Vol.XVII No.VI Pg.5
August 1980

Human Faith

Robert F. Turner

In "pattern of Authority," Bernard Ramm says, "Having rejected the authority of the Roman Church and its efforts to underwrite the authority of the Bible, Calvin might then have turned to human reason to demonstrate the authority of the Bible. But there were two matters causing hesitancy in this procedure: (1) the human reason had come under certain darkening effects from sin; and (2) being fully persuaded by human reason the believer would still have but human faith. There must be a divine certainty about divine matters." (p.28-29) Ramm says Calvin found his answer in the "internal or secret witness of the Holy Spirit."

The faith of a human is "human faith" — what else? It is a human's acceptance of evidence, which genders trust. There is first the FACT, be it something Jesus said or a miracle he performed. Then, there is a WITNESS to the fact; followed by TESTIMONY. God produces the facts, and His Spirit delivered those facts unerringly via the witnesses (Jn. 14:26; 16:12-). This is GOD, loving His creatures, giving His Son to die for them, and calling all creatures with the gospel. God knows his creatures, and is capable of calling so all may understand, and be justly condemned if they refuse to heed (Jn. 3:16-21). Then MAN hears, and believes or disbelieves. God is Savior of all men, "specially of them that believe" (1 Tim. 4:10).

But Ramm and other evangelicals give "human faith" an illogical twist. With a theological base that denies free will and accepts unconditional particular election, they confuse the reception of evidence with its source a testing standards. The Greeks relied upon "worldly wisdom" to test the validity of the gospel message — and pronounced it "foolish." This is no argument against the use of human senses (to hear God's word) or human capacity to receive it into honest hearts (seat of intellect) so as to believe and act upon it. Is God incapable of calling by His word (Jn. 6:)?

Paul came with "demonstration of the Spirit and power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:4-). He proved the source of the message to be divine. Men were expected to accept the message because of its divine source, rather than because it could be proven true in a laboratory. But they accepted it with their human senses — what else?

In recent years several brethren have written disparagingly of man's ability to reason upon scriptures. "If we must reason on it, this is dependence upon man." The most simple and direct statement requires human assimilation, making the understanding of scriptures (milk and meat) a matter of degree. There is no scriptural reason to deny man's capacity to hear, believe and obey. I fear some have been trapped in the evangelical theology of depravity, "experience of grace" and "enabling power." They can not equate "grace" with "free will" response. And saddest of all, they are on a track that finally demands "internal and secret witness of the Holy Spirit" — in reality a reliance upon subjective "feeling" which dethrones the God they claim to praise.