The Fiducial Road To Rome, Part 1

I imagine most have heard some pastor at one time or another try to explain the difference between faith and saving faith. Generally the explanation is lacking any clear definitions and instead takes a short flight into the land of pious sounding analogies and word pictures. The one I’m most familiar with, and one I once heard a PCA pastor share with an adult Sunday school class, has to do with a chair. The story goes a person may believe a chair will support their weight, but they don’t really trust it until they actually aim their rump squarely over the chair and sit down. OK, the pastor didn’t say “rump,” but sitting in the chair was definitely required.

Maybe instead of a chair you’ve heard the one about the bridge or the plane. You might believe the bridge will support you as you cross the gorge or that the plane won’t crash, but you really don’t trust either until you actually walk across the bridge or pay your fare and board the plane. PCA pastor Andy Webb in a piece on saving faith, tells us a story about a tightrope walker crossing Niagara Falls while pushing a wheelbarrow. In this retelling of the story, the performer asks an audience member a series of questions which Webb thinks demonstrates the missing link that makes ordinary belief saving:

During the late 19th century a French tightrope walker made quite a stir by repeatedly crossing over Niagara Falls on rope stretched between the two banks of the river. Reportedly, he once singled out a member of the audience before one of these “trips” and asked him several questions along the following lines:

“Sir”, he asked, ” do you believe I can walk over the falls on this little rope?”
“Sure”, answered the man, “I’ve seen you do it before.”
“And do you also believe that I could push this wheelbarrow across?”
“Yes, I do.”
“And do you also believe that I could do it with a man sitting in the wheelbarrow?”
“Yeah, I’m positive you could.”
“Then, kind sir, would you mind assisting me by getting into the wheelbarrow?”
“Not on your life!”, answered the man.

The man being questioned here demonstrated Notitia, or knowledge, in that he knew what the stunt entailed, because he had seen him do it. The man also demonstrated Assensus, or intellectual assent, because he believed the tightrope walker could successfully push a wheelbarrow across the falls. He did not, however, demonstrate Fiducia because he was not willing to put his life into the tightrope walkers hands by getting into the wheelbarrow.

Gordon Clark in his brilliant study of John’s prologue, The Johannine Logos, tells another one about a bank:

Preachers often use an illustration such as this: You may believe that a bank is sound by having read its financial statement, but you do not and cannot trust it until you deposit your money there. Making the deposit is faith. So, these preachers conclude, belief in Christ is not enough, no matter how much you read the Bible and believe that it is true. In addition to believing you must also trust Christ. That is [saving] faith.

Of course, Clark doesn’t rest there, instead he strips away the layers of error surrounding all these typical but misleading descriptions of saving faith:

The psychological illusion arises from the fact that the two cases are not parallel. In the case of the bank, there is the factor of depositing money. I have some dollar bills to be deposited: I go and deposit them in Bank X and not in Bank Y. Therefore I trust Bank X and not trust Bank Y. But such is not the case. The reason I deposit money in this bank and not another is simply that my financial condition is far from warranting two bank accounts. I believe that Bank Y is quite as sound as Bank X. Both have competent administrators . . . I choose Bank X, not because I trust it more, but simply because it is nearer my home. This is a matter of convenience – not faith. What is more, in the bank illustration there is a physical factor – depositing bills or checks [or sitting on a chair, crossing a bridge, getting on a plane, or crossing Niagara Falls in the wheelbarrow of a tightrope walker]; whereas in saving faith there is no such factor. Thus arises the illusion. Those who use such illustrations import into a spiritual situation something, a physical motion, that cannot be imported into it. There is nothing in the spiritual situation analogous to depositing the currency. There is believing only: nothing but the internal mental act itself. To suppose that there is, is both a materialistic confusion and an inadmissible alteration of the Scriptural requirement.

Of course, most are not concerned with the Scriptural requirement at all and it is at this point that those who use such examples will bring out the big guns. Almost without skipping a beat this was where the discussion will switch from illustrations, analogies and assorted vagaries to a display of Latin proving, for all within earshot, that the pastor was a good seminary student and his money (or his parent’s or someone else’s money) was well spent. He explains that the illustrations of the chair, plane, bank, tightrope walker, etc., all point to the difference between mere intellectual assent, or that dubious combination of notitia and assensus, the faith that demons have (or so we are told), with fiducial or trusting faith which saves.

Consider this example from the Webb piece linked above :

By Assensus we mean the believer’s intellectual assent to the truth of the content of the Gospel. This principle can be illustrated by the statement “I believe that Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon.” In this statement I am displaying a cognitive belief in the validity of the content. Assensus involves more than an academic imparting of information as in the statement “History teaches that Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon.” Assensus means that the speaker theoretically agrees with the statement. When we speak about the role of Assensus in saving faith, we are speaking of an agreement with a statement of truth. It is no virtue for a speaker to believe an untrue statement as is the case with “I believe Jesus is a symbol of universal forgiveness, and not really a man.” In this case the speaker is “assenting” to a falsehood.It is vital to note that assensus and notitia alone are not sufficient for saving faith as James noted in his epistle (James 2:19), even the demons know and intellectually agree with the statement “Jesus is the Son of God.” What is lacking in these affirmations is the vital third element of Fiducia.

By Fiducia we mean absolute trust and practical agreement. Fiducia is the hardest element of saving faith to define because it involves intangibles that may be perceived or apprehended without being fully comprehended. An example of this would be the often quoted example that while Assensus or theoretical agreement refers to an agreement in one’s “head”, Fiducia or practical agreement refers to an agreement in one’s “heart.” Heart in this case obviously does not mean the muscle that pumps blood throughout the body, but rather the human will or soul. Fiducia therefore mingles the emotion of love with trust, inclination, and agreement.

Not only does Webb love using the Latin, he even capitalizes it. Webb says that understanding the gospel and assenting to it will not save. He asserts that fiducia or trust is “practical agreement,” whereas assensus or assent is “theoretical agreement.” The problem is there is nothing “theoretical” about assent. If someone concurs, agrees or subscribes to a set of propositions, i.e., assents to, say, the propositions of the gospel or the Communist Manifesto, that means they hold to it both in theory and practice. One dictionary states; “Assent implies agreement, especially as a result of deliberation.” While one can certainly understand a position and not assent to it, if there is assent there is belief, but evidently for some that’s not enough.

Webb tries to avoid some of the “materialistic confusion” in Clark’s example by adding his own “inadmissible alteration of the Scriptural requirement” which is some ill defined emotional element in addition to faith. What is telling is that Webb admits that this fiducia element is the “hardest” to define and he tells us it cannot be “fully comprehended.” Webb asserts that fiducia, the sin qua non that makes faith saving, “mingles the emotion of love with trust, inclination, and agreement.”

