Monday, November 16, 2009

When faith is removed

The last post has caused me to think much about how Revivalism has made a mess of the doctrine of JBFA, such that faith as a concept has been turned to a form of works.

Because of this, people who first cried sola fide i.e. JBFA proponents, now get allergic to any slight hint or suggestion that faith could ever be a condition for justification, even though they are taught that faith (in the Atonement of Jesus) itself, is a gift and a condition created by the HS through the means of grace and hence, not a condition they can arrive at themselves.

Consider now Ephesians 2:8-9.

8For(Q) by grace you have been saved(R) through faith. And this is(S) not your own doing;(T) it is the gift of God, 9(U) not a result of works,(V) so that no one may boast.


Let us chop off any suggestion of faith in this verse. It now reads...

For by grace you have been saved not a result of works, so that no one may boast.


I leave you to think about the implication of this version.

Indeed some make faith a form of works, but if you stick to the Biblical teaching, goodness, if you believe the Gospel story, what has your faith got to do with it, since it simply receives the story! Scripture says if you are saved by grace through faith, you got nothing to boast.

Conversely, if you have a faith that can boast, it is faith that is not founded on the story. Surely that is the case. So why be allergic to faith? Such faith boasting faith, means you got a Gospel that is not THE Gospel.

Let us do it in elementary logi, if you have faith (let this be A), you got nothing to boast (let this be B), then Ephesians 2:8-9 says, i.e. A => B. Therefore NOT B => NOT A. Say your condition is a condition of boasting, then you do not have the faith described by Ephesians 2:8-9. Oh you do have faith, but it is not in the Gospel.

So in as much as faith can be looked at as a form of works, I do not have to be allergic to it in the discussions, because Scripture uses it. We did not invent the words and statements in the Bible, the HS did.


17 comments:

Steve Martin said...

Faith in faith is...false faith.

Faith in God and what He has done, is doing, and will yet do...is true faith.

L P said...

Faith if it is the faith described by Scripture deflects attention away from itself instead it speaks always of the object.

Faith is not silent, it speaks. But what it speaks about is not about itself.

Jesus is the author and completer of the believer's faith.

So faith can not boast.

LPC

Anonymous said...

LP,

This is precisely the kind of clarification needed in our day because the Gospel becomes another gospel due to its abuse!

The issue is not can we use the word “faith” but is it used rightly, meaning not the way the Charismatics nor Reformed use the word. Because many would read the very quote you quoted in Ephesians but subtly use the word “faith” differently. This is crystal clear when the sacraments shed light on the very issue. This is why Sasse correctly said that if you get the sacraments wrong you WILL get the rest of Scripture wrong.

Luther warns in his opening commentary on Romans concerning this very issue, “To begin with, we have to become familiar with the vocabulary of the letter and know what St. Paul means by the words law, sin, grace, faith, justice, flesh, spirit, etc. Otherwise there is no use in reading it.”

Further on Luther warns concerning the term faith, “Faith is not that human illusion and dream that some people think it is. When they hear and talk a lot about faith and yet see that no moral improvement and no good works result from it, they fall into error and say, "Faith is not enough. You must do works if you want to be virtuous and get to heaven." The result is that, when they hear the Gospel, they stumble and make for themselves with their own powers a concept in their hearts which says, "I believe." This concept they hold to be true faith. But since it is a human fabrication and thought and not an experience of the heart, it accomplishes nothing, and there follows no improvement.”

Which is the deluded idea of faith evangelical doctrines read into this very verse of Ephesians. They tear asunder what God has put together the Word (which acutely is shown in evangelical sacraments, the Baptist concerning baptism, and the Calvinist concerning the Lord’s Supper) and faith, and place the operation that gives forth “true faith” in some mysterious operation of the Spirit, which is exactly what Calvin says concerning the matter. So that all can read Ephesians 2:8-9 but actually being saying something very different, all using the Word “faith”. So a crystal clear distinction must be made about the term faith, else one is not fighting the real battle for the Gospel. If the reformed appears to agree with you and their doctrine is left in tact, then the battle was never really fought. Don’t be fooled by the Reformed “faith is a gift” mantra because they do not even believe it to be a gift the same way Luther uses the term. They mean this, by the other mysterious operation of the Spirit, again shown most clearly in the sacraments. It is also seen if you get them to discuss the Word too. Two men hear the same Gospel Word, one believes the other did not. Did the Word fail in one ear, no operation of the Spirit, but was effective in the other? The Calvinistic doctrine in TUNE with its sacramental doctrine says resoundingly, “Yes”. For they divorce the two. Yet Luther would say that the unbeliever received an effect Word, real and true, in fact both men did. The Word came and found no faith whatsoever in either, brought with it, faith itself. One man simply throws off both the Word and faith like the hard rock because the false doctrines of men snatch it away immediately. Thus, Luther on the other hand understood that faith comes married inseparably from the Word always. That the Word is rejected, and thus faith with it, is not as Calvinist say showing the Word to be ineffective apart from the ‘secret (Gnostic) operation of the spirit’, but proves the very point. As Luther said the rejection of a thing does not deny its reality, it rather proves it.

