An (ancient) introduction to “faith in Christ” vs. “Christ’s faith”

Originally inspired by this recent post by Doug Chaplin, I exhumed a paper I wrote in third year Greek while an undergrad (I estimate this to be c. 2000-2001). As a segue between my last post and my next, I thought I’d present it here with minimal edits. Please realize that the scholarship within this is a good decade behind, but given the modesty of the claims in this overview, I sincerely doubt that much of what is argued below has been soundly defeated.

The interpretation of Iesou Christou as an objective genitive (faith in Jesus Christ) in Galatians 2.16 and 3.22 (cf. Php 3.9) is the overwhelmingly pervasive reading of that construction. Fairly recently, however, scholarship has had to come to terms with the work of many scholars such as Richard B. Hays, who argues most strenuously that our modern fixation on the freedom of the individual conscience distorts Paul’s concerns. In his article, “Jesus’ Faith and Ours” (Theological Students Fellowship Bulletin, 7 No. 1 [S-O 1983], 2-6), Hays argued that nowhere in Galatians 3 does Paul place any emphasis on the salvific efficacy of “believing,” and nor does he speak of Jesus Christ as the object of human faith. Paul insists that we are redeemed/justified by Jesus Christ’s faithfulness (pistis Iesou Christou) on our behalf, not by our believing.

What must be demonstrated to make this minority view plausible?

The case for the subjective genitive interpretation (faith/faithfulness of Christ Jesus) is grammatically the most obvious. BAGD notes that translating the genitive as “in” is possible with reference to pistis, but acknowledges that pistis is usually found without an object. Moreover, translating the genitive as “of” is most commonly preferable with most other words. Noteworthy among the arguments for the subjective genitive view is that when pistis takes a personal genitive it is almost never an objective genitive (cf. Matt 9:2, 22, 29; Mark 2:5; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19; 18:42; 22:32; Rom 1:8; 12; 3:3; 4:5, 12, 16; 1 Cor 2:5; 15:14, 17; 2 Cor 10:15; Phil 2:17; Col 1:4; 2:5; 1 Thess 1:8; 3:2, 5, 10; 2 Thess 1:3; Titus 1:1; Phlm 6; 1 Pet 1:9, 21; 2 Pet 1:5). Douglas Campbell, an advocate of the subjective usage, has been accused of being too dogmatic or dramatic by Brian Dodd, who has sympathies with the subjective camp, because Campbell makes the statement that how we take Paul’s usage of pistis Christou Iesou might “open up the possibility of a major reevaluation of Paul’s . . . theology as a whole.” However, Hays in both the article mentioned above and his dissertation, The Faith of Jesus Christ, highlights the significance of this alternative translation when he makes the statement that in Galatians, Paul insists we are justified by Christ’s faith/faithfulness, not our believing.

Much research and study has gone into this debate, with conservative scholars even delving into the ranks of those who see Christ’s faith/faithfulness as Paul’s intended meaning in such phrases as dia pisteos and ek pisteos, even in passages where the specifier Christou Iesou is not present. The likeliest loci for this scenario are Romans 1:17 and 3:25-26.

Romans 1:17 is Paul’s quotation of Habakkuk 2:4, “The righteous one shall live by faith/faithfulness.” Campbell took this statement as Messianic, so better to be translated, “The Righteous One shall live by His faithfulness.” One could still argue for the faithfulness of Christ being the basis for life (rather than believing faith on the part of the believer) if one takes the “righteous one” to be any number of people who now have the opportunity to live rather than a reference to Christ, and therefore, “The righteous one shall live by His faith/faithfulness.”

Paul in Romans 3:25-26 states, as the New English Translation translates it, “God publicly displayed him as a satisfaction for sin by his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed. This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness,” or ek pisteos Iesou. This passage shows the value of such an interpretation: Jesus was put on display as a satisfaction for sin by his blood through faith (dia pisteos); in other words, Jesus was capable of demonstrating God’s righteousness in being publicly displayed because Jesus had faith or was faithful, not because of our faith in Him.

