Three levels of faith

When someone says they believe something, what do they mean? The way I see it, it can mean one of three things.

It could mean that they know something about God. At this level of faith, one simply needs to know about something. There is no commitment to the veracity of the statement.

It could also mean that they assent to the truth of the idea that God exists. At this level of faith, someone might say, "I believe that God is real."

The third level is the level of trust. At this level, one has trusted God for his or her salvation.

The way I see it, there are a great many people whose faith has taken them to the second level. They can give intellectual assent to everything that they know about God. Churches are too full of these types. There are too few who have actually trusted God to the point that God makes a difference in their lives a la James 2.

Some in the Emergent crowd have noticed this and complained about it. I think they are right. But then, instead of taking people to the next level of faith where they actually trust God, they undermine the first two levels of faith by saying that we really can't know anything for sure.

JP Moreland is right, this treatment kills the patient.


sans auto said...

I like that, I have never heard faith broken down like that. Ever progressing toward a better personal relationship with God. So, if we have to trust God for our salvation, do you suppose He trusts us to care for the earth He made for us? What else does He "trust" us to do? He certainly doesn't expect as much from us as we expect from Him. Does He trust some more than others? What can I do to gain His trust?-- wouldn't that help our relationship?

Vertigo said...

Interesting questions, sans.

I think the mandate to have dominion over the earth would imply that God trusts us to take care of creation.

He has trusted us with the great commission.

He has trusted us with the task of caring for 'the least of these'.

He has trusted us with bringing about his kingdom here on earth.

Does the idea that we have free will imply that He trusts us?

I think I need to kick these ideas around for a while...

Dad M said...

I'm wondering if both of you are using "trust" in a somewhat restricted sense. Would these "trust" statements be more accurate or meaningful if you used "entrust" instead. Using "trust" implies that God has full confidence in us that we will do it. That is the kind of trust we have in God for our salvation (cf. sans auto). If we are "entrusted" with something, we have been given the sole responsibility to carry it out, but there may not be any confidence that it will be done well, if at all. We elect politicians and entrust them with fulfilling their parliamentary responsibilities well, but how many of us are naive enough to actually trust them all to do their job well? So, I would agree that God has entrusted us with a whole bunch of responsibilities (great commission, all the "one anothers", the environment ...) but, given our past record, I wonder how much trust God has in us that we will actually be able to pull it off. I submit that we have to do the best we can (i.e., be faithful and consistent in our endeavours) and be grateful that God has hinted at a "new heaven and a new earth.)

Anonymous said...

Thank-you Dad! I said much the same thing to Colin and he blew me off. I have now been vindicated. ;-)

Anonymous said...

btw...anonymous above is Vertigo's WIFE! :-P