[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, July 28, 2006

Does Anybody Agree with this Quotation? II

by Antonio da Rosa

I am proposing a intermittent series by my fellow bloggers here, titled "Does Anybody Agree with this Quotation", in respect for Matthew's first post in the series.

Do you know if you believe? According to Calvinism, you may only think you believe, you may only be conscious of exercising what you think is faith, but it may only be spurious faith. And in this case, you have deceived your own consciousness, and you are in the dark as to your lost position. What hope do you have? Not much apparantly! You can't know if you are God's child!

Robert L. Dabney:

“There is a spurious as well as a genuine faith. Every man, when he thinks he believes, is conscious of exercising what he thinks is faith. Such is the correct statement of these facts of consciousness. Now suppose the faith, of which the man is conscious, turns out a spurious faith, must not his be a spurious consciousness? And he, being without the illumination of the Spirit, will be in the dark as to its hollowness.” (Discussions by Robert L. Dabney, D.D., L.L.D., pg 180-181; taken from: Volume I: Theological and Evangelical, edited by C. R. Vaughan, published by the Presbyterian Committee of Publication, Richmond, VA., 1890.)

What are your thoughts?

Antonio da Rosa


  • I think such thoughts are most unhelpful. They are actually rather pointless. No, really, the are outright dreadful. This kind of "teaching" only stokes the insecurities and lack of sure footing in weaker Christians. How bogus!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, July 28, 2006 6:37:00 PM  

  • If that is the fruit of his many years of study, I say throw out those useless initials and get a grip!

    I am becoming more and more disgusted with these so called doctors of theology. Woe to those who twist the Word and cause the faith of many to be shaken.

    We are to exhort, admonish, and encourage those in the faith, not tear them down with endless doubtings and suspicions.

    If anything is spurious, it is the credentials of these blind guides of the blind.

    By Blogger Jim, at Friday, July 28, 2006 10:06:00 PM  

  • Great idea for a series, Antonio.

    That is a very disturbing idea in the quotation.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 3:02:00 AM  

  • Help my understanding here...
    Did the people that Jesus speaks about here have a false faith which led to a false assurance which led to eternal damnation?

    Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’


    By Blogger jazzycat, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 6:54:00 AM  

  • To disagree with this quote, one would have to deny any existence of a false faith. Is your view that no one ever gives a false profession?


    By Blogger jazzycat, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 6:59:00 AM  

  • Jazzy,

    The trap you've tried to set with Matthew 7 actually works against your case. These were men who had all the sterling qualities that a good and self-introspective Calvinist would wish to have, a portfolio of good works which the Lord Himself does not contest! They had prophesied in His name, they had delivered people from demonic affliction, and they had done many wonders in the name of Jesus.

    Nothing in what the Lord says to them can be construed as contradicting the fact of these good works.

    But notice what they did not claim: They did not claim to have faith in Jesus. Therefore they never knew Him as a Savior. And He did not know them as believers who trusted Him.

    I recall that awhile back Matt over at Faith and Practice posed this same "conundrum." He tried to assert that v. 21 turns focus from the false prophets to another group, and as I recall he attempted to advance his case based on the pronouns or conjunctions or particles. But it just doesn't wash.

    The real question in this passage isn't, "Were these people false believers?" but "what does it mean to do the Father's will?"

    BTW, I know that I still owe you a response to your view on the nature of spiritual death in Eph. 2:5. I haven't forgotten, but decided to expand my reply into a full length journal article. And then I got sidetracked by a publisher who decided that after six years of waiting he wants my book by August 15th.

    So I'll get to it.

    Warm regards....

    By Anonymous Bud Brown, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 7:12:00 AM  

  • Bud said....
    The real question in this passage isn't, "Were these people false believers?" but "what does it mean to do the Father's will?"

    I hope this means that we are in agreement that there are false believers. There is a such a thing as a false faith and a false assurance. In the next few verses Jesus states the following:

    Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

    This passage comes at the end of The Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus has been giving characteristics and practices of Christians. What does Jesus means about believers putting his words into practice? Does the Fathers will mean putting your faith into practice?


