Website owner:  James Miller

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   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. 

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