No Baptism, No Justification -- Thoughts on article?

Discussion in 'Anglican and Christian News' started by Classical Anglican, Nov 14, 2014.

  1. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    This is what we pedants like to call a "hand wave". It's not an argument -- it's a confession that no real argument is forthcoming.

    It's relativism. It's elevation of ritualism over sound doctrine. It is, in short, exactly the same error our Roman Catholic friends fell into so long ago, and what the Reformers worked so hard to pull us away from.

    We do indeed need to follow the "whole counsel of God" in our doctrine, but that means not erasing or ignoring the inconvenient or upsetting parts. The Bible is inerrant in its teaching, which means that it cannot contain paradoxes. Thus we must be able to explain, theologically, how Cornelius and the thief on the cross can be saved prior to baptism (or absent baptism entirely) without running afoul of Christ's command for us to be baptized into his Church. We need to establish how Paul's letter to the Romans (really, his whole epistolary corpus) reflects Christ's own teachings regarding sin and salvation. This stuff matters, because it factors into church teaching and practice. Yes, we must baptize because Christ commands it. But what if, for some reason, we cannot do it? Is the faithful aspirant (or innocent infant) doomed to perdition simply due to an accident of time or place? I say no, absolutely not; for Christ is our judge, and he is perfectly just. (See Luke 7:50, where he tells the fallen woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." No word of whether she is baptized; but we may safely assume even if not that she is saved because Christ himself said so.)

    Biblically speaking, we must say that baptism in and of itself is not salvific. It is a sign and seal of a covenant already struck in the aspirant's heart by confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Our justification, our being declared righteous before God by having Christ's righteousness imputed to us, lie in the (undeserved, unearned) grace given us by God through our faith in him. We are baptized not to be saved, but to enter into the Church symbolically washed and clean, where our sanctification -- our new life in Christ -- can proceed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    We must look primarily to Scripture to guide us, for it is there that the ultimate truth resides. Anglicans recognize this, which is why we affirm the principle in article VI in the 39 Articles of Religion.
     
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  2. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    This is cringeworthy, and disingenuous. If you’re still repeating this nonsense now, then you haven’t paid attention to a thing Stalwart or I have written in attempts to reply to your assertions. You have refused to even acknowledge what the Anglican liturgical tradition has said so very clearly on the subject, let alone see that tradition as giving some room for pause. And you write as though you’ve never read the Sermon on the Mount or the Olivet Discourse. Everything just goes back to a non-Anglican reading of Romans, and American revivalism. And you’re presenting that hodgepodge as ‘Anglican teaching’ when it’s not. Anglicans do not talk about “getting saved” or “being saved”; that’s evangelical revivalist in-crowd jargon whose underlying meaning has nothing to do with Anglican soteriology. I think it’s clear which one of us is doing the “hand waving”. :wallbash:
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    When Anglican tradition is at variance with the Bible and/or the teachings & practices of the very early church, we must choose which one to follow.

    Given the circumstance, I will choose the latter.

    This 'traditional' language that attributes to baptism the conveyance of saving grace is not consistent with sound Bible-based doctrine. It therefore must be in error. People who want to cling to Tradition may go to the Roman church where they will probably feel right at home. Anglicanism still has some loose threads to tidy up from their break with Romanism, it seems.
     
  4. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    thankfully that does not arise
     
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  5. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

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    Most readers, up until maybe 1930 or so, recognized the thief as an anomaly rather than a type. If you want to stake your soteriology on the Thief on the Cross, please go back to Baptist churches. In Anglican practice, the sacraments are real.
     
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  6. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Except we have many other examples, which I have illustrated throughout this thread.

    Consider the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50. Is she saved? Yes or no?

    How about the lame man healed by Jesus in Mark 2? Jesus forgave him his sins; is he saved? Yes or no?

    Was Cornelius (and his household) saved in Acts 10:44? We read that the "Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word". Is he saved? He and his family were baptized later; is it only then that they were saved?

    To ascribe this "anomaly" only to the thief on the cross ignores all the other Biblical examples of salvation prior to (or even in the absence of) ritual baptism. My argument is not that baptism is not necessary (it absolutely is); just that justification necessarily happens before baptism. Baptism is the sign and seal of said justification. Baptism without justification is empty since many who are baptized are not saved (e.g., Judas Iscariot).
     
