What Is a Born-Again Christian?

In this episode:

Is “born-again Christian” just a box to check on a survey? How does it apply to life today, and is it a label we still use, or has it been ruined by modern evangelicalism? Host Michelle Rayburn begins this thought-provoking episode with exploring the history and modern use of the term “born again” and its impact on the evangelical movement. She reviews the transformative journey of Nicodemus in John 3 and its parallels to the modern Christian experience. Go beyond a mere label as Michelle encourages listeners to embrace continual transformation and renewal that make being spiritual rebirth (being born again) lead to a way of living rather than a label to claim.

Michelle Rayburn is an author and podcast host who helps others find hope in the trashy stuff of life. She has an MA in ministry leadership and writes Christian living books, humor, and Bible studies. Together with her husband, they've raised two sons and gained two daughters-in-law—plus three granddaughters (go estrogen team!) and a grandson. Dark chocolate, an iced coffee, and a good book in the hammock top Michelle's favorites list.

Key Ideas

Primary Topic: The Concept of Being "Born Again"

  • The miraculous nature of physical birth and its parallels to spiritual rebirth
  • Historical and modern usage of the term "born again" in Christian circles*
  • Notable figures who publicly identify as "born again Christians," such as Chuck Colson and Jimmy Carter

Primary Topic: The Historical Context of "Born Again"

  • The term's origins in the story of Nicodemus in the Bible, symbolizing spiritual rebirth and transformation
  • Spread and influence of the term in the 20th century, including its role in evangelicalism
  • The term's scriptural basis and its role in significant revivals and movements within evangelical Christianity

Primary Topic: Nicodemus' Spiritual Journey

  • Nicodemus as a religious leader in the Bible and his pursuit of understanding from Jesus
  • The importance of humility, curiosity, and openness to new truths in Nicodemus' journey
  • The ongoing process of spiritual rebirth and transformation, as exemplified through Nicodemus' encounters with Jesus

Primary Topic: Implications of Being "Born Again"

  • Shifting the perspective on being "born again" from a label to a journey of surrender, renewal, and transformation
  • Embracing a life of continual transformation and growth in faith
  • Living out faith in a tangible way every day and reflecting on pivotal moments in life and spiritual milestones

*Source for the historical context of "born-again":

Kenneth E. Ortiz, Professor, Bethlehem College & Seminary
“The Birth of the Born-Again Christian”
https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-birth-of-the-born-again-christian


Questions to Think About and Discuss with Friends:

  • What does the term "born again" mean to you, and how has your understanding of it evolved over time?
  • In what ways does the concept of being "born again" relate to spiritual growth and transformation in your own life?
  • How does the idea of spiritual rebirth challenge traditional notions of identity, faith, and religious practices?
  • How has the historical context and cultural associations of the term "born again" influenced perceptions and discussions within Christian circles?
  • In what ways can we reframe the concept of being "born again" to emphasize its deeper spiritual implications and move beyond surface-level associations or stereotypes?

 

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