[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Friday, June 30, 2006

Solifidian Answers a Traditionalist's Confusing and Contradictory Position on 'Faith'

For context of this post, please read : Does ‘believe’ and ‘have faith’ mean something different?

What follows is Daniel of Doulogos’ reply to the previous link above (my comment on my blog). What follows this is a reply by none other than Solifidian, to which Daniel replies, to which Solifidian makes a tremendous reply.

The whole reason that I am posting this is that I want you to read Solifidian’s reply! It is excellent and really puts the Free Grace theology and Traditionalist religion into clear distinction.

It is a little long, but it will be WELL worth it!

I hope Solifidian doesn’t mind that I have formatted some of his response.

You may read my response to Daniel of Doulogos' Traditionalistic confusion Answer to Traditionalism's Fatal Error on 'Faith'

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Daniel said:

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A teacher once explained the pendulum effect to a classroom of students. He demonstrated that with each iteration, because of friction, the pendulum would swing a little less each way, each time.

He showed the mathematics, and demonstrated that this was a scientific certainty - a truth that could not be denied.

He asked the class if they believed that these calculations were true. They all agreed - with each passing iteration the pendulum would lose energy due to friction, and that this loss would be manifested by shortening (ever so slightly) the length of each iterative arc.

Then the teacher took a 600 lb wrecking ball, and suspended it from the main beam which was high enough above the lecture hall to allow a physical demonstration.

He then asked for a volunteer to "test their faith" in the pendulum effect, and so had the volunteer stand flat against one wall - then the professor, with the help of some students pulled the wrecking ball towards the student so that it just lightly touched his nose. He then demonstrated the difference between acknowledging the truth, and having perfect trust in it, by telling the student to remain there.

They let the weight go, and through its silent arc across the room the class was hushed, but as it began to come back, 600 lbs, the student who fully accepted the pendulum truths, upon seeing this weight accelerating towards him - the same stepped to the side in fear before the weight fully returned.

One might argue that the student didn't really believe the maths - or one might come up with some explanation that satisfies their intellectual position, but I recognize, even if you cannot, a grand difference between an intellectual assent that something is certain and true, and a willingness to trust that truth. The first is mere intellectual persuasion, carnal consent that something is fact - the second requires more than an assent to the truth - it requires faith in the pendulum effect. No one can exercise trust in the gospel truth except that God's Spirit enables them - they may, like anyone, accept that it is true - but that is not the same as trusting "in" that truth.

I confess - this seems quite obvious to me, but then, I am not merely articulating it - I lived it. I know full well what it means to believe that God saves people, but to refuse to believe that God will save --ME--. God be praised for the grace He freely bestowed on me so that I was able to exercise faith in what I knew to be true (that is, I was able to believe what I already held to be true - to apply that truth to myself.)

I think your focus on the synonymity (in English) of the words "faith" and "believe", perhaps has clouded your thinking!

Clearly, (even in English!) we see a gulf between acknowledging (assenting to) the truth, and trusting in the truth.

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Solifidian said:

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I think that Dyspraxic Fundamentalist’s post on Blondina while back did a good job of discussing this concept of faith that Daniel is articulating in his most recent comment.

I posted this excerpt from the internet in the comments of that thread as well, but it seems relevant when these types of discussions occur.

[Quote]
As a child and youth I was taught that in addition to my assent to the propositions that the Scriptures clearly assert are the only necessary and sufficient conditions for salvation that I must also do something more. This usually was presented in the form of an analogy. They said, “You can accept the fact that this chair will hold you if you sit in it but you must actually sit down on it to demonstrate your belief.” But even that is generous. It was not so much said that I must sit down do demonstrate my belief but that I must sit down to complete my belief. In some mysterious way I was expected not only to assert my belief in the saving propositions but also “sit down on the chair.” And I was never told exactly what that meant. In fact, no one could ever tell me what it meant because it didn’t mean anything that could be rationally described. And quite frankly, things that cannot be described rationally cannot be discussed! So I was left with the totally mystical notion that saving faith required a step that could not be described.
[End Quote]

The entire article can be found hereThe author, David Dilling, has posted his bio He is a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church

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Daniel said:

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I too see some similarities between the chair analogy and my description above.

I personally have heard the chair analogy used, and don't much care for it - it doesn't really picture what it is trying to model very well.