This concept is similar to that in Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’) in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.” Longenecker’s commentary on Galatians discusses Paul’s paradigm of Abraham’s faith and our justification by looking at the perception of Jewish writers concerning Abraham’s faith/faithfulness. Jewish scholars tended to view Abraham’s extreme faith and faithfulness as being their very salvation, much as the Church of Rome would much later come to proclaim with the idea of “works of supererogation.” In other words, Abraham’s merit was so exceedingly worthy of God’s favor that those who are Abraham’s seed are worthy of God’s favor by virtue of Abraham’s merit. Another common picture was that of Abraham’s ten trials through which he remained faithful. If one sees Paul’s use of the term pistis in this passage as referring to Christ’s faith being that wih which we must be identified for justification, a faithfulness that was consistent enough even to submit to being cursed by hanging on a tree, then we see that it is Christ’s work of supererogation that justified Abraham and therefore us as well. Galatians 2:16 contrasts those who seek to be justified by works of the Law and those who seek to be justified dia pisteos Iesou Christou. Instead of the common translation of being “justified through faith in Jesus Christ,” read “justified through Jesus Christ’s merit,” or “Jesus Christ’s work of supererogation” (which means, after all, “a work above or beyond”). This merit can be seen by his death, being publicly placarded as Paul reminds the Galatians in 3:1. Jesus’ obedience unto death providing for redemption is also strongly demonstrated in Romans 5:19: “For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man many will be made righteous.”

The case is, then, rather strong for the belief that the faith that we stand upon is not our own, but that of Jesus, upon whose merit alone we may hope to be justified.

_________________________

I just came across this bibliography devoted to this topic. I used a few of those sources for my paper, although inexplicably the copy of the paper that I have doesn’t show them.

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  • Well, your version of the objective versus the subjective genitive sounds plausible If we are talking about the active obedience of Christ as our ONLY basis for being justified before God. It is a righteousness that is imputed to us by the instrument of OUR faith, which is itself a gift of God. The problem with your view is that it has been used by the New Perspectives on Paul and the Federal Visionists to say that we must follow Christ's example to be justified. So if you say we are justified by the “faithfulness of Christ” another possible interpretation is that the subjective genitive implies that we are saved by appropriating the same faithfulness that Jesus exemplified for us. So the “faithfulness OF Christ” is a faithfulness we possess and act upon and it is a faithfulness DERIVED from Christ by following Him. In other words, your view is open to the charge of works righteousness if we take the version of it used by the neonomians, theonomists, Federal Visionists, New Perspectives on Paul. N. T. Wright, etc., et. al. No, it is much more Reformed and biblical to say that we are justified by the instrument of faith, a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that the object of our faith is Jesus Christ, whose merits, active and passive obedience, and his substitutionary atonement are all objectives facts appropriated to us by faith, which is a gift of God, now a work we do.

    Charlie

    • Thanks Charlie. I also think of Jesus saying that those who believe/come to Him will have eternal life WITH the understanding that no one can come to faith unless 1. the father draws him (Jn 6) and 2. Christ raises him from the dead (Eph 2).

      Way to go!

  • Charlie,

    Even you seem to admit that your interpretation is driven by an existing interpretation — that of the Reformed tradition you approve of. If you wish to start with a presupposition of how the text should read and steamroll other considerations (such as the meaning of pistis and the other passages I point out), I suppose you are welcome to do so. I can't allow myself to do so with a straight face.

    The problem with your view is that it has been used by [ABC to promote XYZ]…

    This is absolutely fallacious reasoning and illustrates the limitations of your hermeneutic: after the Reformation, we are simply not allowed to reinterpret anything, based though it may be upon an honest reflection of the text rather than a single-minded resolve to cram a predetermined interpretation (which no one admits is an interpretation rather than The Very Truth of God®, or “objective facts”) into each and every Scripture.

    How is there a problem with the idea that “we must follow Christ's example to be justified” if, as the Reformed affirm, our faithfulness is only made possible through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit? Indeed, if we deny the possibility that the faithfulness of Christ is something the Holy Spirit empowers us to fulfill, then even your view is “open to the charge of works righteousness”, since we must believe, repent, etc.

  • Billy-Theresa Morgan

    I completely agree with your assessment regarding the subjective genitive. I have also done some research and nearly all genitives regarding pistis should be translated as a subjective genitive, especially in the Pauline epistles.

    NET Ephesians 3:12- in whom we have boldness and confident access to God because of Christ’s faithfulness. (Eph 3:12 NET)

    Here we have “dia tes pisteos autou.” We obviously have a personal pronoun possessive genitive…”autou.” Nearly every time the word “autou” should be translated “his.” It is Christ’s faithfulness. This would also be supported by the context of Eph. 2:12-13: remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

    It is the blood of Christ or His faithfulness that we now have boldness and confident access since we were brought near by the blood of Christ. The context supports a subjective genitive.

    Some say that Jesus Christ cannot have “faith” since He was in heaven. If we translate it “faithfulness of Christ” it goes along with other Scriptures especially in Romans where we see the “faithfulness of God.” Jesus Christ is also God so He also has faithfulness as we see in Rom. 3:3: What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?

    The Greek is the same in that verse: “ten pistin tou Theou.”

    Thank you again.

  • The 27th Comrade

    This seems like privileging theology over Jesus Christ. Every working « pistis » has to be linked somehow to « Iesos Christos. » In Koine Greek, that « -ou » ending implies more than just “of”. It is a more-general association. “The faith of Christ” being a faithful rendering of “pisteos christou” also implies “the Christian faith” and even “Christianity” by implication. In Koine Greek (unlike English), to say “by the American song” (Billy Bayou, say) and “by the song of America” (Star-Spangled Banner) is all « δια το ψαλμος αμερικου » or the like. Even in English, Christianity (“the faith in Jesus Christ”) is also necessarily the « πιστισ Ιεσου Χριστου », rather than, say, “the faith of Muhammad.”

    “The case is, then, rather strong for the belief that the faith that we stand upon is not our own, but that of Jesus, upon whose merit alone we may hope to be justified.”

    Do you make this case by faith? And this faith on which you stand, how do you stand on it? Do you put your faith in faith? If ultimately it is faith in Jesus Christ, it is the “pisteos christou” in the Koine Greek context. How would you say “Christian fideism” in Koine Greek, and how would it be distinguished from “believing upon Christ”? —Are they even different from the faith Christ had (if Aquinas is wrong, and there is only one faith before God)?

    More-important to note is that when Paul wrote, he never wrote a programming language. He wrote an already-known message—Christianity, the “faith of Christ”—in a rough street language. After a generation of teaching people pseudo-mathematical grammars and then telling them that they were authoritative (in spite of, say, their creeds), you end up exactly where we are now.

    This New Perspective thing is a bad mixture of beaming back our science-envy and faux-rigour back onto Paul’s times. I think Prof. Iain McGilchrist’s work has demonstrated that such questions would not have arisen over one word back then.

    Some people think the Greek in the Bible is in any way precise, because they haven’t read it in Greek out of its immediate context (where it can very precise), and because they haven’t tried to map it to computer structures (by comparison to which it is extremely irregular).

    At this point, we are quibbling over the meaning of Paul’s message (if we are quibbling at all), not over the meaning of his wording. His language doesn’t, and needn’t, sustain such study.

    • You seem to be saying that we shouldn’t treat language as code or mathematics. I completely and fully agree — this was the reason I went into linguistics after 3 years of Koine (“biblical”) Greek and hearing things I was convinced were constructs meant to shore up airtight interpretations based on the Bible being the Very Mind of God on paper. One of my enduring pipe dreams is to be allowed to teach Greek in an evangelical church and take as its theme, “How Very Little Can Be Learned by Consulting the Greek Original”.

