THEOLOGY & APOLOGETICS
By Justin Tilghman
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Many people believe that Christian "faith" means believing without, or despite, any proof for what we believe. That statement is 100% true — if you define Christian faith as completely accepting things at face value without honest question or investigation (a.k.a. "blind faith"). However, God's call to believe the Gospel isn't a call to this kind of "blind faith." For example, every time I set foot on an airplane I have "faith" that the plane isn't going to crash shortly after take-off, otherwise I would never set foot on that plane and neither would you. Why do I have faith that the plane will make it? Because I know the rigorous testing and maintenance that the plane must go through, I know the intense training and hours of flight that the pilot has completed, and I know the statistics regarding the safety of flight as a mode of travel. I take these things into consideration and make the informed decision to step onto the plane in the hope that I will reach my destination. Now, I can't know with 100% certainty that the plane I'm on won't crash (they sometimes do); all I can do is weigh the evidence and decide whether I trust what I know and am willing to trust the pilot/maintenance crews and get on the plane. .
Christian faith is like the faith I've just described.
Throughout Scripture, God has called us to trust Him primarily because He is trustworthy by nature. Now, I know that sounds like circular reasoning, but God goes further than that. Throughout Scripture God tells His people to investigate and reason with Him:
- Isaiah 1:18 — God calls His people, in all of chapter 1, to "reason" with Him regarding their sin and to think through the consequences and the forgiveness He is offering.Those are just a few verses that point to the Christian faith being a faith that is concerned with facts and trusting those facts when convinced. It's important to clear up what Christian faith is because Christians often use the term "faith" as our answer for why we believe the things that we believe, such as the Bible being the word of God or Jesus Christ being risen from the dead. When the Bible claims to be the "word of God," Christians believe it because we have found the Bible to be trustworthy in what it says in other areas. For example, there are many archeological discoveries that corroborate details within various Bible stories. This is a strong external evidence for the validity of the Bible when it speaks. Just as with my analogy earlier, if I look critically and carefully at something and find that it is true when it speaks in certain areas, I'm much more apt to trust what it says and place my faith in it when it speaks in other areas as well. This isn't just a "blind faith" that simply says "I believe it because the Bible says it." Rather, it is a reasoned faith that says "The Bible has proven to be true in many, many areas and therefore, based on what I've seen and my assessment of the evidence, I believe it to be trustworthy in what it says elsewhere (i.e., when it claims to be the word of God; when it says Jesus rose from the dead; etc.)."
- Luke 1:1-4 — At the beginning of his account of the story of Jesus, Luke plainly states that he has investigated everything carefully and is relaying what he has learned and discovered. That doesn't sound like someone taking everything on "blind faith" and denying proof.
- Luke 14:25-33 — Jesus tells His disciples to think and consider what following Him means. In other words, don't just blindly follow Jesus; think about what you're committing to.
- John 10:37-38 — Jesus tells people to look at the works/miracles He is doing and at least start there by believing in those and being open to what He has to say.
- John 14:10-11 — Jesus says much the same thing He said in John 10:37-38: He is essentially saying, "at least look at what I'm doing visibly in front of you and believe."
- John 20:30-31 — John plainly says the whole reason he was writing the Gospel of John was so that people could believe based on what Jesus was doing; not simply by just blindly following after Him.
- 1 Corinthians 15:6 — Paul is providing evidence for the resurrection. He tells the Corinthians that many of the people who saw Jesus after His resurrection are still live with the implication being that they could go and investigate for themselves if they wanted to.
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