  7. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I agree that justification occurs prior to baptism. And baptism may be regarded as "necessary" to be in perfect obedience to God's word and will. But, necessary for salvation? I will not go so far as to say that (to be clear, I am not averring that you mean it in that way yourself, but I quoted you so I could raise the point).

    Let's face it, no one is in perfect obedience. Every Christian falls short, and that is why we need God's mercy and grace.

    I have heard some people teach that it is necessary to salvation that we obey all the commandments; I have heard it said that it is necessary to salvation that we repent completely and have perfect contrition for all our sins; I also have heard it taught that it is necessary to salvation that we actually follow Jesus daily (moment by moment) as Lord and Master of our life. Who among us does all of these things perfectly? Or any of them? Who among us does not stumble daily, or many times per day, from perfection?

    Yes, we are called to repentance. We are called to perfect obedience. We are called to submission. We are called to be baptized. We are called to not neglect assembling together. We are called to partake of the Eucharist. We are called to be loving, kind, patient, gentle, and so on. But when we start to say "it is necessary" to do thus and such, have we not fallen into the error of the Galatians? Do we not plummet into a never-ending spiral of confusion in which we doubt our own salvation because we focus on our own unworthiness instead of God's all-sufficient grace? Because none of us do all of these so-called "necessary" things. Apart from God's grace, there is no spiritual health in us.

    Every Christian should be taught the importance of baptism and be encouraged to get baptized. But if they are not so taught, and if they do not understand its importance, will they be damned for it? Will a repentant believer with contrite heart be necessarily condemned if they have not been sprinkled? Such is the import of that word, "necessary." (Are we teaching that God will not forgive sins except through baptism? If so, let us dispense with the general absolution and line up at the font instead!)

    "For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision," and the same might be said of any ritual act. I am sure that God looks at the inner man for faith, not at the outer man for wetness. When we are called to heaven the score will be: "grace 1,000 - legalism 0".
     
  8. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    This is what happens when good people read Baptists and Revivalists, rather than sound Anglican theologians. The smooth deceptive arguments sound plausible, and people lose faith in the stable categories of theology.

    The fact of the matter is the Anglican doctrine of baptism is completely and entirely Scripture-based, far more than the new, johnny-come-lately, and foreign-to-all novelty of the Baptists. It is Christ our Lord who teaches that “unless one is born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot be saved.” It is St Peter who teaches that “Baptism now saves you.” This is Scripture, my friend.


    JI Packer and Jonathan Edwards aren’t Puritans, right? John Owen is scarcely a Puritan. What about any actual classical Puritans like William Ames, or Whitaker, or Burgess, or Rutherford. Richard Baxter wrote volumes against this kind of heresy. I know what I’m talking about. Even the Puritans weren’t (yet) as liberal as the revivalists a century later who began to corrupt doctrine. The closer you go to the Reformation itself, the more these horrible errors get erased by true giants of theology.


    Right. Another 20th century author.

    18-1900s revivalists and evangelicals is all you have in support of your doctrine.

    Find me any Reformer, any classical Anglican, any church father, anything in Scripture… anything anywhere prior to revivalism, that teaches this.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
  9. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Both Stott and Packer were ordained ministers in the Anglican church. Anglican bishops ordained both of them, and I take that as sufficient sanction on the theology they profess.

    You may not like my position, but it is not outside the Anglican tradition. Perhaps your problem is not with me, but with evangelical doctrine generally. I've said many times that I learned my Anglicanism from Packer, a fellow neo-Puritan. You and I agree on many things, Stalwart, but obviously not on this issue. I am strongly Reformed in theology (which should come as no surprise to anyone by now), and this includes my approach to soteriology and sacramentalism.

    I think it's best to just leave it at that. I've said my piece.
     
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  10. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Always, always examine the context to learn what was meant.
    John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    John 3:4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?”
    John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
    John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit
    .

    What is evident in Jesus' first words to Nicodemus in v.3? It is evident that Jesus is referring to being "born again," and the evident implication is that being born again is to be distinguished from natural birth.

    V.4: Nicodemus misunderstands. He thinks Jesus means a person can go through natural birth twice, but he knows this is impossible.

