[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)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Faith/Trust and All that Jazz

by Antonio da Rosa

I think that some around here have subtly defined "faith" by what response and/or emotion that they deem must ensue.

That would be defining faith in light of its supposed fruit rather than by its constituency.

Now if faith is assurance/certainty, the passive "act" in response to being convinced/persuaded, then one can know if they have faith if they are certain (having been convinced) that a proposition it true.

I love what Gordon Clark says:

"To be sure, some beliefs stir the emotions, but the very sober belief that a man has five fingers on each hand is as much a belief as [being convinced of] some shattering news"

It is not helpful to define faith by its alleged fruits. This tends to obfuscate rather than to clarify.

I was talking to a woman whose 22 year old daughter had a baby with a man 12 years her senior. He turned out to be a real crazy person, and it is alleged that he has sexually absued the baby. If the news came out that this man died, or fell off the face of the earth, the mom of the daughter would experience an emotional reaction upon believing that news quite different than the mother of the father of the child.

Personality is widely subjective, and often our emotions and actions spring from it; have it as their foundation. When foreign elements to belief are imported into its conception, a subjectivity is introduced into it which can rob one of the certainty that is faith!

The only test to whether or not one believes something is if he is certain, having been convinced/persuaded as to the proposition. This is objective and will net results that are the same.

Are we going to say that a woman who is certain that mail will indeed come to her house the next day, yet troubled by it for she deems that most of it will be bills, nevertheless does not believe the proposition that mail will indeed be delivered to her house tomorrow?

I think that one of the reasons we have gone on this roundabout is a confusion between faith and trust.

For some reason the word "trust" is more preferable to some over the word "belief". It is interesting that John the Evangelist in his gospel uses the Greek words pistis/pisteuw (belief/believe) 99 times in his gospel written so that man may have eternal life, and uses the term "trust" only once, and not even in a soteriological aspect.

He did not consider the term "trust" be be superior to "belief".

Trust is specific belief into one or more propositions.

"I trust the airline pilot"

Can be broken up in this way:

I believe that the airline pilot is a professional, highly trained plane operator, skilled in flying, troubleshooting, emergency issues, flight safety, etc. I believe that he is able to conduct affairs sufficiently so that I will reach my destination.

"Trust" in the mind of many here has an added element to "faith" that makes it superior to bare "faith". This element is either an "emotion", a "volition", or a "commitment". Emotion, volition, and commitment may very well follow trust. But at the very moment you define trust by its alleged and supposed fruits, you have added those consequent fruits as a condition for 'faith' being genuine faith, and have destroyed the certainty that faith inherently consists of.

"Trust" is not a superior word to "faith," "belief," or "believe". Trust is a synonym to faith! Often times "trust" denotes faith in the reliability of an object, but it is nothing more!

The words pistis/pisteuw (belief/believe) are the operative words in salvific contexts. Why are we so ambivalent to use them? People know what it means to believe something, they know whether or not they are convinced as to something or not!

Further, I find that much confusion has ensued because of an ambiguity in the exact gospel proposition(s).

John 11:25-26
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

Jesus asks Martha if she believes these propositions Jesus has stated concerning Himself. Her response to this is:

John 11:27
27 She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God..."

Her answer directly parallels the thematic statement of the whole epistle:

John 20:30-31

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

To believe those propositions is to believe that Jesus is the Christ! If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, (in the sense as it has just been defined by John in his evangelistic treatise: that He is the Guarantor of eternal life and resurrection to the believer in Him) you have 'exercised' saving faith!

I frankly am baffled as to why some additional "personal" element is needed. The one who believes, IOW, the one who is certain of Christ's promise is believing Jesus Christ's saving gospel! The only personal element needed is inherent in the promise: "He who believes in Me (IOW what I am saying!)", "whoever... believes in Me". At the moment one believes Christ's promise, His propositions concerning Himself, IOW, is CERTAIN that what He is saying is absolutely true, it is sufficiently personalized, for the believer is included within the sphere of "he who" and "whoever".

Of course it is not wrong nor misleading to ask one who claims that they are certain of Christ's guarantee what they now have. If they do not respond with "eternal life" then it is certain that they do not believe Christ.

Nor is it wrong to "personalize" the message: "Do you believe Christ's promise that guarantees for you eternal life?" But it is not necessary.

The one who believes Christ's promise is certain that Christ guarantees "he who" and "whoever" eternal life, which obviously includes them, for they are believing Christ.

I cannot conceieve of someone saying "I believe Christ's promise, but I don't personally receive Christ's promise." They obviously do not understand the promise then and therefore cannot be believing Christ!

The offer is "believe and YOU HAVE". If you believe then you at that moment HAVE. It is not qualified by any other component; not commitment, not volition, not emotion.

So there are two problems: 1)the word "trust" is given preference over "believe" and 2) there is ambiguity over the proposition, due to inaccurate and misleading analogies.

My take!

Antonio

8 Comments:

  • Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, October 18, 2006 10:45:00 AM  

  • I think that some around here have subtly defined "faith" by what response and/or emotion that they deem must ensue.

    Antonio, my blog-mate, I hope you are not throwing out a red herring in that first paragraph if you are referring to me. I had never mentioned any emotion at all and not a response either in these last few days.

    I will read the rest of your post.

    Please see my comment here.

    It is a little frustrating...

    ... when I am just trying to define specifically that I believe it is important to grasp that the offer of eternal life has a personal application ... that it is FOR ME (or whoever is believing it), and not just some abstract thing that Christ does for some abstract group,

    ... that it is asserted by you and Matthew that I am trying to "add to faith."

    By Blogger Rose~, at Wednesday, October 18, 2006 12:16:00 PM  

  • Rose, if you believe that Christ provided eternal life for those who believe and you acknowledge that you are among them, then you have saving faith.

    It seems your comments about the indifferent person would suggest that you see some emotional component in faith.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, October 18, 2006 1:45:00 PM  

  • I don't know why you it would suggest that to you. I have never said that. I am not talking at all about emotions.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Wednesday, October 18, 2006 2:39:00 PM  

  • I think what you are getting at is the simple differance between the brain and the conscience. That has nothing to do with emotions.

    After we die we wont stop existing even when our brain dies. Our brain is flesh. You are speaking to the personal need of the soul. The spirit of man coming into contact with the Spirit of God. That is where belief happens and becomes personal.

    I know where you are coming from and I think that perhaps some are concerned that they are yeilding up space to the Lordships...but they are not.

    The Bible speaks to the soul, yet there are plenty of Rabbis, Hindus, and Buddhist who know what Jesus did on the cross.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Wednesday, October 18, 2006 8:29:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio!,

    This is Danny again. I'm sorry that I only left the URL for Bob's article instead of actually commenting over at Rose's blog. I'm glad you enjoyed the article since it hits the nail on the head of the supposed difference between assent and faith. Anyway, I discovered the GES site six years ago at age 18, and it has been a valuable resource to say the least! I've read through so many of the chats there that I feel like I know you, Marty, and all those guys. I've been reading through all your blogs for nearly a year, and finally decided to comment. Anyway, great article and big hello to Rose, Matthew, HK, and all of you guys!

    Peace,
    Dan

    By Anonymous danny, at Thursday, October 19, 2006 12:56:00 AM  

  • That was long...and you say 'IOW' a lot.

    By Blogger nathaniel adam king, at Thursday, October 19, 2006 11:52:00 PM  

  • Hello Danny.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, October 20, 2006 1:26:00 AM  

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