Empower Philippines was live last Saturday 6th of June with Steve Ray as their guest. Steve was a protestant by birth who converted to Catholicism after thorough study about the Bible and the Church. He is a writer of many books including “Upon this Rock” and “The Papacy: What the Pope Does and Why It Matters”. He also is a frequent guest of many EWTN and Relevant Radio programs.
These are the things that I think most Born Again Christians do not realize as what I have learned from the video:
- On “Bible Alone” and on being “Born Again“(’22). Steve said that if we were 33 years old and we were there when Jesus died and rose again, we would never have read about the term “born again” because the Gospel of John was written only 77 years later. Even if it were written earlier, only the apostles would know about it because there was no printing presses and bookstores and we would have never read about it. How then would we have known how to get saved and be born again if we didn’t have the book?
- “Bible” or “Tradition” (’24). The Catholic Church added the Bible to the Church. When Jesus ascended to heaven he never asked his followers to read his book because there was no book. Instead, Jesus left behind 12 men, one of them carrying the keys of the Kingdom. The Bible is a product of the Sacred Tradition produced by the teachings and practices of the first Christians.
- The brightest Protestants become Catholics (’29). The best and the brightest of the Protestants are becoming Catholics. It’s the Catholics who don’t know their faith, the ignorant Catholics, who are leaving the Catholic Church because of moral or sexual issues. Many of them, the least trained, the most uneducated Catholics, are leaving to become Protestants because they’re easily enticed away. How can they leave the Church before they know? How can they leave before really studying everything about the Catholic Church?
- Catholics are born again the Bible way! (’36). Steve tells a story of a conversation he had with a Baptist pastor. Pastor: Are you born again? Steve: Yes, I am born again the Bible way! Pastor: What do you mean? Steve: First tell me what you mean by born again, and I’ll tell you what I meant. Pastor: You become born again when you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and savior and asking him to come in to your heart. Steve: These verses are not in the Bible. It is a Baptist tradition and not a Bible teaching. Being born again means to be born of water and spirit (which refers to Baptism).
- On being born of water and spirit (’39). Every time the Lord creates, water and spirit are involved. The Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2). God sent forth a dove (Spirit) from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground (Genesis 8:8, Peter 3:20-21). In the Exodus event, the spirit of God as fire-cloud protected the Israelites who were crossing the waters of the red sea (1 Cor 10:1-4, Isaiah 63:10-14). Jesus is the fulfillment of all this because when he himself got baptized in the river, the Spirit of God descended over him. This new creation through baptism is what Jesus meant about being born again. In fact, after he spoke to Nichodemus (John 3:3), Jesus and his disciples went down to the Jordan river to baptize. “Jesus saved us by the washing of regeneration and and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Something that Prophet Ezekiel already foretold (Ezekiel 36:25-17).
- “Born Again” used by Catholics before the Bible (’48). The word “born again” is always understood and used by Catholics referring to baptism even before the first Bible was made (around 380 A.D.) St. Irenaeus in 180 AD, who received the teachings of St. Polycarp, who received the teachings of St. John the Apostles, who received the teachings of Jesus, wrote: “He came to save all through means of Himself — all, I say, who through Him are born again to God — infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men.” (Against Heresies Book II, Chapter 22)
- Believing is enough, or may be not! (’55). Protestants usually use Acts 16:31 to support their teaching that believing in the Lord is enough to be saved. But the Bible never says believing “is enough”. In the contrary, it is by works that a man is justified, and not by faith only (James 2:24). Believing is only enough in emergency situations. A non-Christian, if dying and has one minute to live, it is enough to profess that he believes in Jesus and he will be saved. But in normal situations when we have years to live, we have to believe and follow Christ’s teachings.
- The opposite of “to believe” is not “to disbelieve” (’58). If you have an hour, days, months, or years to live, then we must study what really “to believe” means. The shortcut to this is to know from the scriptures what is the opposite of believing. Jesus makes it clear for us that the opposite of belief is not disbelief but disobedience. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36)
- The Sodomites have greater chance than those who only believe and not repent (’61). The believing crowd was following Jesus because of the miracles he performed but the crowd never repent and follow what he teaches. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes… But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:20-24)
- On Infant Baptism (’70). Christian practices are drawn from the Jewish traditions. If the Jewish people like Jesus and John the Baptist were circumcised on the eighth day, then why should we condemn infant baptism? It was the faith of Jesus’s and John’s parents that brought them in to the covenant people of God. Same thing in Baptism which is “circumcision without human hands” in Christianity. “In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colosians 2:11-12)
- “I became Catholic because of the Bible.” (’81). Last but not the least, from the mouth of a former Baptist Born Again Protestant himself. He said, “I became Catholic because of the Bible.”
Let us serve Christ and the Church in all circumstances!
Steve Ray, a baptist convert to Catholicism, allowed that his message be shared to all Filipino Catholics. He wrote this in 2001 when he visited the Philippines to share his journey home to the Catholic Church.