Is Faith Enough to Save? Part 2 -- By: William Walden Howard

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 098:392 (Oct 1941)
Article: Is Faith Enough to Save? Part 2
Author: William Walden Howard

Is Faith Enough to Save?
Part 2

William Walden Howard

(Continued from the July-September Number, 1941)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 8–15, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–8 respectively.}

The Nature of Faith

Faith is one of many English words which appears profusely in secular literature without any soteriological implications. Even its Greek parallels, πίστις and πιστεύω were in common secular usage, before Jesus and the New Testament writers gave them a distinctive, Christian significance.

I. The Concept of Faith.

We need not go outside the Scriptures to find the meaning of these words in their common usage. The great faith passage in the letter to the Hebrews commences with a description (though not a complete definition) of faith in its broadest sense: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (11:1). The universal character of faith is its assurance of objects which escape our sensory perception, either because they do not exist (τῶν ἐλπιζομένων), or because they have not yet appeared (τῶν οὐ βλεπομένων). In this sense, faith is a psychological phenomenon which the secular observer of man’s constitution has every right to probe and attempt to explain. But his best explanation will only reaffirm its simple etymological idea of an action whereby our consciousness surrenders itself and holds something for true and confides in that thing. Such faith may be viewed either as the activity which leads to the disposal of the mind, or as the certainty or degree of certainty the activity attains.

Faith in this general sense is common to all our living. Upon it rests every intercourse between men, either as individuals or as the larger body of society. Upon it rests, by scientists’ own admission, the great superstructure of “science” and its certainties. For no scientist can proceed with any empirical investigation without a profound faith

in the trustworthiness of his own human reason, the soundness of his memory, and the validity of past experience. In just the same manner every detail of daily life rests upon a confidence unexpressed and often impossible of demonstration, which we call faith.

It is common to point out two senses in which we may view this quality of faith. It may be a passive characteristic, in the sense that we consider people or things trustw...

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