2(i.e., regenerate) Christian, his answer would surely be: "Of course I'm a born again Christian. Iam baptized."
Someone who gives such an answer does not think a decision for Christ or aconversion experience is necessary in order to be a Christian. It is enough to be baptized as aninfant and then believe what you are taught, for instance, in a catechism. Hence it is notsurprising that there is no revivalist tradition native to Lutheranism, much less to RomanCatholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, all of which teach baptismal regeneration and practice infant baptism. There are particular complexities in the story of the Reformed tradition, whichtypically practices infant baptism but does not teach baptismal regeneration. But beginning withthe Reformed tradition Protestantism has been characterized by a soteriology in which thedecisive moment of passing from death in sin to life in Christ is not baptism but a conversion tofaith that happens once in a lifetime. This is a departure from Luther, based on a fundamental but seldom-noticed divergence on the doctrine of justification. Whereas all agree that one is born again only once in a lifetime (either in baptism or in conversion) for Luther
is adifferent matter: it is not tied to any single event but occurs as often as a Christian repents andreturns to the power of baptism.
For as we shall see, Luther's doctrine of justification by faithalone takes shape in the context of the Catholic sacrament of penance, where justification occurswhenever true penance does.
In this regard Luther is not quite Protestant enough to believe that justification happens only once in life.
It is a regular part of Luther's pastoral advice to urge people who doubt whether they are Christians to remember their baptism and appeal to it. See Luther's
The Book of Concord
, ed. T. G. Tappert,(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), p. 442 (henceforth Tappert);
(St. Louis: Concordia andPhiladelphia: Fortress Press, 1955-1976) 12:371, 35:36 and 36:60 (henceforth LW); and Luther,
Letters of Spiritual Counsel
(Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1955), p. 122 and 133f (henceforth
The alien righteousness by which we are justified before God "is given to men in baptism and whenever they aretruly repentant," according to the 1519 sermon "On Two Kinds of Righteousness," LW 31:297.
See, e.g., Thomas Aquinas,
III 85.6 ad 3 (henceforth ST). For Thomas the justification of theungodly is an brought about by the remission of sins, which occurs in penance (ST I-II 113.1).