Thursday, November 17, 2011

pisteuō and pistis

According to Strong, "pisteuō" (the verb "believe") means "to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in," and is "used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled..." It is an "acknowledgment of some fact or event," an "intellectual faith." 

Thus, according to Strong, the word "believe" necessarily involves cognition or knowledge.  It involves "thinking" and being "persuaded" and "convicted," the "intellect," and "acknowledgment."  Thus, the Hardshell notion of a "believing" that excludes the thinking of the mind, or knowledge, is foreign to the idea behind the meaning of the word. 

Let us notice some passages that clearly demonstrate that this is how the word is defined in scripture. 

"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"  (Rom. 10: 14)

By the word "heard" Paul includes the idea of knowledge.  The Greek word, according to Strong, means "to attend to, consider what is or has been said," and "to understand, perceive the sense of what is said," to "learn," "comprehend," and to "understand."  Thus, "how shall they believe in him of whom they have no knowledge." 

Clearly Paul defines "faith" (noun) and "believe" (verb) as being cognitive and the result of knowledge and understanding.  Hardshells will acknowledge that this is so, but they attempt to circumvent the definition of "faith" and "believe," as given by the inspired apostle, by affirming that what Paul says is not true in all instances, affirming that there is such a "faith" and "believing" that is not a result of "hearing" or of being informed or taught.  They would read Paul this way - "this kind of faith (believing) comes by hearing and understanding."   But, Paul does not say "this kind of faith," and it is a subverting of his teaching on "faith" to so restructure his words.

Paul also wrote:

"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Gal. 3: 8)

Like the passage in Romans 10: 14, this passage connects "faith" with hearing the gospel preached.  Again, Paul does not say "this kind of faith," but says simply "faith," stating what is universally true with regard to "faith."  He also wrote:

"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Gal. 3: 24)

Notice how "schooling" is necessary for coming to "faith."  And, again, he does not say that this is true of only one kind of faith, but of "faith" in every instance.  Where there is no schooling, no instruction, then there is no faith.  Paul also wrote:

"Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness." (Titus 1: 1)

Notice from this passage how "faith" is associated with "acknowledging" the truth.  Again, Paul does not say that this is only true in a limited sense, of only a certain kind of "faith," but is what is true of faith universally.  Now notice these words:

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen...But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Heb. 11: 1, 6)

Notice how the inspired writer defines "faith."  He says that faith "is the substance of things hoped for."  Faith involves expectation, and expectation involves knowledge and understanding.  He further defines faith as "believing" certain propositions of truth, that God "is," and that God "is a rewarder," which demonstrates that faith requires knowledge and is not, as the Hardshells affirm, "non-cognitive."  It is impossible to divorce understanding from the very meaning of pisteuō and pistis.

Wrote Paul:

"I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded..." (II Tim. 1: 12)

Notice how Paul connects believing with being persuaded.  But how can one be persuaded without his mind and understanding?  How can one be persuaded without cognition and without consciousness?  To be persuaded means to be convinced and to be convinced cannot be divorced from knowledge and understanding. 

Jesus said:

"For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me." (John 17: 8)

Notice what is connected with the word "believed."  Those who believe do so as a result of "receiving" or accepting the "words" of Jesus, the result of having "known" facts of truth.  Again, this definition of what it means to "believe" uproots the Hardshell notion of a non-cognitive "believing." 

The apostle John said:

"And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us." (I John 4: 16)

Notice that John puts knowledge before believing, saying "known and believed."  This too uproots the Hardshell notion that divorces faith from knowledge. 

Let the Hardshells come forward and prove from scripture that these definitions are not universal and that there is a kind of faith and believing that is different from the above definitions.

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