Discussion regarding a recent post by Doug Wilson on the A4

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crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
All,

Just recently ran across this post and would like your thoughts on it. [color=Blue:b1e126b47f]Doug Wilson Blog Link[/color:b1e126b47f]

Please help me discern where this is going wrong (or if it is...don't want to assume or poison the well) as I'm just starting to try to understand where the battle lines are being drawn. If at all possible try to keep posts regarding the specific text below and not bring everything else into it. I'll search other posts for those... :)

Here's the actual blog entry below:

Auburn Avenue Kerfluffle (AAK) and Transitive Verbs
Topic: Auburn Avenue Stuff

Always trying to be helpful, I would like to suggest something else that might help good Reformed folks out of the impasse we have gotten ourselves into. In the current debate over faith alone, obedient faith, faith and obedience, and so on, we have a tendency to reify things like faith and obedience, and then talk about them like they were two billiard balls. Then, when one of the Auburn guys talks about obedient faith, it seems to others like we are trying to get two billiard balls to occupy the same space at the same time. Everyone knows that obedience in sanctification is this billiard ball, and that faith is that billiard ball. And they do not mush together well.

But the problem is that faith is an abstract noun that describes the action of a multitude of verbs -- numerous actions of believing. Obedience does the same thing -- and refers to numerous actions of obeying, generally considered.

But an abstract noun should never forget that in its abstract form it never does what it is talking about. "Love," as found in the dictionary, does not have a beloved. But love, in order to exist in the world, requires a beloved. This is another way of saying that love is a transitive verb. So is obey. So is believe.

Now in order for someone to check out someone else's Protestant bona fides (such as mine, for instance), it is necessary to ask what I understand the direct object of any given sentence to be.

When I say obedient faith, the question should be "faith that obeys what?" or "obedience that believes what?"

The response should not be "Faith obeys? That sounds like obedience. Obedience sounds like works. Works? Akkk!"

Saving faith obeys the gospel, and only the gospel. Saving obedience believes in Jesus Christ, and saving obedience does nothing but believe in Jesus Christ. What is the direct object? God in Christ, Christ on the cross, Christ ascended.

Posted by Douglas Wilson - 6/17/2004 7:48:26 PM

Thanks all!

Chris

[Edited on 6-19-2004 by crhoades]

[Edited on 6-19-2004 by crhoades]
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
One major foundational problem I see is what he is trying to pave in the second paragraph, when he says "But the problem is that faith is an abstract noun that describes the action of a multitude of verbs -- numerous actions of believing. Obedience does the same thing -- and refers to numerous actions of obeying, generally considered." Here, he is trying to clump our initial faith in Christ together with all our subsequent acts of faith and trust in God in the situations throughout our Christian life. The way he words this is subtle, saying that faith "describes the action of a multitude of verbs," not just one. He used this subtle language so that most readers will not see how he is lumping justifying faith and sanctifying faithfulness into one and the same thing - and [i:197a3f1c79]that[/i:197a3f1c79] is the first major error I see in his blog.

Secondly, he uses the same tactic in his last paragraph, when he says, "Saving faith obeys the gospel, and only the gospel. Saving obedience believes in Jesus Christ, and saving obedience does nothing but believe in Jesus Christ." In his first sentence, he is talking about our initial, one-time act of faith, and his statement is correct. But he keeps making a subtle shift of what he is referring to by "faith," and by the time we read his last phrase, he has totally changed its definition to mean all the small acts of faithfulness we exercise throughout our Christian life. When he says, "saving obedience does nothing but believe in Jesus Christ," the saving obedience he is referring to is that obedience that we increasingly exercise in our daily lives as we are sanctified. But he still says that that obedience is doing nothing but believing in Jesus and the simple Gospel message, which lays the foundation for his claim that our lifelong, sanctifying obedience are part of the initial Gospel we believe, which, when spelled out, means that sanctifying works are themselves a part of initial saving faith.

So he's doing the same thing in both cases I pointed out - initially talking about our one-time act of placing saving, obedient faith in Christ and the Gospel, then continuing to use the same language and terminology (repeated use of the words "faith" and "obedience"), and gradually and subtly shifting his meaning of them from the initial saving act to what is Scripturally the continual, lifelong, sanctifying faithful obedience. So then he can get people to associate the two very different types of "obedient faith" with each other in their minds, and naturally come to think of them as one and the same. So it's hard to see, but he is completely lumping saving faith and sanctifying obedience together as one, thus paving the way (and laying the final brick, for that matter) for his denial of Sola Fide, even thought he would certainly deny such an explicit characterization of it.

Am I making sense?

In Christ,
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Forgive me, Blue, I'm just going to jump over your post and address Wilson's blog.

