Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Friday, June 30, 2006

Answer To Traditionalism's Fatal Errors on 'Faith'

I have to say that Solifidian aptly answered Daniel on Daniel's blog here: Click. It is completely worthy; the link just given is a new post on “Unashamed of Grace”. (I hope he has not objections!)

Not to tread on any ground that Solifidian already covered, I would like to include these points:

1) Pistis (faith, comes from the Latin by way of French) and Pisteuw (believe, comes by way of Anglo-Saxon) are exact corresponding cognates: Pistis (faith, or belief) is the noun, and Pisteuw (believe, exercise faith) is the verb.

They both can be translated using the Latin or the Anglo Saxon derivatives:

Pistis: faith or belief
Pisteuw: believe or exercise faith

They are used interchangeably as in Romans 4:5

But to him who does not work but believes (pisteuw) on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith (pistis) is accounted for righteousness.

Apart from the times the word “pistis” is used of the “the body of beliefs (of Christianity)”, “faithfulness”, and “pledge”, the terms at no time, in the Greek New Testament, have distinguishing shades of meaning from each other, or any additional import such as “obey” or “using the truth to some affect”. As the standard Greek lexicon (BAGD) makes clear, pistis is “trust, confidence, faith in the active sense = ‘believing’”.

I would suggest that Daniel, of Doulogos, or any other Traditionalist make a Biblical case that there resides some difference between “believing”, which Daniel says is “mere intellectual assent” and “faith”, which Daniel says is “using that truth to some affect” (thus equating “faith” with the doing of works “sitting in a chair”).

There are no differences between “having faith in Christ” and “believing in Christ”. They are exactly the same!. And I would challenge Daniel to use his Bible and prove this assertion wrong.

2) Language is ever evolving. Words take on the meaning of their current contextual usage in the language of the day. For instance, “gay” is not used for “happy” anymore, but “homosexual”.

In the usage of today, the terms such as “trust” and “believe” are now used in a variety of ways. No longer (as in Biblical Greek) do they convey the sense of “absolute certainty and assurance”. A few examples:

“I am not certain that my roommate will pay rent on time. I am just going to have to trust him” (IOW, “I will just have to hope he will do it”).

I may say, "I believe he will come," when I am not really certain that he will. Usually when we use the word this way, we signal our doubt by a tonal inflection.

Nevertheless, these are legitimate usages of the English words, for meaning is determined by current usage. The words are still used of “certainty” in other contexts. They just have a wider semantic range now.

It is interesting to note that Daniel, who is distinguishing between “belief” and “faith”, nevertheless uses them interchangeably in his illustration:

“He asked the class if they believed” and “He then asked for a volunteer to ‘test their faith’”.

Many people, though, currently use the term “belief” and “faith” relatively, as in degrees. What they mean when they use these words that way is that they “are disposed toward” rather than “are certain”. The Biblical usage always means “certainty, assurance” and never anything less.

3) Doubt precludes faith, faith precludes doubt.

Matt 8:26
But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?"

The parallel accounts have this to say:

Mark 4:40
But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"

Luke 8:25
But He said to them, "Where is your faith?"

When they doubt, Jesus asks them why they "have no faith", and "Where is your faith". Jesus here is full aware that doubt precludes faith.

There can be degrees of doubt from:

being fully undisposed toward

to

being greatly disposed toward

(and everything in between)

But there are no degrees of faith. It is a question of possession. You either have faith or you do not.

Mark 11:23
Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

Jesus places faith and doubt here in complete contradistinction:

"does not doubt... but believes"

Here again, faith precludes doubt

Rom 14:23
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith;

Paul makes it abundantly clear that the one who "doubts" does not possess "faith".

James 1:6-8
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

The doubter should not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. This man is double-souled. Faith and doubting are again put into contra-distinction.

Faith and doubt cannot reside in the mind at the same moment in the same proposition. There may be a rollercoaster of faith and doubt as time elapses, but never faith and doubt at the same time in the same issue. Since faith = certainty, assurance, faith precludes doubt.

In such an instance as the Daniel’s illustration, a few different options can be shown:

1) The person who moved out of the way had faith, believed, that the wrecking ball would not hit him before he got up there, but when the wrecking ball started toward him, this circumstance caused his faith to be broken, and at the moment he moved away, he experienced doubt, and was no longer exercising faith.

This perfectly parallels Peter’s experience when he was walking on the water. He had faith, but when he contemplated the wind and the waves, this circumstance “broke” his faith, IOW, he no longer was exercising faith, but was doubting.

