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Rosica's reflection on the hope and meaning we can find behind the terribly destructive events of September 11, Teresa of Kolkata Fr. Read this reflection by Fr. Teresa of Kolkata, one of the greatest saints of modern times. It is dedicated to being — and helping others become — the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Aaron believes that the Apostle Peter was crucified upside down, that his wife is at home, and that he is currently eating a lobster tail. The first belief he realizes is based on controversial historical evidence.

The second he takes for granted, but he recognizes that she could have gone to the store or walked outside to take out the trash. The third belief he regards as nearly certain. Therefore, he is most confident in the third belief, a little less confident in the second, and even less confident in the first belief. This suggests that beliefs have degrees of strength. Some have characterized belief P as thinking P is more probable than not-P. Thus, Aaron believes that his wife is currently at home if he thinks that it is more probable that his wife is at home than not.

This model seems a bit disturbing when applied to Christian belief.

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Occasionally, I find myself in a situation where I doubt the Bible. Yet there are other times when I have no doubts. This suggests that the strength of my belief in the Bible varies day by day. However, I think it is quite obvious that beliefs can be characterized as strong and weak and that our beliefs vary in strength throughout time. Given this, is there a certain strength that has to accompany belief in Jesus?

The Scriptures talk of being assured of salvation. Consequently, when we see fruit in our lives, our belief that we are saved becomes stronger. On the other hand, believers often find themselves doubting their salvation and doubting the truth of the Bible. It can also be characterized as weak belief. The doctrine of eternal security leads me to expect that a believer, though he may doubt the Christian faith at times when he has weak belief, will never lose his faith entirely.

Mike has been told that the Scriptures are true, and his parents have explained that he will be disciplined accordingly if he does not follow them. There may be a sense in which Mike might accept that the Scriptures are true while not holding the belief that the Scriptures are true.

In such a case, Mike accepts the Scriptures to avoid being disciplined and to make his life easier, and he might even say that he believes that they are true, but it is possible that he does not actually think they are true.

The Pagan Origins Of The Trinity Doctrine

Another example is a scientist who accepts a certain theory on which to base his research. Since scientific theories are always being revised, it is reasonable and practical for a scientist to accept a theory and behave as if he thought it were true i. One may behave as if the Scriptures are true, without thinking they actually are true. I think it is the latter which saves. Are beliefs formed voluntarily? Do we have basic voluntary control over our beliefs? However, this is not so obvious. This seems to be true of most of our beliefs. The opposite view is Doxastic Voluntarism.

The Scriptures command us to believe certain things. Because of this, it seems to me that voluntarism is probably more consistent with the Biblical teachings than is involuntarism. The next distinction is about the object of belief i. This gives rise to the distinction between Holism and Atomism about belief. At first, Holism seems to me to be the most plausible choice for the Christian, but certain difficulties arise if we take this view.

Assuming that most Christians do not hold exactly the same beliefs about God, the Holist would need to concede that two Christians who believe: Such are some of the consequences we must accept. In the past, I have been misled on the definition of saving faith simply because I held some awful presuppositions about definitions in general. The ensuing discussion should help clear our minds of such presuppositions before we interpret the Biblical texts. Definitions are probably just as powerful as they are deceptive.

They are also helpful because, if a person clearly and simply defines his terms, he can see through a great many fruitless discussions. For Calum, footballs are round simply because he uses the term to describe a certain kind of round ball. For Rick, footballs are oblong simply because he uses the term to describe a certain kind of oblong ball. This is not to negate what was said before about the importance of definitions.

The meanings of these terms and any terms are determined by the intentions of the speaker. This is why Bible translators stress the idea that the context determines the correct translation of a passage. The proper question is: What does the person mean by a given term? Given this, when we ask the question: What is Biblical saving faith? What does the Scripture mean when it talks about saving faith? The way a lexicon derives the definition of a term is by examining many uses of this term.

We will follow this pattern for Biblical saving faith by looking at a sample of Biblical passages, and trying to derive as precise a definition as possible. The two all-important questions of this discussion are: You are the King of Israel! If I have told you of earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? And many more believed because of his own word. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words? But there are some of you who do not believe. You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

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Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. The purpose of this list is not to fully exegete these passages but to give the reader the opportunity to develop an idea of what the Scriptures mean when they talk about belief and belief that saves. As John MacArthur, John Calvin, and many others have pointed out, this is not a definition of faith but a description of a certain aspect of faith.