There is a lot of confusion even within this brief non-definitional description. What does it mean to mingle the “emotion of love” with trust or inclination? On what basis can Webb even assert that love is an emotion? Where does the bible teach that love is any such thing? I thought in Scripture love was an action and that we love because God first loved us, etc.? If so, then our love is the result of saving faith not the cause. To be fair, Webb did say this element of faith is somewhat beyond comprehension. So, while the questions remain, it should be clear that for Webb it is not mere belief alone in the gospel alone that saves. To quote the Beatles, “All you need is love” and not necessarily the biblical kind either. To this type of confusion and unbiblical emotionalism, John Robbins provides the appropriate replies, albeit take from a slightly different context:

“To be saved, one must also feel an emotion. But neither Christ nor the Apostles ever demanded that sinners have an emotional experience; they demanded that they believe the truth.”

All of this was to illustrate some of the confusion surrounding the traditional tri-fold definition of saving faith as consisting of “notitia, assensus and fiducia.” As Clark put it:

The crux of the difficulty with the popular analysis of faith into notitia (understanding), assensus (assent), and fiducia (trust), is that fiducia comes from the same root as fides (faith). Hence this popular analysis reduces to the obviously absurd definition that faith consists of understanding, assent, and faith. Something better than this tautology must be found.

Not only did Clark find that something better, he is correct and the reason the traditional formulation is tautological is because belief and trust mean the same thing; they’re synonyms. If I were to say I trust the chair or bridge will support me that’s no different than if I were to say I believe the chair or bridge will support me. The problem is with those well trained seminary students who have been told from day one that faith is a combination of notitia, assensus and fiducia. They’re just being good students and, after all, who can argue with such an impressive string of Latin words. Besides, the tri-fold definition of faith is the traditional view and we know as good Protestants that at least Protestant tradition can never err. It’s funny how such smart men can be so easily fooled into thinking they’re saying anything at all. I guess my mind isn’t the only one to glaze over when reading Latin.

Yet, in spite of all this, Webb maintains; “Fiducia is the hardest element of saving faith to define because it involves intangibles . . . .” Well, not for those in the Federal Vision. While men like Webb, and he’s not alone by a long shot, are messing around with “intangibles” and trying to apprehend what they don’t really comprehend about such a crucial element in the entire scheme of salvation, the men of the Federal Vision have no such difficulties. Notice that in all the above analogies the addition ingredient that makes faith saving requires that we must do something, i.e., get in the wheelbarrow, sit in the chair, walk across the bridge, get on the plane, put our money in the bank or just emote. The fact is faith or belief alone doesn’t really save anyone.

This is the perfect and deadly combination of traditional confusion trying to confront heretical precision. For the men of the FV like Doug Wilson and his followers they fully comprehend the fiducial aspect of the traditional tri-fold defintion of saving faith perfectly; believing means doing and they have a long list of otherwise good Reformed men like Webb telling them they’re right. While men like Webb float around the ether trying to apprehend the emotion of love, the FV men are more than willing to tell you exactly what you need to do to be saved.

More on that in my next blog, God willing.

[Click here for Part 2]

 

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24 Comments on “The Fiducial Road To Rome, Part 1”

  1. brandon Says:

    Thanks for this great piece. I look forward to the second part.

    One thing I find interesting is from the example of the tightrope walker. It is obvious that when the man said he believed the tightrope walker could carry someone across, he was not being honest. He was watching a show and he wanted to be entertained. The key to being entertained was to play along and tell the tightrope walker what he wanted to hear, in order to get him to do it. Its all part of the show.

    Likewise, many who profess faith in Christ are simply playing along with the show. Perhaps they go to a church service that ends with an altar call, and they decide to play along, because that’s what everyone says they have to do to enjoy the show. They are not being honest when they profess faith. Some would say that more than belief is required from these people simply because, it is argued, they already professed belief but when pressed, denied it.

    The problem is that they never really believed what they said, just as the tightrope watcher never really believed what he said.

  2. magma2 Says:

    Hi Brandon. Good point. That is certainly another way to understand the analogy.

    I also think the example points to the problem probabilistic or inductive arguments. I might trust the tightrope walker can cross the falls, even with me in the wheelbarrow, but sometimes things go wrong and he might plummet to his death and take me with him. So, in this case I really believe two different propositions that are both just as likely true: (1) he can walk across the falls with me in the wheelbarrow, and, (2) sometimes tightrope walkers fall therefore I’m not willing to risk my life on the probability that (1) turns out to be true. (2) is the hidden or unspoken proposition. Besides, (1) might be true the first time I cross and false on the return trip or visa versa and I just don’t get ride back. 😉 In any case, the analogy fails to illustrate anything relating to saving faith and Clark is right and it merely creates an illusion that it is actually addressing the problem.

  3. Machaira Says:

    The crux of the difficulty with the popular analysis of faith into notitia (understanding), assensus (assent), and fiducia (trust), is that fiducia comes from the same root as fides (faith). Hence this popular analysis reduces to the obviously absurd definition that faith consists of understanding, assent, and faith. Something better than this tautology must be found.

    Dr. Robbins observation is brilliant. What’s sad though is that it shouldn’t be. Why haven’t seminaries and theologians noticed this tautology before. As far as those “anologies” are concerned, I’ve always had a question which has never been answered. If you say you believe that a chair can hold you, but you refuse to sit down, can it really be said that you believe? It simply doesn’t make sense.

    Looking forward to your next installment.

  4. gusg Says:

    Excellent. Thanx Sean. What has helped me alot is to realize that belief is always acted on but that belief is separate from action [works]. How are they separate? Because by definition hypocrisy is acting as though you believe, thereby presupposing that the hypocrite has no genuine belief–but an ulterior motive. The reference to John Robbins rebuttal of the link between Clark and Sandeman was also very helpful, as I have tried to understand the place of emotion in the normative Christian life. Its place, clearly is irrelevant since it is only an reaction or psychological disturbance caused by the intellectual apprehension of the implications of what we believe. This I think has implications for the Freudian idea of the “subconscious”–ie., it doesnt exist. It seems to me that a psychological definition of faith leads to only one thing, being led astray from the purity of the simplicity of the Gospel–2 Cor 11. Just as God is a simple Spirit (having no faculties or parts), faith [belief] is a simple mental act, having no psychological overtones and implying no perverse anthropology of faculties. Man is not compartmentalized, and believes as a unitary being. I am convinced that for the most part because of the denial of these kinds of Scriptural truths, Protestantism has largely disappeared, at least in North America. The influence of the Reformation is almost completely gone. Thanx.

