Guy Waters Reviews & Critiques Piper on the Nature of Faith in the Act of Justification

But it must be also said that WSF’s thesis that saving faith is essentially affectional, and the arguments advanced in support of that thesis, are unable to sustain the weight of Piper’s Reformational convictions. We may see this dynamic by pursuing two complementary lines of reflection. First, the thesis of WSF is not proven. Second, the thesis of WSF raises a significant problem.
First, the thesis of WSF is not proven. That is to say, WSF fails to establish its thesis from the texts of Scripture that are brought forward to support it. The burden that WSF shoulders is to demonstrate that treasuring Christ (delighting in Christ, loving Christ) is an element of saving faith, not merely a fruit, evidence, or accompaniment of saving faith. We will survey four representative passages that figure prominently in WSF and see that, in each case, none requires the conclusion that treasuring Christ is an element of saving faith.
. . . The thesis of WSF, that treasuring Christ is an element of saving faith, is not proven from these representative passages advanced in its support. We will now turn to a significant problem posed by WSF’s thesis. WSF relates faith and love to one another in such a way as to conflate them. To be sure, in identifying treasuring Christ as an element of saving faith, Piper insists that “trusting Christ [is not] identical with loving Christ. One cannot replace faith with love as if they were interchangeable.”[46] But, shortly afterwards, Piper says, “love to Christ in this book … is another name for treasuring Christ. Therefore, like treasuring, it is not in addition to, nor the result of, trusting Christ. It is an aspect of trusting Christ. It is another name for treasuring, and therefore has the same role as treasuring.”[47] It seems, then, that in some respects love to Christ is of the essence of saving faith. Read more»
Guy P. Waters
| James M. Baird, Jr. Professor of New Testament
Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson | Faith and Treasuring Christ: A Review Article – Reformed Faith & Practice


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  1. For those who have read Roman Catholic polemics, there are clear similarities between that Piper is saying and what Rome has said.

    • Absolutely! Any addition to the Reformation sola of, “salvation through faith alone,” is a denial of the truth the Reformation rediscovered. Love, and all good works, are a response, or fruit, to the love God has shown us. “Perfect love casts out fear, we love Him because He first loved us.” 1John 4:18-19 If our love to Christ was a necessary part of faith, we could never have assurance that our love is sufficient. How could we ever dare to think that our love could respond adequately to God’s Love, so that it would be part of the saving faith through which we are saved? Any looking to our love and works, as being necessary to saving faith,
      destroys our confidence as we look to ourselves and our works for justification. Heidelberg Q and A 30

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