    V.5: Jesus draws the distinction between natural birth and spiritual birth: "unless one is born of water and the Spirit..."

    You see, many people interpret that phrase to indicate two factors included in spiritual birth. Obviously "born of the Spirit" pertains to spiritual birth, but Nicodemus would have known that all babies are delivered soon after "the water breaks" (the amniotic fluid, which is about 98% H2O); this is a defining feature of the natural birth. All humans are 'born of water' in natural birth. Remember, Nicodemus thought Jesus meant a person must somehow go back into the uterus and come out a second time. Jesus' response makes the most sense if we understand him to mean that there is first a natural birth (of water) the way Nicodemus is thinking, but subsequently there must be a spiritual birth (of and by the Holy Spirit). Notice that Jesus continues with His explanation, not by saying that one must be baptized and receive the Spirit, but by staying with the theme of 'natural birth versus spiritual birth': "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Jesus' explanation continues (as recorded through v. 21); even though He continues to explain that one is 'born again' spiritually by believing in Him (Jesus repeats "whoever believes" four times, so this obviously is the key!), Jesus never says to Nicodemus, "whoever believes and is baptized." Either Jesus' explanation of the new birth was deficient, or He never intended "born of water" to mean "get baptized."
     
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  11. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    You're trying to interpret this with the muscles of your own brain. "What Christianity means to me."

    I am not strong enough to be the best exegete for all of God's doctrines. This is why God has instituted teachers, those who study this all their lives, those who lived in eras less clouded than ours in mental fog and modernist assumptions.

    It is always much better to go to the best teachers from every era, and get the unanimous view on a teaching. That way my own mental fog is not blamed for my conclusions, and errors. I'm not saying you have mental fog, but I am saying that you're approaching this fundamentally as "What Christianity means to me", rather than "What Christianity means." You limit your conclusions only to the dimensions of your own brain, good and bad that is in it. And if your brain isn't big enough (mine isn't!), then you will miss key essential truths that would be available if you submitted to some external teaching.

    The issue with your approach is, there is no way to prove you wrong, because you won't let anyone external be the final arbiter. I'm not saying that you should make me your final arbiter. Let's make the great teachers of the Church be our common final arbiter.

    That way we cannot be accused of the sin of pride and presumption. We will practice the virtue of humility and submission. Let's submit, together, rather than make ourselves into the measure of all things, visible and invisible.
     
  12. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    All of this applies to Adults being baptised, always has since Peter's Pentecost speech, and always will until the return of Jesus Christ on earth.

    None of this [obviously] can apply to Infants.

    Infant baptism is administered on a different Biblical basis altogether. It does not depend for it's efficacy upon or require any understanding, faith, prayer or fasting of the infant being baptised. The infants of believers are welcomed into the Church of Jesus Christ in the same way and for the same reason that Jesus Christ welcomed them, when His Adult disciples tried to exclude them from Christ's presence, on the grounds that they were incapable of discipleship, not having yet reached adulthood and 'responsibility' for themselves, therefore judging them just a nuisance to those disciple's master.

    The Anglican church does not want to make Jesus Christ indignant, so we baptise our infants and are supposed to bring them up in the fear and nurture of The Lord. We trust, (if we are faithful to God's promises and careful to obey his commandments), that their salvation is already secure IN HIM and their spiritual development will be overseen by Him throughout the rest of their lives. Furthermore a careful reading and understanding of scripture both Old and New Testaments strongly confirms our faith in this matter.

    The children of believers are declared 'Holy' by scripture. That is a distinctive difference brought about by the fact that one or both of their believing parents have a binding Covenant with The Lord concerning, not only their OWN salvation, but also the salvation of their offspring. It is the guarantee of God's Word that is the basis for the baptism of infants of believers, not (at that stage in their lives), personal faith, prayer, fasting or baptism. Baptism is for them a formality and a precursor for education in the faith, personal discipleship of Jesus Christ and his teaching, faith in their Lord and Saviour and Confirmation, when they take full responsibily for their conduct, both physical and spiritual, toward God their Saviour, trusting entirely upon the merits of HIS Atonement and the guidance of The Holy Spirit.
    .
     
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  13. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I can buy that line of reasoning concerning infant baptism. I can understand how important it would be to the parents, because they want the best for their children (including eternal life, of course!).

