I’ve recently had some good discussions through email with my friend, John Schumacher, on the origins of Rabbinical Judaism. He has done a lot of research on this topic and has some great insight, so I asked his permission to include some of his thoughts on our blog.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was the 1960s, a time which ushered in what sociologists would identify as “The Consciousness Revolution.” America was due for an awakening. Just as 80 years prior had been the “Third Great Awakening,” which followed the “Second Great Awakening,” decades prior and the first “Great Awakening” of the 1720s-30s which eventually formed the basis of the American Revolution. Every generation of Americans goes through some kind of an awakening. Perhaps this trend began with the “Puritan Awakening,” which itself came from the previous generation’s “Protestant Reformation” in Europe.
For centuries before and after the American Revolution, these awakenings seemed to revolve around the Christian worldview. When I look at the Reformers, Puritans, and missionaries who came out of the previous awakenings, I recognize that, on many issues, we aren’t on the same page, but at least we are all generally reading from the same book. This is not true of the Consciousness Revolution of the 1960s. For some reason, America was breaking its long held tradition of Biblicism and we are paying that price today.
One way we can consider a doctrine is by comparing it with other doctrines that answer similar questions. In the above picture, I have drawn a pendulum with five views of salvation. In the middle is a view, which in the 80s-90s, was called, “Free Grace.” This is the view that I adhere to and it teaches that salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone. The further the pendulum swings to the left, the more the doctrines teach that faith is insufficient, that is, the more works are required on our part. The further the pendulum swings to the right, the more the doctrines teach that faith is unnecessary, that is, the more we are saved apart from faith in Christ.
When I was a kid, my father took me to see a Mark Twain impersonator. He recited various excerpts from Mark Twain’s writings and it was a real good time. I still remember it to this day. There was one particular story he told from A Tramp Abroad that has stuck with me as the way he delivered it was just perfect. Anyhoo, I am reproducing it here, mainly for your entertainment, but also because I’m trying to test a new feature on the site.
When my grandfather served as a mortarman in the 96th Infantry Division in WWII, he carried this poem with him:
“’If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with baloney.”
-W.C. Fields (paraphrased)
Theologians say that the Biblical word for faith has three essential aspects, expressed by the Latin words, notitia, assensus, and fiducia, which in English means “notion,” “assent,” and “fidelity.” Biblical saving faith is Latin fiducia, so when the Bible says, “faith alone,” it really means, “faith plus a lifelong commitment of works.”