The Fiducial Road to Rome, Part 2

In my last blog I highlighted a few of the problems with the all too common and tautological tri-fold definition of faith. The additional element of fiducia or trust adds precisely nothing to our understanding of what faith is and instead muddies the waters. To believe what a person says or to trust what they say both mean the same thing. Beyond that the many analogies that are used to describe what is supposed to make faith saving requires us doing something, i.e., sitting in a chair, crossing the bridge, getting on the plane, putting our money in the bank, or climbing into the wheelbarrow as a tightrope walker crosses Niagra Falls. However, and as Clark points out, there is nothing analogous in any of these various physical actions to the internal and intellectual act of believing which alone is the instrument of justication.

Andy Webb perhaps sensing the limitations and dangers implied in his own materialistic analogy of the tightrope walker, simply avoids providing any clear definition at all of this crucial and salvific third element of faith without which no man will see the Lord. Instead Webb appeals to his own ignorance and asserts that the emotion of love in some unknown combination along with trust or agreement as the one thing needful in order to transform ordinary faith, even faith in the gospel message, into saving faith. Webb tells us that ordinary faith, say, in the proposition that Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon, is qualitatively different from saving faith. He tells us that assensus or the “believer’s intellectual assent to the truth of the content of the Gospel” will not save. Believing the Gospel in the same manner someone might believe Armstrong was the first man on the moon is insufficient to save a sinner. You can believe that Jesus Christ was crucified for your sins, was dead and buried and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that His perfect active and passive obedience, even to His death on the cross, satisfied the just wrath of God on account of your sins and that His righteousness is imputed to you by the simple act of belief alone, and you will still go to Hell. Webb, playing the role of the fifth Beatle, tells us all you need is love. Most alarming is Webb doesn’t even provide a method by which we might know if we’ve attained this mysterious right combination of loving emotion and whatever else might be needed. While not much is clear in Webb’s explanation of saving faith, one thing is very clear — if you don’t emote and emote properly, you’re lost.

What never seems to dawn on these men is that it is not some nebulous, unknown and poorly defined, if defined at all, third element, some psychological and ephemeral combination of emotions that can only be “apprehended” but never “comprehended,” that makes faith saving; rather what makes faith saving are the propositions believed. While believing that Armstrong was the first person on the moon will not save you, does it follow that believing the message of the gospel won’t save you either? I don’t see how? The Scriptures teach “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” and “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life” without even the slightest mention of the “emotion of love.” Beyond that Jesus tells us; “For this is the will of my Father, that every one that beholdeth the Son, and believeth on him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

As Dr. Robbins observes in his answer to R.C. Sproul on the question of saving faith:

In the Biblical sense, and in ordinary language, to trust and to believe are not two different mental actions, and any Jewish or Latin theology that tries to make them so is not Biblical . . . it is not possible to “trust Christ and him alone for my salvation,” because the “most crucial, vital element of saving faith,” the element that makes it saving, is not Christ at all. Instead, some undefined and perhaps undefinable psychological state that is neither understanding nor assent, but is different from both, is crucial and vital. If this psychological state is the “most crucial,” then we must make sure we “trust,” and “trust enough” to be saved. We must focus, not on Christ, but on our own psychological state. Salvation is swallowed up in subjectivism.

Simply put, saving faith is understanding the gospel message and assenting to it.

Which brings us to the FV and their consistent and easily comprehended understanding and application of fiducia as the third and supposedly essential element that makes faith saving. But, first, it’s important to put to rest another misleading and common charge. The following is from a blog piece Doug Wilson wrote back in 2004 when he first read a selection from the Not Reformed At All in Trinity Review:

One striking thing about this piece is the repeated use of the phrase “justification by belief” (instead of “justification by faith”) This highlights, as I suppose, the, um, heterodox Clarkian approach that wants us to be justified by assent to propositions.

So then, we are living in a time when assensus can be severed from fiducia, and the fiducia thrown away like it was a wrapper, and this can be done in the name of a defense of Reformed orthodoxy! Maybe LaHaye and Jenkins are right and it is the last days.

