Are You Born Again?

by Steve Ray on March 21, 2018

I posted this for the listeners of Catholic Answers Live on Wednesday evening, March 21. I will post the audio link as soon as it is available and a list of all the questions we answered.

It seems that God is kind of predictable in a way :-) since He always starts new things in the same way — with “water and the Spirit“. Consider the following:

1) The first creation came from the earth which was covered with WATER and the SPIRIT hovered over the waters and from the water emerged land and man and God’s first creation (Gen 1:1-2).

NoahsArk3.jpg2) A new humanity was started with Noah through WATER and SPIRIT. The ark went through the water and a dove (representing the Spirit) hovered overhead with an olive branch. Peter said this represents baptism which “now saves us” (1 Peter 3:18-21).

pillar of fire3) The nation of Israel was created through the WATER of the Red Sea (baptism) with the cloud and fire of the Holy SPIRIT overhead — my oh my, again we have water and Spirit (Ex 14).

4) Ezekiel then describes what the New Covenant will look like and he said we will be sprinkled with clean WATER and his SPIRIT will be placed in us (Ez 36:25). Born again, I suspect.

5) Then Jesus, right before saying you must be born of “water and the Spirit” had just gone down into the WATER of the Jordan and the SPIRIT came down and landed on his head. Again, water and the Spirit (Mt 3:16; Jn 1:29).

6) Jesus teaches Nicodemus that he must be born again, or from above which is accomplished through “WATER and the SPIRIT.“

Jesus-Baptized-077) When Jesus finished these words what was the first thing he did? He went down and baptized people in the Jordan with his disciples (Jn 4:1-2).

8) At the first Holy Ghost Gospel Revival meeting :-) Peter stood up at Pentecost and said,  “Repent, and be baptized (WATER) every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy SPIRIT“ (Acts 2:38).

9) Peter also says “Baptism now saves you“ (1 Pet 3:21), and Paul is told “Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16), and Paul writes that we are saved “by the washing of regeneration (WATER) and renewal in the Holy SPIRIT“ (Titus 3:5).

Other verses you should know — click here!

For my article on Infant Baptism, click here

My book Crossing the Tiber has over 50 pages on Baptism from the Bible and the Church Fathers.


JordanSm.jpgToo bad many Evangelicals and Fundamentalists refuse to see it but the Bible is pretty clear about new birth through the sacrament of baptism. Jesus is not ambiguous in this matter and he is alluding quite clearly to new beginnings in the Old Testament. The Early Church is also very clear and so is the teaching of the Catholic Church today.

(Picture to right is the place in the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized. Click for larger image.)

St. Augustine said, “Who is so wicked as to want to exclude infants from the kingdom of heaven by prohibiting their being baptized and born again in Christ?”

When someone asks me “Have you been born again?“  I simply answer “Absolutely, but I’ve been born again the Bible Way!“


We must admit that the Catholic Church today is the same organization with unbroken continuity with that organization (Church) started in the 1st century. A reading of the Apostolic Fathers, the hinge figures between the Apostles and the later 1st and  2nd century, makes that clear.

The question is whether at some point the one visible, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church lost its legitimacy, thereby releasing the faithful to leave and start rival churches and communities.

Of course, if Jesus started the Catholic Church, we (and He) would expect it to continue until His 2nd Coming at the end of time. If it fails to the point of illegitimacy then His promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against it was a lie or He was not competent enough to keep His promise.

I think the conclusion should be obvious. Protests against Jesus’ Church are not legitimate, nor are churches set up to rival it.

Is the Church perfect? No, because I joined it and I am a member. I know my own sins.  Even if the Church was perfect before 1994 when we joined, it certainly wasn’t afterwards. There was never a Golden Age (just read St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians). The Church is always reforming and always in need of reform because it is full of people like me. It is not only a haven for saints but also a hospital for sinners

Jesus said He would build His Church — not “churches.” Jesus prayed that His followers would be perfected in [visible] unity which is now quite visibly gone (except in the still unified universal Catholic Church). The Catholic Church has never lost its legitimacy and the faithful are not released to start rival communities or to join them. This was Luther’s great sin of schism.

“Throughout history, many splinter groups claimed the name “Church”, but as Cyril of Jerusalem said in 350, ‘And if ever you are visiting in cities, do not inquire simply where the House of the Lord is,—for the others, the sects of the impious, attempt to call their dens the Houses of the Lord,—nor ask merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the name peculiar to this holy Church, the Mother of us all, which is the Spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God’.(Catechetical Lectures 18, 26, in Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers, 1:359).” (Crossing the Tiber, pg. 70).

