My title reminds me of a time in my life when someone asked me what I was when it came to my faith. I answered, “I’m Born Again Catholic.” The man was perplexed and asked me another question, “Is there such a thing?” Frankly, I don’t remember my answer to the second question. It has been almost 2 decades since that happened and without confusion, the answer is a resounding no. This whole thing brings me to 1 Corinthians 10:21,
“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.”
This is an answer to a post from a Catholic touting the testimony of a former Baptist who converted to Catholicism. I can only address this as best as I could using only the Word of God. We cannot claim to be disciples of Christ if we take in teachings coming apart from His own words to substantiate our faith in Him. We are admonished “not to go beyond what is written” in 1 Corinthians 4:6.
TPL – 1 On “Bible Alone” and on being “Born Again“(’22). Steve said that if we were 33 years old and we were there when Jesus died and rose again, we would never have read about the term “born again” because the Gospel of John was written only 77 years later. Even if it were written earlier, only the apostles would know about it because there was no printing presses and bookstores and we would have never read about it. How then would we have known how to get saved and be born again if we didn’t have the book?
Jesus gave the apostles the great commission on Matthew 28:9, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” The lack of printing presses and the timing of when the Bible was compiled is not reason enough that promoting the gospel was going to be hindered. Jesus also prophesied in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
TPL – 2 “Bible” or “Tradition” (’24). The Catholic Church added the Bible to the Church. When Jesus ascended to heaven he never asked his followers to read his book because there was no book. Instead, Jesus left behind 12 men, one of them carrying the keys of the Kingdom. The Bible is a product of the Sacred Tradition produced by the teachings and practices of the first Christians.
“The Bible is a product of the Sacred Tradition produced by the teachings and practices of the first Christians.”– This is a statement that is pretty much true of the Bible. If the guy acknowledges that the Bible is produced by the teachings and practices of the disciples, then it is proof that the BIBLE ALONE is the definition of the “tradition.” What God allowed to be recorded in the Holy Scriptures is the meat of Jesus’ teachings. John 8:31b clearly states, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”
TPL – 3 The brightest Protestants become Catholics (’29). The best and the brightest of the Protestants are becoming Catholics. It’s the Catholics who don’t know their faith, the ignorant Catholics, who are leaving the Catholic Church because of moral or sexual issues. Many of them, the least trained, the most uneducated Catholics, are leaving to become Protestants because they’re easily enticed away. How can they leave the Church before they know? How can they leave before really studying everything about the Catholic Church?
I left Catholicism because there were so many inconsistencies within the institution that reared its ugly head. I grew up believing what I was told without question. However, how could I claim to have chosen my faith through my own free will, to stay or to leave if I was automatically Christian since infancy when I had no faculty to choose? Reading the Scriptures and seeing said inconsistencies was my turning point. God’s Word and testimony is more weighty than any human reasoning not found in His Word. Romans 3:4 states, “…Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”
TPL – 4 Catholics are born again the Bible way! (’36). Steve tells a story of a conversation he had with a Baptist pastor. Pastor: Are you born again? Steve: Yes, I am born again the Bible way! Pastor: What do you mean? Steve: First tell me what you mean by born again, and I’ll tell you what I meant. Pastor: You become born again when you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and savior and asking him to come in to your heart. Steve: These verses are not in the Bible. It is a Baptist tradition and not a Bible teaching. Being born again means to be born of water and spirit (which refers to Baptism).
This Steve guy’s credential as a former baptist means absolutely nothing. Matthew 7:21-23 states, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Pastor: You become born again when you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and savior and asking him to come in to your heart.
Steve: These verses are not in the Bible.
This person asserts accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior and asking Him into your heart is not in the Bible. Ephesians 3:17 states, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,”
Before one’s conversion, the Holy Spirit is not present in a person’s heart. Romans 8:9 stresses the importance of having the Holy Spirit come into one’s heart, “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” If the Holy Spirit has no residence in a person’s heart, he/she IS NOT a Christian.
TPL – 5 On being born of water and spirit (’39). Every time the Lord creates, water and spirit are involved. The Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2). God sent forth a dove (Spirit) from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground (Genesis 8:8, Peter 3:20-21). In the Exodus event, the spirit of God as fire-cloud protected the Israelites who were crossing the waters of the red sea (1 Cor 10:1-4, Isaiah 63:10-14). Jesus is the fulfillment of all this because when he himself got baptized in the river, the Spirit of God descended over him. This new creation through baptism is what Jesus meant about being born again. In fact, after he spoke to Nichodemus (John 3:3), Jesus and his disciples went down to the Jordan river to baptize. “Jesus saved us by the washing of regeneration and and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Something that Prophet Ezekiel already foretold (Ezekiel 36:25-17).