Yours,

Larry

Brett Meyer said...

From my discussions with UOJ promoters and defenders I find that the reason they pervert what the Holy Spirit's faith is and does is because they've seen unbelief in themselves. Overwhelmed by fear that they don't believe they cling to the false gospel that says they were declared by God to be forgiven, justified and righteous before faith. Since faith, according to the false gospel of Universal Objective Justification, is just believing that they've already been declared justified and that God is at peace with them this is easy to do. It doesn't require the Holy Spirit to believe in something that is not of God. It's only the Holy Spirit's faith which clings alone to the promise of forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ. Rejecting the Holy Spirit's faith they've rejected the one thing that gives the understanding of Biblical justification by faith alone. That's why they attack faith and deny that it does anything in man or is that righteousness which makes of and unjust man a just man as Scripture and the Confessions state. They will claim to confess that faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit - until you declare that only through faith are our sins forgiven and we're accounted justified by God - then they say you've turned faith into a work - showing that they've perverted faith into something man does.

This is just UOJ's error concerning faith. UOJ's error concerning repentance is another issue that really hasn't been addressed yet.

In Christ,
Brett

Brett Meyer said...

I see by the recent comments made on the Maier Paper thread that my calling UOJ a false gospel has caused some problems.

Jim Pierce said...
PS — The reason why your thread was temporarily closed was made clear in the thread itself. One person decided to jump into the discussion (not you) and add remarks claiming those teaching OJ were teaching a false gospel.
5:25 AM


With my post above concerning faith I didn't mean to harm Lito's discussion. There does seem to be an unusual level of hypersensitivity to someone calling a doctrine false. Only slighly less sensitive is the calling of a beloved theologian's confession of said doctrine wrong or false. With this approach when can any issue be addressed with openess and clarity on both sides. Maybe it's an unfortunate result of the issue being held too much by emotion than Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

In Christ,
Brett

L P said...

Brett,

First on your earlier comment...

That is an interesting observation, I have not thought of it that way... but does not the BoC have an advice on how to deal with such fears? Specially from the FC? Hence, the proper way of affirming JBFA without resorting to faith, looking at faith.

On your last comment... I placed in it the Maier post... and here is my response..



----


You are correct.

There is absolute hypersensitivity at the slightest suggestion.

I am a former RC and I deliberate with RC on Lutheran faith and they call us heretics and into false doctrine and consigned to damnation... all the time.


It is really amazing, some Lutherans who do not always agree with what Luther said about the Jews etc. are considered OK and not into false doctrine because they disagree with Luther.


But wait till you disagree with Pieper and Walther on UOJ, let's see where that leads you.


We know where that will lead you, you will be shunned and called a person propagating false doctrine because you did not agree with UOJ.

I must be absent in class when some one declared Pieper and Walther the Lutherandoms' Pope.

How sad, we cannot even carry a sane discussion on the topic.


---


LPC

Brett Meyer said...

Lito asks, "but does not the BoC have an advice on how to deal with such fears? Specially from the FC? Hence, the proper way of affirming JBFA without resorting to faith, looking at faith."

I'll post the link to Luther's sermon on faith where he deals directly with this question. First this is my confession and I'll add the BOC's declarations also.