Bottom line: it is NEVER OK to break with the Catholic Church that Jesus founded 2000 years ago.


What to Think About Bad Popes

by Steve Ray on February 16, 2018

Written by Dave Armstrong and used with permission:

BAD POPES: REPLIES TO A SINCERE INQUIRER, February 15, 2018, by Dave Armstrong

God made an everlasting covenant with King David, even though he was an adulterer and murderer.

Dave writes: “As this was originally private correspondence, my correspondent’s exact words will be paraphrased, not cited. Her “words” will be in blue.”

* * * * *

How can you believe in a succession of popes since so many have been terrible sinners?

It’s not based on sinlessness (that’s called impeccability) but on office. We believe that God protects the Church from teaching error, by His power (not the power of sinful men). How is this possible? It’s entirely possible because God is God and can accomplish whatever He wants. Secondly, it has already happened in greater measure in the inspired Scripture, which was written by sinful men like Moses, David, Paul, and Peter (murderers, adulterers, and people who would deny knowing Jesus). Yet it is inspired and infallible. Likewise, God uses sinful men as bishops and popes and protects the faithful from receiving false teaching.

Titus 1:7-9  “For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”

If the pope is the head of all the bishops, wouldn’t he also have to (above all) be of this high level of character?

Most of them have been, especially in the last 150-200 years. This is the ideal, but you and I know full well that people don’t always live up to biblical standards (we need only look at ourselves, for starters). We see the tension between the ideal and the real, in, for example, 1 John 1:6-10:

1 John 1:6-7 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:8-10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

All have sin, that needs to be confessed and cleansed; to deny one’s sin is to be a liar.

Thus, there have been some bad popes. This is not unexpected, based on Scripture. See my papers:

– Sins and Sinners in the Catholic Church
– Are Sinful Church Leaders a Disproof of Catholicism?
– The ‘Bad Popes’: How Many Of ‘Em Were There? How ‘Bad’ Were They?

Of what purpose is a bad pope who is still a true pope? You simply accept that and say that God has His reasons?

Yes, because He used King David and made an everlasting covenant with Him and made Jesus His descendant, even though David was an adulterer and murderer. Jesus called Judas to be His disciple, and Judas was called both a disciple and “elect.” The Bible shows how a successor was chosen when Judas killed himself. Jesus made Peter the leader of the Church, knowing that he would deny him three times.

I’m not trying to be contentious; I really want to understand these things. I feel somewhat led to the Catholic Church. I have heard that I must accept all Catholic teachings to do so.

That’s right, because it is a teaching passed down from the apostles. One doesn’t pick and choose and decide what they will accept, but rather, decide in faith that God has one true Church that He has protected all these centuries. God can do it. He has enough power to do that!

I have hope that I can better understand these things if they are explained to me. I don’t feel like I am a Protestant any longer. I think they have many of their own problems and have not figured everything out themselves.

I hope my answers have been helpful to you. God bless you as you consider where God might be leading you. Pray, pray, pray! The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, as the Bible says.

STEVE RAY HERE: I would like to add three quotes to correct people’s idea that it is wrong or incorrect to criticize a priest, bishop or Pope. Any criticism must be done with great respect, integrity and deference. I think the case of Saint Paul confronting Saint Peter in the book of Galatians shows that no Pope is above criticism (Gal 2:11-14).

Remember also the strong rebuke St  Catherine of Siena wrote to Pope Gregory IX  and she was made a Doctor of the Church.

Consider these three quotes (which can be multiplied):

St. Thomas Aquinas: “If the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Galatians 2:11, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.” http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3033.htm

“Now it can be said briefly that those who defend blindly and indiscriminately any judgment whatsoever of the Supreme Pontiff concerning every matter weaken the authority of the Apostolic See; they do not support it; they subvert it; they do not fortify it… . Peter has no need of our lies; he has no need of our adulation.” – Melchior Cano, Bishop and Theologian of the Council of Trent

Code of Canon Law #212 §3. “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they [the Christian faithful] possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.”