I must protest the language "obedient faith" in [i:c099e46871]precisely[/i:c099e46871] the context that Wilson is asserting it . To have Saving Faith requires three things, as I see it.
1) LIFE, spiritual life--a gift from God, granted by the Holy Spirit
2) FUNCTION, a useful, working "eye" or faculty to "see" spiritually (synonymous with believing)--again a gift from God granted by the Holy Spirit
3) LIGHT, the medium of truth and its transmission all rolled into one, i.e. the Word of God--again a gift from God granted by the Holy Spirit

Now, when these three are granted all three by sovereign, saving dispensation, we possess "saving faith". The act of "faithing" (read, "believing") is [i:c099e46871]absolutely[/i:c099e46871] passive. We no more [b:c099e46871]obey[/b:c099e46871] by believing the gospel than a baby does by "seeing" for the first time ever. Or a man born blind sees for the first time ever when Jesus "opens his eyes" (John 9). We simply "see," whereas before we could not--we were dead, we had no eyes, and the light to us was perfect darkness.

The wonder of it all is that [i:c099e46871]no one but the affected person [b:c099e46871]does[/b:c099e46871] the "seeing/believing."[/i:c099e46871] Yet, it is utterly passive! And here also is the mystery of the gospel "call". The Call to Repent and Believe goes out, and [i:c099e46871]we Calvinists, [/i:c099e46871] [u:c099e46871]we know[/u:c099e46871] that the people we are preaching to CANNOT OBEY THE SUMMONS!!!!! But the Spirit CAN cause them to REALLY hear, and when they do, they believe. [b:c099e46871]Their eyes are opened![/b:c099e46871]

[Edited on 6-19-2004 by Contra_Mundum]
 

turmeric

Megerator
I bet these people also do not realize that sanctification is [b:55a4a4ddb4]also[/b:55a4a4ddb4] God's work alone, though it results in obedience.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
[quote:608d906179][i:608d906179]Originally posted by Contra_Mundum[/i:608d906179]
Forgive me, Blue, I'm just going to jump over your post and address Wilson's blog.

I must protest the language "obedient faith" in [i:608d906179]precisely[/i:608d906179] the context that Wilson is asserting it . To have Saving Faith requires three things, as I see it.
1) LIFE, spiritual life--a gift from God, granted by the Holy Spirit
2) FUNCTION, a useful, working "eye" or faculty to "see" spiritually (synonymous with believing)--again a gift from God granted by the Holy Spirit
3) LIGHT, the medium of truth and its transmission all rolled into one, i.e. the Word of God--again a gift from God granted by the Holy Spirit

Now, when these three are granted all three by sovereign, saving dispensation, we possess "saving faith". The act of "faithing" (read, "believing") is [i:608d906179]absolutely[/i:608d906179] passive. We no more [b:608d906179]obey[/b:608d906179] by believing the gospel than a baby does by "seeing" for the first time ever. Or a man born blind sees for the first time ever when Jesus "opens his eyes" (John 9). We simply "see," whereas before we could not--we were dead, we had no eyes, and the light to us was perfect darkness.

The wonder of it all is that [i:608d906179]no one but the affected person [b:608d906179]does[/b:608d906179] the "seeing/believing."[/i:608d906179] Yet, it is utterly passive! And here also is the mystery of the gospel "call". The Call to Repent and Believe goes out, and [i:608d906179]we Calvinists, [/i:608d906179] [u:608d906179]we know[/u:608d906179] that the people we are preaching to CANNOT OBEY THE SUMMONS!!!!! But the Spirit CAN cause them to REALLY hear, and when they do, they believe. [b:608d906179]Their eyes are opened![/b:608d906179]

[Edited on 6-19-2004 by Contra_Mundum] [/quote:608d906179]

Forgive me for misreading you if I have; I amaware that I just skimmed over the thread. But, I disagree in some ways. Yes God is sovereign in this. Yes God predestines and elects certain individuals and salvation; but God does not "believe" for them. God does not accept, repent and receive for them. Faith is also a proactive component............

Luke 18:7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
Luke 18:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Before faith is proactive, it is purely passive.

Yes, Scott, you may have misunderstood me.
I said the following: [quote:64698aae45][i:64698aae45]no one but the affected person does the "seeing/believing."[/i:64698aae45][/quote:64698aae45] God is not believing for me, I'm doing the believing. It's simply a passive act, like the blind man seeing. Who saw? The blind man did. How did he see? God made everything possible. The blind man didn't will to see; he simply saw. And that seeing is one of the most striking and pervasive biblical metaphors for faith.