Now, we will look again at the various issues brought up in part one of this article, and we will see if any definite answers can be derived from the passages quoted above. Can a person know and believe the same thing? Again, it depends what we mean by knowledge and belief. One can both believe P and know P at the same time. Is faith different from belief? Again, it depends on what we mean by faith and belief. Some have suggested that belief includes commitment in addition to simply thinking that something is true.

Does belief include commitment? It depends what we mean by belief. The Scriptural passages above discuss many different beliefs, some are accompanied with commitment and some are not. It is hard to see how believing that a person was born blind involves any kind of commitment. Scripture clearly teaches that belief in Jesus produces the fruit of a life committed to Christ; so much so as to make commitment a test of saving faith.

Jesus said that if anyone comes after him he must take up his cross daily Luke 9: Therefore, the best Biblical explanation is that commitment is not part of belief in Jesus, but it is a necessary result of belief in Jesus. There are at least two possible reasons for this. First, the Holy Spirit produces commitment in believers. For if we believe that Jesus is God and knows what is best for us, and that he wants us to refrain from stealing, for example, we may automatically commit ourselves to not stealing even though we can, and sometimes do, go back on this commitment.

Belief in Jesus does not include commitment, but it results in commitment. Does belief include repentance? When we come to believe in Jesus, we are changing our mind, so repentance describes this change. However, repentance is not part of what it means to believe because repentance describes the change in belief, not the belief itself.


One of the most difficult things we must do in trying to derive a definition of saving faith is recognize when we are in the presence of metaphorical language. For what is it a metaphor? Again, the Scripture helps us. As seen in the previous discussion on the history of faith, many theologians have thought that faith must be based purely on authority and not on reasons. John, however, does not use this distinction. Some have suggested, and many of the great existentialists have insisted, that belief in a person is fundamentally different than belief that a proposition is true.

Is saving faith a part of faith in general, or is it essentially different? As seen in the passages quoted above, Jesus frequently talks about belief in God that brings salvation see John 3: Believing that the blind man was healed John 9: Believing in Jesus saves. What distinguishes general belief from saving belief is the thing believed. Saving faith is faith which has a certain object.

What does a person need to believe to be saved? The Scriptures above which use belief in a non-metaphorical sense indicate that the object of belief is always a statement or proposition. Here, there are many different views, but they fall into two main categories. First, there are people who think that a person is justified only when he has believed a certain set of propositions, and this set is the same for all people in all times let us call this uniformity. Second, there are those who think that people may be justified through belief in different combinations of propositions let us call this combinationism.

Are You an Author?

Therefore, if one passage says that we can be saved by believing a certain set of propositions and another passage says that we may be saved through believing another set, it would follow that the Scriptures teach combinationism. If, on the other hand, the Scriptures always give the same list of saving propositions, then it would suggest that the Scriptures teach uniformity. If this is right, we can conclude Scriptures clearly teach combinationism because the Scriptures do not always give the same list.

Jesus is Lord and God raised Jesus from the dead. I think the answer is much simpler than this, in fact, the answer is so simple that one might wonder about the need for such a long paper. Most Scriptures that teach us how to be saved simply say that a person must believe in Jesus to be saved. As I see it, the Scripture only leaves room for one answer. The object of saving faith is the Word of God. If I believe in the Sacramento Bee , it means that I believe that the news they report is generally true.

If I believe in my barber, it means that I believe that he will cut my hair properly. Therefore, belief in Jesus or belief in God naturally means belief that what he says is true and that he will fulfill his promises. This depends on what we know about Jesus. When some people turn to Jesus, they already know a lot about him. When the thief on the cross turned to Jesus, he might not have known much, if anything, about justification, the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and soteriology. The opposite is true.

Instead of evangelizing with a list of fundamentals, we must declare as much of the counsel of God as possible, because we do not know exactly how many or which details the Spirit will cause a person to believe at the time of salvation.

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Most Christians are saved without even understanding the doctrine of the Trinity, let alone believing it. If I have rightly answered the two key questions of this study what faith is and what object of saving faith is , the foundation is laid for answering the question: What is it to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? To believe a statement is to think that it is true. Belief on Jesus is a metaphor for believing the things that he says. As has been argued above, belief in Jesus means believing His words or his message.

The Scriptures teach that this is the sole means through which people can be saved. And how do we choose which truths to teach them first? It is not an exact list of the propositions one must believe to be saved.