April 3rd, 2011 by Darryl G. Hart
The proponents of Edwards and the First Pretty Good Awakening (hereafter FPGA) are worried about nominal Christianity – that is, people who go through the motions of worship or Christian practice. Although this is an understandable concern – who would ever commend hypocrisy unless you are a vice paying tribute to a virtue – it is also an impossible concern. How does anyone know if another person is faking anything? Only God knows the heart. So the effort to eradicate going through the motions is a lot like a quest to be God (and wasn’t that what got our first parents into trouble?).
At the same time, why is it that insincerity only goes in one direction? Why is it only possible for Christian profession and practice to betray unbelief? Why can’t unholy actions betray a believing heart? Of course, I’m not trying to justify sin or worldliness. But if the heart is as fickle as pietists believe it is, why isn’t it possible for the duplicity to go both ways? Why can’t a believer’s impious actions actually betray real belief? What if someone is faking unbelief but really believes? If you think this seems preposterous, consider Peter’s thrice denying his Lord. And he became Pope!