Friday, July 29, 2011

Christians like wearing blindfolds

Does a Christian have to be irrational in order to believe the truth-claims of the Bible? A step further, is it even irrational to be believe in a creator God of the universe? It all depends on the person actually. To be honest, there are irrational theists. There are those who find great comfort in saying, "It takes faith," when asked about their worldview. I will be so bold to say there are those who not only have comfort in that answer, but actually take pride in the answer of "I take it on faith," because they think they are really "spiritual" for leaving their mind in the street in matters of God and religion. 

Let's look at some examples. The following example is from an article written by Kenneth Copeland.

"You have to act by faith, not according to your feelings or reasoning. Faith is based on eternal truth and is more dependable than the evidence of your physical senses. According to 2 Corinthians 4:18, we are not to look at things which are seen,but at things which are not seen. The things which are visibleare temporal, or changeable. The things which are invisible are eternal—they never change. Don’t focus your attention on what you perceive through your five physical senses. Keep your heart fixed on the Word of God. Then what you see will come in line with the Word." 

I understand not making a decision based on feelings because a decision based on emotion is not a good move to make. However, how are you to act by faith if you abandon reason? I also must wonder what Copeland means by "Don't focus your attention on what you perceive through your five physical senses. Keep your heart fixed on the Word of God." How is one to fix his heart on the word of God if he must not perceive using his five senses? I know that's a bit sarcastic, but Copeland is promoting blind faith as if blind faith is virtuous and that irrationality is foreign to God and the Christian life. That couldn't be further from the truth. 

Consider what R.C. Sproul says in this article.

"Any discussion of faith and reason has to ask the question, “What is faith?” The biblical answer, according to the author of Hebrews, is that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (11:1). The author goes on to say that by faith we understand that the world was formed by the Word of God. The first thing we notice in this assertion is that faith is something that is substantial, not ephemeral. Secondly, faith represents a type of evidence. It is the evidence of the unseen. At the heart of the concept of New Testament faith is the idea of trust, namely, that faith involves placing one’s trust in something. In this regard all human creatures are subject to depending at one point or another on faith. I am not an expert in medicine, so I must give a certain trust to the diagnoses offered to me by experts in the field. That trust may be provisional until I find that it is not based in substance or evidence. But in the meantime, to trust what we do not see is not necessarily a matter of being irrational. Without reason, the content of biblical faith would be unintelligible and meaningless. So we say that biblical faith is not the same as reason, but that faith is rational and reasonable. The first assertion that faith is rational means that faith is intelligible. It is not absurd or illogical. If biblical revelation were absurd and irrational, it would be utterly unintelligible and meaningless. The content of the Bible cannot pierce the soul of a sentient creature without first going through the mind. It was Augustine who declared that faith without evidence is credulity. At this point we understand that though faith is rational, it is also reasonable. Biblical faith does not call people to crucify their intellect or take irrational leaps of faith into the darkness with the hope that Christ will catch us. Rather we are called to leap out of the darkness and into the light." 

Sproul accurately describes faith. Trusting in the evidence given by an object or person. I trust my mechanic to fix or service my car. I have good reason to put my faith in the mechanic to service my car with excellence. Why? Because of the track record. He has given me good reason to believe so! If faith is how Copeland explains it, i.e., wishing and speaking positively in attempt to make it true then the whole time I'm waiting on my car to be done I better look at the mechanic and speak, "You will fix my car! I know you will! I speak it and confess that it's true!" Why? Because I can't trust that my mechanic will fix my car based on his proven record of fixing my car in the past and rest easy knowing he is a good mechanic and my care is in good hands because that would be using reason and reason is a thing to be despised if you're a true Christian. What an absurd thing to believe.
I know I'm being snarky, but it's just so annoying to hear things like, "Christian, you must act on your faith by blindly wishing and speaking those things into existence, " or "Ya just gotta take those things on faith." Why? You wonder if these folks have studied church history or even read the Bible. 

Consider what Greg Koukl says here:

"Here is what Peter said. Acts 2:36, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified." There it is again. "Know for certain."

This is throughout the entire Scriptures. Exodus, Acts, Romans 1:4. Paul talked about Jesus who is the Son of God, who is declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. How do we know Jesus is the Son of God? Is that just a faith statement? Is it something we just wish were the case? Is that something we hope for in a leap of faith? Paul says he was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection. We know he was the Son of God because He raised Himself from the dead. Now, that is evidence."

In the book of 1 John we see this all brought together. 1 John 5:13, "These things," John says, "I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life."

You can know it, ladies and gentlemen. Remember how John started out his book? He started out by saying those things which we have seen, those things that we know personally. "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have beheld and our hands handled concerning the Word of Life, and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life." 

Do you think he is trying to get a point across there? He is saying, we've got the goods. We've got the evidence. Therefore our faith is not vain hope. It is not simply wishing. We've got convictions. We have put our trust in God based on the evidence, and that's what Biblical faith entails."

I can guarantee you your Christian life will be lived much better living a life of true faith. I hear people all the time (I have friends and family who subscribe to the Copeland idea of faith) speak as if they can't say anything "wrong" about themselves, e.g., you can't say "I have a cold," or "I'm having hear trouble," because then you don't have "faith" in God. I cannot imagine ever that God wants us to live that way. I don't read anywhere in scripture about people speaking positively 24/7 and never acknowledging their suffering. If you have a cold, you have a cold. Speaking the contrary will not heal you or make it go away. Faith is not wishing friends, faith is trusting in God and His promises based on evidence given to us by revelation. 

What is the evidence you ask? 

Start by looking here. Wintery Knight has an abundance of Christian resources for you to know for certain God exists and is the God as described in the Bible.

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