While I’m not sure which one of us, John or I, are supposed to be Jerry Jenkins and which one Tim LaHaye, notice for Wilson it is a mark of heterodoxy to say salvation is by belief alone rather than by faith alone. Wilson clearly prefers faith since it is the English translation of the Latin fides, but doesn’t he know thatt fides is just the Latin translation of the Greek pistis? I guess given the medievalism of Wilson’s sensate and Romanish religion he just can’t seem to get past the Latin, but even here he should know that fides is translated as trust, confidence, reliance, belief, faith. Wilson must have been left behind in Latin class.

Some may have noticed that I have used the words faith and belief interchangeably in this blog as well. That’s because these words mean the same thing and are translations of the same Greek word, pistis.  Dr. Gary Crampton writes in his piece, Faith in Hebrews 11:

In the New Testament, there is only one word for belief or faith, pistis, and its verb form is pistein, believe. There is no separate word for faith, and those who wish to say that faith is something different from and superior to belief have no support from Scripture. Gordon Clark once remarked that the Bible’s English translators could have avoided a lot of confusion if they had not used the Latin-based word “faith” and had instead simply used “believe” and “belief” throughout the English Bible, as the writers of the New Testament use pistis and pistein throughout the Greek Bible.

Despite this elementary fact that faith and belief are translations of the same single Greek word, neo-legalist and FV front man, Doug Wilson, thinks this is a problem. Of course, it is a problem for him because central to the FV scheme of salvation notitia, assensus must never be severed from fiducia (OK, you can get rid of notitia, because if most of his followers understood his doctrines they’d run Wilson out of Idaho on a rail). In the FV it is this fiducial element that also makes faith saving, but whereas Andy Webb and others can only apprehended yet never comprehended what this essential element entails, Wilson finds in it the necessary wiggle room he needs to justify his doctrine of salvation by doing.

Consider this from another one of Wilson’s blog:

Now this fides salvifica does not cause obedience in the way that a billiard ball striking another one causes it to move. It is not mechanical. Rather, it brings about obedience organically, the way life in a body causes that body to breathe. As a body without the spirit is dead so faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:26). This is why saving faith necessarily lives and acts. One of the principal acts performed by such saving faith is the act of trusting in Christ alone for both justification and sanctification.

Think of it this way. Saving faith is a mother who always bears twins——justification and sanctification, in that order——so that we can see easily that when justification is born, his mother does not die, but rather brings his younger brother obedience into the world. But we cannot forget an important part of the illustration. The “mother”——faith——is trusting and obedient in how she gives birth. Saving faith is the alone trusting instrument of justification, and, immediately following, that same saving faith the alone trusting instrument of sanctification, and reveals itself always as a faith working through love. Saving faith that does not trust and obey is a saving faith that does not exist. We never have raw faith without trust, and then, a moment later, trust arrives.

A couple of things to notice before we continue with Wilson. The central deadly error of Rome is the conflation and confusion of justification and sanctification. The genius and great blessing of Reformation was the correction this deadly conflation by drawing the necessary, logical and biblical distinction between justification which is by belief alone and works done in sanctification as the result of belief. For Christians works done in sanctification are the result or the fruit of justification. The latter is quite properly the cause of the former. However, for Wilson, “fides salvifica does not cause obedience in the way that a billiard ball striking another one causes it to move.” For Wilson, there is no causal connection between justification which is by belief alone and obedience or works done in sanctification. They’re the same thing and are all part of Wilson’s doctrine of faith, which, as he already made clear, is different from belief. So, the first thing we need to remember is that when Wilson says he believes in salvation by faith alone he means something quite different from salvation by belief alone.