Believe it or not, there are Satanists who intellectually acknowledge that the gospel is true. They believe that there is such a God, and that Jesus Christ is His Son who died for sins on the cross - that is, they believe the gospel to be true, but hate it and reject it for themselves.

These Satanists are not "saved" simply because they possess a correct understanding of the gospel and assent to it's truthfulness - that is, they are not saved because they believe the gospel is true, nor do they imagine themselves to be saved because they agree to its truthfulness.

The chair analogy, though imperfect, attempts to explain the difference between knowing something is true, and using that truth to some effect - meaning that one can believe the gospel is true (such as a satanist), but never apply the gospel to themselves in order to be saved (never sit in the chair).

A person may believe that penicillin will cure their sexually transmitted disease, but they are not cured unless they take the penicillin themselves. Believing the concept doesn't cure them no matter how "pure" their assention to that truth is.

Whatever model is put up, the thing that is being modeled is that one is saved by obeying the gospel, and not by acknowledging that the gospel exists.

If belief were mere intellectual assent, Paul would have been a fool to suggest that someone examine themselves to see if they are in the faith or not.
The point is - if I may continue - that there are people out there who have been told the truth, who acknowledge that it is true, but who don't have faith in God.

Some of them are Satanists such as I described above - but some of them are deceived into thinking that merely acknowledging that the truth is true makes them a Christian - and these same are slapped on the back in some churches and declared "saved" - then they are promptly indoctrinated into a habit of religious activity (that rivals Rome), until like the Pharisees before them, they are devout followers, bible readers, church goers, and prayer warriors, and even admirers of God - but not children of God. Because these have never obeyed that same gospel that they know to be true.

These are the stony ground hearers who grow in everything but fruit! Likewise these are the thorny ground hearers who love all that truth, but can't let go of the world long enough to produce fruit in their own lifes.

They are false, converts - deceived and deceiving.

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Solifidian said:

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Daniel,

Thanks for the cordial discussion. These types of dialogues can tend to get heated rather fast. While I’m sure Antonio may have some further input, below are my responses to your comments.

(Daniel says) ***I too see some similarities between the chair analogy and my description above.***

(Solifidian says) -- Yes. The similarity is that in addition to knowing and agreeing with the promise of the gospel, both your pendulum analogy and the chair analogy seem to make another step required.

(Daniel says) ***I personally have heard the chair analogy used, and don't much care for it - it doesn't really picture what it is trying to model very well.***

(Solifidian says) -- I’m not sure that being willing to stand against a wall next to a swinging pendulum is a better model.

(Daniel says) ***Believe it or not, there are Satanists who intellectually acknowledge that the gospel is true. They believe that there is such a God, and that Jesus Christ is His Son who died for sins on the cross - that is, they believe the gospel to be true, but hate it and reject it for themselves.***

(Solifidian says) -- The content of saving faith necessarily includes the promise of the gospel. The death, burial, and resurrection are critically important to understanding how God made our salvation possible, but does the person take Christ at His word when He promises them eternal life?

(Daniel says) ***These Satanists are not "saved" simply because they possess a correct understanding of the gospel and assent to it's truthfulness - that is, they are not saved because they believe the gospel is true, nor do they imagine themselves to be saved because they agree to its truthfulness.***

(Solifidian says) -- If by gospel you are referring to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then nobody is “saved” because they possess a correct understanding of those events and assent to their truthfulness. It is critically important that a person believe the promise of the gospel. God justifies a person when they believe the promise of the gospel – that Christ guarantees their eternal destiny.

(Daniel says) ***The chair analogy, though imperfect, attempts to explain the difference between knowing something is true, and using that truth to some effect - meaning that one can believe the gospel is true (such as a satanist), but never apply the gospel to themselves in order to be saved (never sit in the chair).***

(Solifidian says) -- Applying the gospel to ourselves is not some additional step to believing the promise of the gospel. When we take Christ at His word, i.e., that He is the Guarantor of our eternal destiny, we are applying the gospel to ourselves. We are simply agreeing that what He has promised is true. Cp. Romans 4:21-22 - and [Abraham] being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."

