THE MISINTERPRETATIONS OF BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANS
by Scott Rabalais
Though the born-again experience is common among modern-day Christians, it is largely misunderstood by those who have engaged in it as well as the critics of the experience.
Born-again experiences tend to have several characteristics in common, all based on a similar belief system among the participants. The born-again Christians generally believe:
1) The Bible is the authoritative word of God;
2) Jesus is the son of God and was sent by God to die for the sins of mankind;
3) Jesus is viewed as a savior and being saved leads to everlasting salvation and an escape from the punishment of hell;
4) Heartfelt repentance for past sins and transgressions is necessary to be born again;
5) It is important to join a Bible-based church and share the message of faith.
Also, the born-again experience is typically accompanied by intense emotion as the participants believe they are gifted with the grace of God. The born-again occurrence results in an inner transformation of sorts, and these Christians often lay claim to a cleansing of mind and spirit.
There is no denying that born-again Christians have had a profound and transformative experience; they have touched their spiritual nature. Even from an external viewpoint, it is obvious that these individuals have changed, sometimes dramatically. Some of the converted have gone from a “life in the gutter” to a life of deep love and respect for themselves and others.
When an individual undergoes a “reborn” experience, his or her accepted belief system is typically imposed on that experience. In the born-again Christian’s scenario, the imposed belief system is based primarily on those tenets listed above. So, as the experience is unfolding, those intellectual constructs will be applied to the experience, whether based in truth or not.
To illustrate how intellectualization colors experience, consider the plight of the millions of children who believe Santa Claus will visit them on Christmas night. (Yes, the belief system behind Christmas is another story!) When they awaken on Christmas morning and view the gifts bestowed on them, they are ripe with excitement. “Certainly,” one child might reason, “Santa Claus is real because the gifts are right before my eyes!”
While the gifts are enjoyed, the intellectualization that Santa brought them down the chimney during the night is false. While it may be fun for children to believe that Santa and his reindeer are real and the bringers of the gifts, one day they will come to the truthful realization that Santa is make-believe and a myth of ultimate proportions.
Any spiritual experience is predicated on the individual’s receptivity to that experience. In other words, a person who undergoes the born-again experience only does so with a level of openness that allows for that experience. This is why we often see someone in the midst of a born-again experience expressing a deep yearning and invitation for something higher or greater than the self or their perception of the self.
A basic premise of the interpretation of the born-again experience is that man is separate from God/Jesus and that being born-again means one has been touched by God/Jesus. The gift of grace has been bestowed for the asking with the belief that it was not present prior to the asking. “Of course,” the individual may think, “if it were there, I would have felt it!”
Having no sense of inner authority, born-again Christians turn to the Bible for guidance. They adhere to the belief that biblical words, as interpreted, comprise the ideology that is the rule of their existence.
Having no sense of themselves as eternal beings, they subscribe to the notion of heaven and hell and the idea that we need to “win the game” to enter the kingdom of God upon our death in this lifetime.
Having no sense that Jesus or any other spiritual master is no more or less a human/divine being than the rest of us, they place Jesus at the right hand of their conceptual God and bestow on him the determining power of life’s fate.
Having no sense that they are infinite, spiritual beings, they accept they are born into sin and as sinners they are in need of redemption.
Having no sense that self-realization is an inner journey and discovery, they are encouraged, if not obligated, to congregate with other born-again Christians and also to share their message of belief with the interested and not-so-interested. The saving of souls becomes a primary goal.
From a transcendent consciousness, or that state which harbors no belief systems or intellectual constructs, the spiritual experience is seen as an expansion of awareness or a move into a deeper realm of self-realization. There is no conceptual God, nor is any book (Bible included) given any authoritative power.
From higher consciousness, we see that there is no heaven or hell to pursue, outside of that which we create for ourselves, and thus there is no need to be saved. Without the need for saving, there is no need for a savior. If there is any relevance to saving, it’s only saving us from ourselves.
When we raise our awareness to a higher realm within, we may be tempted to intellectualize that the higher state is a gift from an external divine being. However, in transcendence we see that the only gift is a gift we have given ourselves, and that is the gift of inner sight. What is there now was there before; we just did not open our eyes to it previously.
Spiritual experiences often emerge out of a deep and heartfelt longing. Spiritual experiences can only be properly understood with an open mind, or without the filtering of belief systems. This is why the experience of truth follows the admission of “I know nothing.” Only in an empty mind are there no distractions or constructs that lead to a misinterpretation of the experience.
Again, there is no denying the experience of the born-again Christian. However, when one transcends the thinking mind and separation, false ideology dissolves and we are seen for who and what we truly are. We are infinite beings of light and love, with no need for saviors and saving. We are gods unto ourselves with an infinite lifespan and the wisdom of the ages. With our own eyes, we see with ultimate clarity, having flown high enough to disengage from that which is only conventional, traditional and naively accepted as truth. It is then we see that the born-again Christians have had a unity consciousness experience viewed through a separation consciousness filter.
Copyright © Scott Rabalais – Permission is granted to copy and redistribute this article freely on the condition that the author’s name, is included with the article. http://www.scottrabalais.com/