Friday, April 15, 2011

Is Faith Blind?

This is my Q&A response article up on the Smart Faith Conference website: 

Faith has become one of those terms that has come to be popularly defined as knowingly or unknowingly having positive belief in something that is not true. Even well-meaning Christians have spoken of faith as “a statement of trust in what we do not know for sure.*” With the idea of a necessary uncertainty built into the common understanding of faith, it is no surprise that many people have come to equate having faith with the opposite of having knowledge, evidence, and certitude. In other words, “faith” is the same as “blind faith.” Therefore, all faith must be blind, right?

Is faith really blind? Blind faith is certainly blind, but is this how faith should be defined? Both the Bible and our experiences tell us otherwise.

The Apostles of Jesus taught that their belief in Christ is an informed, evidenced faith. The Apostle John’s opening paragraph in 1 John is an emphatic statement of the reality of Jesus Christ in history. He states,

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:1-5).
Redundantly, John assures the reader that the Disciples’ experiences of Jesus in this life are rooted in tangible reality. 

 The Apostle Peter says similarly. “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18). Peter writes that the message he preaches came not from conjecture but through actual observance of God’s proclamation about Jesus not once but twice.

Likewise, Luke the historian says that the resurrected Jesus “presented himself to [the disciples] and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). Certainly the Gospel writers considered their faith an evidenced faith; this high value on reason and evidence is a surviving legacy that continues to lead Christians today. The legacy has produced many Christian thinkers who have contributed multiple lines of reasoning, arguing not only for God’s existence but for the essential truths regarding the identity and claims of Jesus Christ.

In our own experiences, most rational people understand that blind faith is ultimately an uncomfortable faith. We demand a reality to our lives that is minimally verifiable. Even the atheist who questions the veracity of the Christian faith does so with the assumption that an objective reality exists to support his objections, though he often fails to apply his own criteria to inquire about his own views. In fact, we could ask the skeptic what his evidence is for his belief that all faith is unfounded.

Of course, people can believe things that are untrue. In a strict Christian sense that may be belief, but that isn’t necessarily faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” To the person who thinks that faith is necessarily uncertain, the writer of Hebrews equates faith with having confidence placed in what Christians hope for, which is actually a “Who” in the person of Jesus Christ. Christians then have the assurance of the living Jesus to see us through all of life’s uncertainties. Christian faith, therefore, is not about belief statements which may or may not be true, but it is about trusting and depending on Jesus and His promises.

Is Christian faith blind? In light of the evidence and the object of faith, certainly not.

*D'Souza, Dinesh. What's So Great About Christianity. p. 195.

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