Saturday, January 26, 2013

Just a thought, and I've said it before

From a comment I posted elsewhere:

I don't actually know what faith is. It is not simple intellectual assent--i.e., belief. The bible speaks of some who believe but are lost. Nor is it "blind." Hebrews 11 has the faith hall of fame, and lists people who did not need blind faith for they saw and spoke to god. Abraham's faith was hardly blind, with the execption that he had faith that God's promise of redemption would be fulfilled in his future. If blind faith was the ultimate virtue, Gideon (who demanded physical proof) would stand condemned--instead he shows up in Hebrews 11 as a faith hero. Faith (πίστις), I think, is closer to trust than to believe. As Grudem puts it, which works for me, it's coming to God and saying: "I got nothing."


  1. Hey,
    I take πιστις to mean loyalty in numerous instances in the NT. The range of the word includes intellectual assent and sum of beliefs as in "the faith."

    It fits in the ancient worldview. Like when the heavenly patron offers a "gift" he expects loyalty rather than repayment as the condition of receiving the gift. This fits so perfectly into Paul's opening eulogy in Ephesians.

    That model and some aspect of the idea of personal trust make a tremendous amount of sense, and in the ancient world loyalty would often not be seen as "repayment" in return for a gift. So it matches Paul's theological distaste for earning.

    The other meanings of πιστις help me to understand James' point too. If James took the word to mean "creedal belief," then that obviously cannot save without works...because it is not loyalty or personal trust. There's no covenant framework in which assent can create the appropriate relationship between a superior and inferior.


    1. Thanks Geoff, that is helpful.