Faith vs. credulity
Review: 1 Peter 3:15, and to give a cogent reason and why do you believe it. Defend the honor of Christ. For people will say, I understand partially what you believe but they will ask why. Substantiate the content of our faith and why it’s legitimate to be proclaimed.
Christianity involves, not only the proper proclamation of events and the evidence, but a defense of why it is so. Peter writing to his readers in 56 AD. that it was not clever myths or fables we offer you but we declare what we have seen and heard.…
Luke begins his telling of events that he researched carefully, as a historian as well as a doctor, what the eye witness accounts were. Pursuing what the life of Christ was like. Drawing on the original sources of those who had been actual witnesses to these various events.. Like in a courtroom of our time we would bring in direct witness to give a testimony to the truth or falsehood of what is being avowed. So the New Testament does the same sort of thing.
Last session Sproul recalled the dilemma that those who are in the Reformed faith have. That is, nobody comes to the Living God unless God the Holy Spirit first brings the character of change to a person. But it doesn’t void us from our place to reason and teach and speak and study. But it is God who brings the increase not us.
So, there are those that will say I don’t need to do anything for that would go against the spiritual work that must come from God. We shouldn’t study or work on philosophy because that will get in the way of the Spirit. Don’t be vain in knowledge, they‘ll say. In as much as one can be wise, how can you beware but by being aware. It is a necessity to pay attention to the world philosophies around you. You will not be seduced if you have paid heed to the content they have to offer first.
Pre-evangelism and Post evangelism, Short review
First, Justification is by faith alone. So, what kind of faith saves. All the Apostles, including James says something on this and what results from true faith. What an evidence of faith is. A living faith is what it is called. But not a meritorious faith that we come to the table with or provide on our own. Justification is by Faith alone but not by a Faith that is alone
What is it that comprises faith. What levels or nuances must come together. Here are 3.
1) Notitia: When we say we are justified by faith it has to have a content. A faith in what is what you should ask. Faith in Banana-mango juice, faith in Buddha? We have this idea in our culture that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. Ohhhh my! Does that mean I can put my trust in Satan and be saved? Or the OT people, could trust in Baal or Asteroth and other Canaanite deities? Of course, the answer we provide is no-no-no. This has to do with the content. Christianity is such that it needs a certain level of information about the person and qualifications of Jesus Christ first.
This is all apart of the “notes” or “data” or notitia. This is the information part of faith. Before saving faith can come they must have required information of the content that they are asked to believe. And that involves the mind. That involves information that people can understand. Before you can call upon the LORD you must know why you must call upon him. Yes, if you are wondering here, you need understanding and information prior to faith.
2) Assensus: Which is simply the Latin word for intellectual assent. If I say to you do you believe that G. Washington was the first president of the United States. If you said yes, it doesn’t mean that you put your personal trust in GW to have power over you. Just that he is who he was in history. I’m asking if your mind gives assent to the proposition that GW was the first President.
(Their is a whole movement today in contemporary theology that says propositions have nothing to do with faith. That the bible only has to do with relationships. And it is relationships that count and not propositions. These people say that all I have to do is have a personal relationship with Jesus. And then with that, they say, I don’t need doctrine and I don’t need theology. I don’t need to affirm any creed about Christ, just Christ. I don’t believe in propositions-I believe in Jesus. He is a person not a proposition. You here this quite often, don’t you. You say you have a personal relationship with Jesus but if it is not the same as the “notitia”, the facts and data of who He is, for then you might be having a relationship with a corpse or a myth or a fable. All the things we say about Jesus must be true, outside of relationship or believe. What we say about Jesus, what we believe about Jesus must be understood thru the mind-saying yes-to the propositions of truth.)
3) Fiducia: This portion can only be engendered by the work of the Spirit. It is a personal trust and reliance on Christ; that aspect which is an affection that flows out of a new heart and new mind.
So, you can’t go straight to 3 without attaining number 1 and 2. Sproul repeats; having 1 and 2 without 3 will get you no where. But you can’t have 3 all by itself either. Remember, statements about faith have to be tied to this ‘apologitic’ regard for right information. When the surrounding citizenry thought that Christians were cannibals the task of the apologist was to say, no-no-no this is wrong “information.” They were responding to a distortion. Let me clarify for you what the New Testament says. So you will have a correct understanding of what the information is. So with rightly understood facts, at least, you will know what I am stating. You may reject it, but you won’t be reaching for a ‘straw-man’ rationale but will be rejecting Jesus on the principle propositions itself.
*Again, we are living in a time of “fideism” which says, I don’t have to have a reason to what I believe. I can just say God told me what to do apart from scriptural integrity. I just close my eyes, scrunch my nose and try real hard and will just believe in a Jesus with my own faith. And that is all I have to do. I will take this ‘blind leap of faith’ into his arms. It gives Sproul a pain in his foot that shoots all the way up his back. Because, he says, the Bible never tells you to take a leap of faith into the darkness. It says, on the contrary, to leap out of the darkness and into the light. And that is not a blind process. The NT calls us to be rooted and grounded in what God does and He makes it very clear that what you do, then, is framed by truth.
Sproul’s example that supports his case is Paul of Tarsus at Mars Hill where he spoke to the sophisticated crowd and said, in your former days of ignorance God overlooked your inattention but now he commands everyone every where to have a transformational change (repent.) Because he has appointed a day where he will judge all. By that one who he has proven to be so. He didn’t do this in secret. Paul said to King Agrippa, these things were not done in a hidden corner, but publicly.
Do you see the difference between the various faith aspects. Are we to have no proven facts, no valid first person historical reports, no witness accounts to a resurrection but were asked to just believe anyway. This is not faith but credulity. This is superstition. The task of apologetics is to show that the evidence that the NT calls us to commit our life to is compelling evidence and worthy of your full effort. And that takes a lot of work. And many of us would rather duck our responsibility of doing the homework and wrestling with the problems and answering objections and would rather just say, just take it on faith. That is the ultimate cop-out. We honor Christ by offering the cogency of the truth claims of the scripture. Even as God does.
Ÿ When God sends Moses to Pharaohs court to tell him to let the Hebrew people go so they may worship me on this mountain Moses responds by how exactly is this going to happen. Who am I. How are they going to know. God responds by telling Moses to put his hand in his shirt and He will show Moses how we will show them. Well, the point is that Pharaoh would, in the end, not deny this power and proof.
That is why we have to do the work before the Spirit does his work. Because the Spirit does not ask people to put their trust and affection and faith in nonsense or absurdity or unsubstantiated truth claims. That is why we have the testimony of the scriptures for our consideration.
* 2 times Sproul talks on a contemporary faith distortion that is readily seen in the American church if not worldwide.
Credulity: noun --willingness to believe or trust too readily, esp. without proper or adequate evidence; gullibility
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