Let me put my point in "physical" language. When you open your eyes, do you will to see? Only secondarily. At the most essential level you simply see. As a grown man, you passed through childhood and into adulthood, all along the way your motor skills improved, your ability to distinguish the particulars of the world was sharpened, your interpretive skills were developed, your sight filters developed, you learned to [b:64698aae45]look,[/b:64698aae45] which is the will-directed component of seeing.

But when you opened your eyes this morning, did you will to see? Or did you simply see, because you are alive, because you have functioning eyes, because the light was coming in your bedroom window? Saving Faith is the same thing. We believe, yes we do, but that faith is not [i:64698aae45]fundamentaly[/i:64698aae45] a work. We believe because we have life (from God), sight (from God), and Light (from God). Our wills rapidly become engaged becasue our mental processor is designed by God to so respond. We become engaged in believing as a vital element of our new life in Christ. We act on the gift, learning, developing, "looking" not merely "seeing".

Challenge or correct me if you think I'm off, or I've missed something vital ...

[Edited on 6-19-2004 by Contra_Mundum]
 

Ianterrell

Puritan Board Sophomore
Bruce,

I'm not sure seeing correlates with believing. Regenerate man sees the gospel in a sense. The problem for the regenerate is not so much the ability to perceive the gospel so much as his depravity makes him unable to submit to it. Faith is a right response to the Gospel. It is one of the fruits that we are regenerate.

When men hear the gospel and reject it they are obeying the command to trust and obey. Faith has to do with the attitude of the new heart towards God the law-giver.
 

luvroftheWord

Puritan Board Sophomore
Man is absolutely NOT passive in salvation. Sure, man is dead in his trespasses and sins and by his nature is morally unable to believe the gospel before regeneration. But man is not a robot. In his state of rebellion is is actively denying the gospel, and does so by his own will and desire. And when the wind of regeneration blows, man actively obeys the gospel by his own will and desire. The only aspects of salvation man is passive in are election and regeneration. But man is very active in believing and living obediently. To deny this is to affirm hyper-Calvinism.

Concerning Doug Wilson's comments:

(1) It is not Romish to speak of obeying the gospel, since on at least two occasions the NT speaks of the judgment that comes upon those who do not OBEY the gospel (2 Thess 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

(2) Does anyone in this messageboard really believe that we are saved by dead, inactive faith that has no works?

Here's another interesting post from Wilson's blog:

Bestminster Best
Topic: Presbyterian Fables

Once two seminary professors at Bestminster Theological Seminary were walking together, heads bowed as they were deep in theological conversation. Their topic concerned the depths of the wisdom of God in the salvation of sinful man, and it was consequently slow going, as though they were try to paddle a canoe across a lake of chocolate pudding.

The point of their discussion was to ascertain whether the faith represented by the phrase sola fide was "living faith" or "dead faith." For it seemed clear to them, as well as to you and me, that it had to be one or the other. But, to be frank, a celebration of "dead faith" did not seem to them to be quite in keeping with the spirit of the Reformation. Not only that, but the folks down at Marketing and PR had positively nixed any such phrase for use on the donors' brochure. But the alternative was no better. To use the phrase "living faith" made them sound like Norman Shepherd.

As they wrestled with the problem, slowly the light dawned on both of them at once. In order to be "alone," as in "faith alone," the faith of our fathers could be neither living or dead, but, borrowing a phrase from chemistry, it had to be inert. It had to be colorless and odorless, like argon. And like Martin Luther, there they stood.
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Bruce,
You write:
"As a grown man, you passed through childhood and into adulthood, all along the way your motor skills improved, your ability to distinguish the particulars of the world was sharpened, your interpretive skills were developed, your sight filters developed, you learned to look, which is the will-directed component of seeing.
"
I disagree.........These bifocals are here to prove it!!!:gpl:
 

Ianterrell

Puritan Board Sophomore
[quote:3d330f38fa][i:3d330f38fa]Originally posted by luvroftheWord[/i:3d330f38fa]
Man is absolutely NOT passive in salvation. Sure, man is dead in his trespasses and sins and by his nature is morally unable to believe the gospel before regeneration. But man is not a robot. In his state of rebellion is is actively denying the gospel, and does so by his own will and desire. And when the wind of regeneration blows, man actively obeys the gospel by his own will and desire. The only aspects of salvation man is passive in are election and regeneration. But man is very active in believing and living obediently. To deny this is to affirm hyper-Calvinism.
[/quote:3d330f38fa]

Faith is certainly an activity! Amen.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Here's what I meant by pervasive

Ian,
I think these Scriptures are just a few of the passages that speak of faith as spiritual sight. It's especially prominent in John's works.

