Abstract Faith

How many of you have heard a sermon that included an analogy intended to explain faith that went something like this:

Everyone exercises faith. That chair you are sitting in, you have faith in it. You wouldn’t have sat in it if you didn’t, right?

Simple enough to understand. But what would happen to this analogy in the hands of those who see hell and damnation in the likes of this article? Perhaps something like this:

Sure I have faith in the chair. But nobody has to actually sit in the chair to have such faith. You can’t demand we sit! We aren’t capable of sitting on our own… would you have us try to merit the chair by attempting to sit on it of our own power? Well, of course everyone who has faith will sit on the chair. You see, once you have true faith, a faith solely in the chair and entirely separate from actually sitting, then, as an entirely separate activity that comes later, you will sit out of thankfulness.

Now, I do not mean to disparage thankfulness, which should play a primary role in our sanctification. But it seems like the categorizations and deliniations being emphasized in such an approach are foreign to the Bible. We are saved by faith on account of God’s great grace. But such a great doctrine is not in any way opposed to a call to obedience. We sit in the chair. We may wrestle with fears and sin and often try to get off the chair, but we ultimately abide there because where else can we go for so great a salvation?

Well the metaphors are getting way too mixed up at this point, so I’ll leave off for now.


  1. Manlius
    May 1, 2002

    Wow, I really liked that, Jay. You hit the nail on the head! [And I’m glad you didn’t just see in your imagination the nail getting hit on the head. You carried it through! :)]. Have a great day, and may all your abstract principles be concretized.

  2. Jay
    May 1, 2002

    Thanks, Manlius. You know, I’ve never been a big fan of such analogies. And yet, in certain ways, that simple analogy contains a harmony of truth that is lacking in many erudite explanations. Another place to find such harmony is the book of James. ;-)