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Thursday, April 13, 2006 

Faith in MR
Topic: Theology

The latest edition of ModernReformation has come out a bit ago, and this post is to highlight a few salient remarks Dr. Michael S. Horton makes in his article. All emphases are mine to highlight personally important parts. Enjoy!

Besides accepting religious pluralism, many Christians themselves have come to wonder how one needs to know and believe in the Scriptures in order to be "saved." This can be a form of Protestant works-righteousness. First, it assumes that faith is merely knowledge and assent to true propositions (the position that the reformers challenged), and it treats this "faith" as if it were actually a work. Instead of wondering how much I have to do to be saved, we now ask how much we have to believe to be saved. However, salvation is not the result of our willing or running but of God's mercy (Rom. 9:16). While faith surely involves knowledge and assent to certain truths, it is, properly speaking, a resting in the God who announces free forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. And while faith is a human response, it is given freely as a gift, without which we would harden our hearts against God's promise. Once we recognize that we are saved by the quality of Christ and his righteousness rather than by our own faith and its inherent qualities, we look outside of ourselves and receive the gift that is delivered to us in the gospel.

Of course, to exercise saving faith, there must be an object–that is, someone to be trusted, a message to be heard and embraced. Such communication obviously involves knowledge and assent, but instead of requiring them, the gospel actually creates them. Isn't this familiar to us in our everyday relationships? After all, we do not ordinarily begin a friendship or romance by interviewing the person in an effort to learn enough to justify our trust. Rather, we start out with trust, expecting that confidence to be confirmed along the way as we get to know the person better. This is what the medieval theologians meant by "faith seeking understanding." In the modern era, since the Enlightenment, this order was reversed to "understanding seeking faith," telling us that we shouldn't believe anything without sufficient evidence. Begin with radical skepticism and doubt, and eventually you will arrive at absolute certainty about things that cannot be doubted. However, this has never actually worked in the history of science any more than in relationships.

The more God communicates his saving will toward us in Christ, the more confident we become in his trustworthiness. The gospel creates and grows our faith. This gospel has content. In fact, so rich in content is this promise that it can be understood by a child and yet stagger the mind of the greatest theologians. The point is that we are saved by Christ who comes to us in the form of the gospel, not by the degree of our theological acumen or assent to propositions. We are neither saved by knowledge and assent nor without knowledge and assent; we are saved by Christ, who gives us saving knowledge of himself and in doing so creates trust in our hearts so that we embrace what is promised.



Transplanted from the artic blight of Minnesota to the sunny paradise of SoCal, I am attending school and learning to say "dude." I like to think of myself as equal parts surf rash, Batman, heavy metal, Levinas, poetic license, and reformational. Other than creating blund blogs, I enjoy reading, sporting, and socializing with serious and funny people.
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