While Wilson talks in terms of justification and sanctification as being twins, notice that the “mother” which is faith “is trusting and obedient in how she gives birth.” Recall the previous analogies of faith as a chair, plane, bridge, bank, etc. For Wilson faith includes works. Wilson rejects the idea of salvation by simple faith (or belief) alone, which he derides as being “raw,” instead he cites James 2:26 in the context of saving faith. Like a good Roman Catholic for Wilson in order for faith to save it must work. Wilson does not believe in salvation by faith alone apart from works as Paul asserts, rather saving faith includes “trusting in Christ alone for both justification and sanctification.” Remember, justification and sanctification are the identical twins from the one mother “faith.” Justification does not give birth, to use Wilson’s metaphor, to sanctification. The one is not the cause or the result of the other. “We never have raw faith without trust.” But, remember, to believe what someone says is to trust what they say and visa versa. In Wilson to trust is something in addition to mere or “raw” belief alone.

Wilson continues:

As mentioned earlier, the historic Protestant understanding of fides salvifica sees it as consisting of an inseparable unity of assensus, notitia, and fiducia . It is the essential nature of fiducia to trust gladly in everything that God has spoken in His Word——whether law or gospel, Old or New Testaments, poems or prose, odd-numbered pages or even. This means that fides salvifica is related to ongoing fidelity, trust or obedience in the same way that a body is related to breathing. Without a body, there is nothing to breathe with. Without breathing, there is something that needs to be buried.

Fides salvifica receives all of Scripture as good news from a gracious God. In a general sense, all is gospel. But the Scripture does contain what might be called the Gospel proper, the good news of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. This is why the Protestant scholastics also said that there was a fides evangelica that specifically trusts in the revelation that God gives to us in the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the faith exhibited when someone hears the gospel preached.

Wilson is clear, for faith to save it must work, otherwise it’s dead. Like his brothers in Rome, Wilson doesn’t understand James’ metaphor of dead faith. Dead faith is to have no faith at all. It is the so-called faith of someone who professes to believe but really does not. The evidences of a “living” faith are the means by which we might judge those who have true faith from the feigned variety, but the works of faith contribute absolutely nothing to our justification and are logically and necessarily distinct. James is not talking about salvation by faith in Chapter 2 (or Wilson’s “fides salvifica” if anyone prefers the Latin), but in Wilson’s mind (along with those in Rome) he is.

Consider this from John Robbins’ reply to Sproul:

Belief . . . and trust are the same; they are synonyms. If you believe what a person says, you trust him. If you trust a person, you believe what he says. If you have faith in him, you believe what he says and trust his words. If you trust a bank, you believe its claims to be safe and secure. Strictly speaking, trust is belief of propositions in the future tense, such as “he will be good to me” or “this bank will keep my money safe.” This is important, because Sproul’s [and Wilson’s] incorrect analysis of saving faith, his splitting it up into three parts, the third part being trust, depends on denying that belief and trust are the same thing.

Whereas biblically trust and belief are synonyms, in Wilson theology trust and obedience are synonyms.

If there were any doubt that for Wilson believing means doing and salvation by faith alone is a chimera in his aberrant and deadly theology, consider his diatribe against the Christian faith in, Reformed Is Not Enough. In that book and according to Wilson, “both the true and false son are brought into the same relation” to Christ. So what is the determining factor that separates the sheep from the goats? Wilson explains that “faith in the biblical sense is inseparable from faithfulness. . . But when we have faith that works its way out in love, which is the only thing that genuine faith can do, then the condition that God has set for the fulfillment of His promise has been met” (186-187). The ones who, through their faithfulness, “meet the condition that God has set for the fulfillment of His promise,” become sheep. In the so-called “objective covenant” in which the sinner meets conditions and fulfills his covenantal obligations, thus qualifying himself for the salvation God has promised, Wilson confuses works with sanctification, and both with justification. Wilson’s conditional objective covenant is an outright denial of the Covenant of Grace and the doctrine of justification by faith alone as outlined in the Confession:

Those whom God effectually called he also freely justified; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous: not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone: not 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, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith: which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God [WCF, 11:1].

Both the sole condition of God’s blessing — perfect obedience — and the fulfillment of God’s promises have already been met in Christ. But in Wilson’s theology “evangelical obedience” is a condition which must first be met before the promises of the covenant (which both the reprobate and the elect receive in baptism) can be fulfilled. This explains why most of Wilson’s chapter on “The Greatness of Justification by Faith” discusses the role of good works in sanctification.