2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Being born of water and spirit is symbolic of the newness of life in Christ.
John 4:23 states, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
TPL – 6 “Born Again” used by Catholics before the Bible (’48). The word “born again” is always understood and used by Catholics referring to baptism even before the first Bible was made (around 380 A.D.) St. Irenaeus in 180 AD, who received the teachings of St. Polycarp, who received the teachings of St. John the Apostles, who received the teachings of Jesus, wrote: “He came to save all through means of Himself — all, I say, who through Him are born again to God — infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men.” (Against Heresies Book II, Chapter 22)
Jesus was talking to Nicodemus when He used the term “born again” in John 3:3, “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” In the very same chapter, Jesus lays out what one must do to be born again in verse 16, “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus was speaking to a grown man who was given the choice to renounce his old ways and was invited to life in the Spirit (John 3:7-8).
TPL – 7 Believing is enough, or may be not! (’55). Protestants usually use Acts 16:31 to support their teaching that believing in the Lord is enough to be saved. But the Bible never says believing “is enough”. In the contrary, it is by works that a man is justified, and not by faith only (James 2:24). Believing is only enough in emergency situations. A non-Christian, if dying and has one minute to live, it is enough to profess that he believes in Jesus and he will be saved. But in normal situations when we have years to live, we have to believe and follow Christ’s teachings.
Believing is not enough? What does the Bible say about this?
John 6:28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
John 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 3:16 says, “whoever believes will have eternal life.” If you believe, it will automatically be accompanied with works as referenced in Titus 2:11-14,“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
TPL – 8 The opposite of “to believe” is not “to disbelieve” (’58). If you have an hour, days, months, or years to live, then we must study what really “to believe” means. The shortcut to this is to know from the scriptures what is the opposite of believing. Jesus makes it clear for us that the opposite of belief is not disbelief but disobedience. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36)
John 3:36 plainly means that those who reject the free gift of salvation will end up being under God’s wrath. Only Jesus’ atoning death can cleanse the sins of men and rejecting Jesus means they are asserting they can do works on their own merit which will never be good enough as written in Isaiah 6:6, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
TPL – 9 The Sodomites have greater chance than those who only believe and not repent (’61). The believing crowd was following Jesus because of the miracles he performed but the crowd never repent and follow what he teaches. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes… But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:20-24)
The closet Sodomites in the Catholic church are hypocrites. If they repent in their own time, they are forgiven. However, true repentance is followed by halting the act altogether. If something is a recurring problem and sad to say is the case in the RCC, it means genuine repentance has not occurred.
TPL – 10 On Infant Baptism (’70). Christian practices are drawn from the Jewish traditions. If the Jewish people like Jesus and John the Baptist were circumcised on the eighth day, then why should we condemn infant baptism? It was the faith of Jesus’s and John’s parents that brought them in to the covenant people of God. Same thing in Baptism which is “circumcision without human hands” in Christianity. “In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colosians 2:11-12)
If you were baptized as an infant, that means you have not fully chosen on your own free will Jesus Christ. Your parents made the decision for you. Your personal sins will not be attributed to your parents and their choices. Romans 14:12 states, “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” The moment you deliberately choose Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior is the moment true conversion occurs. Baptism should only occur after a person has the capacity to repent and acknowledge Jesus as Savior as shown in Acts 2:38, “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.“ This clearly lays out when the Holy Spirit indwells a believer.
TPL – 11 “I became Catholic because of the Bible.” (’81). Last but not the least, from the mouth of a former Baptist Born Again Protestant himself. He said, “I became Catholic because of the Bible.”
The word catholic means universal. This was where my confusion was at the very beginning of my post. I reasoned since catholic meant that, every denomination became automatically subject to the Roman Catholic Church. Am I glad my confusion got resolved once and for all, not by my own reasoning but because the Holy Spirit convicted me of the erroneous teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
For someone who claims to be learned like Steve (“former Baptist who is now one of the greatest Catholic Apologists” according to TPL in a comment), he has abandoned sound doctrine found only in Scripture. The true believers of Jesus Christ are not found in a single denomination as the RCC asserts. The true believers are those who do His will. Matthew 7:21 clearly states, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
My only hope is that those who are battling with the inconsistencies of the Catholic Church would open the Bible and let His Living Word speak to them.