    I feel a bit like the infant is being short-changed, though; baptism for an older person is a tremendously momentous milestone marking their entry into the church, but as the infant grows older he is told, "We took care of that for you," and he doesn't get to have the memory of this incredible event. Oh, sure, there's confirmation.... but it's not a sacrament, it's not the same. That young person misses out on the experience of being symbolically "buried with Christ" in baptism.

    Oh well. I suppose he could always go down the road to the local Baptist church, and they would accommodate with an immersion... :)

    ;) ;) :laugh:
     
  14. Clayton

    Clayton Active Member

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    That’s why it’s better to believe Confirmation is a sacrament!
     
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  15. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    The Biblical answer though to the observation that "the young person misses out on the experience of being symbolically "buried with Christ", is that one's baptism can always be renewed, but never repeated. It either works first time or it doesn't work at all. Another scriptural observation might be, WHICH baptism are we talking about that there is ONLY ONE OF. There are several mentioned in the scripture. I would say the only baptism that really matters is the Baptism of Jesus Christ, which is The Baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. Matt. 3:11, Luke 3:16. Jesus Christ did not baptise with water.
    .
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
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  16. JonahAF

    JonahAF Moderator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    Once again the members are reminded that we have a wealth of Anglican theological resources online, such as in particular John Jewel's treatise on the sacraments:
    https://www.anglican.net/works/john-jewel-a-treatise-of-the-sacraments-1583/

    Also if I understand this correctly it is likely against the Terms of Service to denigrate authoritative Anglican documents such as the Book of Common Prayer.
     
  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Jesus would be astounded to hear that faith "doesn't mean...conscious belief." If having faith is not largely dependent on conscious belief, why did Jesus so often exhort listeners to believe in Him?
    Joh_14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
    Joh_11:42 ...I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.
    Mar_1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
    Joh_6:29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
    Jesus didn't wait for the Father to plunk 'faith' down into their hearts and cause them to miraculously believe in Him. Jesus taught and exhorted them to change their minds, repent (turn around), and believe.

    Certainly, one's faith (what one believes) will affect one's words and deeds, but those words and deeds are not the belief. Words and deeds are signs of faith, outward signs of what beliefs a person truly has. Yet one's volition certainly plays a role, for we are daily faced with choices that challenge us as to whether we will act on what we believe or on what our temporal desires crave.

    Some people want to portray faith as if it were a bank deposit from God: either He made the deposit or he didn't, and if one has received the deposit then =BAM!= he has faith (whether he wants it or not?). God desires that none perish and that all might come to faith, so He gives every person the ability to have faith, the measure of faith needed to believe in Him if one will so choose. All humans believe something; all have faith in something or someone, even if they have faith in only themselves. People make choices (both rationally and consciously as well as somewhat illogically and subconsciously) about what they believe.

    The preaching of the Gospel is needful for that very reason. People need to hear the truth, and they are presented with a dilemma and a choice: 'do I believe what I have just heard or do I continue to believe other things?' That is why Peter told his listeners on Pentecost, "Repent and believe." That is why John wrote (1 John 4:13-16) that we "come to know and believe" because people have seen and testified that Jesus came in the flesh to die for us. That is why God inspired Paul to write, " if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved;" people who hear the Gospel are faced with a choice and must exercise volition as to whether they will confess Christ and believe the Gospel message or whether they will reject the truth of God.

    Medieval doctrine is exemplified in the attitude that if one goes through the sacramental rituals, attends the liturgies, and is a member in good standing of his parish, he is therefore a redeemed Christian. "Faith" is re-branded as "belonging to the visible church" and being faithful to that organization. I agree that Reformation teaching "was sharply discontinuous" with this errant doctrinal stance. Anglicanism is a part of that Reformation, of restoring the doctrinal teachings of the early church and disavowing many errors that had crept in over centuries.
     
  18. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I doubt that very much. You skipped the second part of my statement in your response:
    Therefore, none of the passages you cited conflict with what I actually wrote.

