N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.
K. C. Moser on the necessity of faith
K. C. Moser was a Church of Christ preacher and author who was a progressive before there were progressives. He left us only a handful of writings, but those are invariably rich with insight into the heart of God.
He explains why faith in Jesus is a non-negotiable in The Gist of Romans (1957, revised 1958),
The conditions of salvation are, therefore, means of turning from sin and of accepting the crucified Saviour. They are not a “plan” or “scheme” arbitrarily demanded by one in authority, but the natural responses, as to signification, to the blood of Christ. …
Is not faith itself for the remission of sins? Peter so taught: “To him bear all the prophets witness that through his name everyone that believeth on him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43.) If faith in Christ is not itself for the remission of sin, then justification is not by faith, but by acts of faith! …
Of course, this whole theory was originated in the interest of baptism. It is assumed that there is no reason in baptism, and that especially this command should be obeyed because, and only because, Christ commanded it. It is compared to Naaman’s dipping, and Joshua’s marching around Jericho. No connection between the act and the desired end! Such teaching will do more to turn discerning people away from baptism than to cause them to accept it.
And the “logic” Moser condemns led us to speculate that if God will overlook a failure to be baptized, he’ll overlook a failure to believe — because both are arbitrary conditions imposed solely to test our willingness to obey the Bible.
But faith (which includes trust and faithfulness) is not only not arbitrary, it’s the first step toward our becoming like the faithful God and the faithful, trusting Jesus.