Mental assent vs. Understanding vs. Acceptance

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    In several discussions regarding man's ability to 'understand' spiritual things these three concepts are thrown around almost interchangeably. I'd like to know what you all believe is the difference, if any, in these three terms:

    Mental Assent

    Understanding

    Acceptance​


    Also, is it possible to have mental assent without understanding? If so, what does that look like? Explain the difference.

    And is it possible to understand something and not accept it? Please explain. Is understanding the same as acceptance?

    Thanks for your comments.
     
  2. Skandelon

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    I thought it might be helpful to provide some references to start us off:

    Mental Assent: The scriptures have been shared with so many people and yet so often the same response is repeated on the part of the listener. They acknowledge what has been said but the response is just passive. They hear the Word of God, agree only up to a certain level, but not far enough to literally act upon it. Some believers have labeled this as “Mental Assent” (See The Two Kinds of Faith by E. W. Kenyon) (NOTE: it is interesting that this term seems to be unique to Christian doctrine)

    Understanding: mental grasp : comprehension
    a : the power of comprehending; especially : the capacity to apprehend general relations of particulars
    b : the power to make experience intelligible by applying concepts and categories (Websters)

    Acceptance: an agreeing either expressly or by conduct to the act or offer of another so that a contract is concluded and the parties become legally bound
    2 the quality or state of being accepted or acceptable
    3 the act of accepting : the fact of being accepted : approval (Websters)​

    It appears to me that theologians who refer to 'mental assent' actually mean "one who understands the truth but refuses to accept and apply it personally." And the confusion is regarding the word 'understanding' because typically the word 'understanding' doesn't require consent and acceptance. What say you?
     
  3. Iconoclast

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    natural/physical................................................supernatural/spiritual

    [Mental Assent..................... ...............renewed mental activity eph4

    Understanding...................................................spiritual understanding eph 1,col3

    Acceptance.........................................................God makes us accepted,eph1

    You need to double each item...as natural corrupt sinners,dead in adam,look and listen to the same words but have different perceptions,
    The main difference is obviously being born from above,that is why 1 cor 2;9-14....and romans 8 are so clear.

    yes...per above....it looks like all cults,RC church, sodomites and women in the pulpit....new age ideas...an outward legalistic system based on emotions, feelings, and preferences, rather than scripture.
     
    #3 Iconoclast, Apr 12, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2012
  4. kyredneck

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    :thumbs::thumbs:
     
  5. Yeshua1

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    Would say the Demos/Judas/False teachers would be those who give mental assent to the facts of Jesus and the Bible, but willfully rejected the Lord in sense of Himbecoming their personal lord!

    Church members unsaved would also fir that bill...

    Christians would both know the facts and agree to them by receiving jesus as their Saviour and Lord!
     
  6. Tom Butler

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    A few years ago, a friend and I were out visiting for our church. We knocked on the door of a home where three bachelor brothers lived. They were friendly and invited us in.

    After some small talk, we posed the question to them: "What would you say is necessary in order to come into a right relationship with God."

    The answer to such a question usually provides me with a clue to their spiritual state and spiritual understanding.

    One of the young men replied quickly: "Well, you have to repent of your sin and trust Christ for your salvation."

    Whoa! I wasn't expecting that. The young man had nailed it.

    So, the next question was "have you ever done that--repented of your sin and trusted Christ for your salvation?"

    "Naw, never have, don't plan to anytime soon. If I ever do, we'll go to that church down the street."

    Well, we were basically done.

    Maybe that's an example of mental assent to the truth, understanding it, but rejecting it.
     
  7. Skandelon

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    Thanks Tom, as you post gets to the question of the OP. It appears many don't seem to acknowledge that one can have genuine, full understanding yet choose to reject it...choose NOT to obey and follow Christ.

    Doesn't Jesus say, "consider the cost of being my disciple..." and compare that to a man building a tower or going to war. After making that consideration, can't he choose to turn and walk away? Does that mean he didn't really understand the call to come to Christ fully?
     
  8. HeirofSalvation

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    :thumbsup::applause:Right On! Similarly, we have the story of the Rich young Ruler who decidedly understood fully what was required.....which was...well, his problem with it.:tongue3:
     
  9. Skandelon

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    Further, I believe it is that full understanding that makes them truly without any excuses for rejecting and deserving of the punishment they receive. How are they supposed to accept what they can't even understand? It gives unbelievers the perfect excuse to suggest they are born unable to ever understand the truth.
     
