Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 11:35 PM

Assent vs. Trust

A friend sent me this on Assent vs. Trust. I thought it was informative so I'd pass it on.

He wrote:
For me, the difference is between words and actions. I would say that assent is a verbal (or mental-verbal) acknowledgement of a proposition, whereas trust is acting as if that proposition was true. So suppose the proposition in question is “I will not fall if I step off this cliff.” Assenting to that proposition would look like me saying, “I will not fall if I step off this cliff.” In that situation trust, as opposed to assent, would look like stepping off the cliff. Similarly, if I assent to some proposition of Christ’s, I will say that it is true or acknowledge it as true if questioned. But trusting that proposition entails doing something.

That seems to be a fair distinction. As to how it meshes with my personal "knowledge vs. belief" idea, it looks like I do not see a distinction between assent and trust. Namely, if I assent to a proposition (truly), then I will live in a manner consistent with that belief. An example of this would be if I told you that hamburgers were poisonous but continued to eat them daily. I suspect after a little bit people would doubt the validity of my assent (or knowledge, maybe I thought poisonous meant "very good tasting").

As to whether this is supported in Scripture, I think I would point to James 2, where James makes the distinguishment that faith without works is dead. This is in contrast to faith which works in love. It seems to be drawing the line between knowledge and belief. One person believes in God (which even demons do), but one person has faith working out in love. This seems analogous to our knowledge vs. belief. (though I must confess the terminology is a little mixed up. Maybe I should change my terms).

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