    By Blogger jazzycat, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 8:09:00 AM  

  • Jazzycat, if a person does not live in accordance with Jesus' teaching, she is building her house on sand and sooner or later it will come crashing down.

    This goes for believers to. If a believer lives according to her own will, she is heading for ruin and judgment. Matthew 7:24-27 has nothing to do with going to hell.

    As for your question about a false faith. Yes, there is a false faith.

    A person may believe a false gospel, as do Roman Catholics and the followers of cults. Likewise, Wesleyans who have never come to trust in Jesus Christ for the certainty of eternal life. The faith that these people have cannot save.

    There are also young people who adopt Christianity because their friends are Christians and they want to fit in or to please their parents. They may believe in God and think that Jesus might be the Saviour, but they are not really certain about it. This is a false faith.

    However, an acknowledgment that Jesus Christ offers eternal life to those who believe is true saving faith.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 8:35:00 AM  

  • Jazzy,

    I can't rush into agreement with you quite yet. It depends on what you mean by "false faith."

    The term "faith" can be understood as (1) a received body of doctrine, "the faith delivered once for all to the saints;" (2) as committing ourselves to a thing we're not yet convinced as true, "I take it by faith that John McCain will represent my views adequately when I vote for him" [boy, talk about false faith!]; or (3) being convinced that a thing is true.

    When evaluated in terms of #1, then I would agree with you that there is false faith. Those who believe in Islam have a "false faith." JWs, Mormons, Buddhists all have a "false faith." What they believe is not true.

    When we come to the biblical revelation about Christ, then in terms of meaning #1 false faith is not possible. The received body of doctrine about the Person and Work of Jesus is by definition true.

    So that leaves us to discuss whether definition #2 (I am not convinced that a thing is true) or definition #3 (I am convinced that a thing is true) is the biblical definition of faith.

    I am sure that you would want to add a twist to this by introducing another definition, #4 - saving faith has two components; (a) it is convinced that the saving message is true, and (b) it necessarily results in good works, the absence of which proves that it is not genuine faith.

    So in conclusion, whether there is agreement between us depends upon how you are defining faith.

    I strongly reject the notion that it is possible to "falsely" be convinced that the saving message about Jesus is true. But I do agree that there is such a thing as "false faith" if by that we are referring to definition #1 or #2. I would add that definition #4 is a false gospel.

    By Anonymous Bud Brown, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 9:03:00 AM  

  • Bud,
    Glad to hear you will respond again on our debate as I had assumed your silence was a concession. (just kidding).

    Please don't assume something for me as you state in #4. It is not accurate.

    Your definition #3 is of a true faith, but my question was not can a true faith be false. My question was are all professions of faith true and sincere. In short can a profession of faith be false. Can a person be a hypocrit and profess Christ when he really doesn't believe it.

    For example, if several thousand people come forward and profess faith in Christ at an evangelism rally, are one hundred percent of them true professions. Is it possible that some of them may be making a false profession?

    For me to pursue my view in this thread, I need for you to answer this question as well. Is it your view that no one ever gives a false profession?


    By Blogger jazzycat, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 9:37:00 AM  

  • A false profession of faith (saying you believe and are convinced of something) is not the same as a "false faith". "False faith" is a bad choice of words, IMHO, Jazzy. Maybe if you choose your words more carefully, you can avoid some furballs.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 10:11:00 AM  

  • Jazzy,

    Yeah, there are people who profess to beleive in Jesus but they're fakers.

    I once had a Moonie sneak in to a church I was pastoring in Sedona. Claimed to believe in Jesus and all that, but as he began to slowly reveal himself it was clear that he was a faker.

    There are people who will claim to be believers but they are deceiving us.

    Is that what you mean? If it is, then of course we agree. But if you have more than that in mind, e.g., Dabney's quote, then no, we probably don't agree.

    By Anonymous Bud Brown, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 10:22:00 AM  

  • Jazzy,

    One more thing.