  10. Tom Butler

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    Notwithstanding my post #6 story, we still have to square it with such scriptures at Romans 8:7
    And with I Corinthians 2:14
    This does suggest to me that one may intellectually know and understand scriptural truth, yet needs something else. That is, the work of the Holy Spirit to further illuminate, convict and draw sinners to repentance and faith.

    Maybe part of the answer is found in James 2:19
    Further, is there a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge?
    Possible answer in Romans 10:9
    And one other passage to throw out for discussion
    John 12;37-40
    Interesting. v.37 They did not believe on him
    v.39 They could not believe..

    Okay, who wants to make these things square up with each other?
     
  11. Skandelon

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    Tom,

    I quote John 12:37-40 all the time to prove that Calvinists view of Total Depravity is incomplete. Why? Because scripture is uniquely showing why Israel, who has grown calloused to God's revelation over the years, cannot believe and come to Christ. God has sent them a 'spirit of stupor' (Rm 11), so they can't see, hear, understand or repent. He speaks to them in parables to keep them from repenting (Mark 4; Matt 13). He has temporally and judicially hardened their hearts by sealing them in their rebellious condition. He has 'cut them off' but he has grafted in the Gentiles, for "they will listen." (Acts 28:28).

    People who can't see, hear, understand and believe are not in that condition from birth, as Total Depravity teaches, they GROW or BECOME that way over time. And in the case of Israel at this time in history, God sealed them in that hardened blindness so as to accomplish redemption through their unbelief. For it was in their unbelief that they killed Christ and allowed for the foundation of the gentiles within the Church.

    Calvinists make the mistake of applying that unique hardened condition of the Jews to the nature of all mankind from birth, which is biblically unfounded.
     
  12. Yeshua1

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    the point is that sinners on their own will NOT even desire to place hope/faith/belief in jesus, as will be foreign to their 'natural" way of thinking, will answer as Tom's young man did!

    Knows the facts, but unwillingly/unable to trust in Christ and get saved!
     
  13. canadyjd

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    You are saying someone is not without excuse until they reject the gospel. That is not what scripture says. Scripture says they are already without excuse because they have rejected the knowledge God has given to every person (general revelation). Every person has already rejected that general knowledge of God found in creation and every person is already with excuse and stand condemned.

    The question you are posing is why do they reject/accept when they understand. The answer is they reject what they understand because it is not desireable to them. They understand and they don't want it because their nature is depraved. With such a depraved nature, they do not desire the things of God.

    When God regenerates the nature of the elect, that person now desires the things of God and will respond with repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

    So, the difference between mental assent/understanding and acceptance is that acceptance only comes to those with a changed nature that allow them to desire the things of God.

    peace to you:praying:
     
  14. Aaron

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    This is the difference. There is a carnal knowledge that is accessible in degrees to men by nature.

    But God is spirit, and those who worship Him must do so in truth and spirit. This knowledge is granted by revelation only, and only those who are born of God can receive it.

    Noncalvinists cannot discern that difference, thinking that spiritual and carnal thought can spring from the same fountain. Also, one thing so incongruous in the noncalvinist frame of mind is that the One who did not entrust the choice of a man's natural birth to himself, gives him the choice in his rebirth.
     
    #14 Aaron, Apr 14, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 14, 2012
  15. Iconoclast

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    Yes Aaron....this clear seperation can be traced through the scriptures.....Psalm 1 is very clear...as are most of the proverbs:thumbsup:
     
  16. HeirofSalvation

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    Of course, that One of whom you speak did not entrust Adam with the choice of his own creation, but did entrust him with the choice in his own death. Come to think of it, he did so for EVERYONE right?:eek:
     
  17. kyredneck

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    Ah, such articulations of truth are soooo refreshing and encouraging. Thanks.
     
  18. kyredneck

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    Just curious, are all these temporarily blinded by God Jews bound for eternal damnation?
     
  19. Aaron

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    Very good. And we're trusted with the choice of our new creation?


    That's the lesson to be learned. Corruptible flesh was tested in the Garden and failed. The uncorruptible God was tested in the wilderness and prevailed.

    Who's the "he" in that statement?
     
  20. HankD

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    It's not our sin so much that condemns us but that we love it and hate anything that enlightens us about our evil nature...

    John 3
    19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
    20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
    21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.​

    HankD​
     

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