2 Cor. 5:7 "For we walk by faith, not by sight." Paul knows that in the body we always walk by sight, or we are terribly impaired (blind leading the blind into the ditch). Spiritual sight, therefore is faith.

Jesus calls the faithless Pharisees, "blind guides" (Mt. 15:14)

"I am the Light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (Jn 8:12).

John 8:56 (right before the John 9 passage): "Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad."

Is 42:6-7 "I will give you ... as a light to the Gentiles, To open blind eys, to bring prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house."

1 John 1:10-11 "He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes."

John 3:3 "Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (also v. 36)

And, because I love this story so much, John 9:25 "I was blind, now I see."

Ian, you said: [quote:53d57500fe]Faith is a right response to the Gospel.[/quote:53d57500fe] I would say that Faith is the [i:53d57500fe]natural[/i:53d57500fe] response to the gospel by a regenerated man.

[Edited on 6-19-2004 by Contra_Mundum]
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
[quote:e360396f03][i:e360396f03]Originally posted by Scott Bushey[/i:e360396f03]
Bruce,
You write:
"As a grown man, you passed through childhood and into adulthood, all along the way your motor skills improved, your ability to distinguish the particulars of the world was sharpened, your interpretive skills were developed, your sight filters developed, you learned to look, which is the will-directed component of seeing.
"
I disagree.........These bifocals are here to prove it!!!:gpl: [/quote:e360396f03] Seriously now, please, sharpen my focus if you think its wrong, but how do these mechanical/organic problems refute what I said?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Craig, [quote:d0144ddb9a]Man is absolutely NOT passive in salvation.[/quote:d0144ddb9a] Are we talking about the same exact thing? WCF 14.2 language: "The principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting...." They chose their language well--these are [i:d0144ddb9a]distinctly[/i:d0144ddb9a] passive terms. Out of this ability spring all our willful actions, don't you agree?

How exactly do you see robotism in my position?

Wilson's parable is parody. He paints a rhetorical caricature of the other side's position. He doesn't even bother to engage arguments there, but makes his opponents out to be rather crude despisers of biblical language. Sheer nonsense. I have yet to see anyone stoop to the same level of ridicule when portraying his side, probably because they see the issue as deadly serious, and any other atttude is simply frivolous.

[Edited on 6-19-2004 by Contra_Mundum]
 

luvroftheWord

Puritan Board Sophomore
My objection to your first post is that you made it sound like man does nothing and that the entire work of salvation is just dumped in man's lap. But faith is not limited to seeing, though that is one aspect of it. Faith is also an act of the will. Faith in the gospel is an act of obedience.

2 Thess 1:8-- "dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not OBEY the gospel of our Lord Jesus."

1 Peter 4:17-- "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not OBEY the gospel of God?"

Answer me this. Do you as an act of your own will choose to believe God's promises? If you say yes, then we are on the same page. But to affirm that we actively make a choice to do something is not to affirm that we are completely passive. I do agree that we are passive in salvation on certain points or from certain perspectives, but I believe we are active in others. The differences between you and me may simply be that of semantics. And if that's the case, I'd rather not argue semantics.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
[quote:9235acd863][i:9235acd863]Originally posted by luvroftheWord[/i:9235acd863]
My objection to your first post is that you made it sound like man does nothing and that the entire work of salvation is just dumped in man's lap. But faith is not limited to seeing, though that is one aspect of it. Faith is also an act of the will. Faith in the gospel is an act of obedience.[/quote:9235acd863] I don't want to limit faith to seeing as if there were no other biblical metaphors. I went on to say, developing this key metaphor in Scripture, that we don't simply go through life like first-seeing babies, never expanding the gift of sight, seeing every moment like it was our first use of vision. But, I stand by what I said--that when I open my eyes in the morning, I don't will to see whatever is in front of my eyes. I just see it. Then I SEE it, then I turn my head, and I LOOK at the clock, at my robe, at my wife. [quote:9235acd863]2 Thess 1:8-- "dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not OBEY the gospel of our Lord Jesus."

