3

There are several questions on Christianity Stack Exchange about being born again (or born from above) and how this relates to baptism, including infant baptism. However, the question I have been asked to answer is specifically about the teaching of the Anglican Church (North America) on what it means to be born again.

The main biblical passage on the subject is to be found in John 3:3-7:

I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again”.

From a Reformed Protestant perspective the new birth, being born again, is an act of God whereby eternal life is imparted to the person who believes (2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1-4, 18). It is a spiritual event and is not physical. It transforms the Christian who becomes a child of God and is adopted into God’s family as expressed in John 12:12-13:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

The purpose of my question is not to argue about what being born again means, or whether it is essential to be baptised in water (either as an infant or as an adult). I simply need to understand what the Anglican Church teaches about being born again and would appreciate any links to official articles that provide a summary.

5
  • Is there something in particular that makes you think they might have a different answer than other protestants?
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 17, 2021 at 13:33
  • My dilema is that I have no idea if the Anglican Church holds to the same views on what it means to be born again as do, for example, Baptists. I'm coming from a position of ignorance. Without some clue/link as to their official stance, I am unable to respond to the question I've been asked. Also, I don't know how to access the official doctrines of the Anglican Church in North America - and I don't have much time left!
    – Lesley
    Dec 17, 2021 at 14:04
  • The Anglican Communion is a diverse spectrum of opinions.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 17, 2021 at 16:53
  • I realise that. The person asking me this question comes from North America. ANY insights would be useful, but I am not going to rely on secular sources such as Wikipedia.
    – Lesley
    Dec 17, 2021 at 19:02
  • 1
    It's hard to pin down what Anglicism actually represents. There is such diversity of doctrine and opinion that the only agreement I can see is . . . . that they are all 'Anglican' ( ! ). The same could be said of 'evangelicalism'.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 18, 2021 at 4:56

1 Answer 1

3

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is the name of a denomination formed in 2009 initially consisting generally of people seceding from the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada. The reason for the secession was concern that the ECUSA etc was becoming too liberal, incorporating un-Biblical and un-Anglican doctrine and practice. Same sex marriage was one example.

ACNA includes both evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics. As Nigel J points out there is a great diversity even in traditional Anglicanism. To an extent, this reflects a particular approach to sola scriptura. The Bible says whatever it says, and the Anglican approach shies away from adding to this any particular interpretation or systematic theology of its own. Historically, the Church of England, on which Anglicanism is based, rejected the authority of the Pope but without claiming any such authority itself.

Anglican doctrinal statements are often said to be deliberately vague and ambiguous. Some say this is an attempt to please everybody. Alternatively, it can be seen as a recognition that where the Bible can reasonably be interpreted in multiple ways, the Church has no right to go beyond this.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer is considered doctrinally definitive for most Anglicans. It contains, in the adult Baptism service, the following exhortation based on the Nicodemus passage quoted by OP.

BELOVED, ye hear in this Gospel the express words of our Saviour Christ, that except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Whereby ye may perceive the great necessity of this Sacrament, where it may be had. Likewise, immediately before his ascension into heaven, (as we read in the last Chapter of Saint Mark’s Gospel,) he gave command to his disciples, saying, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Which also sheweth unto us the great benefit we reap thereby

This seems to connect the phrase with Baptism. But what about the case of a person who believes but is not baptized? Jesus did not say and neither, officially, does Anglicanism presume to do so either.

The Anglican church of North America has published its own catechism catechism

In it is a modernised version of the Collect for Christmas Day

Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

The phrase "born again" replaces the word "regenerate" in the original collect. This suggests they are seen as synonyms.

The ACNA catechism also contains the following section headed TURNING TO CHRIST.

Turning to Christ brings us into fellowship with God. Baptism, which is the rite of entry into the Church’s fellowship, marks the beginning of this new life in Christ. The apostle Peter, proclaiming the Gospel, said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). the gospel. Through faith, repentance, and Baptism we are spiritually united to Jesus and become children of God the Father. Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” ( John 14:6). As we come to the Father through Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and hearts to know him, and we are born again spiritually to new life. To continue to live faithfully as Christians, we must rely upon the power and gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to God’s people.

1
  • Appreciate the link to the Anglican Catechism, but not quite sure where to find information on being born again, or the new birth. There are over 100 pages!
    – Lesley
    Dec 19, 2021 at 8:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .