Are you justified by faith alone even if you do not believe in such a doctrine?

Jonathan Edwards answers:

How far a wonderful and mysterious agency of God’s Spirit may so influence some men’s hearts, that their practice in this regard may be contrary to their own principles, so that they shall not trust in their own righteousness, though they profess that men are justified by their own righteousness—or how far they may believe the doctrine of justification by men’s own righteousness in general, and yet not believe it in a particular application of it to themselves—or how far that error which they may have been led into by education, or cunning sophistry of others, may yet be indeed contrary to the prevailing disposition of their hearts, and contrary to their practice—or how far some may seem to maintain a doctrine contrary to this gospel-doctrine of justification, that really do not, but only express themselves differently from others; or seem to oppose it through their misunderstanding of our expressions, or we of theirs, when indeed our real sentiments are the same in the main—or may seem to differ more than they do, by using terms that are without a precisely fixed and determinate meaning—or to be wide in their sentiments from this doctrine, for want of a distinct understanding of it; whose hearts, at the same time, entirely agree with it, and if once it was clearly explained to their understandings, would immediately close with it, and embrace it: — how far these things may be, I will not determine; but am fully persuaded that great allowances are to be made on these and such like accounts, in innumerable instances; though it is manifest, from what has been said, that the teaching and propagating [of] contrary doctrines and schemes, is of a pernicious and fatal tendency.

As quoted in John Piper’s The Future of Justification, p.24, n30.

A Pseudo-Screwtape Epistle: Poetic-Autobiographic Fragment #3

My dearest Wormwood,

Nothing tickles my gut more than to hear that the patient is wandering and searching for distinct meaning in his life. Your last letter is a promising cry to help the needy one. Alas, hope has sprung for us, where the grass is greener on this side of the fence. Truly, this is a tremendous opportunity to stray him from the Way he has aimlessly followed during yesterdays’ tense. Your patient is weak and frail. Bitterness betrays him.

You said in your last letter that the patient has turned his back on his so-called Shepherd. It is now time to deliver the goods to your man, so we will finally begin yielding the fruits of your labor. It will be good for him to finally see his former Life, his former Way, and his previous Truth as we see it–the Enemy.

Your patient’s hands are greased with delightful greed, patiently yet reluctantly waiting for the fasted hands to fill it. Though it will be breezy for you to caress his heart with confidence he is doing just as well on his own, the Enemy will be sure to seek him from every cornered angle, all-knowing precisely what it will take to return him home.

It pains my jagged jaws to number the times the Enemy has warned your patient with exclamatory inclusiveness, concerning the specificity of situations such as this. Be that as it may, you must take numerous disguises upon yourself, yet none of the ones the Enemy has forewarned your patient about.

Your Infectionate Uncle,
Screwtape


Twenty-One: A Poetic-Autobiographic Fragment

TWENTY-ONE

Here I somberly rest my tainted woes
Against this thoughtful bed,
As she coldly sits desperately torturing herself
Inside my beating head.
Her troubling thoughts of careless confusion
Misguide myself backward,
Stumbling into a day numerically twenty-one ago.
A familiar time and place, though seemingly awkward.
Carefully I caress my bitterly naive heart, lately severed hollow,
While she hopelessly hollers, “How could I have been such a cold-hearted fool?”
As she pounds her rigid head against the weakening walls of my ceding skull.
Spared with nearly ten till the ripened age of twenty-one,
And severely sickened by the intense question
Of the flaunting heart of a loved one,
I tie the final end of the noose around this God-forsaken game,
Whispering blatantly to the vivid voice sheltered by arrogant shame,
“It’s too late to forgive the ungiving!”
Sorrowfully sobbing goodbye…to a lonesome life wasted on living,
I tearfully embrace the welcoming face of the twenty-two,
Ironically the number of days, I’d kill to taste, for one last day loving
You.

JT Caldwell [12 years ago: B.C.]