B. B. Warfield on Faith

This week I was reading an article by B. B. Warfield titled “On Faith in its Psychological Aspects“, as it was referenced in another excellent paper titled Scottish Common Sense Philosophy and Inerrancy. The article by B. B. Warfield on faith is a very interesting article. He had some very good insights on the nature of faith. His discussion especially focuses on the nature of faith as a necessary result of evidence properly perceived and judged as sound so as to bring the person to believe it. This requires both an objective aspect of the evidence as suitable as well as a subjective aspect in the person as being properly suited to receive it. It also recognizes that while there is something of a distinction between “knowledge” and “faith”, the difference is not in that one has true conviction and the other doesn’t but the difference is in the basis for that conviction about the thing believed, namely one is tied to our sense experience or rational processes (knowledge) and the other is tied to our trust and conviction in the authority and testimony given by someone else (faith) In both cases, there is a evidence that we are using to base our convictions on, whether it be our own reasoning processes and observations or one the reasons to trust the testimony of someone else. Overall, I think Warfield’s overall approach to the topic was helpful and promising. It also really fits together well with the rational evidentialism of H. Wayne House and Dennis Jowers. (see Reasons for Our Hope pp 86-87). We may not have a perfect motive of credibility (Ibid., pg. 83) to believe as House and Jowers say, but one can be lead to make a necessary (per Warfield) and absolute faith.  Now, Warfield then goes on to defend his Calvinistic positions on that basis and suggests those who appeal to faith as a decision do so in order to preserve free will. I disagree with his conclusion on this point but I do not believe that one has to accept his Calvinistic position to still recognize the validity of his analysis of faith. This is something that is harder to do if one accepts a presuppositional approach to defending the faith, though perhaps it can yet be done. While there is Scripture to be studied on the topic of how a sinner can be saved if Calvinism isn’t true, i only will say right now that I do maintain that man can and does have an influence on his own attitude to the evidence. Therefore man, even fallen man, has an ability to encourage faith by seeking the evidence and answers to our questions of the faith. God’s Spirit can work through evidence and those who share with others. I think what some of my reading recently from these authors as well as a podcast i listened to this week (Doubt, Skepticism, and Confusion on Standing for the Truth with guest Dr. Randy White) really are giving me some ideas that provide the theoretical basis for the acceptance of the classical apologetics model as being the right one. I have also through reading this article by Warfield gained a greater appreciation than I already had for the Old Princeton school, even if I do not subscribe to Covenant theology or Calvinism. So, there are some really good ideas here. So many young people are leaving the faith today. They especially need to own their faith, and finding the answers is what is needed. If one’s faith is wavering and we are doubting, it may not help nor be right to push it under the rug under a supposed decision that “I’m chosen to believe.” Though there may be a place to choose to believe, before we can do that we must pursue the answers that will strengthen our faith and be open to the evidence by being yielded to the Spirit of God. By truly gaining a true basis for our faith, we will be much stronger, and be able to stand in the face of this world. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s