      But that isn’t this. This is a legitimate question. I’m sure you wouldn’t say that Paul’s language doesn’t, and needn’t, require translation. Of course it does. But translation doesn’t end at a word-by-word calque. And especially with biblical texts, you have to be willing to reparse older translations to weed out assumptions that weren’t accounted for. The simple fact is that Gk. pistis is planted on two rather distinct, though somewhat overlapping, semantic fields. The distinction between the “subjective/objective” genitive discussed above can be much more simply described as a distinction in those two meanings of pistis: faith vs. faithfulness. They both refer to devotion of some kind, but the argument is that assuming that it means the former (with its predominant overtones of cognitive assent) in these passages is the result of eisegesis.

      I’m not sure you have a clear idea what the NPP is. It’s precisely the critique that Luther (et al.) beamed his interpretations back into Paul, without being aware of the actual beliefs of Judaism. It’s certainly not about playing “scientific” with the grammar of the text.

      • The 27th Comrade

        “I’m sure you wouldn’t say that Paul’s language doesn’t, and needn’t, require translation. Of course it does.”

        Of course it does. It is the approach that I quibble about. Paul has been interpreted since the 50s AD, and only now do we see the subjective genitive being an issue.

        Paul uses “-ou” with enough fluidity that in fact the common New Perspective verses would be very obvious cases of such shades. But the debate as it is now is incapable of dealing with such linguistic quirks. The research is evidently not about the semantic range in Paul, but rather which of the eight different senses of “-ou” Paul meant.

        “They both refer to devotion of some kind, but the argument is that assuming that it means the former (with its predominant overtones of cognitive assent) in these passages is the result of eisegesis.”

        Yes, but it doesn’t mean the former. “How do we know?” Because the New Perspective is … new. If you found some justification for reading “pistis” as “ascription to,” rather than “faith in,” you may be correct in the grammar, and wrong in the message.

        For those who come into study of the original Greek via the grammar (rather than, say, reading and understanding) this opens up exciting possibilities.

        “I’m not sure you have a clear idea what the NPP is. It’s precisely the critique that Luther (et al.) beamed his interpretations back into Paul, without being aware of the actual beliefs of Judaism.”

        I am not saying NPP is beaming its soteriology back to Paul (which is the charge the NPP crowd have for Protestants, falsely). Rather, I am saying that the NPP is beaming back linguistic unrealism back to Paul. Paul never learnt Greek by reading a grammar, and may not be critiqued by those for whom “knowing Greek” is essentially a matter of mapping sentences to a rigid grammar. This is really the problem for the NPP. (In terms of soteriology, they never quite explain whether they agree or not with Paul. Merely quibbling with a word.)

        • I am at a loss as to why you seem to think there is any driving linguistic motivation behind the NPP. If anything, it is linguistic justification that NPP folks seek in order to combat the hyper-grammatical, Bible-as-divinely-codified-lawbook gymnastics of the Reformed folks they are always set at odds with.

          I’m also a bit puzzled why you think that it is the NPP (unfortunate moniker notwithstanding) that is actually new and not, rather, the reading of Luther. Why is it exactly that you think Luther’s great lightbulb went off in the direction of “faith” as the sine qua non for salvation, vis-a-vis the prior emphasis in the Church on the importance of broader faithfulness, an emphasis that abides today outside of Protestantism? The emphasis on the importance of Christ’s faithfulness to God in our soteriology is hardly a novel reading. RCs and EOs yawned at a lot of the Protestant debate over the NPP because they don’t recognize such a sharp distinction between faith and faithfulness, yet opponents of the NPP typically get hot under the collar because their assumption is that our faith (= as intellectual assent to certain propositions) justifies us and that our efforts damn us, despite the clear evidence that there is much common ground not only in the OT, the Gospels, James, etc. that removes this sharp distinction.

          • The 27th Comrade

            “I am at a loss as to why you seem to think there is any driving linguistic motivation behind the NPP.”

