Sacraments & Sacramentals

Are You Born Again?

by Steve Ray on August 18, 2014

Here is a short segment of one of my talks at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Hope you enjoy it. During the talk I mention Logos Bible Software which you can test drive at www.Verbum.com/Steve

 How does one get born again? Catholics are born again the “Bible way”! Doing a Bible Study on what “water and Spirit” mean?

 

 

 

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I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they dismiss the clear biblical meaning and importance of the word and the sacrament. 

“The goal of baptism is eternal life, but not primarily by way of vivification [my comment: giving of new life]. In spite of 1 Pet. 3:20–21; Jn. 3:5–6; Tit. 3:5, the thought of the cleansing bath is more fundamental (1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 5:26; Heb. 10:22). Biblical piety rules out magical evaluations of religious objects and actions. Hence baptism has no purely external efficacy and in itself is unimportant (1 Cor. 1:17; Heb. 9:9–10; 1 Pet. 3:21).”
(Kittel, Gerhard, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985.)

An unsuspecting person, a subscriber to the heresy or a newbie might read this without discerning the bias and the error — and how they dismiss some biblical passages to promote others. Can you find it and explain it?

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NOTES: These are some notes related to the above passages. Below are quotes from an attack on my book Crossing the Tiber made by a Pastor Chris Bayak so I added them here to explain some of his false assumptions about the same verses mentioned above.

Bayak writes: “For example, [Ray] uses 1 Peter 3:18-21, admittedly one of the hardest passages in the New Testament, as proof for baptismal regeneration.”

Steve Responds: This passage is hard for Fundamentalist Protestants to interpret because they don’t like what it says and they have to twist it to fit their own man-made tradition. It is quite sad when one has to twist Scripture to fit one’s preconceived ideas. James McCarthy has a tough time with this verse in his book The Gospel according to Rome. I discuss this passage at some length in my book. I wonder how Mr. Bayack would have preferred that St. Peter reword this passage to better fit his Fundamentalist tradition.

 What Peter says is this: “And corresponding to that [Noah’s ark], baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21). What about these words does Mr. Bayack find difficult? They seem pretty straightforward to a Catholic and to all Christians before the Fundamentalist movement came into being. We as Catholics don’t have to do mental gymnastics to “get around” this verse. It sounds a lot like the very first Gospel message ever preached. St. Peter preached the first gospel message in Jerusalem. It is recorded in the inspired word of God. Let’s all open our Bibles to Acts 2:38 and allow God to instruct us. “And Peter said to them,  Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “

 Enough said. My book goes into much more detail on the issue of Baptism in the Bible and in the early Church. I question whether Mr. Bayack really read the whole thing or just used the “hunt and peck” method to look for objections. In any case, he certainly uses “selective scholarship.”

Bayak writes “Yet in over ninety pages about baptism, not once does he ever mention clear passages like 1 Corinthians 1:17,  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel  (italics added).”

 Steve Responds: I really don’t see what the above verse has to do with anything unless Mr. Bayack is trying to imply that Paul had a low regard for baptism or considered it an unnecessary appendage to belief in Christ. I remember as a Fundamentalist making my daughter write a report on the unnecessary nature of baptism a symbol only before I would allow her to be baptized. How far off I was.

 Paul’s converts were all baptized immediately upon belief in Christ (e.g., Acts 16:31) as was he himself (Acts 9:17 18). Philip also showed the importance of baptism and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch immediately (Acts 8:36ff.). St. Paul himself recognizes that baptism was the means of his own cleansing and regeneration (e.g., Acts 22:16; Titus 3:5). The very fact that St. Paul makes this observation at this point in the argument demonstrates the importance and deep significance Baptism held in the apostolic Church. Had it been unnecessary or unimportant, he would not have even mentioned it in this context. What Mr. Bayack assumes about this passage actually proves the opposite.

 Jerome’s Biblical Commentary observes, “No special mission was needed to baptize, and Paul usually left the administration of baptism to others. This does not imply any disdain for it; Rom 6:3-12 and 1 Cor 6:11 indicate Paul’s high regard for the sacrament of incorporation into Christ.”

 Matthew Henry, in his ever popular Protestant commentary on the Bible, is also instructive in this matter. “Was it not a part of the apostolical commission to baptize all nations? And could Paul give thanks to God for his own neglect of duty? He is not to be understood in such a sense as if he were thankful for not having baptized at all, but for not having done it in present circumstances, lest it should have had this very bad construction put upon it that he had baptized in his own name, made disciples for himself, or set himself up as the head of a sect.

[Paul] left it to other ministers to baptize, while he set himself to more useful work, and filled up his time with preaching the gospel. This, he thought, was more his business, because the more important business of the two. He had assistants that could baptize, when none could discharge the other part of his office so well as himself. In this sense he says, Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel not so much to baptize as to preach” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible).

 Paul, like Jesus, delegated baptizing to his disciples and ministers. The Catholic Church has never taught that baptisms must be done by an apostle or priest. The Church has acknowledged that any person can do baptisms, if done in the correct manner. Jesus thought baptism was important since he told Nicodemus he couldn’t see heaven without it (John 3:5). If Mr. Bayack denies that John 3:5 refers to Baptism he really shows that he is out of continuity with the Bible and the early Church and again his Fundamentalist Protestant tradition is shown to nullify the inspired word of God.

 Jesus also, like Paul, did not baptize His followers but delegated the task to his disciples (cp. John 4:1 2).

