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faith, Sovereignty of God

>Is Faith a Gift?

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Seems that the neuter τουτο and the masculine πιστεως in the Greek of Eph 2:8 is a cause for great rejoicing among those seeking to deny that faith is a gift. “A human response” is the preferred definition of those wishing to deny faith is a gift.

I must admit I do not understand the double speak of being chosen but faith being our human response. Even if one thinks the grammar is not supportive in Ephesians 2:8, what of other verses like Romans 12:3 or Phil 1:29?

Here are a few more questions to the person seeking to deny faith is a gift:

Of the other three divine virtues, does the person also deny that love and hope are gifts? [since they are talked about in the context of spiritual gifts]

If the believer cannot confess Jesus is Lord without the Spirit (1 Cor 12:3) and the Holy Spirit is a gift (Acts 10:45), what keeps one denying that faith is a gift?

If everyone that believes first was born of God (John 3:3, 1 John 5:1), is there something to be gained by denying the gift status of faith but acknowledging the need to be born from above in order to believe?

The gift status of faith is acknowledged by Augustine (here), Thomas Aquinas (here), Martin Luther (here) and John Calvin (here). I just don’t see the gain of denying this long standing doctrine in preference to “human response.” Do we really want to say that even Thomas Aquinas erred too much on the side of God’s sovereignty and we need to be more loose on it than the Roman Catholics?

Help me out here, does anyone out there deny faith is a gift? Why?

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Discussion

7 thoughts on “>Is Faith a Gift?

  1. >I think I’m in the same vein as Jay the Bennett, whereby faith being a gift is more a metonymy of what God does that graciously enables one to believe, that is have faith.I have posted on the subject with a fuller explanation to rejuvenate the conversation.

    Posted by GUNNY | July 28, 2008, 4:40 pm
  2. >Actually, the grammatical point that started this post is not as clear cut as it might seem. The neuter is not necessarily in disagreement with the masculine. In fact, there is no masculine antecedent, leaving one wondering what then is the antecedent? The best grammatical argument is that the phrase in its entirety is “this” that Paul is referring to. In other words, salvation is the gift (which in its component parts in the context in question are grace and faith). So faith is, grammatically speaking, part of the gift to which Paul is referring.Those that argue grammatically that faith is not a gift from this verse commit two errors. The first, as I point out above, is a grammatical error. The second was ably pointed out by Matt above. It is poor exegesis to approve or deny a doctrine based upon the gender of a single word. It should inform our interpretation, but not rule it. Case in point, pick up a copy of the NET Bible and read their note on Gen 3:15. Based upon a single grammatical point they deny that 3:15 has anything to say about Christ or the gospel. Instead they say it is better to understand this as simply explaining why people and snakes don’t get along!Nice post, Jared. Fun discussion.

    Posted by Matthew Bradley | July 23, 2008, 1:55 pm
  3. >I don’t think “gift” implies substantial attributes, but merely divine origin.I agree, but I think it might be better to say divine “prerogative” rather than divine “origin or source.” The faith of the faithful is ultimately caused by God’s prerogative (i.e. his decree) in election and effectual calling. The issue is primacy and efficiency in causation, which could be thought of in terms of origin or source but only in a logically and chronologically causal sense not a transfer of substance sense. The faith of the faithful is caused by God, but it is still my faith, the affection of my heart, which is the immaterial aspect of my nature or being. Right?

    Posted by M. Jay Bennett | July 23, 2008, 4:29 am
  4. >Everything’s a gift. God gives us the faith that we have in him – that’s the whole argument behind Monergism.

    Posted by One Salient Oversight | July 22, 2008, 10:27 pm
  5. >I don’t think “gift” implies substantival attributes, but merely divine origin. We would also say the same of grace. Grace is in a sense a gift (or gifting) yet we do not believe that grace is like a substance given by God in little sips from the cup. Even though we say “we thank you for these gifts” in the eucharist, we do not mean there is substantival grace in the eucharist.Also in the same way, the divine virtues of hope and love are gifts. We ourselves do hope, and do love but these virtues the workings of God and totally dependent on God’s granting for them to function in us. The human participation in beliving, hoping and loving should not be to the exclusion of God’s gifting, that’s all I’m saying… Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

    Posted by Jared Nelson | July 22, 2008, 8:32 pm
  6. >I think Jay make a great point. Faith is not substantial; so in that sense it is tough to envision it as a gift. Faith is more like an action–think faithfulness. Even though I believe that in some sense faith is a gift, I will play the devil’s advocate. With regard to Eph 2:8, that’s a lot of theology to get from the gender of a word. I am not sure that is methodologically appropriate. Is Paul’s language that specific? Are you that specific with your language? I would want stronger ground to stand on than grammar. (But don’t tell Dr. Wallace I said that.) With regard to Rom 12:3, the referent of the term “measure of faith” is a charism, not “saving faith.” (Granted, the two are related.) Paul looks like he is concerned that some people with specific charisms were thinking too highly about themselves, and Paul reminds them that the nature of gifts like prophecy is that they are gifts.With regard to Philippians 1:29, I think you are reading too much into the verb charizomai. I am not sure that Paul is using this in a technical sense here. The sense of the sentence is “You have the privilege not only of believing, but also of suffering for Christ.” The emphasis of the sentence is not that faith is granted to us from God, but that suffering necessarily accompanies faith. The Acts 10:45/1 Cor 12:3 argument is stronger. I would accompany this with John 10–11. Jesus gives a lengthy discussion about how the Pharisees don’t believe because they aren’t sheep. (NOT that they aren’t sheep because they don’t believe.) The true sheep hear his voice and follow. Then in chapter 11 there is a dramatic illustration of this as Jesus shouts “Lazarus come forth!” and he does. Each of us is infected with sin so that we cannot follow apart from the regeneration of the Spirit. The means by which the Spirit makes us alive is “faith,” so in that sense it is a gift.

    Posted by Matt | July 22, 2008, 6:26 pm
  7. >I fine with speaking of faith as a gift but here’s a few thoughts on the meaning of that terminology . . . When we think of receiving something like a gift we are typically thinking in substantial terms. I receive a thing from another. The thing is the gift.But when we talk about faith, we are talking about motivations of the heart, which are non-substantial. The analogy begins to miss the mark at some point. That’s what I think the language of gifts really is. It is an analogy meant to explain the priority of God in changing our hearts.Does God give us faith? Well yes and no. He doesn’t give us our faith in a substantial sense. It’s not as if there is a separate thing called “faith” that is actually implanted within us. God gives us faith by revealing himself to us as truly beautiful (the beatific vision) and trustworthy. When he reveals himself to his people in that way, they believe.

    Posted by M. Jay Bennett | July 22, 2008, 5:12 pm

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