If faith is that righteousness, the one thing of God which the Holy Spirit works in us to trust alone in Christ for the forgiveness of sins - what else are we to look for in ourselves to confirm we are Christians, to confirm that we believe in Christ? Yes, we look at our faith. Not in faith as though we were to look at our liver but ask yourself, "do you believe in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins?" If you confess that yes, Christ has paid for all of my sins and I trust in Him alone for forgiveness and salvation, then that is faith. That's the gracious blessing of faith. Over and over the Scriptures declare that Christ, seeing their faith, forgave them their sins. What wickedness it is to tell someone not to look at their faith. And before someone points the finger and says see he has faith in faith - this is not what I've said. Faith clings alone to Christ's atonement, to the righteousness that is in Christ and never apart from him through which we have access, or reconcilliation, to God by faith. Since faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit and is nothing from ourselves why wouldn't we look to our faith, our trust in Christ, for comfort and assurance. If we doubt that Christ died then we go back to the Scriptures and read the record of God's declaration of the Gospel, Christ paid for all the worlds sins, that believing in Him we have the forgiveness of sins and salvation. If we don't believe the Gospel we don't have faith and without faith we remain dead in sins, God's wrath abides on us, we are not forgiven, justified or righteous in His sight. UOJ is their way of comforting their hearts when they don't have faith. I quote this in the next post where Luther made this statement showing that it is in fact Christian faith which assures the individual that he is a child of God. Luther, "Now, the Cain-like saints have not, as they themselves confess, the Christian faith which would assure them of being the children of God."

Cont...

Brett Meyer said...

Cont...

BOC
Defense of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV Of Justification
67] "Faith cometh by hearing. And proof can be derived even from this that faith justifies, because, if justification occurs only through the Word, and the Word is apprehended only by faith, it follows that faith justifies."

71] "but we maintain this, that properly and truly, by faith itself, we are for Christ's sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God. And because "to be justified" means that out of unjust men just men are made, or born again, it means also that they are pronounced or accounted just. For Scripture speaks in both ways. [The term "to be justified" is used in two ways: to denote, being converted or regenerated; again, being accounted righteous. Accordingly we wish first to show this, that faith alone makes of an unjust, a just man, i.e., receives remission of sins".
http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_4_justification.php

BM - there's no OJ or SJ way around that quote. UOJ declares all unbelievers righteous by God's divine verdict. But unless they create an Objective Righteousness and Subjective Righteousness the BOC opposes UOJ by stating, "by faith itself, we are for Christ's sake accounted righteous, or are acceptable to God."

BOC
"6] Let any one of the adversaries come forth and tell us when remission of sins takes place. O good God, what darkness there is! They doubt whether it is in attrition or in contrition that remission of sins occurs. And if it occurs on account of contrition, what need is there of absolution, what does the power of the keys effect, if sins have been already remitted?…" http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_10_repentance.php

BM - this is another BOC rejection of UOJ. Sins are not remitted (forgiven) before the Means of Grace are applied either in Baptism, hearing the Word (working contrition and faith) or through the Word and Power of the Keys.

BOC: But since we speak of such faith as is not an idle thought, but of that which liberates from death and produces a new life in hearts [which is such a new light, life, and force in the heart as to renew our heart, mind, and spirit, makes new men of us and new creatures,] and is the work of the Holy Ghost; this does not coexist with mortal sin [for how can light and darkness coexist?]

BOC: Accordingly, justification occurs through the Word, just as Paul says, Rom. 1, 16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Likewise 10, 17: Faith cometh by hearing. And proof can be derived even from this that faith justifies, because, if justification occurs only through the Word, and the Word is apprehended only by faith, it follows that faith justifies. BM - no room for UOJ here.

BOC: But when it is said that faith justifies, some perhaps understand it of the beginning, namely, that faith is the beginning of justification or preparation for justification, so that not faith itself is that through which we are accepted by God, BM - UOJ says the unbelieving world is already accepted by God. This BOC confession isn't dealing with justification as in OJ or SJ but whether or not a person is accepted by God.
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, That Faith in Christ Justifies. http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_4_justification.php

Cont...

Brett Meyer said...

Cont...

Here Luther confirms Justification by faith alone, rejecting UOJ.

Luther on Faith - http://www.trinitylutheranms.org/MartinLuther/MLSermons/Galatians4_1_7.html

12. As before said, they regard faith of slight importance; for they do not understand that it is our sole justifier. To accept as true the record of Christ--this they call faith. The devils have the same sort of faith, but it does not make them godly. Such belief is not Christian faith; no, it is rather deception.

