The difference between the two positions is fundamentally one over the understanding of faith. Charles C. Ryrie defines faith as "being convinced or giving credence to something or someone, especially to the truth of the Gospel" (Charles C. Ryrie, So Great Salvation, 156). So, faith is believing that the gospel message is true and trusting in it for salvation. Therefore, repentance is not a part of faith, faith does not necessarily involve discipleship, and works play no role in one's salvation. Each one of these relationships will be examined.
1. The relationship between faith and repentance. Since faith is essentially a mental assent to the truth of the gospel, it in no way includes a turning from sin in repentance. As Zane Hodges says, "Faith alone (not repentance and faith) is the sole condition for justification and eternal life" (Zane C. Hodges, Absolutely Free!, 144). Repentance is viewed as a work, and if repentance is required for salvation, then salvation is no longer through faith alone. Since the Reformers argued strongly that justification is through faith alone, Hodges goes on to assert, "To make repentance a condition for eternal salvation is nothing less than a regression toward Roman Catholic dogma" (Ibid., 145). Hodges concludes that if a person believes there is a relationship between faith and repentance, then the individual is rejecting the Reformer's view of the gospel and he or she does not hold the Protestant view of salvation.
On the other hand, Charles Ryrie does believe that repentance can save. However, one must have a correct understanding of this kind of repentance. "The only kind of repentance that saves anyone, anywhere, anytime is a change of mind about Jesus Christ" (Ryrie, 95). In other words, if repentance is defined the same as faith, then it can lead to salvation. Therefore, according to Ryrie, when seeing repentance as saving a person, repentance and faith are simply synonymous terms. Either way, the idea of turning from sin being required for faith is denied by the free grace view.
posted at 2:30 PM