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6.19.2013

I answer Gordon Clark's question

Here is a quote from 20th century Christian philosopher Gordon Clark:

“In describing the nature of faith, fundamentalists, evangelicals, and even modernists in a certain way, stress the element of trust … A preacher may draw a parallel between trusting in Christ and trusting in a chair. Belief that the chair is solid and comfortable, mere intellectual assent to such a proposition will not rest your weary bones. You must, the preacher insists, actually sit in the chair. Or, as another minister recently said, mere belief that a bank is safe and sound will not protect your cash or give you any interest. You must actually put your money in the bank. Similarly, so goes the argument, you can believe all that the Bible says about Christ and it will do you no good. Such illustrations as these are constantly used, in spite of the fact that the Bible itself says, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.'

There is here at least a lack of analysis, a confounding of something Scriptural and something that is not, a failure to equate two sides of an analogy. The weak point of such illustrations is that they compare faith with the physical act of sitting in a chair and distinguish it from belief. Belief in Christ does not rest your weary bones, for belief is mere assent. In addition you must actually sit down or deposit your money in the bank. But this analogy does not hold. The distinction between believing that a chair is comfortable and the act of sitting in it is perfectly obvious. But in the spiritual realm there is no physical action; there is mental action only: hence the act of sitting down, if it means anything at all, must refer to something completely internal, and yet different from belief. Belief that the chair has been made to stand for belief in Christ, and according to the illustration belief in Christ does not save. Something else is needed. But what is this something else that corresponds to the physical act of sitting down? This is the question that is seldom if ever answered. The evangelists put all their stress on sitting down, but never identify its analogue.” - Religion, Reason, and Revelation 95-96.

The question is: what is the analogue to sitting down in the chair?

The answer is: going into death with confidence that you will be with God on the other side. And believing this when you contemplate death. Not taking doubts with you. Not living in doubt about the immortality of your soul (conditioned on God's immortality of course) or the resurrection of your body, or prior to that your resurrection at death (of your soul and spiritual body) to where God is, Paradise, or Heaven. This is the real test that is the analogue of sitting on the chair.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Belief in a Christian is a gift that is called "the faith of Christ" or
"the faith of God" or "the faith of Jesus" and similar. The point is that believing faith comes into a believer from outside of the believer - from God.

Thanks for the thought.

June 24, 2013 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

I wasn't questioning that in the Covenant of Grace what God demands He gives freely, namely faith. (I might suggest to you that it is not so robotically monergistic as you are putting it; afterall regeneration precedes faith, thus we are made by regeneration - which is monergistic - to be able to respond to the Gospel with faith, but that is another subject...) I was offering a concrete, practical example of what sitting in the chair could be, and something that is not a 'work', or something physical (per Clark's demands).

June 26, 2013 at 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got your point at the first reading. Just wanted to encourage. I don't fit any of the stereotypes suggested by the christian industries. So in such few sentences, I was only agreeing with you. You are correct, but you made a determination of my meaning that was erroneous. I am not that deep, not that deeply concerned with the mechanics of faith, salvation, etc. I just want to understand Biblical things such that I don't have to determine exactly where the sea meets land.

I enjoy reading your blog articles.

June 26, 2013 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

Thank you.

June 28, 2013 at 4:09 AM  

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