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Are there conflicting views in Protestantism between confirmation vs born again (with "repentance")? (I guess that there are.)

Could you list all main opinions on these different views of salvation?

What the opponents of confirmation-based Protestantism think about Martin Luther having been born again, but introducing confirmation for his followers? Can we name the exact moment when Luther was born again?

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I don't think there is actually much of a link between confirmation and being born again. The denominations that associate being born again with a specific rite usually associate it with baptism. –  DJClayworth Apr 21 at 20:31

3 Answers 3

I've attended many different Protestant denominations in my life. None equated being born again with confirmation.

To all, being born again meant that you had accepted Christ as savior, i.e. made certain affirmations and accepted Christ's gift of salvation.

Confirmation is a ceremony conducted when you complete a class on the doctrines of the church. Depending on the denomination it might be more or less formal.

It's like the difference between being cured of a disease and attending a graduation ceremony for those attending a class about the disease. Taking the class might give you information that helps you to be cured, but the graduation ceremony doesn't cure you. And you could certainly be cured without ever attending the graduation or even taking the class.

** Update **

Oh, regarding when Martin Luther was born again: I don't know that any human being can say for certain when another human being was born again -- it's between that person and God. I'm not sure if Luther himself used the phrase "born again". While of course it's in the Bible, exactly what phrases from the Bible people use and which they don't varies with time and place. But Luther himself described having a salvation experience on July 2, 1505. He said that he was walking across a field during a storm when he was struck by lightning. He was so shaken up by the experience that he declared then that he would become a monk and devote his life to God. He had a final party with friends on July 16 and on July 17 entered a monastery. So I'd guess that that was when he was born again. But who can say what was really in his heart and mind?

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In the Lutheran confession of Christianity, confirmation is closely connected with Baptism. It is a re-affirmation of God's promises made to an individual when he was baptized (i.e. "confirmed").

Confirmation has its roots in the early New Testament Church when most people who became Christians were adult converts. At the vigil of Easter, the convert (after going through months or years of catechesis, or instruction) would be baptized by the pastor. The baptismal ceremony involved an exorcism (i.e. a casting out of the devil), a renunciation of the "devil and his ways," and a confession of faith using the three articles of the Apostles' Creed. Following the convert's baptism, the bishop would "confirm" the baptism.

As the Church grew and more and more infants were baptized, the order of things began to be reversed. First, the child was baptized, then catechized (i.e. taught the faith), then confirmed. Yet, the rite of confirmation was still intimately connected with Baptism, although separated by time. Thus, confirmation is seen as an affirmation of God's promises made to the baptized.

Regarding Martin Luther, he spoke of being "born again" in the context of finally understanding the verse in Romans 1:16-17: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

In the preface to his collected works, Luther writes that he had struggled with the concept of God's righteousness and what this verse meant. He had taken the verse to mean God's righteous judgement against sinners, and this terrified him and actually caused him to hate God. While teaching a class on Romans, though, he finally understood that the righteousness of God is His righteousness by which He accounts us sinners as righteous due to His grace for the sake of Christ. Thus, the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us Christ's righteousness as a gift; this is why it is "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes."

This "discovery" of the Gospel caused Luther to rejoice and feel "born again." He rejoiced because he finally understood that God is giving us Christ's righteousness as a gift, apart from any works or merit of our own (see http://strangetriumph.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/martin-luther-on-the-righteousness-of-god/ for the whole of Luther's quote). Luther was not speaking in the modern evangelistic sense of being "born again." Rather, he meant that he finally understood God's grace which is given to us freely on account of Christ's death and resurrection.

Lutherans do not typically speak of being "born again." If pressed, though, we would typically say that we were born again in our Baptisms, because in our Baptisms God killed our old natures and raised us to new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4).

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I think the question is hard to answer since there are so many different views of "born again." To some, believer's baptism = the rebirth. Others think the rebirth is some emotional experience that can be had either before or after baptism, and these typically don't care how the person in question was baptized.

Taking it from the first perspective, where the rebirth is equated with believer's baptism. (See John 3:5 and compare with Acts 2:38 to understand why). From this perspective, it could easily be said that Luther was never born again because he was never baptized as a believer. From this perspective, nobody who is baptized as an infant can be saved unless they acknowledge that such a baptism was no real baptism at all and get properly baptized as a believer. Then and only then will they be born again, per this perspective. From this perspective, although God initiated the process of salvation by sending Jesus to the cross, we human beings initiate the rebirth by asking to be baptized.

From the other perspective, one can be baptized even as a believer and still not be born again. Because to them the rebirth is a rather subjective experience that cannot be pinned down to any moment in time by anyone but the person who feels they have experienced it. A typical testimony from such people would be something like that they felt they truly "got saved" one day on a bus, or jumping out of a plane, or whatever, long after their baptism (whether it was infant baptism or believer's baptism) or long before it. They take the position that God initiates the rebirth all on his own, and essentially arbitrarily.

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