While Christians like Andy Webb really don’t know what to do with fiducia as the third and essential element of saving faith, the FV men have put the confusion and ineptness of others to productive use. In the FV faith means faithfulness and justification is sanctification and both are justified on the basis of fiducia.

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14 Comments on “The Fiducial Road to Rome, Part 2”

  1. rgmann Says:

    [According to Webb] You can believe that Jesus Christ was crucified for your sins, was dead and buried and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that His perfect active and passive obedience, even to His death on the cross, satisfied the just wrath of God on account of your sins and that His righteousness is imputed to you by the simple act of belief alone, and you will still go to Hell.

    Wow! If this is truly the implication of Webb’s distinction between assensus and fiducia in saving faith, then it is a serious matter indeed! But isn’t it possible that he was simply trying to elaborate on the same distinction made by the Larger Catechism? Or do you believe that the Catechism is teaching something completely different than Webb (or R.C. Sproul for that matter)?

    Question 72: What is justifying faith?

    Answer: 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 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.

  2. magma2 Says:

    isn’t it possible that he was simply trying to elaborate on the same distinction made by the Larger Catechism?

    In part 1 Webb says; “By Assensus we mean the believer’s intellectual assent to the truth of the content of the Gospel . . .” Then he gives a couple of examples of assent like believing Armstrong was the first man on the moon and “Jesus is a symbol of universal forgiveness,” then adds; “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.”

    If you read the rest of the Webb quote in part 1 you will see that understanding and assenting to the propositions of the Gospel will not save and all you need is love in some unspecified combination along with trust or agreement. It is really confused and convoluted to say the least, but he is clear that believing the gospel in the same way you might believe in Armstrong was the first man on the moon, is not enough. Ordinary belief is not enough, you need the “emotion of love” to make your ordinary belief in the gospel salvific. It’s like the magic ingredient.

    Now, Webb might think he’s merely explaining the LC, but the LC never defines faith as consisting of notitia, assensus and fiducia. Consider this from Dr. Robbins:

    Westminster Larger Catechism Question 72 is usually misread by people looking for some esoteric and complicated definition of saving faith as something more than understanding of and assent to the Gospel. What the Catechism actually teaches is that one must not only assent to the truth of the promise of the Gospel, but also to the righteousness of Christ imputed to believers:

    “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 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 accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.”

    The Catechism is concerned to make clear what truths one has to believe in order to be saved. It is not discussing the psychology of the act of believing, still less is it disparaging assent to the truth of the Gospel.

    Among other things, this Catechetical and Biblical definition of justifying faith asserts what Wilson et al. deny: that sinners are saved by believing the doctrine of justification by faith alone. That is precisely what the Larger Catechism asserts. If the Catechism is correct, Lusk is lost.

    Also important to note is that no Reformed Confession, and certainly not the Westminster Confession, defines “faith” by asserting that it consists of three components, notitia, assensus, and fiducia. When professed Reformed theologians lapse into that misleading Latin model, they sound like they are exegeting the Vulgate, not the Greek New Testament.

  3. Machaira Says:

    . . . notice for Wilson it is a mark of heterodoxy to say salvation is by belief alone rather than by faith alone.

    Then I guess John 3:16 is heterodox.

    My, my, my. Look how far reformed theology has come. Oh, that’s right, reformed is not enough. Rome might say we’ve come full circle. Welcome home Mr. Wilson! 😈

  4. Machaira Says:

    One other thing . . .

    IMHO, the word rest in WLC question 72 isn’t a synonym for trust. Rather, it indicates a cessation of something. In this case, it refers to a cessation of ones own works and the receiving, (the other word used in q.72), of Christ and His righteousness.

  5. rgmann Says:

    Ok, thanks for the clarification. However, I’m still not clear on what merely assenting “to the truth of the promise of the gospel” consists of? Robbins writes:

    “What the Catechism actually teaches is that one must not only assent to the truth of the promise of the Gospel, but also to the righteousness of Christ imputed to believers.”

