response to Born again

Document Title
response to Born again
Question from on 06-18-2007:
Hi, I have tried to explain to a long time friend just what our Catholic beliefs are about Purgatory, Confession, the Holy Eucharist, how our Blessed Mother is the ever virgin, Immaculate Conception, and about Her assumption into Heaven, and also sent him information about the apparitions at Fatima, Lourdes, and Guadalupe, all to no avail. He is routinely dismissive and instead answers by preaching how he is saved by being born again.(Regarding the apparitions of Mary he wrote to me earlier "we don't know who sent her." I was shocked at that response.) Recently he seemed to sum up his belief and wrote the following:

"John my friend, this is the area where most Catholics and most of the world of Christendom have not understood the scriptures through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. As Jesus explained and Paul and John, when a person is "born again" that person becomes a new creation. A new spirit (born again) perfect and without sin and just waiting for the release into heaven into the presence of God. Jesus said behold all things are made new and the old has passed away. God buries all your sins past, present and future and never sees them again. There is nothing in the old man [my friend] that the Father can redeem therefore Father sees nothing but the righteousness of Christ when sees the new bore again spirit because we are one in Christ. Now God is no fool. If we continue in our sins rather then allow Him to do a new work in us here on earth then sure enough we will be saved but by the skin of our teeth and live a hard joyless life. Christ came to set us free. The Catholics and most Christian faiths have done the same as the old Jewish Judaism. Creating burdens of theological complications with no true scriptural soundness. New creations don't need purgatory to perfect perfection."

Is there some sort of knock out punch response to this typical born again way of thinking that can also show him how beautiful it is to be Catholic?

Thanks for any help.

God bless,

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 07-05-2007:
Dear John,

As you well know, there is no knock out punch in religious discussion nor should there be. Your friend is quite obviously enthused over the sense that he has been saved without all the complications of any Jewish or Catholic theology. There are quite a few people who have gained this sense in a conversion experience. That experience could be quite legitimate and not a result of illusion. The Holy Spirit has many ways of working that are beyond our comprehension and we cannot rule them out. I suppose this experience can be a kind of honeymoon period between the soul and Christ. But in time this sense of the honeymoon will be over as your friend, like any other honest human being, begins to experience the fact that he does not act as well as he shows he should. The fact that he is a sinner will come knocking more and more his door. The old feeling of being saved will wear off and maybe he will begin to see that he needs a lot more help than his original conversion experience. He may begin to see all those sins are not burnt up and done away with. Maybe his sins of the past will be forgiven but what about the sins he commits in the present and will commit in the future? Are they all burnt up and blotted out now or will he have to do little fresh repenting and take resolutions to do better in the future. Is he not in danger of backsliding, of slipping into bad habits, of not going to Church or of saying his prayers? At that point he may well have to revise his theology to keep up with the experience that he can backslide with the best of them. But time will tell the tale. He sounds pretty happy and enthused now. You do not have to get a needle and try to puncture his balloon and play the heavy. Wish him God's blessing and then offer to check in with him in a year or two to see how things are going. He might be surprised that the notion of Mary as the Refuge of sinners may not be such a bad idea ofter all. Anyway, both of you seem to be having a lively theological time of it. But no punching the the clinches or rabbit chops to the neck. You are dialogers, not combatants.

Dr. Geraghty

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