Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Horton: Does salvation require explicit faith in Christ in all cases?

Does salvation require an explicit, conscious expression of faith in Christ?

Michael Horton addresses this question in the final chapter of The Christian Faith (p. 983).  Though affirming that explicit faith in Christ is typically stressed in Scripture as necessary for salvation, Horton adds, "At the same time, I do not believe that we can conclude that no one can be saved apart from explicit faith in Christ."  He provides three arguments for this position:

1.  God is sovereign:  "First, it is precisely because God is sovereign and free in his grace that he can have mercy on whomever he chooses."

2. There are elect infants.  Horton speaks here as a paedobaptist:  "Second, since the children of believers are comprehended with their parents in the covenant of grace, in the word of the Canons of Dort, 'godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom it pleases God to call out of this life in their infancy (Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39; 1 Cor. 7:14)."

3.  There are extraordinary cases.   Horton:  "Third, we are not told what God does in extraordinary cases:  e.g., those who are physically or mentally incapable of understanding God's Word."

He concludes:

"As in all theological questions, we must restrain our curiosity and refuse to speculate beyond God's own instruction.  Apart from God's self-disclosure in Scripture, we do not know what God has ordained from all eternity.  Whatever God might choose to do in any given case, he has promised to save all of those--and only those--who call on the name of his Son."

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