            Not so much a driving linguistic motivation as instead a driving linguistic mistake. There are many, many languages (one of them being my mother-tongue) where such distinctions between the subjective and objective genitive *in English* cannot actually be expressed. Now, all the NPP scholarship suffers from this understandable blind-spot, and it is the driving factor.

            (There is no ulterior motive, I think, save for people like the author of “The Catholic Perspective on Paul” and the like. But two things need to be noted. The use of the NPP by modern counter-Protestants is a sign that, first, the possibility of this argument is new, and it is absent in the counter-Reformation. Secondly, the idea of pistis christou” is not original to Paul, even when the wording is idiosyncratic, since everybody between Genesis 1 and Revelation 22 affirms “the same Gospel”; when it is interpreted as the NPP does, then it is original with Paul—and heretical. But Paul never affirmed the NPP-style view, so he is orthodox; the NPP is not.)

            “If anything, it is linguistic justification that NPP folks seek in order to combat the hyper-grammatical, Bible-as-divinely-codified-lawbook gymnastics of the Reformed folks they are always set at odds with.”

            You mentioned Luther, earlier. Luther wrote extensively about both the message in Paul (“sola fide”) and the insufficiency of the wording of Paul (ironically, in an argument over the “sola” in “sola fide”). He was aware that glosses were necessary, and quite aware of the serious dissonance between the range of, say, genitives in Germanic languages versus in the Koine Greek that was idiosyncratic to a Septuagint-freak like Paul.

            See, I detect in the NPP a need to invalidate specific Pauline points, not least because of the selective application of this word-fanaticism. Consider Romans 4. One chapter, but it has verse 3 (« επιστευσεν δε αβρααμ τω θεω », literally “So Abraham believed God”) and verse 12 (« πιστεως του πατρος ημων αβρααμ », literally “The faith *of* our father Abraham”). Why do no NPP people find an injunction to believe in the faithful, pre-circumcision Abraham? After all, it is a parallel situation to Jesus, in the Greek. Besides, how would write “Abrahamic Faith”, either as “faith in Abraham” or “faith typical of Abraham” in Koine Greek? (Well, I would say πιστεως αβρααμου.)

            “… Bible-as-divinely-codified-lawbook gymnastics of the Reformed …”

            :o)

            I am very traditional Reformed, and I also believe in the Bible as being divinely-codified in every detail. This same scripturology also willingly embraces things like variations, versions, ambiguities, and the like. But is strictly Reformed Christian, just as the manuscript tradition—with all its gospel harmonies, glosses, summaries …—was entirely Christian, even though there was never any such thing as manuscript uniformity. The concerns of the NPP are the result of modern thinking about the Scriptures, and applying undue rigour and expectations of consistency. This doesn’t change that the Scriptures are still the divinely-codified message, in every detail.

            What it does change, however, is the comfort level that modern left-brain faux-rigourous pseudo-mathematical grammar-obsessed scholars expect that God would write in the Agda language, since His book is necessarily divinely-codified. It is because the NPP expects that Paul thinks the same that they are reading the “code”. The NPP crowd cannot critique the overly-left-brain Reformed without using their presumptions, as you note. Both camps are wrong in mindset. (This “left-brain” thing is Prof. Iain McGilchrist’s terminology.)

            “I’m also a bit puzzled why you think that it is the NPP (unfortunate moniker notwithstanding) that is actually new and not, rather, the reading of Luther.”

            Because Jesus agrees with Luther, and the NPP does not. Jesus predates both Luther and the NPP, but (most-importantly) He is also authoritative.

            Have you noticed that nobody ever debates the Johannine idiosyncracies around this same “saving faith” idea? Why do they not see “ek pisteos” (Paulo-Johanine) and “pistis en autou” (commonly Johannine) as impinging somehow on the understanding of “pisteos christou” (Pauline), since they are speaking of the same faith?

            Can we tease out a semantic difference between “believe in [him]”, “confess [him]”, and “faith in [him]”?

