Rise in Christians Calling Themselves ‘Born Again’: Is the Term Losing Its Meaning?


There seems to be a rise in how many people claim to be "born again." What are people meaning by this and is it the same as what we have known in the past?

In a study done by the General Society Survey (GSS) results are showing that more mainline Protestants and Catholics are calling themselves “born again.” This term was once distinctive to Evangelicals and is rooted in the scripture from John 3:7 where Jesus states, “you must be born again.”

Christianity Today, reported that, “More people today say they are ‘born again’ than at any point in the past three decades.” And continued by stating that, “It almost seems counterintuitive. While significant portions of the country jettison religion, others are increasingly identifying with a more devout expression of the faith.”

The article goes on to break down, by various faith demographics (i.e mainline Protestants, black Protestants and Catholics) where this shift is coming from.

Over the last 14 years, a survey question was asked bi-annually, “Would you say you have been ‘born again’ or have had a ‘born again’ experience—that is, a turning point in your life when you committed yourself to Christ?”

In 1988, just over 36% said they were “born again” but that has risen to 41% across the entire sample, with it being even higher for people of color (54%) in America.

The study also shows a correlation between how active a person is in their faith (i.e. regularly attending church services) and the increased likelihood of considering themselves born again. This naturally begs the question, has being “born again” taken on a different meaning for Christians than the traditional one held by evangelicals?

For example, 95% of evangelicals and black protestants who attend church regularly also say they are “born again.”

Traditionally being “born again” was a way of defining a specific moment or experience a person has had that has caused them to believe.

Furthermore, data does seem to show one very consistent theme across the spectrum of different faith streams: Christians who associate as “born again” are more likely to believe that the Bible is literally true.