  5. csavage472 Says:

    First and foremost, I would like to say that was an interesting piece, but I have a few comments as a convert from the Baptist Church to the Roman Catholic Church:

    (1) “Dr. Robbins observation is brilliant. What’s sad though is that it shouldn’t be. Why haven’t seminaries and theologians noticed this tautology before. As far as those “anologies” are concerned, I’ve always had a question which has never been answered. If you say you believe that a chair can hold you, but you refuse to sit down, can it really be said that you believe? It simply doesn’t make sense.”–Machaira

    Actually, Dr. Robbins doesn’t make sense. I say this with all due RESPECT to him of course. You see, while we, Martin Luther, and Orthodox-Theologians understand these complex theological concept(s) that GENUINE belief in something AUTOMATICALLY implies that if you TRUELY believe in the Gospel and Christ, then ALTRUISTIC good works of “Love of Neighbor” would automatically be produced, the “Average Joe” does not understand.

    Unfortunately, however, what Martin Luther and Dr. Robbins doesn’t realize is that the “Average Joe” out in the middle of RURAL (Idaho/Mississippi) and URBAN (Bronx/Harlem) America does NOT understand those concepts especially if most of them have a (literally) 6th Grade reading level.

    Therefore, they are going to take Martin Luther’s theological treatise that “Man is SAVED by Faith (Belief) ALONE!!!” as what it says: so as long as they affirm with their “hearts/minds” that….

    “Jesus is the Divine Son of God and Died on the Cross for my sins (Past, Present, Future) and ONCE I am ‘saved,’ I am ALWAYS ‘saved,’ ” then what is that going to tell them except the fact that they can “knock up” every woman in the college dorm and have an abortion after the “accident” while still being “saved”???

    Unlike the wealthy and upper-middle Class, poor and working class people are NOT “rational;” rather, they are more accurately described as PRAGMATIC (rational for “practical” things). Ironically, since these people are the ones that go to church and find faith in Christ b/c they are (literally) suffering from poverty, preachers and theologians (who are rational) know that in order to reach the Gospel message of Christ to the people, they must RE-phrase the complicated doctrines of the Reformation in a way that is more PRAGMATIC (practical) to the people.

    This is why the Apostle Paul and James “appears” to be sounding “contradictive” in which even MARTIN LUTHER saw this “contradiction” and removed the infallible “Letter of James” out of the canon as “uninspired.” In reality, they were not. Who was Paul’s AUDIENCE and who was James’??? That’s right: Paul was speaking to a more sophisticated and educated crowd (the Judaziers, theologians, elites); however, when the “average [Christian] Joes” read Paul’s letters, they got CONFUSED and began continue to live their lives in sin and not doing good works [out of ALTRUISM as opposed to “good works” for the SELF-interested desire “to get saved” (pelagianism/ cf. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelegianism)%5D; naturally, of course, we both know who is the AUTHOR of Confusion (Satan)!!!

    Therefore, James had to CORRECT them by clarifying Paul but in a more PRAGMATIC context since he understood that the people were NOT “educated theologians” but just “average Joes.” The exact same thing happen Post-1517; after Martin Luther rebuked the Church on “salvation by belief alone,” there was a DIRECT correlation with the Reformation and the (literal) moral decline of Europe. That is why John Wesley broke away from Luther and Calvin and began to preach the “Pragmatic Gospel” to the poor and working-class via the “Methodic Rule of Salvation.”

    cf. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wesley

    Nevertheless, I will level with the blogger and say that he and Rome are 99% in agreement over salvation (Baptism, Eucharist, Purgatory, Pope, Mary, notwithstanding) b/c there was a fundamental MISunderstanding between Luther and Rome. In fact, this confusion—[Again, note who is the AUTHOR of Confusion (Satan)]—was highlighted by an ecumenical agreement between Rome and the Lutheran bishops that Luther and Rome were in AGREEMENT over Justification: cf. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_n27_v115/ai_21235043 ];

    Basically, the “gist” of what I get from this blog is that we are SAVED by “FIDICIARY/Honest/Saving Faith ALONE!!!”

    If this is what Martin Luther and the blogger believe on salvation, then that means that we are in 99% Agreement on SALVATION with the Roman Catholic Church (notwithstanding the other “mountains” of doctrine that we disagree with); when Rome said in Trent that “if anyone says he has ‘faith’ apart from Good Works [of altruistic charity], let him be anathema,” the Church was defining the word “faith” itself in the context of “NON-fidiciary Faith ALONE” but in a more pragmatic context. In fact, the official teaching of Rome in the “Decree of the Council of Trent on Justification” states quite clearly that justification is GRATITIOUS (freely given) while rejecting the Satanic Lie of “NON-Fidiciary Faith ALONE!!!”:

    *************************************************************
    <<<“The causes of this justification are: the final cause [THE PURPOSE] is the glory of God and of Christ and life everlasting; the efficient cause is the merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously, signing and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance, the meritorious cause is His most beloved only begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, merited for us justification by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross and made satisfaction for us to God the Father, the instrumental cause [the ordinary means] is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which no man was ever justified finally, the single formal cause [the substantial thing in God that is the basis of justification] is the justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He makes us just, that, namely, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and not only are we reputed but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to everyone as He wills, and according to each one’s disposition and cooperation.

    <<<“For though no one can be just except he to whom the merits of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet this takes place in that justification of the sinner, when by the merit of the most holy passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Ghost in the hearts of those who are justified and inheres in them; whence man through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives in that justification, together with the remission of sins, all these infused at the same time, namely, faith, hope and charity.

    <<>>

    cf. http://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/TRENT6.HTM

    *************************************************************

    Moreover, I specifically say “99% Agreement” b/c if I judge the blogger correctly, he is alluding to the UN-biblical notion (I would assert) that a person doesn’t have to get “Born again of WATER & The Spirit”–[Baptism for those that attain the “Age of Reason” (6-7 yrs.)] to be saved. Unfortunately, I have to regrettably inform him that MARTIN LUTHER and millions of Orthodox-Protestants would fundamentally disagree with him via the citation of the inspired & inerrent Word of God: cf. Romans 6:3-5; 1 Peter 3:18-23; Mark 1:4; Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38 & Romans 6:23; Then again, the position of salvation of this blog would be more in the lines of John Wesley since he preached salvation (like Rome) of “FIDICIARY Faith ALONE!!!” but differed with Rome over Baptism which he argued [UN-biblically] was “unnecessary.”

    All in all, thanks for hearing out my comments and may everyone enjoy a very Merry and joyful Christmas.

    best,
    Christian E. Savage

    P.S.: As for the following quote from the blog, “If so, then our love is the result of saving faith not the CAUSE!!!” First and foremost, before anyone misinterprets what I say, the official Catholic position (my position) is that Love is the RESULT of Saving Faith. However, the latter part of the phrase that love can NEVER be the *de facto* CAUSE of saving faith is not so.

    In other words, Christ brings MILLIONS of unbelievers to “know and love Him” through His [positive] MANIPULATION (before anyone “jumps the gun” at the word, cf. Matt. 10:16) of man’s own selfish desires that is rooted in the LOVE of something. For example, Christ will use an unbelieving Rich man’s LOVE for money (greed) to get him to repent and accept the Gospel Truth. Or, the Lord might use an unbelieving Spouse’s genuine LOVE for his wife and children to get him/her to accept the Truth.

