Monday, October 23, 2006

Experential Faith

In discussing Calvin's concept of assurance of faith, Joel Beeke highlights an issue which I both gleaned from Jonathan Edwards and understand the FRC seeks to promote: Experential faith, based on the Word, is both a necessary and valid aspect of the Christian life.

Thus, bare experience (nuda experentia) is not Calvin's goal, but experience grounded in the Word, flowing out of the fulfillment of the Word. Experimental knowledge of the Word is essential. For Calvin, two kinds of knowledge are needed: knowledge by faith (scientia fidei) that is received from the Word, "though it is not yet fully revealed," and the knowledge of experience (scientia experentiae) "springing from the fulfilling of the Word." The Word of God is primary to both, for experience teaches us to know God as He declares Himself to be in His Word. Experience not consonant with Scripture is never experience of true faith. In short, though the believer's experience of true faith is far weaker than he desires [for assurance purposes], there is an essential unity in the Word between faith's perception (the ought-to dimension of faith) and experience (the is dimension of faith).
- Puritan Reformed Spirituality, p.40.

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