Gnostic Doctrine

Sunday, 16 May 2021

What does it mean to be "born again"?

What does it mean to be "born again"?

Truth did not come into the world naked but in symbols and images. The world cannot receive truth in any other way. There is rebirth and an image of rebirth, and it is by means of this image that one must be reborn. What image is this? It is resurrection. Image must arise through image. By means of this image the bridal chamber and the image must approach the truth. This is restoration.

Those who receive the name of the father, son, and holy spirit and have accepted them must do this. If someone does not accept them, the name will also be taken from that person. A person receives them in the chrism with the oil of the power of the cross. The apostles called this power the right and the left. This person is no longer a Christian but is Christ. (Gospel of Philip)

The "image of rebirth" which speaks of those who have obtained the perfect gnosis being born again into the power that is above all things. This rebirth has its heavenly counterpart (the 'image of rebirth' that is the resurrection) 

"There is rebirth and an image of rebirth" Christ's 3-fold "birth": (1) virgin birth (Luk 1:35), (2) baptism (Mat 3:17), and (3) resurrection (Rom 1:3,4).

Traditionally Baptism symbolizes acceptance of God. For Gnostic Christians, Baptism means to be born "as children of choice and knowledge". (Elaine Pagels, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, p. 62.) 

In early Gnosticism, Baptism represents that instant when an initiate first understands Jesus' knowledge teachings. This understanding surfaces in Jn 3:7, "unless one is born anew…or from above [preferred to born again]…he cannot see [comprehend] the kingdom of God."

What does "born again" mean?
"Born Anew" (Jn 3:3 rsv) and "Born from above" (3:3 jbv) are closer to the first century Greek than "born again" (3:3 kjv). In Gnostic Christianity, Jesus' words "truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (3:3 rsv) meant that unless one's reasoning mind/flesh is born anew in Christ consciousness (Stage IV), he cannot comprehend the possibility of a kingdom of God here on earth. If the jbv of 3:3, "born from above" is preferred, it, too, infers that the reasoning mind must be elevated to the same level as that of God. The kjv of 3:3, however, encourages us to understand that we must be reborn, in a mystical sense, through belief in Jesus. In effect, the kjv supports Orthodox Christianity's belief that Jesus is Lord and Savior, whereas the rsv and jbv support the idea that Jesus' logos/logic teachings renew our minds.

Born from above
The awakening of man to a consciousness of his unity with the Eternal Spirit; the change from carnal to spiritual consciousness through the begetting and quickening power of the word of Truth. It is the change that comes here and now. Jesus made no mention of resurrection after death as having any part in the new birth. "Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

Begetting and quickening take place in man's inner consciousness, but the process of being "born anew" (John 3:3) includes the whole man, spirit, soul, and body. To be born again is to be made "a new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17) having "this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5) and a body like unto His glorious body.

rebirth, change following--Moral regeneration: Tit 3:5; 1Pe 1:23-25; Gal 4:29; Rom 8:4-9. When man is begotten and born of the Word he is no longer "flesh . . . as grass" (I Pet. 1:24) but is eternal and abiding, not subject to death and corruption.

Nicodemus (John 3:1-15) was not acquainted with the power of Spirit, and had no understanding of regeneration although he was a "teacher of Israel " Israel meaning thoughts pertaining to the religious department of the mind:

The new birth is a vague uncertainty to the intellectual Christian, hence there has gradually been evolved a popular belief in a change to come to the soul after death in those who have accepted the church creed and been counted Christians. But in his instructions to Nicodemus, Jesus makes no mention of a postmortem resurrection. He cites the blowing of the wind as an example of those who are born of Spirit. The new birth is a change that comes here and now. It has to do with the present man, the "Son of man," the real I AM in each of us. "And no one hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even BO must the Son of man be lifted up." This man in each of us is divine now, is in heaven now, but his manifestation is still in limbo. He must be lifted out of this condition into a spiritual one; this is being "born anew."

The two important factors in the new-birth process are to put away the old and to receive the new. Water is the natural and familiar symbol of cleansing from impurity, sin, and all its material filth. Spirit is the principle of the new life of harmony, the power from on high that puts in divine order both mind and body.

The Pharisees refused to be baptized by John. They did not consider that they needed the repentance that he demanded. They thought that they were good enough to take high places in the kingdom of God, because of their popularly accepted religious supremacy. Many people today refuse to deny their short-comings: they hold that they are now perfect in Divine Mind and that it is superfluous to deny that which has no existence. However, they are still subject to the appetites and passions of carnality, and will continue to be so until they are "born anew."

The new birth may be explained in a few words, as follows: It is the change from carnal to spiritual consciousness through the begetting and quickening power of the word of Truth. The begetting and quickening take place in man's inner consciousness, and the process of being born anew includes the whole of man--spirit, soul, and body. To be born again is to be made a "new creature," having "this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," and a body like "the body of his glory."

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