Faith

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past…”

Rom. 3:25

“And He said, ‘I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.'”

Dt. 32:20

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”

Eph. 2:8

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Order of Contents

Articles
Books
Faith is Grounded in Evidence
Can Infants have Faith?
Contra Sandemanianism

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Articles

1800’s

Buchanan, James – New Birth Repentance and Faith  1847, 10 paragraphs, from The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit

Cunningham, William – Faith Unites us to Christ  Buy  from Sermons 1828-1860, 1872, 8  paragraphs

Hodge, Charles – Faith and Repentance  from his Way of Life, chs. 6 & 7

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1900’s

Warfield, B.B. – ‘Faith in its Psychological Aspects’  in The Princeton Review Theological Review ix, 1911, p. 537, also in Studies in Theology (New York, 1932) & in Biblical and Theological Studies  (Philadelphia, 1952)

Berkhof, Louis – Faith  1950, 42 paragraphs, from his Systematic Theology

Murray, John

‘Faith & Repentance’

“Faith…  is a whole-souled movement of self-commitment to Christ for salvation from sin and its consequences.”

‘From Faith to Faith’  on Rom. 3:22

19. ‘Faith’ & 20. ‘The Assurance of Faith’  in Collected Writings 2.235

In the first of these articles Murray discusses three things: “Faith as a Psychological State, Fides Generalis [a general faith], and Fides Specialis [a special faith].” 

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2000’s

Isbell, Sherman – Temporary Faith  2005, p. 32, 5 pp.

Isbell Biblically describes and distinguishes Temporary Faith from Saving Faith

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Books

Bavinck, Herman – The Certainty of Faith  Buy  1980  92 pp.

Machen, J. Gresham – What is Faith?  1925  260 pp.

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Faith is Grounded in God’-given Reason & Evidence

Intro

All of the material below illustrates the Reformation’s teaching that Scripture is autopistis, or self-evidencing.  That is, the reason and evidence for belief (which is necessary for rational creatures), is supplied by God in the Scriptural revelation itself.  Such reason and evidence leads us to receive the Scripture as the Word of God as it is recognized to be the Word of God, God having given it.

The methodology of apologetics that seeks to argue for a certain divine faith from anything less, namely from external evidence to the Bible and natural or moral reason (as though this were sufficient, despite whatever help it may be), is a serious error (see Owen), as well as the methodology that wholly disclaims or ignores the evidence and reason provided by God and insists on an a-rational dogmatism alone.

Regarding saving faith in Christ, the characteristics of the issue are the same.  Christ’s message and the Scripture’s witness to Him provide sufficient and compelling evidence and reason, upon God’s own authority, to the human heart to trust in Him as one’s Savior.  To be oblivious to these rational grounds in ignorance is not helpful; to ignore them in preaching is detrimental to rational, human souls.

For a definition of faith, see especially John Murray below.  Owen gives a faithful expounding of the doctrine contained in WCF 1.4-5.

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Quotes

1600’s

Owen, John

p. 612-3  of ‘The Testimony of the Church is not the Only, nor the Chief Reason of our Believing the Scripture to be the Word of God’  in Puritan Sermons, 5.606-648 & in Works, 8.495-543

“We affirm on the other side [from the Papists], that the testimony of the Spirit of God in the Word itself–witnessing it to be of God, by that stamp and impress, or, which comes to the same, by those notes and marks of divinity, which everywhere appear in it–is the immediate and principal, and a sufficient, reason of our believing it to be the Word of God, and the medium [which] the Spirit, working inwardly in our hearts, moves as the efficient of our faith, so the Scripture itself, in its own intrinsical beauty, luster, power and excellency, is that which moves us, in the way of an object or medium, to yield our assent to its being of God.

By this the Spirit of God; and, by an internal application of this to our minds, induceth us to assent to its so being….  This they [the Papists] deny; and this we shall first, though more briefly prove…”

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1800’s

Cunningham, William

III. ‘What are the Scriptures’  on Jn. 5:39  in Sermons from 1828-1860 (rep. Still Waters Revival, n.d.), pp. 43-44

“But there is not wanting evidence, and rational evidence, by means of which the great body of the people may be convinced that the Scriptures are indeed the Word of God.  There is an evidence to this important truth contained within the Bible itself–and evidence for the full understanding of which, nothing more is necessary than just a natural conscience, and a susceptibility of emotions–which requires nothing more in the way of mental cultivation and acquired knowledge, in order to be understood and felt, than what is not only within the reach, but actually within the possession, of almost, if not altogether, every individual of the human race.

This evidence consists chiefly in the correspondence between the principles and wants and desires of our nature, and the scriptural statements in regard to the Gospel scheme of salvation–a correspondence which is so complete and so striking, that it furnishes to all who feel and perceive it an abundant proof that the Bible comes from Him who made the heart, and who knows it best.

