Fact Or Faith ? -- By: Warren Vanhetloo

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 01:3 (Fall 1958)
Article: Fact Or Faith ?
Author: Warren Vanhetloo


Fact Or Faith ?

Warren Vanhetloo

Dean, Central Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary

The problem under consideration here is variously stated: What is the relation of faith and proof? Is science certain but religion irrational and unproved? Is there truth outside the Bible? The answers we give are basic to our attitudes toward newspapers and schools, in fact toward every phase of life. There is no attempt to present anything new or world-shaking in this treatment of fact and faith. The attitudes and convictions set forth in this paper were considered common to Christianity until class reaction this year indicated that these things are not so universally believed among Christians as had been assumed.

Entire books can be and have been written on the various aspects of faith which we must understand to preach the truth aright. There is no attempt here to cover completely the area of faith, but choosing areas important to the problem under consideration, we need to consider what faith is and how it operates.

Nature Of Faith

A basic distinction to have clear concerning faith is the contrast between faith as a faculty of man’s makeup (corresponding somewhat to intellectual and emotional aspects) and faith as acceptance and trust (involving the whole of man, intellect, emotion, and will). It is the contrast of achieving or accepting.

It is the contrast, when we consider saving faith, between doing something or receiving something, between Arminianism and Calvinism. The Arminian believes that a person to be saved engages in this faith activity, and if the faith is sufficient or genuine the result will be forgiveness and salvation. This is salvation: by works, by an action which man performs in order to achieve favor.. It is, admittedly, not physical labor; but it is still within the area of works-salvation.

In radical contrast we believe that faith is man’s yielding to God. Intellectually man acknowledges the truth of the Gospel. Emotionally he accepts the truth with love and personal preference. Volitionally he surrenders to Christ and accepts the benefits of Christ’s work in his behalf. (See Strong Systematic Theology, pp 83ff.) The whole man is involved, not in achieving but in receiving. He does not “pray through”; he yields, he accepts. Faith as such, apart from saving faith, is of the same nature. Faith is a receiving, an acceptance.

Faith includes both initial assent and consequent committal. And here another emphasis of Scripture needs special attention, namely, faith without works is dead (James 2:14–26). What we believe is to be...

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