Faith Alive -- By: Sean Gerety
JOTGES 30:59 (Autumn 2017) p. 71
Luther and Calvin rightly maintained that justification by faith alone is the linchpin upon which the Church stands or falls. If this doctrine is lost or even muddied, the semblance of religion remains, but the Church fades into nonexistence. That is why a clear and unambiguous definition of faith is essential. If you don’t know exactly what the lone instrument in justification consists of, how can it be defended? Further, and in order to avoid equivocation, any definition of faith has to apply to all forms of faith, whether saving or not. Seems simple, right?
The problem is that in the minds of the vast majority of pastors and teachers, any time the word “saving” precedes the word “faith,” then faith takes on an entirely new meaning. However, it is the contention of this article that the traditional threefold definition of faith is ambiguous at best and outright dangerous at worst, providing an open doorway for pernicious and deadly heresies that snake their way unabated into the Church.
II. Gordon Clark’s Definition
While a source of irritation to many modern Reformed pastors, it was Gordon Clark who first identified this gaping crack in the Church’s foundation and correctly argued that the difference between faith and saving faith is the propositions believed.2 In contrast, a majority of Reformed pastors and churchmen, who are blindly wed
JOTGES 30:59 (Autumn 2017) p. 72
to tradition seemingly for tradition’s sake, maintain that the difference lies not in the propositions believed at all, but in some nebulous psychological state that when mixed with simple faith makes ordinary faith saving.
Like those who guess at the secret recipe for KFC or McDonald’s special sauce, today’s Reformed leaders and apologists differ widely when it comes to explaining what exactly in addition to simple faith in the gospel is needed to save a sinner.
Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) pastor Andy Webb says the secret ingredient is a Harry Potter potion mingling “the emotion of love with trust, inclination, and agreement.”3 The self-proclaimed “Reformed Apologist,” Ron DiGiacomo, claims the magic happens when “a disposition of commitment,”4 whatever that might entail, is added to simple belief.
Alan Strange, who is an Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) minister and professor of church history at Mid-America Refo...
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