I didn’t want to start using that phrase “born-again” and it still makes me cringe a little when I do. The problem is, that’s exactly what I am. I was, in fact, re-born into the body of Christ so how else can I accurately refer to myself (without going into a lengthy explanation)?
Over the past year I’ve at least come to terms with using the phrase, but I feel I must at least attempt to break down the stigma of being one of those people. First off, let’s start with the big stereotype conjured up when most people hear the term. At least this is what I thought of before I became one myself. (I was going to address other stereotypes like “Born-again Christians are nut cases” and “Born-again Christians are lame,” but decided to tackle those in another post.)
Stereotype: Born-again Christians are weak/gullible/stupid. The intellectual elite they are not. How could they be, believing so unquestioningly in such an antiquated, provincial religion as Christianity? For Pete's sake, they actually refer to themselves as sheep! They are perfectly OK with being part of a collective, evidently too weak to break free and expand their horizons. They know nothing, nor do they care to learn, about the modern philosophical thought and enlightened open-mindedness that we intellectuals so self-assuredly subscribe too.
Now that I’m on the flip-side, let me venture a little rebuttal, starting with the fundamental problem. Essentially you have a set of so-called intellectuals taking the position that born-agains are narrow-minded in their beliefs because of their assumption that Christianity is the only way so it is their job to convert everyone else. What fails to be seen is that non-believers condemn us while steadfastly holding to their own beliefs of enlightened tolerance and subjectivism (i.e. whatever floats your boat). Well how open-minded is that? So right off the bat they’ve proven themselves hypocrites thus weakening any case they might have for criticizing Christians.
Now for the specifics. Are born-again Christians weak/gullible/stupid? I have to assume that the train of thought is this: one becomes born-again because s/he is emotionally incapable of successfully living in the world (since oftentimes there is an apparent catalyst rooted in desperation that prompts a sudden conversion); because of that weakness, the born-again Christian is gullible enough to cling to the first thing that comes along promising to “save” him/her from the desperate state; and the born-again Christian is too stupid to realize a) what just happened, and b) that this new-found religion is just a crutch to help them get through life.
The truth is we are ALL too weak to live in a world without, well, truth. The constant search for the meaning of life through the study of different philosophical worldviews, while necessary, can be pretty depressing. I kept thinking on many occasions that I was right on the cusp of figuring it all out, but the best I could come up with were just theories and subjective reasoning asserting “well this is what I believe for my life – what’s true for me doesn’t have to be true for you.” Well, guess what? “True” does have to be true for both of us or else it ain’t true! Basing one’s life on such an irrational concept will always lead to a disappointment. Period.
Because of all this, I say the born-again Christian is not gullible but is, on the contrary, extremely critical because his/her search for meaning (thus far) never led to anything substantial. The born-again Christian is not weak himself but is smart enough to realize that it is the existing worldviews that are weak. Everything changes when s/he realizes that Christianity is the only thing that offers truth. (And that comes through the intense study of Christian apologetics and scripture - see Resources at the White Funeral main site)