    Dabney's saying that people can be convinced that they believe, but they really don't believe.

    In other words, he is asserting that there are people who are convinced that the message about Jesus is true but they really aren't convinced that is true, they just think they are.

    Do you see what an insane position that is? To be convinced that a thing is true but you really aren't convinced?

    A position like that is lunacy, and that's where it ends up, with people always fretting whether they are convinced. They're convinced that they're convinced, but can be they be sure?

    There is no rest or confidence or assurance in that kind of theology. It creates insurmountable pastoral problelms.

    By Anonymous Bud Brown, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 10:25:00 AM  

  • and it places the grounds of assurance in our subjective state of mind rather than in the promises of God's Word.

    One minute I'm sure it's true, but in the middle of the night I wake up and wonder, "is it really true?"

    The state of my assurance is governed by the state of my digestion!

    By Anonymous Bud Brown, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 10:27:00 AM  

  • I never knew it was so hard to nail down what a false profession of faith was! Let me try again. I understand there are no false professions of true faith, but are there any false professions of 'professions of faith'?

    Are 100% of professions at a Billy Graham rally true professions? I am not talking about moonies, I am talking about people who hear the word and get emotional and profess at a rally.


    By Blogger jazzycat, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 12:29:00 PM  

  • If at the Billy Graham crusade they are persuaded that the message is true (the essence of saving faith) then they are persuaded that the message is true (they have saving faith).

    Public profession has nothing to do with it, legitimate or otherwise. To introduce that into the question of faith mixes categories and confuses the issue. I realize of course that the crusade evangelists made this mess; you didn't make it and neither did I.

    The only question that matters is, "were they convinced that what they heard about Jesus at the Billy Graham Crusade was true?"

    So off the top of my head I would say that the only legitimate category of "false faith" is the deliberate deception.

    By Anonymous Bud Brown, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 1:11:00 PM  

  • Jazzycat, I have no idea where you get this idea that Free Gracers think that people are saved by making a profession. It would nto surpise me if less than half of the people at Billy Graham meetings (and probably Moody before him) were false.

    There are some professing Christians of whom I sometimes wonder of their sincerity. If a backslidden professor went on living for years in comfort and ease, then I might question whether he had ever really believed, given the lack of apparent chastening.

    There are false professors. I do not deny it. However, they have never given any acknowledgment of the reality of Christ's gift of eternal life to those who believe. False professors do not believe that they posess eternal life through Jesus Christ. They have no faith beyond assent to doctrines like the Trinity or the atonement. They have never trusted in Jesus for the results of His saving work.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 1:57:00 PM  

  • Matthew and Bud,
    I seem to be getting mixed signals about false professions of faith.

    I think Matthew has agreed there is such a thing as a false profession of faith in Jesus Christ. With this being affirmed, I do not see anything outrageous in the Dabney statement. I do not fully understand what he is talking about since it is but a part of his sermon or whatever he wrote.

    Bud seems to preclude the possibility that someone might be caught up in the moment and make a false profession.


    By Blogger jazzycat, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 4:42:00 PM  

  • There is such a thing as a false professor in Christianity. But it lies in only 2 areas:
    a) One who lies and says that they believe in Jesus alone for eternal life (for purpose of infiltrating, or wishing to be accepted, etc)
    b) One who believes a message that is not the saving message of Christ (the true gospel), and believes that he has believed the true gospel.

    There is no such thing as a spurious faith in Christ alone that has for its purpose the reception of eternal life. The modifiers, such as "head" faith, "false" faith, "spurious" faith, "temporary" faith, etc., are the machinations of those who oppose the idea that eternal life is, in reality, an absolutely free gift. No such modifiers to faith exist in the Bible. The Bible knows nothing of any such thing as a “substandard” faith in Jesus Christ for eternal life that doesn't save.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 7:09:00 PM  

  • What lies at the heart of the Dabney quote is that a person cannot know if he has truly believed the saving message of Christ. A person cannot tell if his faith is genuine or spurious this side of death.

