What Is Saving Faith? $12.95 $6.48

Gordon H. Clark
Large paperback (7x10), 179 pages [2004]

This is the combined edition of two of Dr. Clark's seminal books: Faith and Saving Faith and The Johannine Logos. Both books deal with the crucial issue of justification by faith alone in a new fashion: by deriving a definition of faith (belief) from the Greek New Testament rather than from Latin theologians. It is both ironic and telling that most Protestants, when asked to define the word "faith," sound like they are exegeting the Vulgate. No one before Dr. Clark has examined, collated, and systematized the wealth of Scriptural material relevant to the definition of faith. The result is a refreshing and exhilarating defense of the doctrine of justification through belief alone.

Faith and Saving Faith
: Foreword, Preface, Introduction, Generic Faith: Brand Blanshard, Generic and Secular Belief: H.H. Price, Roman Catholic Views, Biblical Data, John Calvin, Thomas Manton, John Owen, Charles Hodge, Interlude on the Head and the Heart, B.B. Warfield, Minor Men: John Anderson and J. H. Bavinck, John Theodore Mueller, The End of History, The Necessity of Faith, The Language, Person or Proposition?, The Object, A Conclusion

The Johannine Logos: Introduction, The Prologue, Logos and Rheemata, Truth, Saving Faith, Conclusion

Scripture Index, Index, The Crisis of Our Time, Intellectual Ammunition

Reviewed by Louis De Boer, Editor, American Presbyterian Press:

In the current controversy about justification by faith alone the question naturally arises, that if we are saved by faith, and by faith alone, just what is "saving faith?" In order to supply an answer to that most relevant question, John Robbins of the Trinity Foundation has reprinted some of Gordon H. Clark's writings on that very subject. The thesis of this book is simple. It is that faith is intellectual assent to certain propositions, and that saving faith is intellectual assent to certain propositions found in the Scriptures. Saving faith is defined as belief in the gospel, belief in what the Scriptures teach about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Faith, it is stated, is not some weird, irrational, mystical emotion, but assent to truths that are understood. Faith, this book teaches, is belief, belief in the truth, and therefore the Scriptures can say that "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." The author maintains the simplicity of the gospel. Faith is simple belief of the gospel, and does not require indefinable psychological and emotional feats of trust and commitment; nor does it require additional works. Rather, all that the gospel requires is the simple belief of the truth.

In his introduction Robbins elaborates on why the simplicity of the gospel is being rejected by many, including conservative evangelicals, and why this issue is of such concern in our time. He says…

"Several factors have contributed to the growing rejection of the Gospel in the churches, and one of those factors is confusion about the nature of faith. That confusion is common to those who oppose the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and to some of those who defend it. Faith, rather than being recognized as belief of a statement, that is, intelligent assent to an understood proposition—and saving faith being belief of the truth, that is, intelligent assent to Biblical propositions—rather than faith being understood in Scriptural terms, faith is seen as something more than belief—as 'commitment to a person,' 'trust of a person,' 'encounter with a person,' 'surrender to a person;' or a 'personal relationship.' This common viewpoint is not in accord with Scripture, for it makes a fatal dichotomy between persons and propositions, and regards faith as trust in or commitment to a person, rather than belief of a proposition.

"Those who deny justification by faith alone may say that saving faith includes, or is identical to, obedience and good works. They define that vague 'something more than belief' as something 'objective': baptism, obedience, and good works. The deniers of justification by faith alone begin by agreeing with those who confusedly defend justification by faith alone: Faith is not 'mere assent.' Faith is more than belief, they say. Thus those who deny justification by faith alone, and many of those who wish to defend it, are united in this opinion—which Dr. Clark shows by painstaking exegesis of Scripture to have no support in Scripture—that faith is not intelligent assent to an understood proposition, not 'mere' belief, but something more.

"Deniers of justification by faith alone may say that faith is not mere assent, for it is obedience as well. They make the vague 'something more than assent' definite by their assertion that saving faith includes works. This allows them—watch their sleight-of-hand carefully—to assert that justification by faith alone is true, as the Westminster Confession teaches, because they have redefined faith to include works. So when they assert that 'justification is by faith alone,' they mean, 'justification is by works, too.'

"Many of those who wish to defend justification by faith alone are embarrassed because of their agreement with the deniers of justification that faith is not mere belief, not intelligent assent to an understood proposition. And they should be embarrassed, for their faulty understanding of faith has opened the door to the current widespread denial of justification by faith alone."

The message of this book, being at the very heart of the gospel, is critical for every age. In our age, with the gospel being undermined systematically by the deniers of justification by faith alone (the promoters of salvation by faith plus works) on one hand and Charismatics (and other prophets of psycho-babble who teach that salvation is by a dramatic psychological relationship with a person) on the other, it is crucial. We need to recover the gospel and its Biblical simplicity before we can defend it. The message of this book is a good first step in that direction. Dr. Clark, as most scholars and philosophers, is not easy to read. However, Dr. Robbins, writes extremely well, and his introduction is excellent, and probably worth the price of the book.

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