1 Peter 4:17-- "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not OBEY the gospel of God?"[/quote:9235acd863] These verses deal explicitly with willful unbelief. It's an interpretive error to turn them inside out and say, "There, by rearanging, and switching subjects, this now speaks validly of the first act of saving faith," not the least when strong arguments can be put against that notion. And I'm [u:9235acd863]not[/u:9235acd863] saying that obedience is [i:9235acd863]not[/i:9235acd863] part of faith in any sense. Obedience comes from faith, and becomes a part of it just as surely as my immediate sight [i:9235acd863]interpretation[/i:9235acd863] of the world kicks in, even before I put on my coke-bottles in the morning. But I'm a lot older now than my tiny baby, who still has to put it all together, but who is even now proceeding with natural development of her innate seeing ability. [quote:9235acd863]Answer me this. Do you as an act of your own will choose to believe God's promises? If you say yes, then we are on the same page. But to affirm that we actively make a choice to do something is not to affirm that we are completely passive. I do agree that we are passive in salvation on certain points or from certain perspectives, but I believe we are active in others. The differences between you and me may simply be that of semantics. And if that's the case, I'd rather not argue semantics. [/quote:9235acd863] Sure I do. Today. I'ts my only ground of assurance of faith. It's how I know, right now and every moment, that I'm going to heaven, not because I prayed a prayer some time years ago. But did any of that constitute my first moments of saving faith? No. I hadn't learned anything of obedience then. (My children don't come into the world knowing anything of secular obedience either.) But didn't I obey the command (in some way, even as a dumb child)? I did (there's the action verb) the "new" natural thing, I started believing. That ability was "inborn" in me(by the new birth). It starts out passively. It becomes active.

I don't know where you stand on the whole Auburn/NP/Shepard/Wilson/Schlissell/etc. They want to understand our obedience to be an active component of inital, saving faith so as to make human willful believing an integral part of justification by faith alone. It is primarily this false view that I am setting myself against.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Bruce,

For the others reading the post, just say it this way:

"I would say that Faith is the [i:f337ae32ff]natural[/i:f337ae32ff] [b:f337ae32ff]response[/b:f337ae32ff] to the gospel by a regenerated man."

The difference between when you posted it and what I just posted is the bold print.

Faith is beleiving the propositions of the bible in the exact same way in the above sentecne. Would it be fair for you to go through your post and replace "faith" with "belief" and then ask some of the same questions? The intercorrolary between them is impossible to break apart. Cognitive, willful belief is required to be saved (i.e. faith).

This is John's point:

NKJ John 1:7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff].

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] in His name:

50 Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff]? You will see greater things than these."

NKJ John 3:12 "If I have told you earthly things and you do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff], how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

18 "He who [b:f337ae32ff]believes[/b:f337ae32ff] in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

36 "He who [b:f337ae32ff]believes[/b:f337ae32ff] in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

NKJ John 4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, [b:f337ae32ff]believe Me[/b:f337ae32ff], the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.

42 Then they said to the woman, "Now we [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff], not because of what you said, for we ourselves have [b:f337ae32ff]heard Him[/b:f337ae32ff] and we [b:f337ae32ff]know[/b:f337ae32ff] that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."

48 Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff]."

NKJ John 5:38 "But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff].

44 "How can you [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff], who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?

46 "For if you [b:f337ae32ff]believed[/b:f337ae32ff] Moses, you would [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] Me; for he wrote about Me.

47 "But if you do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] his writings, how will you believe My words?"

NKJ John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] in Him whom He sent."

30 Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] You? What work will You do?

36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff].

64 "But there are some of you who do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff]." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff], and who would betray Him.

69 "Also we have come to [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

NKJ John 7:5 For even His brothers did not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] in Him.

NKJ John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] that I am He, you will die in your sins."

45 "But because I tell the truth, you do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] Me.

46 "Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] Me?

NKJ John 9:18 But the Jews did not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, "Do you [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] in the Son of God?"

36 He answered and said, "Who is He, Lord, that I may [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] in Him?"

38 Then he said, [b:f337ae32ff]"Lord, I believe!"[/b:f337ae32ff] And he worshiped Him.

NKJ John 10:25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff]. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me.

26 "But you do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff], because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.

37 "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] Me;

38 "but if I do, though you do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him."

NKJ John 11:15 "And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff]. Nevertheless let us go to him."

26 "And whoever lives and [b:f337ae32ff]believes[/b:f337ae32ff] in Me shall never die. [b:f337ae32ff]Do you believe this?"[/b:f337ae32ff]

27 She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, [b:f337ae32ff]I believe[/b:f337ae32ff] that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world."

40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] you would see the glory of God?"

42 "And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] that You sent Me."

48 "If we let Him alone like this, everyone will [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation."

NKJ John 12:36 "While you have the light, [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] in the light, that you may become sons of light." These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] in Him,

39 Therefore they could not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff], because Isaiah said again:

47 "And if anyone hears My words and does not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff], I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

NKJ John 13:19 "Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] that I am He.

NKJ John 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] in God, [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] also in Me.

10 "Do you not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.

11 "[b:f337ae32ff]Believe Me[/b:f337ae32ff] that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

29 "And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, [b:f337ae32ff]you may believe.[/b:f337ae32ff]

NKJ John 16:9 "of sin, because [b:f337ae32ff]they[/b:f337ae32ff] do not [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] in Me;

30 "Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] that You came forth from God."

