Metropolitan Cathedral

Repentance and Faith:
Foundations of Christian Salvation

By: Abp. D. E. Chase, Ph.D., OSP


This article delves into the theological concepts of repentance and faith within the Christian tradition. Drawing from both scriptural references and academic sources, it explores the intertwined nature of these concepts in the process of salvation. Through a thorough examination of biblical passages and scholarly discourse, this article aims to elucidate the significance of repentance and faith in the Christian journey towards redemption.
Repentance and faith are fundamental pillars of Christian doctrine, shaping the believer’s understanding of salvation and spiritual transformation. Rooted in scriptural teachings and expounded upon by theologians throughout history, these concepts form the bedrock of Christian soteriology. This article seeks to elucidate the multifaceted nature of repentance and faith, exploring their interrelationship and significance within the Christian faith.
Repentance, derived from the Greek word “metanoia,” embodies a profound change of mind and heart towards sin and a turning towards God. Central to the ministry of Jesus Christ, repentance is depicted as a prerequisite for forgiveness and reconciliation with God. In Matthew 4:17, Jesus declares, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” emphasizing the urgency and necessity of repentance in response to the proclamation of the Gospel.
Scholars such as Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo have articulated the theological nuances of repentance, highlighting its transformative power and the role of divine grace in the repentant process. Aquinas, in his Summa Theologiae, posits repentance as a virtuous act enabled by God’s grace, whereby the individual turns away from sin and towards the divine good. Augustine, in his Confessions, reflects on his own journey of repentance, underscoring the profound inward transformation wrought by God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Contemporary theologians such as J.I. Packer and John Stott continue to affirm the centrality of repentance in Christian life and theology. Packer, in his seminal work “Knowing God,” elucidates repentance as a continual turning away from sin and a growing conformity to Christ. Stott, in “The Cross of Christ,” emphasizes the inseparable link between repentance and faith, noting that true repentance involves a reorientation of one’s entire life in submission to God.
Faith, or “pistis” in Greek, encompasses a deep trust and reliance on God’s promises and revelation. It is through faith that individuals are justified before God and receive the gift of salvation. The writer of Hebrews defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), underscoring its foundational role in the Christian life.
The Apostle Paul, in his epistles, expounds upon the nature of faith, emphasizing its contrast with works-based righteousness. In Romans 3:28, Paul asserts, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law,” affirming faith as the means by which believers are reconciled to God. Furthermore, Pauline theology expounds the transformative power of faith, whereby believers are united with Christ in his death and resurrection, experiencing newness of life.
Scholarly discourse on faith encompasses a wide array of perspectives, ranging from existentialist interpretations to systematic theological frameworks. Rudolf Bultmann, in his existentialist approach to Christianity, emphasizes faith as a radical act of self-transcendence, whereby individuals encounter the transcendent reality of God. Conversely, theologians such as Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer emphasize the objective reality of faith grounded in the person and work of Jesus Christ, highlighting faith as a response to God’s revelation in Christ.
In conclusion, repentance and faith stand as foundational elements of Christian salvation, weaving together the believer’s response to God’s redemptive grace. Rooted in scriptural teachings and expounded upon by theologians throughout history, these concepts embody the essence of the Christian journey towards reconciliation with God. As believers embrace repentance and faith, they partake in the transformative work of God’s grace, experiencing the fullness of salvation and the abundant life found in Christ.
  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version.
  2. Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologiae.
  3. Augustine of Hippo. Confessions.
  4. Packer, J.I. Knowing God.
  5. Stott, John. The Cross of Christ.
  6. Bultmann, Rudolf. Faith and Understanding.
  7. Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics.
  8. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship.