Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Free Grace or Lordship Salvation? (Part 7)
Millard Erickson also demonstrates this point by giving a logical analysis of the different possibilities surrounding the terms repentance and faith. Given the fact that portions of Scripture refer just to repentance for salvation, that other sections refer only to faith for salvation, and that other segments of the Bible refer to both repentance and faith, Erickson presents three options:

There are various possibilities:

a. One of these factors, or certain of these passages, is/are primary from a hermeneutical standpoint, and the others are to be interpreted in light of these. This appears to be the technique which Hodges has followed, elevating the passages where only faith is mentioned to a position of interpretational normativity.

b. There are multiple (or at least dual) ways of salvation. One may be saved by faith or by repentance. It may vary with the individual, so that some need to believe and others to repent. Whatever a given individual lacks is what he or she must exercise.

c. Both factors, faith and repentance, are necessary to salvation. In some cases, however, only one of these is mentioned explicitly, the other being implicit. This would be in a concept in which the other would be understood. Repentance and faith would then be complementary aspects of a whole, conversion (Millard J. Erickson, "Lordship Theology: The Current Controversy," Southwestern Journal of Theology 33 no. 2 (1991):

Out of these possibilities, the first option violates proper interpretation of Scripture. The second alternative denies the basic gospel message that all evangelicals would agree with. Since there is only one way to have humanity's relationship restored to God, repentance and faith cannot be two different ways of salvation. The only plausible choice is the third possibility. It takes into account the gospel message and the unity of the Bible. It also is in accord with correct methods of biblical interpretation. As a result, the free grace position comes to erroneous conclusions.

The truth is that faith and repentance are both elements in conversion. MacArthur gives a more biblical understanding of faith when he writes,

Real faith therefore involves the whole person—mind, emotions, and will. The mind embraces knowledge, a recognition and understanding of the truth that Christ saves. The heart gives assent, or the settled confidence and affirmation that Christ's salvation is applicable to one's own soul. The will responds with trust, the personal commitment to and appropriation of Christ as the only hope for eternal salvation (Ibid., 44).

These three elements are all components of true faith. MacArthur also shows that all three of these elements are biblically substantiated, based on Hebrews 11:1-3 (Ibid., 39-48). Yet the free grace view denies the trust or volitional element of faith. Hodges states, "The Bible knows nothing about an intellectual faith as over against some other kind of faith (like emotional or volitional). What the Bible does recognize is the obvious distinction between faith and unbelief!" (Hodges, Absolutely Free, 30) This is tragic and leads to a superficial faith at the least, and a false faith at the worst.
posted at 3:30 PM  

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I am a former Mormon who has been saved by Jesus Christ. Now I am a missionary involved with the Africa Center for Apologetics Research (ACFAR). I seek to live in light of Paul's words: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

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