The Holy Spirit does not work a blind, ungrounded faith

One of the many books I’m very (very!) slowing plugging away at is The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary by Fred Zaspel. Warfield, as Zaspel points out in his introduction, is someone much admired by scholars for his commanding authority and yet few lay persons seem to have read more than snippets (I’m certainly as guilty of this as anyone!).


One of the reasons I’ve loved what I’ve read of Warfield is the depth of his thinking—his understanding of a given theological subject is by no means superficial. There’s a weightiness that’s too often missing from those of us who write today.

Consider these words on the kind of faith God brings forth in the hearts of those he is redeeming:

It certainly is not in the power of all the demonstrations in the world to make a Christian. Paul may plant and Apollos water; it is God alone who gives the increase. But it does not seem to follow that Paul would as well, therefore, not plant, and Apollos as well not water. Faith is the gift of God; but it does not in the least follow that the faith that God gives is an irrational faith, that is, a faith without grounds in right reason. It is beyond all question only the prepared heart that can fitly respond to the “reasons”; but how can even a prepared heart respond, when there are no “reasons” to draw out its action? . . . The Holy Spirit does not work a blind, an ungrounded faith in the heart. What is supplied by his creative energy in working faith is not a ready-made faith, rooted in nothing and clinging without reason to its object; nor yet new grounds of belief in the object presented; but just a new ability of the heart to respond to the grounds of faith, sufficient in themselves, already present to the understanding. We believe in Christ because it is rational to believe in him, not though it be irrational. Accordingly, our Reformed fathers always posited in the production of faith the presence of the “argumentum propter quod credo,” as well as the “principium seu causa efficiens a quo ad credendum adducor.” That is to say, for the birth of faith in the soul, it is just as essential that grounds of faith should be present to the mind as that the Giver of faith should act creatively upon the heart.

B.B. Warfield, as quoted in The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway 2010)

Warfield understands well that the Christian faith is not a light and airy thing—it is a weighty thing indeed. Our faith doesn’t abandon the intellect, but embraces, encourages—even demands!—that we use our minds well to the glory of God. How better off would we be if we truly grasped that truth. What would be different?

Zaspel’s two works on Warfield, The Theology of B. B. Warfield ($3.99 ePub and Kindle) and Warfield on the Christian Life ($2.99 ePub and Kindle) are currently on sale in various eBook formats at Amazon and Crossway. These are books you don’t want to pass up, so order them now before this special pricing ends.

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  • Blake Fewell

    FYI – The Kindle version is also $3.99.

    • Aaron Armstrong

      Thank you sir! I was showing up $1.89 for me here Canada-land, so maybe we get a better deal for a change :)