15. ...You see how they make faith of no value to themselves, and so must regard as heresy all doctrine based upon it. Thus they do away with the whole Gospel. These are they who deny the Christian faith and exterminate it from the world. Paul prophesied concerning them when he said (1 Tim 4, 1): "In later times some shall fall away from the faith." The voice of faith is now silenced all over the world. Indeed, faith is condemned and banished as the worst heresy, and all who teach and endorse it are condemned with it. The Pope, the bishops, charitable institutions, cloisters, high schools, unanimously opposed it for nearly four hundred years, and simply drove the world violently into hell. Their conduct is the real persecution by Antichrist, in the last times.

22. Now, the Cain-like saints have not, as they themselves confess, the Christian faith which would assure them of being the children of God.

29. You cannot extricate yourself from unbelief, nor can the Law do it for you. All your works in intended fulfilment of the Law must remain works of the Law and powerless to justify in the sight of God, who regards as just only believing children.

37. Note, Paul everywhere teaches justification, not by works, but solely by faith; and not as a process, but instantaneous. The testament includes in itself everything--justification, salvation, the inheritance and great blessing. Through faith it is instantaneously enjoyed, not in part, but all. Truly is it plain, then, that faith alone affords such blessings of God, justification and salvation--immediately and not in process as must be the case with works

74. But what is the process whereby Christ gives us such a spirit and redeems us from under the Law? The work is effected solely by faith. He who believes that Christ came to redeem us, and that he has accomplished it, is really redeemed. As he believes, so is it with him. Faith carries with it the child-making spirit. The apostle here explains by saying that Christ has redeemed us from under the Law that we might receive the adoption of sons. As before stated, all must be effected through faith. Now we have discussed the five points of the verse.

In Christ,
Brett

L P said...

Brett,

Yes, we look at our faith. Not in faith as though we were to look at our liver but ask yourself, "do you believe in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins?" If you confess that yes, Christ has paid for all of my sins and I trust in Him alone for forgiveness and salvation, then that is faith. That's the gracious blessing of faith

Exactly Brett, spot on. The man who trust in his goodness and his works, also has faith, he is having faith in his works that they avail before God.

That is why in general, all human beings are operating on faith be they admit it or not! In fact as I said - Jesus is described to be the author and finisher of Faith (in the Gospel)!

In fact, you cannot know anything if you do not have faith at all, now I am speaking from an operational/practical sense.

In my field, we have axioms. In practice, they implicitly require you to have faith in them before you can know any new information or things. My analogy will fail but that is the sense.



Yes and this is what is a bother to me about UOJ wording. It implies to me that I should treat that Muslim, Hindu and Atheist, unrepentant unbelievers as they are and even open deniers of Christ, now as my brothers in Christ.

In other words, they are really righteous already - they have not believed it yet.

I am scandalized by that implication. Also how can you tell them to repent if there is nothing to repent of, since they are declared righteous in God already?

I think I will feature your quote of Luther's sermon.

Thank you for this.

LPC

Brett Meyer said...

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

L P said...

And to find out if you are in Christ - look to the means of grace...as did Luther who confessed in front of the devil - "but I am baptized".

You quoted this in your discussion ...

Gal 3: 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.


It is truly unfortunate, that those who question UOJ are straight away branded as heretics and into false doctrine. When that happens, they have closed themselves for possible corrections.

I think Pieper and Walther were reacting to the synergistic revivalism/methodism of their day. In fighting at this phenomenon, they have swung off the their chairs.

I was reading again LC-MS 1932 statement article 19 on the mention of synergism and I am quite sure this is what caused the allergy to faith even being mentioned as condition for salvation even though it is a condition created by God's gift - the means of grace.

LPC

Brett Meyer said...

Yes, UOJ evicerates the Holy Spirit's faith. Separating those who hold to UOJ from the one thing that God works in us, through Word and Sacrament, that obtains Christ as our Mediator.

2nd Cor. 4:4, "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

Even with such a flexible and pernicious error, Objective and Subjective, they cannot avoid the following issues:
1. Subjective Justification (by their own definition) is every bit as much Objective as their OJ. Thus eliminating the need for dirrentiation except to establish their justification without faith.
2. They destroy what it means to be Justified in Christ since they must declare that Christ didn't pay for the sin of Unbelief - although the whole world was concieved with that sin and Romans 11:23 states that Christ paid for it.
3. Sinless unbelievers washed in the blood of Christ are condemned to hell by their god who they say is perfectly just.
4. Scripture states that God's wrath remains on those who do not believe in Christ and that wrath will be unleashed on the Day of Judgement - but what's to judge since God does not impute sin to the whole world.

This list could go on and on.

I agree with your statements to DRB by the way.

