The Analogy with Blondin
Preachers often attempt to separate belief and trust by telling a story about Blondin, the famous tightrope walker who crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope. As with most preachers' tales, there are several variations (does anybody else find this irritating?). If anybody knows which is correct, feel free to tell us.
According to one version, Blondin crosses the falls on a tightrope and then goes along with a wheelbarrow. A man suggests that he carries someone in the wheelbarrow, but declines to volunteer. The other version I have heard holds that Blondin asks the crowd whether he could cross the falls with a man on his back. The crowd cheer that he could, but nobody volunteers.
The point of this story, according to those who tell it, is that those people believed that he could do it, but they were not willing to trust him. Thus, they had only an intellectual faith in Blondin's ability to get them across.
There are three problems with this analogy.
The first problem is that it is not certain that those people really did have even an intellectual faith that Blondin could get them safely across. Merely because they professed to have confidence in him, did not mean that they did. They had just been overawed by his feats and were in the excitement of the crowd. Perhaps they declined because their reasoning caught up with them. After all, they had not seen Blondin carry a person across, either on his back or in the wheelbarrow. They had only seen him cross on his own. Could they be certain that he had the strength or the balance to carry a person across?
Secondly, they might indeed have trusted Blondin to get them across. However, other factors might have deterred them. An irrational fear of heights, fear of being sick or the indignity of being carried.
Thirdly, the analogy does not fit with faith in Christ for eternal life. Blondin was not merely asking those people to believe in him, he was asking them to carry out an action. In contrast, when we believe on Christ for salvation, we are justified through our confidence in what Christ has done for us. The faith is in Christ's work. We are not saved by doing anything:
'2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
3 For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,'