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Born again

From Academic Kids

This article is about the religious concept. For other uses of the term see Born Again.

It has been proposed that material from List of born-again Christian laypeople be merged into this article. This request may be discussed on the talk page.

Born again is a term used originally and mainly in Christianity, where it is associated with salvation, conversion and spiritual rebirth. By extension it is applied in other areas, including a transcending personal experience — or the experience of being spiritually reborn as a "new" human being.

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Christian concepts

To be born again in Christianity is synonymous with spiritual rebirth and, in many denominational traditions, salvation. The term is used somewhat differently in different Christian traditions.

The Christian use of the term is derived from the third chapter of the Gospel of John, where Nicodemus visits Jesus:

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God."
Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again."
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?" Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit."
-John 3:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version)
(Note that some translators consider "born from above" to be a better translation than "born again".)

Most Christian denominations would agree that a true Christian must be born again, based on the above passage, and thus that those who are true Christians are in fact born again, whether they describe themselves as such or not. The Roman Catholic church, for example, considers that "Baptism is ... the sacrament by which we are born again of water and the Holy Ghost." [1] (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm#III) However the term is most frequently used by Evangelical Protestants, where it is often associated with an intense conversion experience and an encounter of the individual with the power of God. Some would deny that those without such an experience are true Christians, based again on the above passage. It is common to find that Christians who describe themselves as born again consider those who do not to be counterfeit.

The idea of born again carries with it the theological idea that a Christian is a new creation, given a fresh start by the action of God, freed from a sinful past life and able to begin a new life in relationship with the Holy Spirit. John Wesley and Christians associated with early Methodism referred to the born again experience as "the New Birth".

General usage

Self-described born again Christians are usually extremely enthusiastic and outspoken concerning their new-found beliefs; hence the phrase has come to be used to describe any overly enthusiastic supporter of some recently-acquirerd cause - e.g. born-again conservative, born-again sports fan, born-again skeptic etc.

Psychology

In psychological terms, being "born-again" is largely analogous to a perceptual state of hyper-salience, where one experiences an extreme and jarring change of perceptions, which causes a one to believe that one has a new or renewed sense and understanding of oneself and one's relationship to the world.

Criticism

Many secular humanists and fellow Christians criticize some publicly born-again Christians, especially those who became born-again as an overture to entering into politics. They criticize the term, because it allows people to spontaneously become 'Good Christians', and thus receive the uncritical support of a powerful voting bloc, despite the perceived lack of an ethical track record.

Famous born-again Christian laypeople

See also

External links

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