    But if assenting “to the truth of the promise of the gospel” doesn’t consist of receiving and resting “upon Christ and his righteousness…”, then wherein does it differ in the eyes of the Catechism? What is its content?

  6. qeqesha Says:

    JR says:
    “Westminster Larger Catechism Question 72 is usually misread by people looking for some esoteric and complicated definition of saving faith as something more than understanding of and assent to the Gospel. What the Catechism actually teaches is that one must not only assent to the truth of the promise of the Gospel, but also to the righteousness of Christ imputed to believers:”

    The Catechism phraseology certainly lends itself to the “fiducia” confusion. The fact that rgmann thinks this is what Sproul is trying to articulate lends credence to the view that Q72 is a source of confusion. The Bible says we are justified by believing the Gospel, period. What is the truth of the promise of the Gospel, but the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer? There is no further requirement to believe ALSO in the righteousness of Christ imputed to believers. The Larger Catechism is confused! Reading Q72, “receives and rests” can mean further acts, in addition to assenting to the truth.
    Besides, the definition of faith into three elements hails from the “Reformed tradition”. We must therefore expect this confusion to have its origins in the Reformed documents., and Q72 is one such candidate. Menton might have gotten hints from Q72.

    “The Catechism is concerned to make clear what truths one has to believe in order to be saved. It is not discussing the psychology of the act of believing, still less is it disparaging assent to the truth of the Gospel.”

    These people spoke English and could have phrased the answer in English and not gobbledygook.

    How about:

    Question 72: What is justifying faith?

    Answer: 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, ONLY assents to the truth of the promise of the gospel, WHEREBY HE 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.

  7. magma2 Says:

    But if assenting “to the truth of the promise of the gospel” doesn’t consist of receiving and resting “upon Christ and his righteousness…”, then wherein does it differ in the eyes of the Catechism? What is its content?

    There is nothing wrong at all with metaphor of receiving and resting upon Christ and his righteousness, but it’s a metaphor, a figure of speech. How does “receiving and resting” equal a third and undefinable (FV men like Wilson excepted) ingredient that is supposed to transform ordinary faith into something that saves? While the Scriptures nowhere teach, at least that I can find or that Webb seems to be able to adduce, the necessity of an ill defined emotional ingredient or even the emotion of love in combination with belief or trust that makes belief saving (although saving faith certainly results in the biblical idea of love which is a volition, not an emotion), I have to wonder if some are not just imposing their ideas of faith on the Confession rather than visa versa?

    Here’s a question, does the LC phraseology lend itself to the idea of fiducia or does the fiducia language merely impose itself on confessional use of a figure of speech, i.e., “receiving and resting”? Second, how is “receiving and resting” different from the idea of assenting?

    Here’s one more selection from Dr. Robbins in response to a New Horizon’s article by Alan Strange critical of Clark on precisely this same point. FWIW NH never published John’s letter (or mine):

    . . . Q. 72 is not contrasting “assenting” with “receiving and resting” is that the authors of the Westminster Standards have a different contrast in mind. Reading the Standards with subjectivist presuppositions, Dr. Strange supposes they are contrasting differing psychologies of faith (assent vs. receiving and resting), when they are actually contrasting the truths believed. Psychology was not on the minds of the Westminster Assembly, but making clear what truths had to be believed in order to be saved was. Dr. Strange forgets that the word “faith” has two distinct meanings, one objective and one subjective. The Standards are contrasting belief in the “promise of the Gospel,” that is, in the truth of eternal life, with belief in the “righteousness [of Christ] for pardon of sin, and the accepting and accounting of his person righteous.” They are making clear that the sinner must not only believe in (assent to) salvation from sin and eternal life (which they call the “promise of the Gospel”), but that he must also believe in (assent to) the imputed righteousness of Christ in order to be saved. Their concern is that the proper object of faith is believed, not that some undefined and nebulous mental state must be added to belief in order to make it efficacious. Their message is that belief in eternal life and pardon from sin is not saving faith, but to that must be added belief in Christ and his righteousness as the sole means of obtaining eternal life.