            How would you indicate, in Koine Greek, the difference between “Douglassian faith” (as in ‘Mohammedan’), “the faith of Douglas [is]” (as in ‘Douglas believes [that]’), “the Douglas faith” (as in ‘the faith Douglas referred to’)? —And how would you render them if stenographers are rare, the writing primitive, parchment expensive, minuscules absent. Either way, « πιστισ … δαγαλασου ». A semantic difference would be the problem of those who do not know the range of English.

            “Why is it exactly that you think Luther’s great lightbulb went off in the direction of “faith” as the sine qua non for salvation …”

            For the same reason the lightbuld went on for Paul, for Nicodemus in John 3, and for the Samaritane at the Well, when the exclusive sufficiency of faith was made plain to them.

            There is a sad mistake outside of Protestantism of assuming that the Reformation began this exclusive centrality of faith is a Reformation idea. How was Abraham justified, before even he was given the circumcision and before Isaac? Abraham had this lightbulb, too, without the benefit of Paul.

            “… vis-a-vis the prior emphasis in the Church on the importance of broader faithfulness, an emphasis that abides today outside of Protestantism?”

            All religion emphasises broader faithfulness above (or equal to) faith, but Reformed Christianity privileges faith over everything. Does this suffice to prove the Prots wrong, to you, or to prove all religion wrong, save for the Prots?

            After all, what is it that makes Christianity different—since it neither dispenses laws nor excuses unfaith. This is different from religion, be it the religion Paul knew and wrote of (“Law”) or those who emphasise “broader faithfulness” beyond faith. —Or is this now faith of super-erogation?

            If Christians teach broader faithfulness, the things they are teaching are not from the Gospel. But Paul is discussing the Gospel—as are the Reformed. Note what Peter says in the so-called “Council of Jerusalem,” after the decision is reached of not addingany further religion to the faith. The sufficiency of faith is implied by the fact that the Gospel doesn’t pack a law with it. How to show faithfulness beyond believing the Gospel? This obedience of faith is the office we have in the New Testament.

            You refer to the non-Protestants. They tend to affirm the relevance of tradition, and “the Fathers.” Have you checked to see what they have to say (especially the Latins!), and seen that they—who discuss Paul in the Greek—have to say? (The official counter-Reformation response of the Eastern Orthodox, for instance, in spite of its beauty, depth, faith-centrism, and the easy access to Koine Greek that is even preserved in their liturgy, skips the entirety of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. It wasn’t germane to what they wanted to emphasise, which is the “broader faithfulness.”)

            Unfortunately, even the NPP has missed the point that the counter-Reformation also missed. It is typical for those who privilege religion (what Paul means when he says “Law”) over faith to suspect this emphasis on faith as a laxity about “broader faithfulness,” and to consider the “emphasis [on] broader faithfulness” as somehow enabling or encouraging faithfulness. This is clearly ridiculous, since Paul emphasises the very opposite: namely, that religion/Law is impotent (before Fallen Man), unless faith is first of all potent. (—And that after faith is potent, religion is necessarily potent.)

            What the NPP should have learnt, instead, is that faith in God is quite an interesting phenomenon, which is essentially “pistis” on end and God on the other. Consider 1 Peter 1:21.

            The emphasis on broader faithfulness is heretical in Christianity, because we are not under the Law. (For this reason, it is absent in Reformed Christianity, present in Roman Catholicism, and central to Judaism.) Broader faithfulness is not a problem for Christianity, since it will happen anyway. (The New Testament insists so. Those “fruits of the Spirit.”) What should be emphasised is simply the Christian faith. Angst about the absence of emphasis on “broader faithfulness” is typical of those who don’t believe the Gospel, which is about faith. It “has the appearance of piousness, but it denies the power” of faith.

            “The emphasis on the importance of Christ’s faithfulness to God in our soteriology is hardly a novel reading.”

