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Once two seminary professors at Bestminster Theological Seminary were walking together, heads bowed as they were deep in theological conversation. Their topic concerned the depths of the wisdom of God in the salvation of sinful man, and it was consequently slow going, as though they were try to paddle a canoe across a lake of chocolate pudding.

The point of their discussion was to ascertain whether the faith represented by the phrase sola fide was “living faith” or “dead faith.” For it seemed clear to them, as well as to you and me, that it had to be one or the other. But, to be frank, a celebration of “dead faith” did not seem to them to be quite in keeping with the spirit of the Reformation. Not only that, but the folks down at Marketing and PR had positively nixed any such phrase for use on the donors’ brochure. But the alternative was no better. To use the phrase “living faith” made them sound like Norman Shepherd.

As they wrestled with the problem, slowly the light dawned on both of them at once. In order to be “alone,” as in “faith alone,” the faith of our fathers could be neither living or dead, but, borrowing a phrase from chemistry, it had to be inert. It had to be colorless and odorless, like argon. And like Martin Luther, there they stood.

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