31 Jesus answered them, "Do you now [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff]?

NKJ John 17:20 " I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] in Me through their word;

21 "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] that You sent Me.

NKJ John 19:35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff].

NKJ John 20:25 The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, [b:f337ae32ff]I will not believe."[/b:f337ae32ff]

31 but these are written that you may [b:f337ae32ff]believe[/b:f337ae32ff] that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.



I do not think you disagree, but it may be more helpful to explain it without adumbrating some kind of "passivity" in faith. Regeneration, yes, faith, no.

Regeneration is passive receiving. Faith is active based on Regeneration.

[Edited on 6-19-2004 by webmaster]
 

luvroftheWord

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thank you, Matt. Your words reflect what I was trying to say, I believe.

And as to where I stand on the Federal Vision stuff, Doug Wilson is the only FV advocate I ever read (except for Peter Leithart occasionally). I never read the others, so I'm not too worried about defending them. But my thoughts are as follows:

(1) The FV is NOT the NP.

(2) The faith that justifies is not dead, but is living and active. What I mean is that saving faith in Jesus Christ is always accompanied by works. Our works are not the ground of our justification, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ is, and we are reckoned to be righteous by faith. True faith in Jesus is always accompanied by good works.

(3) Though I hold to the traditional CoW/CoG framework, I deny that monocovenantalism necessarily leads to a denial of the gospel and justification by faith alone.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Yes, thank you webmaster

[quote:d91782eeaa][i:d91782eeaa]Originally posted by webmaster[/i:d91782eeaa]
Would it be fair for you to go through your post and replace "faith" with "belief" and then ask some of the same questions? The intercorrolary between them is impossible to break apart. Cognitive, willful belief is required to be saved (i.e. faith).[/quote:d91782eeaa] The Greeks have us beat in this way. Their words for "faith" (noun) and "believe" (verb) have the same root, so its obvious they are intimately tied together. We have no verb "to faith" or "faithing" so we have to do with 2 different looking/sounding terms. Or go with "belief" as a synonym for "faith". I fully agree that the cognitive and the willful components of faith/belief are required for salvation. WCF 14.1 & 2 puts it simpler than anything I've said by way of expansion. [quote:d91782eeaa] I do not think you disagree, but it may be more helpful to explain it without adumbrating some kind of "passivity" in faith. Regeneration, yes, faith, no.... Faith is active based on Regeneration.[/quote:d91782eeaa] What you've said here is helpful. Maybe a better way to say what I mean is to affirm "passivity" [i:d91782eeaa]behind or before[/i:d91782eeaa] all [u:d91782eeaa]faith[/u:d91782eeaa] or [u:d91782eeaa]acts of believing[/u:d91782eeaa]. The ongoing effects of regeneration continue to provide the foundation for every subsequent act of faith.

Physically I open my eyes. I see what's in from of me. I'll never really see a winged purple cow flying overhead, no matter how hard I will to see it. But whatever I see, my mind is immediately, [i:d91782eeaa]actively[/i:d91782eeaa] engaged in processing the sight and doing something with it--looking more carefully, looking away at something other I will to look at, filtering unimportant images, reflecting on what I've seen--I or else I'm not alive or fully functional. Spiritually I say the same is true about perception.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
[quote:372fd987ae]
The ongoing effects of regeneration continue to provide the foundation for every subsequent act of faith.
[/quote:372fd987ae]

Agreed 100%. Well said.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[quote:96db803326][i:96db803326]Originally posted by luvroftheWord[/i:96db803326]
The faith that justifies is not dead, but is living and active. What I mean is that saving faith in Jesus Christ is always accompanied by works. Our works are not the ground of our justification, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ is, and we are reckoned to be righteous by faith. True faith in Jesus is always accompanied by good works.[/quote:96db803326]

Amen - that's an excellent summary of it. As you said, saving faith is [i:96db803326]always[/i:96db803326] accompanied by works, but it is [i:96db803326]not[/i:96db803326] the works that make the faith saving. But we must be ever careful to not slip into that ever-so-subtle mindset of bluring the two, since it's such a fine line, yet one that is crucially important and definitive. And that very error of bluring that line is just what Doug Wilson seems to have done, even though I do not question his intentions.

In Christ,
 

luvroftheWord

Puritan Board Sophomore
[quote:00dd858ab5]saving faith is always accompanied by works, but it is not the works that make the faith saving.[/quote:00dd858ab5]

Nice little Christian sentence there. :wink:
 

dado6

Puritan Board Freshman
I thought faith was a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8, 2 Peter 1:1)....a condition of being that was not ours before, but is ours now as a result of God's Grace alone.