 Bayak writes: “He ignores Paul’s definition of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, which makes no mention of baptism or communion, that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Likewise, because he seeks to prove the necessity of the sacraments, he never addresses verses declaring salvation as a free gift such as Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9.”

Steve Responds:  I do not ignore 1 Corinthians 15:1 4 but since it does not directly refer to the topic at hand Baptism it was not necessary to bring it up. What would happen if I brought up every verse in the Bible?

 Does Mr. Bayack imply that Baptism is not a free gift? How much more gratuitous can God be than to offer us a sacrament of faith as simple and as wonderful a gift as baptism? Ephesians 2:8 9 and Romans 6:23 do not contradict the Church’s teaching on Baptism, rather they support it. Does Mr. Bayack forget that the first verses of Romans 6 directly mention Baptism and its necessity for the placement of the believer into Christ? In fact, in Romans 6, Paul says that baptism is quite essential. Listen to what he says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3 5). According to St. Paul, it is through Baptism that we are placed into Christ!

 Is Mr. Bayack again being selective (practicing “selective scholarship”) by using a proof text allegedly against baptism from Romans 6 but ignoring the fact that Romans 6 begins by teaching us that it is through Baptism that we are placed into Christ? He ignores the whole context but pulls his proof text out of context to support his Fundamentalist tradition.

 I also deal with this passage to some degree in Crossing the Tiber, and find it frustrating that Mr. Bayack appears not to have read what I wrote, but still somehow feels competent to review and critique my book. I feel that I am spending far too much time rewriting things for him that he should have understood if he really read the book.

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Leonard Alt debates an anti-Catholic named Phil. He writes:

I have a choice: I can listen to the Evangelicals who confuse the blood of animals, with the blood of Christ and choose not to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Christ, or, I can listen to Jesus who said; “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54). Who will you listen too? 

Phil Wipperman in the Facebook group “The Catholic Church is NOT a Christian Church” says, “Leonard Alt claims that Jesus Christ endorsed sin by COMMANDING people to drink blood even though he has given CLEAR COMMANDMENTS in the Old Testament FORBIDDING the wicked behavior of the heathens. Why is this not shocking?” 

Phil Wipperman cites the Old Testament, out of context, not mentioning that the blood they didn’t drink was the blood of animals.  However, the drinking of blood of animals is a moot point because no one is recommending drinking the blood of animals in the New Testament.

Jesus commands us in the New Testament to drink of His blood and there is no prohibition against this.  In fact, it was Jesus who said, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55).  At the same time Phil Wipperman says; “Why is this not shocking?”  

Phil is actually correct; it was shocking.  In fact, Jesus asked the same of those who were having difficulty believing Him; “Does this shock you?” (Jn 6:51).   It was shocking because this is the only place in all of the Gospels where many of Jesus very own disciples “returned to their former way of life” (Jn 6:66).   Of course, as shocking as it was, His twelve Apostles did not leave Him.  Peter said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). 

When Jesus said “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55), it was very difficult for some of His disciples to believe; and it is difficult for some of us to believe today.  

When Phil and other Evangelicals oppose drinking blood, they are confusing the prohibition against drinking the blood of animals in the Deuteronomy 12:27, with drinking the blood of Christ, which was commanded by Jesus.  It was Jesus who said, “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53).

Many claim that the drinking of the Blood of Christ is not Biblical, even Pagan; however, that is not the way Jesus saw it.  

  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID,Drink from it all of you, for this is my Blood, of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:28)
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, after drinking from it, “this is my blood, of the covenant, which will be shed for many (Mk 14:24).
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53). 
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID,“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54).
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55). 

The Catholic Church follows Biblical tradition by echoing the words of Jesus “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”  However, this begs the question; is it possible for Phil and other Evangelicals to be following a Biblical tradition and at the same time not accept these words of Jesus?   Yes, they have a Biblical tradition as well; they are following the tradition of the disciples who could not accept the words of Jesus. 

These disciples were quoted as saying; “This saying is hard; who can accept it” (Jn 6:60).   These same disciples left Jesus and “returned to their former way of life” (Jn 6:66).   There is one difference between the disciples who left Jesus and todays Evangelicals.  The Evangelicals of today still claim to be followers of Jesus; however, they are not following Jesus when He says, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55).  

In fairness, it should be also said that there are many non-Catholics today, who while not having exactly the same understanding of Communion as Catholics, still believe in a real presence of Jesus in or around the elements of bread and wine during their liturgies.   Martin Luther and John Calvin believed in a real presence; Ulrich Zwingli did not.  Most Evangelicals today are coming from the Zwinglian tradition.  

I can listen to the Evangelicals who confuse the blood of animals, with the blood of Christ and choose not to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Christ.  Or, I can listen to Jesus who said; “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54).   Who will you listen too?

FRANCIS CHOUDHURY COMMENTARY:  Any Christian who believes that God’s OT prohibition on eating blood still stands (after Christ), needs to explain why he/she eats normal meat (with blood in it), instead of eating only Kosher/Halal meat (drained of blood), as Jews and Muslims, who are stuck in the OT and do not accept Christ’s teachings, do.

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A while ago a Protestant friend tried to prove that Born Again by “water and Spirit” did not mean baptism. Here is one paragraph that he sent me: In John, chapter 3, Jesus told Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews and a Pharisee, that one must be born ‘from above’ (Gr. anothen) in order to enter the [...]

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Massively Busy and Exciting Day in Israel, Day 4

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Cross vs. Crucifix

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