Oct 5, 2008

Gowens on Faith

Hardshell Elder and pastor (Lexington Primitive Baptist Church), Michael L. Gowens, wrote:

"I do believe that all who are regenerated will and do have faith, but deny that the "faith" -- that is, the believing response to God -- is in all cases "cognitive" or "informed" faith -- for cognitive faith necessarily depends on hearing the rational proclamation of the gospel; rather, I do not hesitate to affirm that it is, in all cases, below the level of consciousness -- Lazarus-like, the sinner responds believingly to Christ in response to His Divine fiat in regeneration, being made willing in the day of His power, believing according to the working of His mighty power, and coming to Christ in "vital" relationship (Ps. 110:3; Eph. 2:8; Eph. 1:19; Jno. 6:37, 44). Cognitive faith is indeed present in some, but the gift of faith is present in all of God's children; hence, I concur that no one goes to heaven without faith, but deny that no one goes to heaven without rational knowledge of the truth."

Is this not a bunch of nonsense and wholly against scripture? Where is there any semblance of scriptural authority for saying that "faith" may be non cognitive and subconscious? Where, in the bible, is faith disconnected with knowledge? How can one believe in Christ without knowledge? Without the gospel? Without cognition? Without the mind and thoughts? Without information?

How can one be "made willing" without cognition? Without the mind? Unconsciously?

How can one "believe" without thought? Unconsciously?

Besides, notice how Gowens contradicts himself. How so? All Hardshells will argue, on the one hand, that "infants" and "idiots" are "not capable of having faith," and then say, on the other hand, that all the regenerated have faith! What is his avenue of attempted escape from his dilemma?

He so waters down the words "faith" and "believe" and "willing" so as to make them mean absolutely nothing concrete or specific, or anything akin to what the words actually and obviously mean, and puts in their place metaphysical, nonsensible, abnormal, and meaningless "definitions" to those words. The bible can be made to mean anything if one can give such strange abnormal meanings to words!

Did you see any scripture cited by Gowens to prove his definitions?

He writes further:

"A teaching does indeed take place in the new birth, for God teaches the heart directly and immediately to know Him (Jno. 6:65). Cognitive faith, however, must necessarily come after this initial work of grace in the soul, for it depends on the instrumentality of the preached word."

If I were to debate Gowens, or one like him, I would "hold his feet to the fire" on the above statement! I would also show how all that Gowens says is simply "doubletalk." Does a man have to have faith to be saved? What is Gowen's position? Yes, in one sense, no in another!

Where is the scripture that distinguishes between cognitive and non cognitive faith? I know it speaks of genuine versus false faith, of living versus dead faith, but where does it speak of conscious versus unconscious faith? A faith that requires knowledge, and a faith that does not?

What is it that the regenerated soul is "taught" by God? How can a man be "taught" without his cognition? Without knowledge?

This is laughable! Makes me ashamed to have been associated with such ignorance.

He says further:

"Obviously, if such cognitive (or evangelical) faith is necessary to eternal salvation, then every infant who dies in infancy and every individual without average mental capacities would miss salvation. But my position -- i.e. the position that defines "saving faith" (if I must use the term) as that faith that is given to the soul in the work of regeneration -- is adequate to include every potential case in which a person is in need of salvation."

Notice the "doubletalk" of Gowens! The infant can't have faith, but then he must have faith, and can have faith, but only if we "water down" the meaning of "faith" so that it means some nondescript, mystical, and indefineable thing. Again, where is the scripture that says "faith" and "willing" can be "defined" in such a manner?

He writes further:

"By the same token, I do believe that the ultimate evidence that a person possesses salvation is an evangelical faith in the Lord Jesus Christ -- a faith that expresses itself in voluntary obedience to Christ. Where such faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is present, a person gives indisputable evidence of salvation."

Will Gowens give us some scripture that defines "faith" in a non evangelical, in a non cognitive, in a non conscious, way?

He writes further:

"Does Scripture, in fact, apply truth experientially? Yes, indeed. Consider, for instance, the publican in Luke 18— a passage in which the Lord Jesus, Himself, defined the doctrine of “justification by faith”. Did the publican go to the temple to pray in a state of spiritual death and return a regenerate man? No, he went a burdened sinner who needed assurance, and he went home “justified by faith”, that is, with peace in his conscience that God had propitiated and pardoned his sins by His free and amazing grace (Lk. 18:9-14). Indeed, the very purpose of the gospel is to deliver such burdened souls from the pain of a guilty conscience." ("Temporal Salvation A Bogus or Biblical Concept?")


Notice how Gowens, like all Hardshells, do not understand "justification by faith." In fact, I will show in a future series on "Hardshells and Justification," how they see justification only as what is experienced outside of time, in eternity, and thus make the experience of being justified by faith to be unconnected with eternal salvation.

No, the publican was not born again, saved, nor justified before he went into the temple to pray, to find forgiveness through God's propitiatory sacrifice. Gowens sees Jesus' statement - "he left justified" as having nothing to do with the publican's eternal salvation. Absurd.

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