Infant Baptism

February 10, 2018

Infant Baptism is discussed and argued about quite a bit in some circles. I was raised Baptist and taught that Infant Baptism was a man-made tradition invented by the heretical Catholics who abandoned the Word of God to follow ill-advised tradition. (Picture: My granddaughter Elizabeth Arabella Rose Ray is baptized.) But not all Protestants reject Infant […]

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Differences Between Catholic and Protestant Approaches to the Bible

February 8, 2018

“Bible Christians” (a misnomer, since Catholics are the real and original Bible Christians), based on their recently devised “Reformation” principle of sola Scriptura, study the Bible with the following premises: 1. There is no binding authority but the Bible alone; 2. There is no official binding interpretation or interpreter; each person ultimately is their own […]

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Response to an Ex-Catholic, now Baptist

February 6, 2018

A while ago I received an e-mail from a Southern Baptist and decided to take a few minutes to respond. Thought others might be edified by it so I have posted it here without using his name. His e-mail is contained in regular text and my response is in CAPITAL LETTERS. **************************************************** HELLO FRIEND: I […]

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Should the Vatican Sell its Treasures…

February 5, 2018

… to feed the poor? Geez, I used to say that myself in my former life as a Protestant – when I was an anti-Catholic. Actually, if you added up all wealth and property of the Protestant churches and organizations it would FAR exceed that of the Vatican or all the individual dioceses around the […]

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The Rapture? Not All Evangelical Protestant Scholars Agree

February 3, 2018

I was organizing the 15,000 books in my Logos Bible Software program on my laptop and noticed this quote about the so-called “Rapture” as taught by many Evangelical Protestants. The Rapture is a new Protestant doctrine that was invented in the mid-1800’s in Scotland. The recent novelty is mainly based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The following […]

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Can You Spot the Errors?

January 29, 2018

This is a typical non-Catholic Creed. It was forwarded by a Catholic asking if they could/should agree with this creed in order to get a new job. What do you think of this creed and could you sign onto it? If you think there are errors, what are they?  

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What is “Organized Religion”?

January 28, 2018

Hey Steve: while I was on a business trip I had a good conversation with my friends, one who is agnostic and the other an Evangelical.  Both of them agreed they didn’t believe in “organized religion”.  From your Protestant background is there a specific meaning to that term or is it just another way to […]

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Final Judgment based on “Faith Alone’?

January 26, 2018

Is “Faith Alone” the Basis for the Final Judgment? Dear Baptist Friend Jerry : I had no intention of writing you again this soon but after having dinner with your brother — and seeing a copy of the silly Protestant booklet you gave him entitled Studies In Contrasts: The Doctrine of Salvation (by Herb Vander […]

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My “Debate-Discussion” on Drew Mariani with a Protestant: “What is the Church?”

January 17, 2018

Relevant Radio archives state, “What do you say to someone who says the Catholic Church is not the one true Church? Steve Ray provides clarity. Giovanni, a Protestant, calls in and says that he doesn’t think his denomination is wrong.” I certainly love good Christians who choose to be disciples of Jesus Christ. I am happy to […]

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“Dear Mr. Bible Guy, Thanks for Confronting my Son…”

January 17, 2018

Posted in National Catholic Register: Dear Mr. Bible Guy Who Tried to Convert My Son and His Friends: These kids don’t just know the Bible, the Catechism, and Church history. They know how to think. Excellent article written by Jennifer Fitz Dear Christian Bible Guy, I want to thank you for coming up to my son and […]

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Multiplication of Loaves a Miracle or Just a Lesson in Sharing?

January 7, 2018

When confronted with this at Mass a while ago I wrote a letter to the priest which became an article in Catholic Answers Magazine. Article HERE. The priest said there was no miracle when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish. All he did was teach selfish people to share and they pulled extra loaves and fish from […]

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“The Sinner’s Prayer” – All You Need to Get to Heaven?

January 3, 2018

When I was a kid, the “Sinner’s Prayer” was a big deal. It was at the heart of everything we knew about Jesus and getting saved. It was almost used as an incantation. My mom coached me to pray the Sinner’s Prayer when I was 4 years old. We knelt together in front of the […]

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Absent from the Body = Present with the Lord?

January 2, 2018

I realize now — that as a Protestant — I misquoted the Bible when challenging Catholics about Purgatory. Catholics taught that there was a “transition” between earth and heaven—a place or state of final purification called Purgatory. “But how can there be a Purgatory?” I asked. “Doesn’t St. Paul teach that ‘to be absent from the body is to […]

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