    The Westminster Standards clearly teach that the object of faith, Christ and his imputed righteousness, not our subjective mental state, is what saves us. Dr. Strange, like so many today, reads the Westminster Standards with his subjectivist glasses on, and thereby misses and misrepresents what they teach.

    Therefore, Dr. Strange is completely wrong when he asserts that “Clark is clearly not within the Reformed tradition in defining faith itself as knowledge and assent alone.” Not only is Clark clearly within that tradition, but he is also the most accurate reporter of what Scripture teaches about saving faith. All your readers should read his book for themselves.

  8. magma2 Says:

    IMHO, the word rest in WLC question 72 isn’t a synonym for trust. Rather, it indicates a cessation of something. In this case, it refers to a cessation of ones own works and the receiving, (the other word used in q.72), of Christ and His righteousness.

    As you can probably tell already, I think your observation is spot on. 🙂 Thanks.

  9. rgmann Says:

    John Robbins wrote:

    Their message is that belief in eternal life and pardon from sin is not saving faith, but to that must be added belief in Christ and his righteousness as the sole means of obtaining eternal life.

    Now that explanation makes sense. For example, a devout Roman Catholic “assents to the truth of the gospel” in the first sense (belief in eternal life and pardon from sin), while denying the gospel in the second sense (belief in Christ and his righteousness as the sole means of obtaining eternal life). Thanks for the clarification!

    Sean wrote:

    Both the sole condition of God’s blessing — perfect obedience — and the fulfillment of God’s promises have already been met in Christ.

    That’s a great point, and one which is often downplayed or denied. Many Reformed theologians teach that the perfect active and passive obedience of Christ is the sole condition of the “Covenant of Redemption,” while faith is the sole condition of the “Covenant of Grace.” But this is incorrect. As Thomas Boston points out:

    “Faith and obedience are benefits promised in the covenant [of grace], upon the condition of it, as hath been already evinced; and, in virtue of the promise of the covenant, they are produced in the elect: therefore they cannot be the condition of the covenant. And elect infants are saved, though they are neither capable of believing nor of obeying; howbeit, the condition of the covenant must needs be performed, either by themselves who are saved, or else by another in their stead. Therefore Christ’s fulfilling all righteousness, which is the only obedience performed in their stead, must be the alone proper condition of the covenant.” (A View of the Covenant of Grace, pp. 65-66)

    The FVists have simply taken the “faith is the sole condition of the Covenant of Grace” error one step further, and redefined “faith” as “covenantal faithfulness/obedience.” This might have been avoided if Reformed theologians would have consistently emphasized that faith and obedience are “benefits promised in the covenant” rather than “conditions” of the covenant.

  10. qeqesha Says:

    Clark discusses the history of this confusion on saving faith in 30 pages in “The Johannine Logos”, starting with Luther and Calvin showing that even they were not always consistent in their understanding of faith often conflating it with assurance, and in other places seeming to suggest an element of faith more than “mere” belief of the Gospel. It literally “goes down” from there into full blown “fiducia” in later Calvinists. Manton’s views are discussed at length. The conclusion is that the historic definition of faith is confused!

    Here is another Puritan on saving faith:
    Thomas Watson, in “A body of Divinity”(1692), in Chapter V entitled “The Application of Redemption”, says there four kinds of faith:

    “What are the kinds of faith?
    Fourfold: (1)An historical or dogmatic faith, which is believing the truths revealed in the Word, because of divine authority.
    (2)There is a temporary faith, which lasts for a time, and then vanishes…..
    (3)A miraculous faith, which was granted to the apostles, to work miracles for the confirmation of the gospel. This Judas had; he cast out devils, yet was cast out to the devil.
    (4)A true justifying faith, which is called ‘A faith of the operation of God’ and is a jewel hung only upon the elect. Col ii 12