    This is why the Traditionalist cannot tell if he is saved or not; this is why the Traditionalists are also fruit-inspectors and experimentalists. They cannot be certain that they are saved, but they can look to see if they have works or not, and by this gain some experitmental evidence that they may be saved.

    Trouble is, that there are many in cults and other religions who put to shame true Christians when it comes to compassionate and loving works.

    The idea of a spurious faith is altogether unbiblical, and the Bible knows of NO SUCH THING.

    Simple faith is spurned for a heavy theologically loaded version of "faith" which includes obedience until the end of life.

    Faith is simple:

    it is taking Jesus at His word, it is the conviction that what Jesus says in His gospel promise is true, it is being persuaded that one has eternal life by virtue of Christ's guarantee to the believer.

    "spurious" faith? This is a theological device of a deductionistic religion.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 7:16:00 PM  

  • And that a person cannot know for certain if they have trusted Christ's promise is completely insane.

    This is fringe thinking! Such an assertion is the illegitamate child of perseverance theology.

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 7:19:00 PM  

  • "And that a person cannot know for certain if they have trusted Christ's promise is completely insane."

    Right on bro!

    If that is the heart of perseverance, then it is nothing more than a deception from the pit of hell.

    By Blogger Jim, at Saturday, July 29, 2006 8:35:00 PM  

  • From the Dabney quote, he seems to be claiming that there are those who believe in Christ but somehow their faith is defective. That somehow there are two (or more) kinds of faith and some faith works for salvation and some does not. I have run into this before but have never found any satisfactory support for different kinds of faith. I have heard Christians speak of head belief and heart belief before but have never encountered any scriptural support for this. Is this what Dabney is speaking of?

    I would like to make a distinction at this point that may help with this discussion. I believe that there is faith and the object of that faith; both parts of this equation have to be correct in order for us to be saved. Using my American Heritage Dictionary, a good definition of faith is “confident belief.” This certainly seems in line with my understanding of the term.

    What do I have to have confident belief in? The answer is the Lord Jesus Christ:

    Acts 16:31 “So they said ’Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, you and your household’.”

    Also, you cannot be a universalist and claim that belief in Christ or anyone/anything else can grant you access to heaven, it is just a preference:

    Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

    Given this, I can see several different possibilities that may be discussed.

    1.) Dabney is claiming that the faith itself is defective and that the persons he is speaking of think that they have believed but actually have not because their faith is somehow defective. Once again, I have never seen any scriptural support for different kinds of faith and reject it. It is an attack on the faithfulness of Christ and his work on the cross.

    2.) That somehow the object of this person’s faith is wrong. This certainly does not come through in the quote and it does not appear to be what he is saying.

    3.) That he is speaking of people who are making a false profession which they know to be untrue but are trying to deceive other people with the claim. I have known people who do this. There will be more than one man in church next Sunday who claims to be a lover of the word but is really only interested in dating the woman he is setting next to. But these people do not think that they have believed, it is a scam from the beginning.

    Jazzycat, as for you quote of Matthew 7:21-23 I see this in a very different light than you do. This passage does not say that these people thought they had believed while alive. They are unbelievers standing before the Great White Throne and about to be condemned for eternity. They know they are in trouble and are desperately trying to save themselves. While I do not understand them to be saying that they had believed they do seem to be saying that all of the good deeds they had done were for the Lord, they tried to work their way into heaven and it failed.

    I hope you find this constructive.

    Glenn W.

    By Anonymous GlennW, at Sunday, July 30, 2006 3:16:00 PM  

  • Glenn,

    thanks again for your participation!

    You make some very good points.

    From my take and reading of the Traditionalist literature, I am persuaded that your #1 is correct.

    The Calvinist preaches a special kind of faith, a really big one.

    The believe that there are sub-standard, spurious, defective, faiths. And I, like you, see no Biblical basis whatsoever for this.

    Thanks for your contribution, it really sheds some light on the discussion!


    By Blogger Antonio, at Sunday, July 30, 2006 5:53:00 PM  

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