    Therefore, it is an inaccurate statement to suggest that love could NEVER be the “cause” of a person’s salvation when there are numerous cases that it can be the *de facto* cause. I think the whole confusion is that Orthodox-Evangelicals are confused about what Pelegianism (cf. http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelegianism) actually IS. Pelagius taught that man can INTENTLY merit his salvation by doing “good works.”

    However, many people think Rome contradicted itself in the Council of Trent (1543) with that of the Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.) when it condemned Pelagius. On the contrary, Rome did not contradict itself. Rather, Rome was condemning the heresy that a person can INTENTLY merit their salvation by doing charitable deeds. For example, Conservative Catholics rebuked the Catholic Gov. of California (Arnold Schartznegger) b/c he “donated” $15 Million to Catholic Charities to help the poor despite being Pro-Choice on abortion. From their perspective, he was (literally) “buying” his salvation by doing a good work (pelegianism).

    On the contrary, when Rome decreed in Trent that “good works (of charity)” must be added to a person that has NON-Fidiciary Faith (intellectual assent in Christ’s merit on Calvary), they were speaking of ALTRUISTIC good works done “UNconsciously” by a Christian for the “LOVE of Neighbor” as opposed to one’s SELF-interested desire “to get saved.” Then, at the conclusion of our earthly existence and eventual JUDGMENT before Christ (“saved” and “unsaved”), we will be REWARDED salvation by the Lord by the good DEEDS that we did as EVIDENT of our “FIDICIARY/Saving Faith ALONE!!!”—[cf. Rev. 20:11-15; Matt. 25:31-46; 1 Cor. 5:10]—. Thanks again and God bless.

  6. magma2 Says:

    Hi Christian. Thanks for posting, but I’m afraid there is a bit more in your (mis)understanding of my piece than I really can even hope to correct (besides, some of the points you raise go pretty wide of the topic). However, if you would allow me a few short points in rebuttal.

    1. Poor and working class people are rational as they too are the image of God, money has nothing to do with it. It was only because of the Reformation and the belief that people should read God’s Word for themselves that they also learned to read. If it were up to Rome the “masses” would still be living in ignorance mired in Rome’s imagery, idolatry and superstition.

    2. You are correct and Luther “rebuked the Church on “salvation by belief alone” (even though they didn’t listen), but you are wrong and that there is any “correlation with the Reformation and the (literal) moral decline of Europe.” That’s just simply false. The Reformation unleashed a wave of liberty unmatched at any time in history and is something we’re still living on the residuals in the West today — even as we plunge into another dark age where the truth of the message of gospel is once again lost and buried.

    3. You wrote; “Basically, the “gist” of what I get from this blog is that we are SAVED by “FIDICIARY/Honest/Saving Faith ALONE!!!” Yes and no.

    Yes, faith along is the sole instrument of justification by which men are saved.

    No, the gist of my blog is that fiducia adds precisely nothing to our understanding of the word “faith.” It is, as Dr. Clark states, a tautological addition to the definition of “faith” and is tantamount to defining a word with the word itself. It is this third element that leads into all sorts of dangers and provides fertile ground for the enemies of the gospel to create a lot of mischief.

    Andy Webb who defends justification by faith alone against the heretics in P&R circles now corrupting this truth and leading men back to Rome, can’t even defined the fiducial element of faith and waxes on about it being the emotion of love in combination with this or that, but his argument is just nonsense. If you believe the gospel, just as if you believe that Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, you’re a saved man. Nothing else is needed. There is no third element.

    The difference between believing the truth of Armstrong’s mission and the gospel is found not in some third element that defies definition. There is no need of works or love to make faith somehow “alive” or salvific (as Rome maintains and Webb provides support). The difference between ordinary faith and saving faith is found in the propositions believed. That was the gist of my blog and that those who embrace the three fold definition of faith are not only irrational and unscriptural in doing so, but they unwittingly provide cover for men who clearly do have a purpose for this nebulous third element and that is the addition of works.

  7. magma2 Says:

    The reference to John Robbins rebuttal of the link between Clark and Sandeman was also very helpful, as I have tried to understand the place of emotion in the normative Christian life.

    I always liked Dr. Clark’s definition of emotion as being an upheaval or disturbance in our ordinary calm state of mind.

    I also completely agree that man is a unitary being and an assent to a proposition or set of propositions is something which the whole man does. Yet, in spite of this men, mostly pastors and otherwise good Christian men, try to draw a division between the mind and the heart when biblically (as Clark demonstrates repeatedly and ad nauseum in What is Saving Faith and elsewhere) they’re the same thing. As a man thinketh with is heart so is he . . . . The biblical division is between the mind and the tongue and that men will often say one thing but believe another.

  8. Machaira Says:

    Therefore, they are going to take Martin Luther’s theological treatise that “Man is SAVED by Faith (Belief) ALONE!!!” as what it says: so as long as they affirm with their “hearts/minds” that….

    “Jesus is the Divine Son of God and Died on the Cross for my sins (Past, Present, Future) and ONCE I am ’saved,’ I am ALWAYS ’saved,’ ” then what is that going to tell them except the fact that they can “knock up” every woman in the college dorm and have an abortion after the “accident” while still being “saved”???
    csavage472

    First of all, “sola fide” pertains to justifcation, not salvation. Salvation includes justification, but they are not the same, (see my blog post entitled Sanctification – Part III). Second, your hypothetical “situation” fails to consider the work of the Holy Spirit in some of the other saving benefits which are included in salvation such as effectual calling, regeneration and conversion, (faith and repentance). Man doesn’t conjure these up on his own, they are the gifts and working of the Spirit.

    Php 2:12 . . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
    Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

    Therefore, your concerns are all for nought. The “average Joe” doesn’t need a keen theological understanding of how any of these things work or are connected as if they only exist in ones own head. The saving operations of the Holy Spirit are not merely intellectual concepts. They are spiritual realities working in you to change you . . . and yes, even in illiterate average Joe’s. Out with the heart of stone and in with the heart of flesh. Those who truly believe are truly regenerated as well. You can’t have one without the other.

  9. magma2 Says:

    Jesus is the Divine Son of God and Died on the Cross for my sins (Past, Present, Future) and ONCE I am ’saved,’ I am ALWAYS ’saved,’ ” then what is that going to tell them except the fact that they can “knock up” every woman in the college dorm and have an abortion after the “accident” while still being “saved”???
    csavage472

    Beside Jim’s comments above, this is just the same tired Romanish calumny against the Christian faith that has been around well before even Luther appeared on the scene and is a charge that Paul addressed once and for all in Romans 6. Paul’s argument there and elsewhere is essentially you have been saved from the penalty of sin and have been set free from its curse, now live as free men. But, Christian, if you want to submit yourself to the bondage and tyranny of the Roman church-state and tell yourself you’re a free man you won’t be the first to be so self-deluded and foolish.