A lot of this disscussion seems to refer to faith as a human working. The wording Mat uses comes very close to making faith the human cause of salvation ("Cognitive, willful belief is required to be saved ").

When one presents faith as an act of obiedence, faith is shown as an effort, at least as far as the common use of language relays this information. Faith becomes the work upon which our salvation hinges, because obviously without it we are not saved. Is this biblical? Is it edifying?

Frankly reading this exchange was more confusing for me than clarifying. Reading Wilson has the same effect.

Thanks,
Rob
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
[quote:1ce7e1b08a][i:1ce7e1b08a]Originally posted by dado6[/i:1ce7e1b08a]
I thought faith was a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8, 2 Peter 1:1)....a condition of being that was not ours before, but is ours now as a result of God's Grace alone.

A lot of this disscussion seems to refer to faith as a human working. The wording Mat uses comes very close to making faith the human cause of salvation ("Cognitive, willful belief is required to be saved ").

When one presents faith as an act of obiedence, faith is shown as an effort, at least as far as the common use of language relays this information. Faith becomes the work upon which our salvation hinges, because obviously without it we are not saved. Is this biblical? Is it edifying?

Frankly reading this exchange was more confusing for me than clarifying. Reading Wilson has the same effect.

Thanks,
Rob [/quote:1ce7e1b08a]

Robert,

A Christian is required to act in order to be saved. He must not only believe, but repent. But the critical thing is that the faith that a believer has is not his own, it is the work of God in him.

[quote:1ce7e1b08a]
WCF 14.1 The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls,(1) [b:1ce7e1b08a]is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts[/b:1ce7e1b08a],(2) and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word:(3) by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.(4)

(1)Heb. 10:39.
(2)2 Cor. 4:13; Eph. 1:17,18,19; Eph. 2:8.
(3)Rom. 10:14,17.
(4)1 Pet. 2:2; Acts 20:32; Rom. 4:11; Luke 17:5; Rom. 1:16,17. [/quote:1ce7e1b08a]

[quote:1ce7e1b08a]
WCF 14.2 By this faith [i:1ce7e1b08a]{namely, that which is sthe work of the Spirit, cf. WCF 14.1 above - FTG}[/i:1ce7e1b08a], a Christian [b:1ce7e1b08a]believeth[/b:1ce7e1b08a] to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein;(1) and [b:1ce7e1b08a]acteth[/b:1ce7e1b08a] differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; [b:1ce7e1b08a]yielding obedience[/b:1ce7e1b08a] to the commands,(2) [b:1ce7e1b08a]trembling[/b:1ce7e1b08a] at the threatenings,(3) and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come.(4) But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.(5)

(1)John 4:42; 1 Thess. 2:13; John 5:10; Acts 24:14.
(2)Rom. 16:26.
(3)Isa. 66:2.
(4)Heb. 11:13; 1 Tim. 4:8.
(5)John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Gal. 2:20; Acts 15:11. [/quote:1ce7e1b08a]

Likewise, repentance is a gift of God, the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer.

Remember also strcitly speaking that one is NOT saved [b:1ce7e1b08a]by[/b:1ce7e1b08a] faith, but rather [b:1ce7e1b08a]through[/b:1ce7e1b08a] faith. The distinction is important: faith is never the ground of our salvation; it is merely an instrument that receives salvation, and hence is wholly passive. The ground of the believer's justification is NOT his faith, but the finished work of Christ, by grace [u:1ce7e1b08a]through[/u:1ce7e1b08a] faith:

[quote:1ce7e1b08a]
WCF 11:1-2 Those whom God effectually calleth He also freely justifieth;(1) not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous: [b:1ce7e1b08a]not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone: nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them[/b:1ce7e1b08a],(2) they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness, by faith: which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.(3)

(1)Rom. 8:30; Rom. 3:24.
(2)Rom. 4:5-8; 2 Cor. 5:19,21; Rom. 3:22,24,25,27,28; Tit. 3:5,7; Eph. 1:7; Jer. 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30,31; Rom. 5:17,18,19.
(3)Acts 10:44; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9; Acts 13:38,39; Eph. 2:7,8.[/quote:1ce7e1b08a]

Notice also that there are concommitant graces that accompany faith, but they are never seen as a ground for justification:

[quote:1ce7e1b08a]WCF 11.2 Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification;(1) yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.(2)

(1)John 1:12; Rom. 3:28; Rom. 5:1.
(2)James 2:17,22,26; Gal. 5:6. [/quote:1ce7e1b08a]

The confusion and problem arises in Wilson and others when they attempt to speak of two justifications - initial and final. they then claim that works and obedience are necessary [b:1ce7e1b08a]grounds[/b:1ce7e1b08a], not [b:1ce7e1b08a]necessary evidences[/b:1ce7e1b08a] of justification. This is false. Justification both at the moment a person believes on Christ, and when he is "openly acquitted at the day of judgment" is grounded solely on the work of Christ.