(Daniel says) ***A person may believe that penicillin will cure their sexually transmitted disease, but they are not cured unless they take the penicillin themselves. Believing the concept doesn't cure them no matter how "pure" their assention to that truth is.***

(Solifidian says) -- Now instead of standing against a wall next to a swinging pendulum, we are taking penicillin. Christ gives us penicillin when we take His word for it. Christ gives us eternal life through the instrument of faith. Believing (assenting to the truth of) the promise of the gospel does cure us because Christ has told us believing the promise cures us.

(Daniel says) ***Whatever model is put up, the thing that is being modeled is that one is saved by obeying the gospel, and not by acknowledging that the gospel exists.***

(Solifidian says) -- The model you are proposing (a type of faith analogous to a willingness to stand in front of a pendulum) is something altogether different than believing the promise of the gospel. In your case it is something that you do; in the other case, it is taking Christ at His word, i.e., believing Him.

(Daniel says) ***If belief were mere intellectual assent, Paul would have been a fool to suggest that someone examine themselves to see if they are in the faith or not.***

(Solifidian says) -- Please note your use of the pejorative “mere.” Understanding and agreeing with Christ’s promise of the gospel is never “mere.” Paul was not asking his readers to question their salvation. He was commanding them the make sure their practice was in line with the teachings of the Christian faith. In the event that you have never seen a Free Grace understanding of the passage (2Cor. 13:5), one such example can be found here.

(Daniel says) ***The point is - if I may continue - that there are people out there who have been told the truth, who acknowledge that it is true, but who don't have faith in God.***

(Solifidian says) -- If the truth is the promise of the gospel, and they are persuaded that it is true, i.e., they believe that Christ guarantees their eternal destiny, then they do have faith in God—they take Him at His word.

(Daniel says) ***Some of them are Satanists such as I described above - but some of them are deceived into thinking that merely acknowledging that the truth is true makes them a Christian - and these same are slapped on the back in some churches and declared "saved" - then they are promptly indoctrinated into a habit of religious activity (that rivals Rome), until like the Pharisees before them, they are devout followers, bible readers, church goers, and prayer warriors, and even admirers of God - but not children of God. Because these have never obeyed that same gospel that they know to be true.***

(Solifidian says) -- Yes, that’s why assurance does not come by looking at our lives. These religious people may very well think they pass certain “tests” and are therefore Christians. The question, however, is have they believed the promise of the gospel?

(Daniel says) ***These are the stony ground hearers who grow in everything but fruit! Likewise these are the thorny ground hearers who love all that truth, but can't let go of the world long enough to produce fruit in their own lifes.***

(Solifidian says) -- As you mentioned earlier to Antonio, it is clear that you hold a different understanding of this parable than many in the Free Grace community. Suffice it to say that most in the Free Grace community do not believe that salvation is attained by letting go of the world long enough to produce fruit.

(Daniel says) ***They are false, converts - deceived and deceiving.***

(Solifidian says) -- Anyone who thinks that they are justified apart from faith alone (taking Christ at His word in the promise of the gospel) is deceived.

Thanks for your time. If you have not done so already, you may want to pick up a copy of Gordon Clark’s, Faith and Saving Faith. He was a Calvinist who espoused a view of faith which in some ways is very similar to many within the Free Grace community.
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Daniel said:

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Solifidian - we may be talking past one another to some extent. You acknowledge that "the promise must be believed" - I concur.

Using your nomenclature, I would say that there is a difference between "believing that the promise is a valid promise" and "believing the promise." The Satanist may understand and believe that the promise is a true promise, and that if the Satanist were to trust Christ to save them, that they could be saved - but having that knowledge doesn't save them unless/until they actually believing the promise for themselves. I think you would concur? That is what the chair analogy is all about. Not that they have to do some else besides "believe" - but that belief is not simply having the knowledge of what you must believe in order to be saved, but actually believing it!

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Solifidian said:

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Daniel,

Once again, here are my responses.

(Daniel says)***Solifidian - we may be talking past one another to some extent. You acknowledge that "the promise must be believed" - I concur.***

(Solifidian says)-- I’m not sure we are talking past one another. I think that we have fundamentally different understandings of the nature of faith. Your viewpoint seems to involve something more than knowledge and assent (understanding and agreeing with the promise of the gospel).

