Home > books, theology > True Spirituality : “Plus Nothing”

True Spirituality : “Plus Nothing”

I started reading Francis Schaeffer’s True Spirituality and I really enjoy it. Here is a quote.

The first point which we must make is that it is impossible even to begin living the Christian life, or to know anything of true spirituality, before one is a Christian. And the only way to become a Christian is neither by trying to live some sort of a Christian life nor by hoping for some sort of religious experience, but rather by accepting Christ as Savior. No matter how complicated, educated, or sophisticated we may be, or how simple we may be, we must all come the same way, insofar as becoming a Christian is concerned. As the kings of the earth and the mighty of the earth are born in exactly the same way physically as the simplest man, so the most intellectual person must become a Christian in exactly the same way as the simplest person. This is true for all men, everywhere, through all space and time. There are no exceptions. Jesus said a totally exclusive word: “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

The reason for this is that all men are separated from God because of their true moral guilt. God exists, God has a character, God is a holy God, and when men sin (and we all must acknowledge we have sinned not only by mistake but by intention) they have true moral guilt before the God who exists. That guilt is not just the modern concept of guilt-feelings, a psychological guilty feeling in man. It is a true moral guilt before the infinite-personal, holy God. Only the finished, substitutionary work of Christ upon the cross as the Lamb of God – in history, space, and time – is enough to remove this. Our true guilt, that brazen heaven which stands between us and God, can be removed only upon the basis of the finished work of Christ plus nothing on our part. The Bible’s whole emphasis is that there must be no humanistic note added at any point in accepting the gospel. It is the infinite value of the finished work of Christ, the second person of the Trinity, upon the cross, plus nothing, that is the sole basis for the removal of our guilt. When we thus come, believing God, the Bible says we are declared justified by God; the guilt is gone, and we are returned to fellowship with God – the very thing for which we were created in the first place.

It is worth noting what Schaeffer said in the Preface. After explaining a spiritual crisis he faced long after becoming a Christian, he says:

As I rethought my reasons for being a Christian I saw again that there were totally sufficient reasons to know that the infinite-personal God does exist and that Christianity is true. In going further, I saw something else which made a profound difference in my life. I searched through what the Bible said concerning reality as a Christian. Gradually I saw that the problem was that with all the teaching I had received after I was a Christian, I had heard little about what the Bible says about the meaning of the finished work of Christ for our present lives. Gradually the sun came out and the song came.

What we learn or do not learn will have a direct effect on our lives.

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Categories: books, theology
  1. June 10, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Your understanding of Christianity is fine – but it’s your understanding of Christianity. Not all Christians share it.

    If there were “totally sufficient reasons” to believe in God, Jesus as the Christ, and your interpretation of Christianity, then the only non Christians would be those incapable of following logic.

    If there were totally sufficient reasons, it would be the Christian knowledge and not the Christian faith.

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  2. June 10, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Thanks for stopping by and giving your thoughts Paul. I think its necessary to point out that I am quoting Francis Schaeffer here, so your comments are directed at him more specifically than me (though I agree with him).

    Not all Christians share it.

    It depends on what you are referring to. I do not know, so please clarify. If you are referring to the finished work of Christ that saves us, then you are incorrect to say not all Christians share it. If someone calls themself a Christian, but denies they are justified by Christ’s work alone, they are not a Christian (see Galatians).

    the only non Christians would be those incapable of following logic.

    Schaeffer is not denying the necessary work of regeneration by the Holy Spirit in order to accept Christ. He is not arguing for a proof for the existence of God because he recognizes that everyone already knows God exists, but they hinder or suppress that truth (Romans 1).

    If there were totally sufficient reasons, it would be the Christian knowledge and not the Christian faith.

    The Christian faith refers to a set of beliefs, to knowledge.

    There are several passages that refer not to the subjective act of believing (having faith), but to “the faith” meaning the beliefs of Christianity.

    1 Corinthians 16:13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

    1 Corinthians 15:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith…

    Galatians 1:23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”

    Colossians 2:7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

    1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons

    1 Timothy 4:6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

    Philippians 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel

    Ephesians 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ

    The list goes on and on. “The faith” is a certain set of beliefs about reality. It is rightly called knowledge.

    Paul specifically says that someone who has “faith” that is not knowledge, is not saved.

    Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

    He also explicitly states that regeneration involves the giving of knowledge.

    2 Corinthians 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

    Again, knowledge is shown to be linked to salvation

    1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    Again, there are numerous more passages.

    Can you show me anything from the Bible that teaches that faith is opposed to or is anything other than knowledge, belief in truth?

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  3. August 20, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Christianity should be a combination of knowing, believing and doing. Logic is a human concept, of the mind, whilst knowing, believing and doing are more spiritual in nature.

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  4. August 26, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Christianity is what the Bible says it is. What do you define as spiritual? How is logic not spiritual? Do you have any Biblical support for the claim that logic is a created, human concept?

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