Website owner: James Miller
INTELLECTUAL AND LOGICAL PROBLEMS IN THE "SALVATION BY FAITH" POSITION 11/77 There are intellectual and logical problems in the theological stance that we are saved solely by virtue of our belief or faith in Christ, that belief or faith are the sole criterion or requirement for salvation. Why? Because of the vagueness of the words. And because one can well ask "How much belief?" or "How much faith?" There many degrees of belief, many degrees of faith. There is a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum belief and faith can be very near zero. Also, toward the low end of the spectrum they become mere intellectual assent. Can a person be saved solely by simple intellectual assent? Do not even Satan and his devils believe? Are they saved? Thus the whole theological position can become very subtle and illusive when thought about. At one extreme, under an extreme interpretation, it can lead to a religion that is obviously sham. And we know God is not a God of sham. The whole criterion is just such a very vague and poorly defined one. It just doesn't tell with enough precision what attitudes, what condition of the heart, is required for salvation. [ How much more explicit and clearly understood, for example, is the following criterion: "A person is saved if he repents of sin and turns to God, takes him seriously, fears him, and follows him" or "A person is saved if he repents of sin, turns to Christ, takes his teachings seriously, and sincerely and earnestly endeavors to follow them"? ] Of the salvation by belief or faith criterion it is just too easy to ask the question "What is the minimum amount of belief or faith required?" and then we get into trouble. We all know that a person can be a long ways from God, have a heart very out of tune with God, and still have a certain amount of belief or faith. [Incidentally, what is the difference between belief and faith? From the F&W Dictionary definitions it would seem that the meanings are so close as to be indistinguishable or almost indistinguishable.] So if we take for our theological position the "salvation by belief or faith" criterion we wind up in the situation of having a very vague, nebulous, ill-defined criterion on a very important subject (salvation). What does that spell? It spells confusion, disagreement, strife, anger, prejudice, and an inclination toward subtle and sophistical reasoning. It spells falling right into the snare of the devil (all of the above are sins). It spells getting all tangled up in a net of constantly having to justify foolish contentions that don't make sense or square with experience; trying to defend things that, down deep in our hearts, we know are false; of getting hopelessly tangled up in a lot of self-deception and self- delusion. All problems of the Evangelicals. We would be much wiser to take for ourselves a much clearer, more easily understood, more workable criterion for salvation.