But this evidence for the Divine origin and authority of the Scriptures, drawn from the correspondence between its statements and the principles and feelings of our hearts, rises to the highest degree of clearness and certainty in Believers.  ‘He that believeth, hath this witness in himself.’ [1 Jn. 5:10]  From the changes which he has experienced in his own heart and character, he has the firmest ground for believing that the Bible, whose statements were the immediate cause of those changes, must proceed from a higher than human source , must have come down from the Father of his spirit.”

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Robert Dabney

‘The Bible its Own Witness’  in Discussions, vol. 1 (Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1890), p. 116

“But we reply unanswerably, that from the very nature of the human mind, belief cannot possibly arise without evidence…”

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1900’s

B.B. Warfield

‘Faith in its Psychological Aspects’  in The Princeton Review Theological Review ix, 1911, p. 537, also in Studies in Theology (New York, 1932), p. 313 & in Biblical and Theological Studies  (Philadelphia, 1952), p. 375, and as quoted by John Murray, Collected Writings, 2.238

“The conception embodied in the terms, ‘belief’, ‘faith’, is not that of an arbitrary act of the subject, it is that of a mental state or act which is determined by sufficient reasons.”

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John Murray

‘Faith’  in Collected Writings 2.235-6, 237, 241

“When we use the word faith strictly and properly we mean that for certain reasons apprehended by us we are satisfied as to the reality, reliability or truth of a certain event, object or person…  When it has respect to a person we mean that we credit him as trustworthy in respect of that character which is under consideration…

To sum up, faith is trust.  Trust presupposes an object.  An object evokes our trust when there is an antecedent judgment of the mind that the object is trustworthy.  This judgment is formed by the evaluation of evidence as sufficient.  It is a state of mind induced by considerations objective to ourselves though always apprehended by our minds.

In this case it is useless or futile to try to ground this conviction [that the Scripture is the Word of God] upon rational argumentation based upon evidence extraneous to the sum total of the data with which the Christian revelation confronts us.  It might seem that such argumentation is necessary in order to avoid the charge of arguing in a circle.  But it will become apparent how impossible it is to produce by evidence extraneous to the Scripture the faith which has as its object the Scripture itself.  The Reformers were aware of the fallacy attaching to argumentation on the basis of extrinsic evidence, and so they laid down the principle that Scripture is autopistic, that is, self-authenticating, and this means that the evidence validating the faith of Scripture as the Word of God is the Scripture itself.  This is to say that it contains within itself the evidence of its divine origin, character, and authority.”

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Articles

1500’s

Rollock, Robert – ‘Scripture is Autopistos’  Select Works, 1.68-73

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1600’s

Owen, John – Book 6, pt. 1, The Reason of Faith; or, an answer unto that inquiry, ‘Wherefore we believe the Scripture to be the Word of God;’ with the causes and nature of that faith wherewith we do so: wherein the grounds whereon the Holy Scripture is believed to be the Word of God with faith divine and supernatural are declared and vindicated  in Pneumatologia: or, A Discourse concerning the Holy Spirit, Continued  in Works, vol. 4, pp. 1-115

See especially Ch. 5, ‘Divine Revelation itself the only foundation and reason of faith’, p. 69 ff.

“What is the work of the Holy Ghost with respect unto the objective evidence which we have concerning the Scripture, that it is the word of God, which is the formal reason of our faith, and whereinto it is resolved?…

These things being supposed , we do affirm, That it is the authority and truth of God, as manifesting themselves in the supernatural revelation made in the Scripture [emphasis added], that our faith arises from and is resolved into.

As the issue of this whole discourse, it is affirmed that our faith is built on and resolved into the Scripture itself, which carries with it its own evidence of being a divine revelation; and therefore doth that faith ultimately rest on the truth and authority of God alone, and not on any human testimony, such as is that of the church, nor on any rational arguments or motive that are absolutely fallible.” – pp. 69, 72, 81

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Can Infants have Faith?

Turretin, Francis – The Faith of Infants  †1687  21 paragraphs

This is the best article on the topic.  Turretin says yes and no, and distinguishes. Lutherans go too far in giving infants full fledged adult faith.  Anabaptists go too far in denying any possibility of faith whatsoever in infants.  Turretin argues the historic reformed view that infants are capable according to their infant nature, to trust in the sense of divinity stamped on their souls.  

They may have a seed-form of faith, which, if present savingly by God’s regeneration, will blossom into trusting the Son of God to save them from their sins when they can understand and are taught such.

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Contra Sandemanianism

Intro

Named after the Scottish Robert Sandeman (†1771), one tenet of this distinctive system was defining faith as only (1) comprehension and (2) assent, leaving out the vital aspect of (3) trust, making faith to be no more than a historic faith and nominalism.

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan of the old Free Church of Scotland came out of this influence.  Gordon Clark was a late, contemporary proponent of it.  Many Christians are practical Sandemanians though they know not the name of it.

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Articles

Westminster Confession – Ch. 14.2 – ‘Of Saving Faith’

Fuller, Andrew – Strictures on Sandemanianism in 12 Letters to a Friend  1811  250 pp.  See especially Letters 3-8, pp. 45-175

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“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”

Rom. 3:27

“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

1 Cor. 2:5

“Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.”

2 Cor. 1:24

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