This is what weak, or little, faith is. It is faith that has not been satisfactorily strengthened by time and the successful completion of trials, so that when the circumstances come, the faith is “broken”.

2) The person was not really certain (did not believe in the Biblical sense), and was using the concept of “faith” or “belief” that is something less than certain (a current usage of the word that denotes “disposed toward” rather than “certainty”). Apart from being convinced (believing, being certain), he, by an act of the will and not one of being persuaded, determined by the will to perform in the experiment. When he saw the wrecking ball coming for him, the determination that was prompted by his relative disposition faded, and so he stepped out of the way.

Daniel’s view of faith and belief are dangerously skewed.

Imagine for instance a genuine new Christian (for the sake of argument, he is a definitely regenerate man). He is brand new to the faith and is but a mere babe. He hasn’t invested the time to possess a strong faith. He has been told that lying is wrong. He is convinced that lying is wrong! But a week after he had been saved a gun was pointed at his head and he was told that if he is a Christian that he would be blown away. He starts thinking about his wife, pregnant with their first child, and says, “I am not a Christian”. He, thus, has acted contrarily to his conviction, to his faith!

What, you don’t think that is possible?

Be honest with yourself, if you lived your faith all the time, you would not sin! But we often sin against those principles that we have faith in!

Being greatly disposed toward is not the same as faith, belief, for a disposition is not being convinced.

Daniel recognizes “a grand difference between an intellectual assent that something is certain and true, and a willingness to trust that truth” (italics his).

I would ask him “What is the element lacking between the one who merely believes the wrecking ball won’t hit him and the one who has faith that the wrecking ball won’t hit him?” What is the difference between the one who is certain (believes) that the wrecking ball will sway the other way before hitting him, and the one who has faith? The only thing that I can think of, if I were to answer him, is faith = mere belief + obedience (in action, works, in doing!!).

Maybe he would say, “The person would be willing to actually stand by the wall”. But this is where his “willingness” doctrine breaks down! In his illustration, the one who “believed” but nevertheless “did not have faith” was “willing” to test out his “faith”! He went to go stand by the wall! So it isn’t a matter of “willingness” it is a matter of “action”, i.e. works!

What Daniel has done is confused “faith” with “acting on faith”, or “belief” with “acting on our beliefs” and has made an illegitimate difference between “belief” and “faith”. Daniel thus defines faith in terms of “the works” that, in his view, mere belief must accomplish in order to be true faith! Daniel has imported the idea of “works” into the semantic value of “faith” and has thus made eternal life the result of “belief” + works (his definition of “faith”)

--men are saved by faith
--faith is belief (mental assent) + obedience to works
--------------------
--men are saved by a works salvation

The Bible knows of no difference between “faith” and “belief”. They are the same word (pistis). The Bible knows of no difference between “believe” and “have faith”. They are the same word (pisteuw). The difference resides in the mind of the Traditionalist, who, giving lip service to “faith alone in Christ alone”, nevertheless is convinced that works, in a real sense, and on a genuine level, are a necessary requirement for entrance into heaven.

For good reason Traditionalists do not believe that believing in the promise of Christ alone saves. The promise is “Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). This promise does not have an action referred to in the span of its proposition. You couldn’t get in front of a wall and wait for a wrecking ball to swing toward you in order to add to and fulfill your mere intellectual assent, making the belief into faith, and thus “prove” your faith. They prefer the proposition “You must make Jesus Lord of life!” for in this, they could deem you saved or lost by inspection of your works, which they proclaim fulfill your belief making it faith. But this command of theirs is not the promise of the gospel, but another gospel altogether.

1 Comments:

Blogger Bhedr said...

Antonio,

We can go on with "and who is my neighbor arguments." We've all been doing it for months.

Suffice it to say though that in Matthew 8 just after Jesus tells everyone in chapter 7 of the famous, not everyone that saith Lord Lord..."

Well in chapter 8 comes the Roman Centurion who did not test God when Jesus said "I will come with you..." but rather said...I am not worthy but just say the word and he will be healed."

He understood two things...God was the Authority so he didn't question his word...and that when he went home his servant would be healed. He rested in that anticipation and gave it over to God.

Jesus went on to shake the Jews out of their comfort zone by telling them you will not be in the Kingdom, but will go into outer darkness. The Assumptions that Israel had...and they believed they were going to heaven, "By right." was not faith although they had a mental assent to it. The Roman demonstrated to everyone that he actually trusted God's word..while they assumed on it.

July 01, 2006 6:40 PM  

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