Kinds of Faith

Dear Reader,

We are beginning Book B of James Beeke’s Theology for Younger Children (see my earlier review here). So far I am liking this volume. The chapter we are in is talking about different kinds of faith. He distinguishes 4 kinds. The concepts are not new to me though the terminology he uses is. The four kinds are:

1. Historical–which I take from his explanation to be belief only. Someone with historical faith passes their theology test but it makes no difference in their life. Their belief is all intellectual.

2. Temporary–Which is what it sounds like. It is often emotional but when push comes to shove, they fall away.

3. Miraculous–this is the faith of the 9 lepers who were healed but did not come back to thank Jesus. It looks for signs and blessings but there is no real conversion of the heart.

4. True faith–in which the heart has been turned from sin and evil towards God.

Now I think we all hear plenty of warnings against the historical, belief only, kind of faith. Temporary faith may appear real to others, or even to the person experiencing it. The truth will out in the end. New believers are often quite emotional, perhaps rightly so. But I think we need to be careful to teach and disciple them so that their faith grows and takes root. This is one reason I like simple worship, actually. I think when there is a lot of loud music or other dramatic, emotion-inducing things going on in worship, you don’t know where your heart is. Is what you are feeling an emotional reaction to what is around you or really the work of God? When all the emotion of temporary faith is stripped away, there is nothing left.  

And then there is miraculous faith. This is something I worry about in the modern American church. Miraculous faith looks for signs and blessings. It again may seem real from the outside. But those with this kind of faith are in it for what they can get out of it. They need Jesus–but they need Him to meet their needs, to fulfill their idea of success. In the end, their hearts have not been changed and they are not willing to give up and sacrifice when called upon to do so. A lot of contemporary Christian thought seems to be going this way. It promises success or prosperity, but by our human definition, not by God’s definition. Miraculous faith seeks happiness. True faith seeks holiness.



One response to this post.

  1. […] in James Beeke’s Theology for Younger Kids B in our homeschool (see my previous posts here and here).  This is miraculous faith. It is faith that looks for what God can do for us but […]


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