    What is justifying faith? I shall show ,(1)What it is not. It is not a bare acknowledgement that Christ is a Saviour. There must be an acknowledgement, but that is not sufficient to justify. The devils acknowledged Christ’s Godhead. ‘Jesus the Son of God’ Matt viii 29. There may be assent to divine truth, and yet no work of grace on the heart. Many assent in their judgements, that sin is an evil thing, but they go on in sin, whose coruptions are stronger than their convictions; and that Christ is excellent; they cheapen the pearl, but do not buy.”
    (2)What justifying faith is. True justifying faith consists in three things: (i)Self-renunciation. Faith is going out of one’s self, being taken off from our own merits and seeing we have no righteousness of our own. ………..”
    (ii)Reliance. The soul casts itself upon Jesus Christ; faith rests on Christ’s person. Faith believes the promise; but that which faith rests upon in the promise is the person of Christ: …. Faith is described to be ‘believing on the name of the Son of God,’ I John iii 23 viz, on his person. The person is but the cabinet, Christ is the jewel in it which faith embraces; the promise is but the dish, Christ is the food in it which faith feeds on. …..
    (iii) Appropriation, or applying Christ to ourselves. A medicine though it be ever so sovereign, if not applied, will do no good; …… This applying of Christ is called receiving him. John i 12 ….. ”

    Time would fail me to unpack the confusion embedded in these passages. This confusion, is the “reformed tradition”.

    Dr Strange, strange as it may seem, was right! Clark is certainly NOT “in the Reformed Tradition(confused)” in his views on saving faith!

    Those who see a suggested third element to faith in Q72 are the ones in the “Reformed traditon” and the historical material is on their side.
    The historical material shows that the Puritans were certainly not pure on faith!

    “Their message is that belief in eternal life and pardon from sin is not saving faith, but to that must be added belief in Christ and his righteousness as the sole means of obtaining eternal life.”

    Really? A catechism (or confession) is not a theological treatise. One cannot always know what the authors meant or how they wished to be understood in their concise language. Therefore Dr Robbins’ statement is literally pulled out of thin air!
    The historic material shows that there is plausibility in reading “fiducia” into Q72!
    It is Dr. Robbins who reads Clark(not the reformers) into Q72!

  11. magma2 Says:

    I think regardless of who is imputing their ideas into the Confession and who isn’t, I think it is criminal that there has been so much confusion historically surrounding such a singularly important and central doctrine as faith. This is a glaring weakness in Reformed thought that the FVist have been able to exploit with considerable success.

    Instead of believing is believing and doing is doing they have latched on to the tautological addition of fiducia and assert believing is doing and faith means faithfulness. They do this with the blessing of most Reformed men who agree in principle that something more is needed than just “raw” belief alone in the propositions of Scripture and the gospel. They may not like the FV’s use of this third element, but they can’t deny that they make a whole lot more sense than they kind of nonsense spewed forth by most Reformed teachers trying to explain what makes faith saving.

    I will say that when I first read Clark’s Faith and Saving Faith (now published as What is Saving Faith) it was like Roter-Rooter for the mind. I had been fed all the same nonsense about faith being something more than just simple belief. Many of these teachers even agree with Wilson that belief and faith aren’t even the same thing, that’s how bad it is. However, simply by switching the focus from some ill defined psychological third element to the propositions actually believed made all the difference (the Roman Catholic example is a good one). It was also a relief to have been finally freed from having to examine my navel all those years wondering if I was believing enough, feeling enough, etc., when all the time it was not about me. 😉

  12. qeqesha Says:

    I think you have summed it right! This makes one appreciate Clark’s brilliance and monumental contribution to Christianity even more! It is absolutely scandalous that many men in ministry still continue in this confusion as if Clark never existed!


  13. […] Sean Gerety, The Fiducial Road to Rome, Part 2. […]


  14. […]    [2] Sean Gerety, The Fiducial Road to Rome, Part 2.     [3] Wilson, “A Pauline Take on the New Perspective,” 8, 9.    […]


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