Away the Veil: To See Beyond the Curtain of Illusion, iUniverse, 2003, pp. 55-56.
  16. ^ Emmons, Samuel B. A Bible Dictionary. BiblioLife, 2008. ISBN 978-0-554-89108-8.
  17. ^ Driscoll, James F. "Divine Promise (in Scripture)." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 15 Nov 2009 <>.
  18. ^ Hodge, Charles. "Regeneration." Systematic Theology-Volume III. Web:
  19. ^ The New Testament Greek Lexicon. 30 July 2009. Online.
  20. ^ Stagg, Evelyn and Frank. Woman in the World of Jesus. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978. ISBN 0-664-24195-6
  21. ^ Wesley, J., The works of the Reverend John Wesley, Methodist Episcopal Church, 1831, pp. 405–406.
  22. ^ The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics, OUP, p16.
  23. ^ See sermons of Billy Sunday and other revivalist at
  24. ^ Joel C. Elworthy, Ed. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament IVa, John 1-10, (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press,2007), p. 109-110
  25. ^ John F. McHugh, John 1-4, The International Critical Commentary, (New York: T&T Clark,2009), p. 227
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  30. ^ Walther, Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm (2008). Sermons and prayers for Reformation and Luther commemorations. Joel Baseley. p. 27. ISBN 9780982252321. Retrieved 10 April 2014. Furthermore, the Lutheran Church also thoroughly teaches that we are cleansed of our sins and born again and renewed in Holy Baptism by the Holy Ghost. But she also teaches that whoever is baptized must, though daily contrition and repentance, drown The Old Adam so that daily a new man come forth and arise who walks before God in righteousness and purity forever. She teaches that whoever lives in sins after his baptism has again lost the grace of baptism. 
  31. ^ [1] Accessed 8 April 2012.
  32. ^ Shorter Westminster Catechism, Question 31.
  33. ^ Pribble, Stephen. "Do You Know the Truth About Being Born Again?". Southfield: Reformed Presbyterian Church. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  34. ^ Sproul, R. C. (1 June 2005). What is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics. Baker Books. p. 179. ISBN 9781585586523. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  35. ^ Storms, Samuel (25 January 2007). Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election. Crossway. p. 150. ISBN 9781433519635. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  36. ^ a b Joyner, F. Belton (2007). United Methodist Questions, United Methodist Answers: Exploring Christian Faith. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780664230395. Retrieved 10 April 2014. The new birth is necessary for salvation because it marks the move toward holiness. That comes with faith. 
  37. ^ "The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church XVI-XVIII". The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Church. 2004. Retrieved 10 April 2014. Article XVII—Of Baptism: Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church. 
  38. ^ The Methodist Visitor. Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.C. 1876. p. 137. Ye must be born again." Yield to God that He may perform this work in and for you. Admit Him to your heart. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. 
  39. ^ Richey, Russell E.; Rowe, Kenneth E.; Schmidt, Jean Miller (19 January 1993). Perspectives on American Methodism: interpretive essays. Kingswood Books. ISBN 9780687307821. Retrieved 10 April 2014. The New Birth as liminal event conveyed something quite significant, therefore, to those whose lives were most rigidly ... It was a language that Methodists shared with other Evangelicals, all of whom sought to fight or fend off the world. 
  40. ^ Melton, JG, The Encyclopedia of Protestantism, Infobase publishing, 2009, p. 100.
  41. ^ Graham, RC. I healed you with my word, Xulan, 2007, p. 414.
  42. ^ "The New Birth—A Personal Decision?". The Watchtower: 5–6. April 1, 2009. 
  43. ^
  44. ^ McMahon, TA, The "Evangelical" Seduction, [2], Accessed 10 Feb 2013.
  45. ^ "Regeneration and New Birth: Must I Be Born Again?". Third Millennium Ministries. Retrieved 10 April 2014. In Reformed theology regeneration, the equivalent to being "born again," is a technical term referring to God revitalizing a person by implanting new desire, purpose and moral ability that lead to a positive response to the Gospel of Christ. 
  46. ^ The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America. Archived May 15, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  47. ^ White, Charles (2003), p. 83 (see text under photo on opposite page). The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Authorised Biography. Omnibus Press.
  48. ^ Cott (ed.), Dylan on Dylan: The Essential Interviews, 279–285
  49. ^ "Lou Gramm Knows What Love Is - CBN TV - Video". Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  50. ^ Colson, Charles W. Born Again. Chosen Books (Baker Publishing), 2008.
  51. ^ Hough, JF., Changing party coalitions, Algora Publishing, 2006, p. 203.
  52. ^ Utter, GH. and Tru, JL.,Conservative Christians and political participation: a reference handbook, ABC-CLIO, 2004, p. 137.
  53. ^ Sider, J. and Knippers, D. (eds), Toward an Evangelical Public Policy: Political Strategies for the Health of the Nation, Baker Books, 2005, p.51.
  54. ^ "Winseman. A.L., ''Who has been born again'', Gallup, 2004". Retrieved 2012-08-11. 
  55. ^ Haiven, J., Faith, hope, no charity: an inside look at the born again movement in Canada and the United States, New Star Books, 1984, p.218.
  56. ^ Smidt, C., Kellstedt, L., and Guth, J., The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics, Oxford Handbooks Online, 2009, pp.195-196.
  57. ^ Ehrman, B.D., Referred to in Edward T. Babinski The "Born Again" Dialogue In the Gospel of John (Another Reason To Doubt Its Authenticity) from Accessed 25 Feb 2011.
  58. ^ LeFevre, CF. and Williamson, ID., The Gospel anchor. Troy, NY, 1831–32, p. 66. [3]
  59. ^ Oxford Dictionary of First Names
  60. ^ Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary, W. & R. Chambers (1954) p.1355

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