  10. gusg Says:

    The other thing that I found fascinating about this piece is the radical Calvinist conclusion, embedded in the WCF that man without Christ, cannot know or tell the truth. He does not know himself (Jer 17:5) and can only know himself by looking into the mirror of God’s perfect law (James 1). In other words ALL men are liable to say that they believe something–when they dont really know. The only Christian position [Scripturalist] to take about self-knowledge is radical skepticism. Dr. Clark’s example of the infallible pastor who could read men’s minds, and then took off with the church secretary, is a case in point.

    Since man cannot know his own mind, how can he know whether he has given true mental assent, since the meaning of mental assent is the aquiescence of a rational mind to the implications of a proposition. We cannot mentally assent if we do not understand. We cannot mentally assent if we are coerced. We cannot mentally assent if our acquiescence is conditional and not absolute. I sit in a chair because I have given mental assent to the proposition, “THIS chair is safe for me to sit in.” It is not an abstract. Of course this example is of a particular, and is used within the context of induction, which is never acceptable when speaking of univeral propositions. But, the propositions of Scripture are universals, so that the mental assent which is saving belief, cannot be an induction, cannot be conditional, and cannot be the result of “implicit faith.” Scripture rejects implicit faith. Rom 10:17.

    Therefore, to psychologize faith, and make it into an intricate psychological operation has done nothing but obscure true belief–as mental assent. As a Charismatic I read “Treatise on Religous Affections” and concluded that because I did not feel God, did not have ecstasies like everybody else, I could not be the kind of “enthusiastic” (etymologically: “en” “filled” theos-ic “with a god”) Christian that God wanted. This kind of sloppy “Reformed” tradition has done me great harm. Moreover I knew many charismatics who were utterly convinced they were Christians–even though they believed the most blasphemous heresies.

    A Scripturalist skeptic understands that you can have no faith in man to know anything including himself, and that only by knowing the Scripture can we know God and then ourselves. And only in such a context can we see that true belief can only be a unitary and simple act of the mind, because any teaching which imposes a psychological understanding of faith, only obscures the fact that the “just shall live by believing…” (Habbukkuk 2). Thanx for the chance to interact.

  11. kjsulli Says:

    I agree that these illustrations are misleading. I also think it is incorrect to import any emotion or love into fiducia (or obedience, for that matter, as the Federal Visionaries do).

    I guess the problem, as usual, goes to James’ epistle, where the demons are said to “believe” (the Greek verb is pisteuw) that God is one. It is obvious here that they possess a knowledge of this doctrine (notitia?), and they also evidently accept its truth (assensus?), which leads them to shudder. Do not the demons possess the same sort of “belief” with referrence to the gospel? Certainly some were willing to say that Jesus is the Son of God. But the reason they shudder is that they lack the element of a personal trust in the one God, a resting and relying upon Him (fiducia?). It is this element that makes faith alive, and produces the works which are evidence thereof.

    Tell me where I’ve gone wrong. Do you think the demons “believe” in any sense?

  12. magma2 Says:

    Of course demons believe in certain things about Christ (see here for a longer discussion of demonic theology), but belief in just anything about Christ, even if true, does not qualify as saving faith. Besides demons there are those who will say “Lord, Lord” on the last day and be cast into Hell. John Robbins has an excellent discussion of Matthew 7 here which might be of some help if you haven’t read it. Even the pope believes, at least he says he does, that Jesus is the Son of God and even that God is one. Yet, neither of these truths are the gospel. Even if demons did believe the gospel, and the Scriptures nowhere teach that they do, I don’t see what difference that would make since Jesus died for the sins of men, not demons. So, again, I don’t think it is some fiducial or psychological addition to mere faith alone that saves a man, but rather the propositions believed.

  13. csavage472 Says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Anyway, just wanted to wish you all and your families and nice and warm Christmas holiday season and since this is “technically” the “Season of Peace,” I just thought some of you might be interested in reading a “Letter of Reconciliation” between Dr. John W. Robbins (Dogmatic Protestant) and myself (a Dogmatic Roman Catholic). Thanks and God bless.

    best,
    Christian

    *************************************************************

    “Now, while I will not necessarily disagree that Islam is not a ‘dead faith,’ this is a total historically illiterate statement b/c it appears to be saying that Islam is ‘polytheism’.”—CS, “me”

    Vs.

    “This fellow is thoroughly confused, and seems unable to understand a simple statement about monotheism being a dead faith.”—Dr. John W. Robbins

    *************************************************************

    Dear Dr. Robbins:

    Actually, I never said that Islam was Not a “dead faith” for it is b/c they do not accept the Divine Saviorship of Jesus Christ—[I’m not in the position to judge Anyone for that matter, though; cf. John 8:7-12]. Rather, I said that they were monotheistic. “Monotheism” is not a “faith” in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, it is a philosophy affirming the belief in One Supreme Being, whether that is the “Heavenly Father (“God”) of the Old & New Testament(s),” or the “god of Mars.”

    Nevertheless, I will take light of your words out of humility and say that I will (on the Catholic side) admit that I am confused about that immortal question that Pontius Pilate asked of our Lord when he said (John 18:38): “What is Truth???”. By the way, an interesting fact to notice is that Jesus Christ (Himself the Omniscent & Omnipotent One of the Universe) was SILENT in the Scriptures (before Pilate)!!!

    However, I think that it would be only out of humility if you and Orthodox Protestantism mutually admitted (on the Evangelical side) that you are likewise confused of that answer as well—[from an objective standpoint, of course]—and we both can just simply “Agree to disagree” and carry on with our everyday lives in our own Christian tradition.

    Regardless of whomever is “right” in the debate—[the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Protestantism/Evangelicalism, or neither], it is the Divine Promiseof our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ:

    “That they all may be One, as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be Onein Us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me [John 17:21]……However when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into All truth; for He shall not speak from Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come [John 16:13].”

    Therefore, since neither the Word of God or Jesus is a liar, it is just simply counter-productive for us to engage in miscellaneous debates on theology because it is essentially Impossible to persuade each other of different faiths through reason Alone(“common sense”/”general reason”)!!!