            Of course. But it is not what is being referred to in the genitive verses you mention. Paul was never even teaching that Christ had been faithful; it was never his thrust. It was his assumption, not his message. His message was: “believe!” not “He believed!” If one isolates phrases, one cannot fail to make the NPP-grade blunders, especially if one came at Koine Greek via reading a cold, rigid grammar, and then convincing oneself that this is enough. In this case, you can see that the message of Paul is about faith in Christ, yet the single *word* is about the faith *of* (“belonding-to”, “associated-with”, “exercised-by”, “exercised-for”, “exercised-by”, “exercised-to”) Christ. The moderns were too proud to reunderstand their « -ου », and instead the decided to re-understand Paul.

            “RCs and EOs yawned at a lot of the Protestant debate over the NPP because they don’t recognize such a sharp distinction between faith and faithfulness …”

            Well, that is why I yawn, too. I find the NPP in particular to be shockingly childish, in light of a faith—Christianity—that is declared as “from faith to faith.” In Christianity, faith is sufficient faithfulness. You cannot “do” the Good News. It is a message, and you believe in it—thereby believing in Him who delivers it—or you reject it. Therefore believing, to quote John, is what God requires of us.

            Does the NPP show you what it means beyond this? What is this “faithfulness” in the NPP’s view?

            “… yet opponents of the NPP typically get hot under the collar because their assumption is that our intellectual assent to certain propositions justifies us and that our efforts damn us, despite the clear evidence that there is much common ground not only in the OT, the Gospels, James, etc. that removes this sharp distinction.”

            See, the reason I get hot under the collar is because I detect heresy. The OT has no salvation by faith (à la Reformed); so why isn’t it all you use? It has a lot of God being faithful, and a lot of injunctions of faithfulness on the part of the people. So why isn’t it sufficient to demonstrate your point? If the OT is not sufficient to bring about the Christian message, why not? After all, you admit (if you are orthodox Christian) that Abraham believed in the same God that the Christian believes in when he believes in Jesus Christ. So, why did it work for Abraham? (Or not work for Moses? Why the NT? So that we can have yet another 2000 years of more “emphasis on broader faithfulness” which doesn’t even result in more faithfulness?)

            Simple intellectual assent is sufficient for justification. This is the Abrahamic faith (which also happens to be the “pistis christou”). Humans have nothing they may present to God, save for faith, hope, and love. Love, being the summary of all the Law, was not attained to by humans. (It is the “broader faithfulness” to which you refer, and at which its advocates also fail even as they insist on it.) Faith, though, we attain to, because God works it in us.

            Contrary to popular modern opinions, simple intellectual assent is a very serious thing that actually affects space-time. In 1925, more work (in physics!) showed that “observation” is central to reality. Reality is just a probability (“superimposed”) until one observes it. This applies to every single thing in the physical universe; this is the main point of Quantum Mechanics. (See “The Mental Universe”, a short paper in Nature Journal by Prof. Richard Conn Henry.) Some people are oriented towards what they can touch and *do*, and then they believe; we, on the other hand, know for certain, and we believe.

            Also, I see that you do not understand James. The example he gives, of Abraham being justified by the work on Isaac, was after he had been pronounced earlier. He is aware that the man doing the work is already righteous, not being righteous because of (almost) sacrificing Isaac. But what James also serves to codify is that works will happen with the righteous. They are not optional. (Paul urges them of those who would be righteous-by-faith, James expects them of the already-righteous-by-faith. Different emphases, same point: the fruits of the Spirit accompany the work of the Spirit. The Reformed teach that faith is the work of the Spirit, as are the works.)

            So Christ’s faithfulness is salvific. Of course. Our faith is salvific. Of course. Our faithfulness would be salvific. But it is insufficient. Will we, Reformed, have “broader faithfulness”, in spite of teaching “deeper faith” instead? Yes; James guarantees it, Paul teaches in the same breath that he teaches “deeper faith”, and—of course—we saw it in Abraham who, though already righteous, did the Isaac thing anyway. “We love *because* He first loved us.” I hope the NPP respects the « οτι » in there, at least.