“Dear Rev. Hoeksema:
We had an essay on ‘Faith Overcometh the World’ in our Men’s Society. And the statement was made that faith is an attribute of God. We did not agree; so we like to have you answer this question in the Standard Bearer: Is faith an attribute of God?’
“Please answer this, if possible, in the next issue of the Standard Bearer.
John De Koekkoek, Sec’y.”
I find this a rather interesting question. Much could be written about it, but I will try to be brief.
In an explanatory note the secretary writes: “We are all agreed that faith is a gift of God, but not an attribute of God.” Of course, that is true. Faith as a gift of God is as such not in God but in the believer. We all know the definition of the Heidelberg Catechism that faith is a certain knowledge of all that God has revealed in His Word, and a hearty confidence that all my sins are forgiven me for Christ’s sake. It is very evident that this is not an attribute of God, but a spiritual power bestowed on man, whereby he is engrafted into Christ Jesus. The same is true, of course, of the text which teaches that faith overcometh the world. There too it is not an attribute of God, but certainly a power which God bestows on the believer to overcome the world.
But this is not all that can be said. I would have liked to hear the essay that the member of the Men’s Society of Redlands delivered in the meeting. The question is whether all the gifts that are bestowed upon the believers are not ultimately a reflection of the virtues of God. Thus, for instance, grace is bestowed upon the believer as a gift of God; but that grace is nevertheless a reflection of one of the attributes in God Himself. God is gracious. Is this not also the case with faith, perhaps. Can we not say that faith in the believer is a reflection of the attribute or virtue of faith in God, and that the virtue of faith in God reveals itself as faithfulness? Off hand, I find at least one text in Scripture,—and perhaps there are more,—in which faith is presented as an attribute of God. I am referring to (pistin tou Theou). The Dutch translates this text literally: “Want wat is het, al zijn sommigen ongeloovig geweest? Zal hunne ongeloovigheid het geloof Gods teniet doen?”. There faith in our English Bible is translated by faithfulness, but in the original you simply read of “the faith of God”
If, therefore, the reasoning of the brother that delivered the essay in the Men’s Society of Redlands was as indicated above, I can answer the question in the positive. But I would like to know more about the essay, to ascertain whether that was really the way in which he argued.