    Nevertheless, I will just end on a relatively positive note and say that, instead, we as American Christians (united for practical reasons) could just solidify our political base so as we are not taken advantage of by nominally-Christian politicians in Both the Republican & Democratic Parties in order to find a rational solution to everyday problems like the following:

    (1) Eliminating Poverty through Free Market Capitalism!!! [cf. http://www.ronpaul2008.com & http://www.debate.com/debates/Is-There-A-FLAW-In-the-so-called-Classical-Wage-Theory-of-Economics-Austrian-School/1/ ];

    (2) Finding a realistic solution to actually getting women to Choose Life and therefore save the 44 Million Pre-born girls & boys that die every year through the sadistic action of Legalized Fetal Homicide (“abortion”) as opposed to just simply winning cases in the Supreme Court (i.e. “Roe v. Wade”)!!! [cf. http://anti-abortion.info/ ];

    (3) Establishing a 100% Privatized Educational System for All Americans, the Privilaged & Underprivileged!!! [cf. http://chapman.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2205064877&topic=4133&ref=mf &

    http://www.nycfamilies.org ];

    In fact, I will start by reading your book that was suggested to me by a Member of Portico Church in Orange County, CA (cf. http://porticochurch.com/ ) during my Christmas Break: “Freedom & Capitalism.” Thank you very much, God bless, and enjoy your Christmas holiday season.

    best,

    Christian E. Savage

    *************************************************************

  14. magma2 Says:

    Hi again Christian. I see you’ve interacted with nothing of what anyone has written in response to your first post and you now offer up a letter to Dr. Robbins. While Dr. Robbins is very much welcome to post here any time he would like, why don’t you just email your note to him directly and try and stay on topic in the future?

    Regardless, I’m glad to see you intend to read Freedom and Capitalism, although I can’t imagine you will be happy with what you read. You might also pick up Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church while you’re at it and make it a Christmas twofer. Because, if you think there is any common ground between the political philosophy of Rome and Christianity you’re seriously mistaken.

    BTW, if you can’t answer the question “What is truth,” you’re most certainly not going to find the answer in the Roman system. Happy hunting though. 😉

  15. Machaira Says:

    Anyway, just wanted to wish you all and your families and nice and warm Christmas holiday season . . .

    Merry Christmas to you and yours too, Christian. Merry Christmas to all. 🙂

    Jim

  16. csavage472 Says:

    Hi Magma2,

    You’re good(haha)!!! I mean that you used logic and reason to get me to actually contront the issues of the Roman Catholic Church. I like that a lot. You are groomed for a future career in politics like myself (haha).

    I was just trying give out a “Christmas Truce” between our contrasting viewpoints. The letter to Dr. Robbins is kind of old and I sent it to him directly as well as other Evangelicals.

    Nevertheless, By All Means, if anyone has any sort of confusion and/or questions about the doctrines of Rome, I will be enthuisastically appreciative to Test those doctrines to the infallible Word of God 100% (to the best of my ability, of course). Just send me an E-mail at Csavage472@netzero.net and/or look up “Christian Savage” if you have a Facebook and/or MySpace acct.

    For starters, I did have a couple of questions and/or responses:

    (1) “First of all, ‘sola fide’ pertains to justifcation, not salvation. Salvation includes justification, but they are not the same,…”—Machaira

    (a) Thanks for clarifying that up. Actually, Machaira sounds more like a Catholic than an “unofficial” follower of Martin Luther. I say that b/c Luther taught (or what Orthodox Protestantism affirms dogmatically) that Justification, in and of itself, “saves” a person b/c that is when the Righteousness of Christ is instantaneously credited to the believer at the “moment of Belief (Faith).”

    (b) On the contrary, Rome’s teaching is that salvation is a process where the penitent person is Justified—[literally means “found favor with” as opposed to “declared righteous” in the Greek]—solely by faith (and “faith alone,” if you will), but the righteousness of Christ has not yet been applied. Rome’s teaching (biblically infallible, I would assert) is that Christ’s sole Redemptive Merit on the cross is credited on the believer when he/she is “Born Again of Water & Spirit” via the regenerative waters of Baptism—[cf. Romans 6:3-5; 1 Peter 3:18-23; Mark 1:4; Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38 & Romans 6:23;].

    (c) Once the person has (literally) “died, been buried, and resurrected with the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ”, then he/she is continuously sanctified by the Holy Spirt where the person’s faith is “worketh by Love (works of charity out of altruism)”—[cf. Gal. 5:6; 1 Cor. 13:1-13; Matt. 25:31-46].

    (2) “Paul’s argument there and elsewhere is essentially you have been saved from the penalty of sin and have been set free from its curse, now live as free men. But, Christian, if you want to submit yourself to the bondage and tyranny of the Roman church-state and tell yourself you’re a free man you won’t be the first to be so self-deluded and foolish.”—Magma2

    (a) First and foremost, the Roman Catholic Church is Not a “state.” It is not a legislative body or government that makes laws. Yes, you might can clearly make that argument in the Dark Ages and before the unification of Italy, but today that statement is both a non-sequitur and/or irrational (with all due respect, of course).

    (b) Anyway, Paul’s argument that once a person is truely saved by the merits of Christ are freed from the penalty of Sin (Hell) is in 100% Agreement with Rome. Why??? Well, for the simple fact that Nobody is “technically” “saved” until he/she is pronounced Saved by the Judgment Seat of Christ—[cf. Rev. 20:11-15; Matt. 25:31-46; 1 Cor. 5:10]. In other words, if a heavily rich person is indicted by the State for murder, and he hires a “John Roberts”-type attorney for “the best that money can buy” (allegory for Jesus’ Saviorship), it would be irrational for him to prematurely announce that he is “Not Guilty” before the verdict. Yes, there is a 99.99% chance that the attorney can get him off b/c he is that good, but there is still a chance that he/she will get convicted (conviction is an allegory for Post-Born Again sin).

    (c) As for the claim that it is “foolish” that I am submitting myself to the “bondage” of having to live out the Moral Law of God, that actually proves Rome’s teaching as of the Word of God b/c I agree that it is foolish to sacrifice the worldly pleasures for a doctine of “Eternal Security.” Then again, what does Jesus say in the Gospel about the road that leads to Heaven and that of Hell???

    “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
    —The Gospel of Matthew 7:13-14—

    (3) I agree with “kjsulli” 100%!!!

    Thanks again and Merry Christmas.

    best,
    Christian

  17. magma2 Says:

    (a) First and foremost, the Roman Catholic Church is Not a “state.”

    “Vatican City, officially State of the Vatican City (Latin: Status Civitatis Vaticanae; Italian: Stato della Città del Vaticano), is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome . . . .”

    Sounds like a state to me. If it’s not a state, why do they have ambassadors?

    It is not a legislative body or government that makes laws. Yes, you might can clearly make that argument in the Dark Ages and before the unification of Italy, but today that statement is both a non-sequitur and/or irrational (with all due respect, of course).

    Nope, talking about today.

    “The government of Vatican City has a unique structure. The Pope is the sovereign of the state. Legislative authority is vested in the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, a body of cardinals appointed by the Pope for five-year periods. Executive power is in the hands of the President of that commission, assisted by the General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary. The state’s foreign relations are entrusted to the Holy See’s Secretariat of State and diplomatic service. Nevertheless, the pope has full and absolute executive, legislative and judicial power over Vatican City. He is the last absolute monarch in Europe.”

    (b) Anyway, Paul’s argument that once a person is truely saved by the merits of Christ are freed from the penalty of Sin (Hell) is in 100% Agreement with Rome.