(Daniel says)***Using your nomenclature, I would say that there is a difference between "believing that the promise is a valid promise" and "believing the promise." The Satanist may understand and believe that the promise is a true promise, and that if the Satanist were to trust Christ to save them, that they could be saved - but having that knowledge doesn't save them unless/until they actually believing the promise for themselves. I think you would concur? That is what the chair analogy is all about. Not that they have to do some else besides "believe" - but that belief is not simply having the knowledge of what you must believe in order to be saved, but actually believing it!***

(Solifidian says)-- There is certainly a difference between knowing something and believing something. The difference is assent or agreement. My local politician may promise to lower my taxes. I understand that he makes that promise. I, however, do not agree with him. Jesus Christ offers me eternal life if I believe Him, i.e., take Him at His word. Unlike my lack of faith in the politician, I do agree with Jesus Christ’s promise to me of eternal life. I take Him at His word. I believe Him.

The chair illustration, as I understand it, implies that in addition to knowing and agreeing that the chair will support me (support is the promise implied by the chair designer), I must be willing to sit on the chair or choose to sit on the chair. Comparing that to the promise of the gospel is to suggest that in addition to knowing and agreeing with Jesus Christ's promise to guarantee my eternal destiny (i.e., I believe Him), I must then be willing or choose to believe Him. If I already understand His promise and agree with it, then I already believe Him. There are no additional steps involved. Adding additional steps is, in my humble opinion, to confuse the simplicity of faith alone in Christ alone.

Thanks again for your time. Enjoy your weekend.

==================

Thank YOU, Solifidian, for your patience and thorough answer to Daniel’s Traditional confusion!

15 Comments:

  • Some great discussion there.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, June 30, 2006 11:11:00 PM  

  • Solifidan said..........
    (Yes. The similarity is that in addition to knowing and agreeing with the promise of the gospel, both your pendulum analogy and the chair analogy seem to make another step required.)

    Solifidan, since this, your very first premiss, is wrong, then your entire argument is worthless. The chair argument is used to define faith. The fact that it includes something you do not like does not mean it adds another step. It means you disagree with this definition.

    Nowhere has Daniel suggested that faith requires another step. This is a diversion you are using to prop up your seriously flawed theology.

    This nonsense of a person professing faith and later becoming an unbeliever for the rest of his life, yet remaining saved, is just one example of this Zane Hodges lunacy.

    Jazzycat

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Saturday, July 01, 2006 6:50:00 AM  

  • "This nonsense of a person professing faith and later becoming an unbeliever for the rest of his life, yet remaining saved, is just one example of this Zane Hodges lunacy."

    Jazzycat, the Synod of Dort and Calvininist theologians, like Wayne Grudem, affirm that believers can experience temporary apostasy. Do you agree with this and if so for how long might such a temporary departure from the faith last?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, July 01, 2006 7:17:00 AM  

  • temporary....adj 1: not permanent; not lasting;

    permanent..... adj 1: continuing or enduring without marked change in status or condition or place.

    Hodges view would include permanent. Reformed view certainly would not include permanent. (1 john 2:19)

    BIG DIFFERENCE....

    That was just one example. Hodges view would also include the possibility of a truly saved person coming to a point of permanently disavowing the deity of Christ after affirming it at the point of saving faith.

    Jazzycat

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Saturday, July 01, 2006 9:00:00 AM  

  • So you do acknowledge that some temporary apostasy is possible.

    How long might a true believer remain in apostasy?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, July 01, 2006 9:50:00 AM  

  • Makes me wonder how to classify a "short" apostasy ended by death. Does that not become permanent because it had no end?

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at Saturday, July 01, 2006 2:25:00 PM  

  • Jazzycat, your ad hominem against Zane Hodges will not be tolerated on this blog.

    If you have a something to say as a rebuttal to anything, why don't you do us all a favor and give a biblical argument using an exegetical approach, rather than your childish hit and run with not a single substantive thing to show for it.

    So far, I haven't read a biblical arguement based upon exegesis any any of the comments you post anywhere.

    Any further breaking of this blogs rules will result in your comments being deleted.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, July 01, 2006 2:31:00 PM  

  • Antonio,
    For many weeks now I have had no interest in commenting on this blog. However, when you brought this debate from Daniel's blog just as he was leaving on a long weekend, I made an exception.

    you said.........
    (So far, I haven't read a biblical arguement based upon exegesis any any of the comments you post anywhere.)