In Christ,
Brett

Brett Meyer said...

Apology to the Augsburg
http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_4_justification.php
""80] ...Thus, therefore, we prove the minor proposition. The wrath of God cannot be appeased if we set against it our own works, because Christ has been set forth as a Propitiator, so that for His sake, the Father may become reconciled to us. But Christ is not apprehended as a Mediator except by faith. Therefore, by faith alone we obtain remission of sins, when we comfort our hearts with confidence in the mercy promised for 81] Christ's sake."

48] "The adversaries feign that faith is only a knowledge of the history, and therefore teach that it can coexist with mortal sin. Hence they say nothing concerning faith, by which Paul so frequently says that men are justified, because those who are accounted righteous before God do not live in mortal sin."

L P said...

Brett,

Sadly, DRB did not answer the fallacy of ex falso quodlibet, of which you also gave examples of contradictions that come about in teaching that men are declared righteous already before faith or prior to faith.

There is an internal contradiction in that if I am already declared righteous, what is there to repent? What is there to have faith about? If I am declared righteous already and I do not have faith, then God back pedals on his declaration of righteousness. Then Scaer calls this contradiction, a dilemma. What is a worry is that if those unbelievers are already declared righteous, then they can live in mortal sin - since mortal sin kills faith but there is no faith to kill because there it is not there anyway. Circular reasoning.

BTW, I like to ask if you also think UOJ misses the nature of the Law. Because I think UOJ misses the Law or misunderstands the Law.

Then I am at a loss as to why our objections are called straw men. I wonder at this, we have a straw man if we have misrepresented the teaching, but to point out what arises from the teaching is not a straw man but fair enough questions.


So ex falso quodlibet - from a contradiction you can prove anything you like and assert anything under the sun.

LPC

Brett Meyer said...

You state, "What is a worry is that if those unbelievers are already declared righteous, then they can live in mortal sin - since mortal sin kills faith but there is no faith to kill because there it is not there anyway."

Yes, this condition before faith is addressed by the BOC, "But since we speak of such faith as is not an idle thought, but of that which liberates from death and produces a new life in hearts [which is such a new light, life, and force in the heart as to renew our heart, mind, and spirit, makes new men of us and new creatures,] and is the work of the Holy Ghost; this does not coexist with mortal sin [for how can light and darkness coexist?]" http://www.bookofconcord.org/defense_4_justification.php

How can light and darkness coexist?
Proverbs 17:15 speaks to the UOJ promoters, "He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD."


In my opinion the classic case of contradiction presented by a UOJ defender is the case of WELS CA/NV District President Pastor Jon Buchholz when he gave the keynote essay, spanning three days, at the WELS 2005 Convention. Here he declares the UOJ doctrine and immediately contradicts it when stating that God didn't say it. I listened to the audio tape - nobody laughed. I also listened to the question period and although a few asked questions nobody contended against anything he said. Here are three of his statements:

"God has forgiven the whole world. God has forgiven everyone his sins." This statement is absolutely true! This is the heart of the gospel, and it must be preached and taught as the foundation of our faith. But here’s where the caveat comes in: In Scripture, the word "forgive" is used almost exclusively in a personal, not a universal sense. The Bible doesn’t make the statement, "God has forgiven the world."

"God has forgiven all sins, but the unbeliever rejects God’s forgiveness." Again, this statement is true—and Luther employed similar terminology to press the point of Christ’s completed work of salvation. But we must also recognize that Scripture doesn’t speak this way."

"God has declared the entire world righteous." This statement is true, as we understand it to mean that God has rendered a verdict of "not-guilty" toward the entire world. It is also true—and must be taught—that the righteousness of Christ now stands in place of the world’s sin; this is the whole point of what Jesus did for us at Calvary. However, once again we’re wresting a term out of its usual context. In Scripture the term "righteous" usually refers to believers. "

Pastor Buchholz is interesting because at one point he actually agreed with my defense of Justification by Faith alone and his major disagreement with me is that I wouldn't agree that the whole world has been reconciled to God.

There are so many versions of UOJ out there even within the same Synod. Since UOJ has no Confessional foundation they are all free to make up whatever statements they like. I believe this is why they quote each other so much. To your point of ex falso quodlibet.

Christ's gracious blessings to you and your family,
Brett

L P said...

God keep you steadfast in his Word and may the Lord bless your family too, Brett.

LPC
PS. You should blog