    Really, have you not read Trent either? CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

    Yet, the Scriptures say; But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Why??? Well, for the simple fact that Nobody is “technically” “saved” until he/she is pronounced Saved by the Judgment Seat of Christ—[cf. Rev. 20:11-15; Matt. 25:31-46; 1 Cor. 5:10].

    That’s incorrect. John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

    Matt 25 has to do with the separating of the sheep and goats and does not teach that salvation or justification are eschatological categories. You’re reading into the passage things that aren’t there.

    This is 1Co 5:10; Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. How does this make your case? Did you pick the wrong verse from your RC apologetics handbook? As for the passage in Revelation, again, I don’t see it making your case? Those whose name was not written in the book of life were judged and cast into the lake of fire. Names weren’t written into the book of life at judgment, they were already there. Looks like you’re guilty of more esisgeis.

    In other words, if a heavily rich person is indicted by the State for murder, and he hires a “John Roberts”-type attorney for “the best that money can buy” (allegory for Jesus’ Saviorship), it would be irrational for him to prematurely announce that he is “Not Guilty” before the verdict. Yes, there is a 99.99% chance that the attorney can get him off b/c he is that good, but there is still a chance that he/she will get convicted (conviction is an allegory for Post-Born Again sin).

    If Jesus paid the penalty due those for whom he died, three is a 100% chance that their sins were paid in full on that cross some 2,000 years ago. Jesus said those who believe his words already has eternal life and have already passed from death to life.

    The Roman idea of justification as a cooperative process is merely a denial of the sufficiency of Christ’s perfect sacrifice. It’s akin to spitting in Christ’s face.

    Looks like you’re working for nothing.

    (c) As for the claim that it is “foolish” that I am submitting myself to the “bondage” of having to live out the Moral Law of God,

    Well, good luck with that. Don’t forget what James said per 2:10; For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. You’ve got your work cut out for you.

    that actually proves Rome’s teaching as of the Word of God b/c I agree that it is foolish to sacrifice the worldly pleasures for a doctine of “Eternal Security.” Then again, what does Jesus say in the Gospel about the road that leads to Heaven and that of Hell???

    The road that leads to Hell is the one you’re on Christian. It’s the one premised on your own works righteousness and self-justification. Paul said by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. But if you think you can “co-operate” in your justification, you better get to work.

    Sean

  18. kjsulli Says:

    Sean,

    I don’t think I’m introducing a “psychological addition” to faith alone; at least, I don’t mean to if I am doing so! I understand the argument you’re making, and I agree that “belief” and “trust” are the same thing; but I’m not sure that “assent” and “trust” are the same. The former is indicative of agreement, the latter of reliance. (Of course, reliance is confidence.) Assensus seems to be the equivalent of what the Sandemanians demand for salvation, or what someone like Zane Hodges demands, whereas fiducia is wholesale reliance upon Christ and His righteousness. I don’t see the difference here as involving emotion or psychology.

    Christian,

    I don’t know what it is you agree with me about. I most certainly do not agree with your Roman doctrine of justification, baptism,

  19. kjsulli Says:

    Christian,

    I don’t know what it is you agree with me about. I most certainly do not agree with your Roman doctrines of justification, baptism, etc.

  20. magma2 Says:

    I understand the argument you’re making, and I agree that “belief” and “trust” are the same thing; but I’m not sure that “assent” and “trust” are the same.

    I said belief or trust is defined as understanding and assent. You can’t believe what you don’t understand and to assent to something is a deliberative act of agreement. The psychological aspect I was referring to had to do with your statement: “Certainly some were willing to say that Jesus is the Son of God. But the reason they shudder is that they lack the element of a personal trust in the one God, a resting and relying upon Him (fiducia?).” What does it mean to have a personal trust? By contrast what is an impersonal trust? I guess I don’t know what you’re getting at when you talk about a person trust?

    The point in James is that belief in God, even that God is one, and even if you do so sincerely and with all the trembling passion in the world will not make you a saved man — even the demons believe these things and shudder. One must believe the gospel. Romanist for example believe in a Christ and even God as a Triune being and many even tremble when they light their candles and chant their rosary, but if they don’t believe the gospel they’re no better off than the demons.

  21. Kyle Says:

    What does it mean to have a personal trust? By contrast what is an impersonal trust? I guess I don’t know what you’re getting at when you talk about a person trust?

    I think what I’m getting at is what the Larger Catechism Q&A 72 is getting at:

    Q72: What is justifying faith?
    A72: Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

    Or, the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 21:

    Q21: What is true faith?
    A21: True faith is not only a sure knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Ghost works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.

    The point in James is that belief in God, even that God is one, and even if you do so sincerely and with all the trembling passion in the world will not make you a saved man — even the demons believe these things and shudder.

    Perhaps I am misreading it, but my impression is that the demons tremble with fear, not because they are passionate and sincere monotheists, but because they know that the One God is Judge. Their fear is not godly, but a craven fear of their impending destruction.

    At any rate, I do agree that one must believe the Gospel; and for one to truly believe the Gospel is to trust God in Christ to be his salvation.n

  22. magma2 Says:

    OK, I’m still not getting what you mean by personal trust as if trust can be anything other than personal? However, perhaps HC 21 is where folks like Webb get the idea that in order for belief to be saving it has to be heartfelt, assuming that is what “hearty trust” means. Of course the heart in Scripture is the mind so I’m not really sure. I would think a “sure knowledge” might be simply understanding since many people do have a very good understanding of the gospel even if they don’t believe it. In that case a hearty trust would be not merely understanding the gospel message and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, but assenting to it as well?

    The long and short is that the history of how men have understood and defined faith is a confused and incoherent mess. Clark’s book on saving faith provides a pretty depressing sketch of the history. OTOH, the FV men have a good use for fiducia and that is faith working through love is what makes “raw” faith saving.

    As for James, it is certainly not wrong to believe God is one. James says if you do you “do well.”

  23. Kyle Says:

    Sean,

    I am appreciating this exchange!

    OK, I’m still not getting what you mean by personal trust as if trust can be anything other than personal?

    Basically, it’s the difference between agreeing that Christ is the Savior of sinners, and trusting Christ to be my Savior. As HC 21 puts it, “not only to others, but to me also.” Does that make sense?

    However, perhaps HC 21 is where folks like Webb get the idea that in order for belief to be saving it has to be heartfelt, assuming that is what “hearty trust” means. Of course the heart in Scripture is the mind so I’m not really sure.

    I think the meaning here is “sincere” or “genuine,” i.e., not feigned. I don’t imagine an emotional or psychological state is in view. And I can’t really tell you where Pr. Webb is getting his idea.

    I would think a “sure knowledge” might be simply understanding since many people do have a very good understanding of the gospel even if they don’t believe it. In that case a hearty trust would be not merely understanding the gospel message and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, but assenting to it as well?