I hope that helps explain a bit. My firm opinion on all of this is that if a teacher confuses people about justification, he should not be a teacher, even if he is "trying to use better language." Last time I looked, I would not take my car to a mechanic who messed up the engine simply because I thought it was valiant that he was trying to use better tools.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Rob,
Without systematic theology, we just can't get a well-rounded, fully-faceted understanding of practically any aspect of our religion. It's wonderfully profound, and for us to appreciate it it has to be analyzed. The doctrine of faith and all it's interrelations is one of those things with many features which deserve close analysis to get right. Where I've been guilty of less clarity than bumbling, I apologize.

I've read some of the stuff coming out of Moscow, Id., and in some of it there is a frank aversion to systematic theology. Because our formulations are 4 centuries old, they think we're hidebound. They accuse us of being too devoted to "our" systematic, instead of the Bible itself. Their interpretations msut be "right" because they've escaped the "systematic-straightjacket", unlike us who are locked-into our "erroneous" interpretations.

Dabney (one of "our" systematicians) has this most perspicuous piece concerning the receptive, "passive" aspect of faith as it relates to justification:[quote:633cc4cf03]p.607. We define faith as a holy exercise of the soul; but we do not attribute its instrumentality to justify, to its holiness, but to the fact that it embraces Christ's justifying righteousness. It is neither strange nor unreasonable, that a thing should have two or more attributes, and yet be adapted by one special attribute among them to a given instumentality. The diamond is transparent, but it is its hardness which fits it for cutting glass. True faith is obediential: it involves the will: it has moral quality: but its receptive nature is what fits it to be the organ of our justification.[/quote:633cc4cf03] If we don't put the puzzle together a piece at a time, like this one above, we can't understand the whole.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
One of the way I look at this issue is via cause and effect. As Calvin notes, it is the Holy Spirit that turns the human will from being incapable and unwilling to believe to capable and willing to believe. It is the person who has been effectually called by the Holy Spirit who does the actual believing not the Holy Spirit for the person. The Holy Spirit is the cause of our wills being turned toward God, and with that turning we are then willing and capable to react to the Gospel message. The works that follow our justification are our works in that we are actually doing the work, but it is the Holy Spirit that is the cause of our doing the work.
 

gfincher

Inactive User
[quote:09924f6e3a]
The ongoing effects of regeneration continue to provide the foundation for every subsequent act of faith.
[/quote:09924f6e3a]

Agreed as well, and I would suspect that Doug Wilson would also agree. A couple of things to keep in mind with Doug Wilson is that he is anything BUT illiterate; in fact I'd say that he is erudite to the extreme. (honestly, how many of you had to look up "reify" - or did you assume you knew what it meant by the context). The other thing about Doug Wilson is that he is more than a little enamored with the use of satire and parable in referring to subjects that some people would prefer be spoken of in "plain" direct speech. That the bible is full of references that can only be understood when seen as satirical discourse is where he gets this sometimes maddening tendency.

He reminds me in some ways of C.S. Lewis in that he carefully chooses EXACTLY what he wants to say. Be assured that he has chosen his words in this and other BLOG and MABLOG posts carefully.

I continue to read his BLOG posts, and the Credenda Agenda with "ears" and "eyes" wide open to the truth of the Gospel AND keeping my mind and heart IN the Word of truth daily.

(as an elder in the PCA, I feel that I HAVE to read current original sources as well as keep myself grounded in those who have gone before)
 

luvroftheWord

Puritan Board Sophomore
[quote:5ee786031e][i:5ee786031e]Originally posted by gfincher[/i:5ee786031e]
One thing that I have to say that I agree with him on is that EVEN the Covenant of Works was GRACIOUS! [/quote:5ee786031e]

Uh oh! You're gonna get flamed for that one, Glenn. :wink: According to many people in this messageboard, to lump the Covenant of Works in with the Covenant of Grace is to overthrow the gospel.

But even though I don't necessarily agree with your stance, I still think you're alright. :yes:

Also, concerning Wilson, I must say that I thoroughly enjoy his satirical approach and his use of parables in his presentation of his ideas. There is nothing anti-Christian about satire. I even incorporate it in my own blog as well.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I agree that satire is acceptable, but the most curious thing about Wilson to me is not his theological views, but rather his complete inability to take what he dishes out. Several times that someone has given Wilson a taste of his own medicine, he has written letters to them threatening filing charges with their judiciaries.
 
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