Sunday, January 13, 2008

On Saving Faith and Bank Accounts

The following is an excerpt from What is Saving Faith, by Gordon H. Clark. The Trinity Foundation, 2004, pp. 157-158.

[Begin excerpt] The desire to find a third element in faith, in addition to understanding and assent, seems, if we may judge by popular preaching, to be aided by a psychological illusion. Preachers often use an illustration such as this: You may believe that a bank is sound by having read its financial statement, but you do not and cannot trust it until you deposit your money there. Making the deposit is faith. So, these preachers conclude, belief in Christ is not enough, no matter how much you read the Bible and believe that it is true. In addition to believing you must also trust Christ. That is faith.

The psychological illusion arises from the fact that the two cases are not parallel. In the case of the bank, there is the factor of depositing money. I have some dollar bills to be deposited; I go and deposit them in Bank X and not in Bank Y. Therefore I trust Bank X and do not trust Bank Y. But such is not the case. The reason I deposit money in this bank and not another is simply that my financial condition is far from warranting two bank accounts. I believe that Bank Y is quite as sound as Bank X. Both have competent administrators. Then, too, they both insure all depositors up to $10,000 and my account is less than one-tenth of this. I choose Bank X, not because I trust it more, but simply because it is nearer my home. This is a matter of convenience—not of faith. What is more, in the bank illustration there is a physical factor—depositing bills or checks; whereas in saving faith there is no such factor. Thus arises the illusion. Those who use such illustrations import into a spiritual situation something, a physical motion, that cannot be imported into it. There is nothing in the spiritual situation analogous to depositing the currency. There is believing only: nothing but the internal mental act itself. To suppose that there is, is both a materialistic confusion and an inadmissible alteration of the Scriptural requirement. [End excerpt]