    But the HC says that by this “sure knowledge” one “hold[s] for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word.” That is, “I know this certainly to be true.” That sounds to me like assent, and appears parallel to what the LC says: “not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel.”

    OTOH, the FV men have a good use for fiducia and that is faith working through love is what makes “raw” faith saving.

    They certainly do make dishonest use of fiducia, but I don’t see the traditional three-fold defintion as actually granting them this point.

    As for James, it is certainly not wrong to believe God is one. James says if you do you “do well.”

    Yes, the demons do well in believing that God is one. But this is not enough; indeed, it causes them to tremble with a craven fear, because they have not trusted in God. This, at any rate, is what I understand James to be saying.

    Would you mind differentiating your position from that of the Sandemanians (or, as they are also known, the Glassites)?

  24. magma2 Says:

    Basically, it’s the difference between agreeing that Christ is the Savior of sinners, and trusting Christ to be my Savior. As HC 21 puts it, “not only to others, but to me also.” Does that make sense?

    Unless I’m completely missing something or we’re just talking past one another, I still don’t see how you are describing is anything more than a difference in the propositions believed (or trusted in, if you prefer). I understand the difference between the propositions Christ is the Savior of sinners in general and Christ is my Savior, but what is the difference between these:

    1. I believe Christ to be my Savior.
    2. I trust Christ to be my Savior.

    I don’t see fiduica or trust as being any different or something in addition to belief. Besides, trust or belief is never non personal since only persons can believe or trust.

    However, perhaps HC 21 is where folks like Webb get the idea that in order for belief to be saving it has to be heartfelt . . . .

    I think the meaning here is “sincere” or “genuine,” i.e., not feigned. I don’t imagine an emotional or psychological state is in view. And I can’t really tell you where Pr. Webb is getting his idea.

    Sounds right to me.

    . . . the HC says that by this “sure knowledge” one “hold[s] for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word.” That is, “I know this certainly to be true.” That sounds to me like assent, and appears parallel to what the LC says: “not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel.”

    You may be correct, while having read the HC, I’m not all that familiar with it. If it is making essentially the same point as LC 72 then, yes, it is an assent. However, the point being made in LC 72, which I am familiar with, is that just believing the truth of the promise of the gospel (i.e., salvation from sin and eternal life) is not enough, one must also assent to or believe the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as well.

    The whole sentence reads: “ not only assents to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receives and rests upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.”

    This make sense since Roman Catholics for example generally believe in the promise of the gospel, but deny the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and claim their own instead.

    However, for the traditional three-fold definition to hold the phrase “receives and rests” must mean something entirely different from assent, yet it seems to me (at least how the sentence reads) the figure of receiving and resting is just another way to say assent. One dictionary defines belief as: “Assent to a proposition or affirmation, or the acceptance of a fact, opinion, or assertion as real or true.” Consequently, LC 72 is telling us that it’s not enough to believe A, you must also believe B as well.

    However, if you think “receives and rests” is some third element, then I think you should clearly define what it is.

    The way I understand LC 72 is not with the addition of some third psychological element in addition to assent, just that believing the truth of the promise of the gospel is not enough to save a man and I agree. 🙂

    OTOH, the FV men have a good use for fiducia and that is faith working through love is what makes “raw” faith saving.

    They certainly do make dishonest use of fiducia, but I don’t see the traditional three-fold defintion as actually granting them this point.

    The problem is I don’t know what the honest use of fiducia is?

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not my position that everyone who holds to the traditional definition of faith is denying JBFA, just that they make no sense and often add scripturally unsupported ideas, like the emotion of love, that is supposed to make faith saving.

    It seems to me that Clark is right and “fiducia comes from the same root as fides (faith). Hence this popular analysis reduces to the obviously absurd definition that faith consists of understanding, assent, and faith.” So, while Reformed men doggedly hold on to some ill defined ( if defined at all) nebulous third element of faith without which you supposedly go to Hell, the FV men have put their confused nonsensical gibberish about “fiducia” to good and practical use which is easily understood and defined.

    IMO it’s time to admit that belief and trust as synonyms, fiducia as a third element that makes faith saving is incoherent, and that saving faith consists not in some mysterious third element, but rather in the propositions believed, i.e., the gospel.

    As for James, it is certainly not wrong to believe God is one. James says if you do you “do well.”

    Yes, the demons do well in believing that God is one. But this is not enough; indeed, it causes them to tremble with a craven fear, because they have not trusted in God. This, at any rate, is what I understand James to be saying.

    I don’t think we disagree. However, I think the addition of trembling points to the fact that we shouldn’t be fooled by the supposed sincerity of those claiming to be Christians. I am thinking not only of the hucksters and charlatans that are on TV every day weeping and pleading as the fleece old people and suckers all in the name of Jeeeeezusss, but also the sincere theist who claim to worship God but deny the gospel.

    Would you mind differentiating your position from that of the Sandemanians (or, as they are also known, the Glassites)?

    I honestly don’t know too much about Robert Sandeman or the whole Glasite controversy or what they believed. Sometimes I think his name is used as a club to discredit a good idea that might be wrapped in a bad one. I read he has the following on his tombstone:

    “That the bare death of Jesus Christ without a thought or deed on the part of man, is sufficient to present the chief of sinners spotless before God.”

    I certainly don’t agree with this. I think belief is necessary since it is the sole instrument of justification, not that faith per se saves us, but it certainly requires some thought or else why would we need preachers?

    Wikipedia under the entry on Glasite states: “In all the action of the church unanimity was considered to be necessary; if any member differed in opinion from the rest, he must either surrender his judgment to that of the church, or be shut out from its communion.” This alone is offensive to me since I disagree with just about everyone on something or other. 😉 I also don’t believe in surrendering judgment to any church without sound biblical arguments as liberty of conscience is a cornerstone of Christianity and was central to the Reformation.

    Evidently they also believe that praying with other Christians not part of their denomination was sinful, they required their members attend “love feasts” (which I gather was a meal between morning and afternoon services) which was supposed to be communion, and they believed that eating meat killed as the result of strangulation or evidently raw (ala steak tartar) was sinful. They believed the accumulation of wealth was unbiblical. The list goes on. I think they were one wacky group.

    Given some of the rather authoritarian and bizarre rules listed above they were also considered antinominans. They were certainly lawless per the rules they imposed on their members, maybe that’s what the writer meant by antinomian? It certainly is one aspect of antinomianism.

    Now, if along the way Sandeman figured out that fiducia was a nonsensical addition to what makes faith saving and that the dividing line between faith and saving faith were the propositions believe and not some psychological addition, then perhaps he did one thing right. 😉 OTOH it doesn’t sound that way if the above is really on his tombstone. Interestingly, he evidently died in Danbury, CT and since I lived near there for almost 15 years you’d think I’d know more about the man, but I don’t.


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