    Well, I knew I wasn't qualified to hang with you F.G. heavy weights, but not to have made an itty bitty Biblical argument somewhere along the way.....!!!! WOW!

    Matthew,
    I admire you, your energy and commitment very much, even if we disagree.

    Jazzycat

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Saturday, July 01, 2006 4:01:00 PM  

  • Jazzycat, thanks, but I take it you are not going to answer my question?

    I agree with Antonio. I do not like the way you talk about Zane Hodges without ever actually referring to his writings or arguments. Have you read any of his books? If not, stick to interacting with us.

    Angie, God is sovereign He will take us home when He pleases, not when we are conveniently in a state of faithfulness.

    Note the parable of the man who built bigger barns: it does not say he was an unbeliever, though he might have been. Death may take some Christians by surprise and they will regret lost opportunities.

    That is not even mentioning 'the sin unto death'.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, July 02, 2006 12:43:00 AM  

  • Right, Matthew, but the question was more to challenge the validity of distinguishing between temporary and permanent apostasy. It goes hand in hand with asking how long temporary apostasy can last for one to really be saved. My mother was raised in a church that taught that you can lose your salvation, and my father's grandmother likewise believed that one's salvation can be lost. In either case if one died with unconfessed sin they were taught that they would not be saved. Very sad. In these cases apostasy need not last long to be permanent and damning. I know the teaching that "permanent apostasy" means that one is never saved to begin with is quite different than the teaching that one can lose their salvation thus, but that's a parallel my brain drew yesterday when I pondered what death means about the permanent or temporary status of one's apostasy. I tend to think that those who are saved will not, by the grace of God, be long apostate, but I am not going to be dogmatic about it.

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at Sunday, July 02, 2006 4:59:00 AM  

  • Hey Angie,

    your thoughts on the matter are helpful, butI would wonder where in the Bible you would get your tendency to believe that a truly born again person cannot lose his faith.

    I must say, that you are level-headed and patient. Thanks for all your participations on this blog.

    (Even though you have been affiliated with TMS, lol)

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, July 02, 2006 9:20:00 AM  

  • Antonio, thanks! I prefer to say that I am affiliated with TMC rather than TMS, but they are legally the same entity, so I really can't deny the one and claim the other, can I? ;)

    To be quite frank, I am not sure I can support my tendency from the Bible. It is certainly more something that I was taught than theology I arrived at from my own study, which is why it is a non-dogmatic tendency. I shall have to give it more consideration.

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at Sunday, July 02, 2006 10:44:00 AM  

  • I think Hebrews 6:4-8 clearly indicates the possiblity of fianl apostasy in a believer. That is why the Arminian apostates champion that passage so strongly and why it leads so many think that salvation can be lost. However, the truth is that those verses make no mention of going to hell.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matt

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, July 03, 2006 2:05:00 AM  

  • Antonio,
    I had been following the discussion at Daniel's blog, but I misssed this part. Thanks for posting it here. That Solifidian is good. He keeps it simple - I like that.

    Jazzycat,
    you say:
    Solifidan, since this, your very first premiss, is wrong, then your entire argument is worthless.
    Jazzy, I keep seeing these kinds of comments from you lately. They do come across as very dismissive. When I deleted that one comment from you a couple of months ago about Zane Hodges, I thought it was an abberation. But ... I keep seeing these attacks. Do you think that is helpful? (I know this is done from both sides.) You have had some good discussions with us from time to time in the past. Lately though, you do seem to be getting rather harsh. Your tolerance of opposing points view is running out, isn't it? Did someone pet the cat backwards?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, July 03, 2006 4:59:00 AM  

  • Solifidian's comments are great aren't they?

    Jazzy, I think all of us are discussing the definition of saving faith. Have you read the Gordon Clark book? He was a Westminster Calvinist and the head of the philosophy dept. at Butler; you're probably familiar with him.

    Whenever I hear that type of chair/cliff/canyon/pendulum analogy, I think of it as teaching that faith, to be real, has to move into the muscles. I know that may be a distortion compared to what is meant, but I agree with the comments that exactly what is meant is somewhat indescribable.

    Good discussion :-)

    God bless.

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Tuesday, July 04, 2006 11:27:00 AM  

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