Regeneration. The ancient Latin roots of the term make it seem theologically frigid. On its surface is has the emotional attraction a second grade extra credit vocabulary word. It seems too heady, too cerebral to be embraced, cherished, treasured.
But don’t hesitate to touch this word with ungloved soul. Wrap your arms around it. Pull it close to your heart. Expose your being to the warmth of God’s fatherly love that energizes it.
Consider what Professor Daniel Deutschlander says about regeneration.
Regeneration, “ to be born again.”
No one is by nature a Christian, a believer. By nature we are all born sinners, condemned to hell, without any true spiritual life (John 3: 6; Psalm 14: 3; Romans 3: 9,23; Ephesians 2: 3).
We have a birth from our parents, Adam and Eve. From them we have inherited this nature that is totally devoted to the worship of self. What can we do about it? Nothing by nature!
We cannot change our parents and what we have inherited from them. If our parents were Chinese, we cannot decide to be ethnic Norwegians; no amount of wishing or effort will turn us into Norwegians.
We were born sinners, born blind, and born hostile to God in our nature. We had no sense that we should be otherwise. The solution to the problem of our birth, therefore, could not rest with us. We had to be born again, as Jesus said (John 3: 3-7), born of water and of the Spirit, especially as that takes place in Baptism.
Do we cooperate in that second birth? No more than we cooperated in our first birth, namely, not at all. Birth, be it our natural first birth or the spiritual second birth of coming to faith, is a process in which the one born is purely passive.
In our spiritual birth, God becomes our Father through the gospel, as St. Peter puts it: “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1: 23).
Daniel Deutschlander, in Grace Abounds: The Splendor of Christian Doctrine. Available from Northwestern Publishing House.