    Although it's been made clear by some on this Forum that Episcopalians for some reason cannot cite Bishop Burnet as a reliable witness to historic Anglican teaching (even though he indisputably is), but anyone else claiming to represent 'Anglican orthodoxy' can, I'll quote his commentary on Art. 11 anyway:

    The next term to be explained is faith; which in the New Testament stands generally for the complex of Christianity, in opposition to the law, which stands as generally for the complex of the whole Mosaical dispensation. So that the faith of Christ is equivalent to this, the gospel of Christ; because Christianity is a federal religion, founded on God's part, on the promises that he has made to us, and on the rules he has set us; and on our part, on our believing that revelation, our trusting to those promises, and our setting ourselves to follow those rules: the believing this revelation, and that great article of it, of Christ's being the Son of God, and the true Messias, that came to reveal his Father's will, and to offer himself up to be the sacrifice of this new covenant, is often represented as the great and only condition of the covenant on our part; but still this faith must receive the whole gospel, the precepts as well as the promises of it, and receive Christ as a Prophet to teach, and a King to rule, as well as a Priest to save us.

    By faith only, is not to be meant faith as it is separated from the other evangelical graces and virtues; but faith, as it is opposite to the rites of the Mosaical law; for that was the great question that gave occasion to St. Paul's writing so fully upon this head...St. James treats of the same matter, but with this great difference, that though he says expressly that 'a man is justified by his works, and not by faith only' (James 2:24); yet he does not say, by the works of the law; so that he does not at all contradict St. Paul; the works that he mentions not being the circumcision or ritual observances of Abraham, but his offering up his son Isaac, which St. Paul had reckoned a part of the faith of Abraham: this shews that he did not intend to contradict the doctrine delivered by St. Paul, but only to give a true notion of the faith that justifies; that it is not a bare believing, such as devils are capable of, but such a believing as exerted itself in good works. So that the faith mentioned by St. Paul is the complex of all Christianity; whereas that mentioned by St. James is a bare believing, without a life suitable to it. And as it is certainly true that we are taken into the favour of God, upon our receiving the whole gospel, without observing the Mosaical precepts; so it is as certainly true, that a bare professing or giving credit to the truth of the gospel, without our living suitably to it, does not give us a right to the favour of God.
    (emphases in the original)
    This explanation is somewhat different in emphasis from that put forward in, e.g., the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, but the overall contours are the same:
    • Faith in the Gospel is contrasted with the whole Mosaic 'dispensation' ("the Law")
    • Faith is equated with 'divine service'
    • Faith is not a mere mental or psychological state, but something that exists outwardly as much as inwardly
    The insistence on equating faith with a psychological state, or mere belief, does not come out of the Scriptures, or the Fathers, or the historic Creeds and Confessions, but out of revivalism, and the Second Great Awakening. Faith is then relegated to the domain of the private, in line with post-Enlightenment rationalism. It is, in short, a 'modernist error'.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2022
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  19. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I am really not sure I agree with you here. Christianity is not simply a state of mind. I might believe I can build a chair. I might go about the process of building the chair. I might believe I have done everything correctly. I might believe that it is capable of supporting my weight. Sitting on the chair and taking my feet off the ground is an exercise of faith. The faith Jesus talks about, the faith the early Church talked about, was the faith, not of intellectual assent, but rather of trust and the actions resulting from that trust.

    Are you prepared to live your life in the sure and certain hope of the redeeming love of God, or do your feel that you have to conform to every minute detail of the law set out and detailed by the Pharisees? The real debate in the early Church was about grace and law. The Council in Acts 15 is really addressing the question when they set aside the requirement for circumcision.
     
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  20. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think we are saying much the same thing in different ways, with the exception of this: the characterization of equating belief as "a psychological state" is a straw man. You are the only one saying it, and only so you can knock it down. I wrote of belief in terms of hearing the truth about Jesus Christ and utilizing the rational thought process that God gave us to accept it (an exercise of free will). Of course, this goes beyond mere 'mental assent' to the possibility that the Gospel is true; genuine faith is a firm persuasion, a conviction that expresses itself in what the person thinks, says, and does. The term "psychological state" implies emotionalism, and I think you are using it to suggest that I (or some deceived group of people) equate faith with 'being carried away by feelings.' While some emotions (such as joy, peace, perhaps even enthusiasm) may result from the knowledge of one's justification by God through Christ (and why shouldn't we feel those things?), I know of no group of Christians that promotes the concept that these feelings either define or prove the presence of faith.