…faith was for Paul [the apostle] not a particular spiritual exercise of moving through self-trust to despair to confidence in the paradoxical goodness of the judgment of God; faith is at its core the affirmation which separated Jewish Christians from other Jews, that in Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah had come. A Jew did not become a Christian by coming to see God as a righteous judge and a gracious, forgiving protector. The Jew believed that already, being a Jew. What it took for him or her, to become a Christian was not some new idea about his or her sinfulness or God’s righteousness, but one about Jesus. The subjective meanings of faith for the self-aware person, and its doctrinal meanings for the believing intellect, build upon this prior messianist affirmation.  They cannot precede or replace it.

– John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (p. 215-6, emphasis mine)

I read this to mean that, in Yoder’s view (of Paul), the primary element of faith, or perhaps the beginning of faith, is not a recognition of God’s holiness or my own sinfulness (as we tend to focus on), but first and foremost a recognition and confession that Jesus is Lord.  Everything else naturally follows.

4 thoughts on “Faith

  1. Marc

    Did I mean to say, “is NOT a recognition of God’s holiness…”? Yes, I did mean to say that. Thanks for pointing that out, Toni–that little word makes a world of difference, doesn’t it?

  2. Linea

    Did faith mean the same then to a Gentile as to Jew? And what then are the implications for people being introduced to faith in God and in Jesus today?

  3. Marc

    I would suggest that, first of all, the so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” may not be the best approach.

    The Gospel should be, I suppose, first and foremost about the Lordship of Jesus, rather than about “what Jesus did for you”–and faith is proclaiming Jesus as Lord in word and deed.

    (Quick, fuzzy, early morning thoughts–I thought your question needed a response…not sure if it’s any good, though)

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