So Faith is attacked when The New Atheists uniformly say, “We base our lives on reason. You Christians base your lives on blind faith”.
But if reason is the authority when it comes to belief, and you can rely on reason because your own reasoning tells you – then you’re busted. It’s a totally circular argument. Unless you have something outside of reason to calibrate reason, you don’t know if your reasoning is accurate.
I think of this often when I watch debates. We, Christians, say Jesus died for our sins by crucifixion. Three days later He rose from the dead. Why do we believe that? Well, because the Bible says so is definitely one answer, but that answer won’t satisfy everybody. It will definitely not be enough for a Muslim, for example. Quran 4:157 says nobody kill Jesus nor they crucify Him. But God raised Jesus up to Himself.
When I began reading the Quran, my Bible stopped being the only source for my ‘reasoning’ – if that makes sense. Last year I found out that apart from the Bible, there are a lot of ancient non-biblical sources that talk about the crucifixion of Jesus as an event in history. When I evaluated the evidence that Islam has for Jesus not dying by crucifixion, I was confronted with many theories about it.
I read about different interpretations of that particular Quran ayat (verse). One interpretation is that God made Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, look exactly like Jesus. So it was Judas who died. Another version is that the person who was crucified was not Jesus, but someone who bore His likeness, whom the Jews and the Romans had disgracefully put on the cross, while Jesus was standing nearby and laughing at their folly.
Yet another version is that the one who was nailed to the cross was Jesus, but He did not die on the cross, and was alive when He was taken down from it. They even argue Jesus might have died a natural death years later. But the theories (in Muslim Apologetics) go as far as they can go – as long as they have Jesus NOT dying on the cross.
But the more debates I watched, the more I knew that the position of the Muslim apologists was to say “We really do not have any further details, except that Quran tells us that Jesus was not the one who was crucified, but somebody that looked like Him”.
I respect that. Absolutely I do. But I made the personal decision to go with the ancient historical evidence and not the theories. So I was able to calibrate the Bible with something outside of the Bible – call them Tacitus, Josephus, The Jewish Talmud. These accounts were not bad, given this information was coming from ancient accounts hostile to the Biblical record.
I realized that the Christian Faith is not that blind. Actually, it is not blind AT ALL.
Faith is a very important word in the New Testament. It is used over 24 times. Faith is so important that it is a prerequisite for being saved by God. On one occasion, a jailer asked Paul and his traveling companion, Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without Faith it is impossible to please God.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
We can see several things in this passage.
FAITH IS RATIONAL. Biblical Faith is never set against reason. Biblical Faith – Christian Faith – involves thinking. It involves our brains. Christian Faith is never a leap in the dark. The Greek word for Conviction is Elenchos. It means proof. It’a a conviction that comes when something has been tested.
Faith is trusting what we have good reason to believe is true.
Faith is trusting the evidence of the One who promised.
Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Evidence that appeals to your mind. Take any fact of history. Sure, you can’t prove in a lab that the American Revolution took place, or that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, 1776, or that George Washington was there when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
We believe this based on historical evidence – eyewitness testimony, records that were kept, historical investigations. There are lots of things that we reasonably believe that can’t be proven by the scientific method. But just because we cannot recreate them in a lab does not mean they never actually happened.
Was I there to see how Jesus died? No. Was I there to witness the Holocaust? No. But I believe the Holocaust happened because there are documents that were written about it. People preserved these records of history. I guess I can ALWAYS questioned whether the Holocaust took place because I wasn’t there to see it with my own eyes, but it is very likely that it happened. The same goes with the crucifixion of Jesus. And if you study the Resurrection – your mind will be blown away.
You can always find a counter-argument against Christianity. That’s for sure. You need to know, tough, that Christian Faith does not mean you have to be completely certain about something. Jesus tells us that even a little bit of Faith can go a long way. Faith IS NOT an all or nothing proposition.
I was so happy when I learned this.
FAITH GRABS HOLD OF THE FUTURE. Faith is the assurance – Hupostasis – of things hoped for. Faith gives substance to things. Faith reaches into the future Kingdom of God where life will be like when there are no wills contrary to God’s will – no human wills rowing in the opposite direction. Right now we rebel, and we want things contrary to what God wants for us. There are also demonic wills working in this present world.
But when the Kingdom of God is finally established on Earth, no child will ever die again. There will be no more cancer, no more heart disease, no more heartbreak, no more Alzheimer’s, no more diabetes, no more murders, or kids in jail, or funerals, or wars, or mental illness, or addiction. No more tears, no more crying, no more pain. God Himself will wipe your tears away. That is the hope given in Revelation 21:4 for all the children of God by adoption through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
So Faith gives substance to that future Kingdom and makes it real now. By Faith we bring God’s Kingdom of justice into this world now – as we work for justice. By Faith we grab hold of God’s future Kingdom of healing into the world – as we pray for the sick. By Faith, we grab hold of God’s future Kingdom of forgiveness and we make it real now – as we forgive others and ask for forgiveness.
FAITH IS A WAY OF SEEING THE PRESENT. Faith is seeing life the way Jesus saw it. People say that Christian Faith is looking at life through rose-colored lenses. But Scripture says quite the opposite. Faith is taking off your rose-colored lenses. All the myths and lies that the marketing machine of this world keeps pumping out – “You can have it your way” or “Life is all about you and your desires – your wants”.
Jesus was the only clear-sighted person in all of human history. He is the only one who saw with perfect vision how to live a completely full life no matter what your circumstances are. Jesus taught that if you want to have a great life – what He called abundant life – you have to deny yourself. Do not try to affirm everything about yourself, instead, deny yourself.
Forgive everyone for everything they’ve done against you, and you will live a full life. Forgiving takes Faith that God will uphold you and defend you. Be patient when you have all the reasons to lose your patience. Respect your husband when he doesn’t deserve your respect – specially when he doesn’t deserve it. Love your wife when she is absolutely hard to love – specially when she is very difficult to love.
Christian Faith makes sense of this world.
- Rich Nathan message transcript: Why does Faith make sense?
- Rich Nathan message transcript: What does Faith feels like?
- Rich Nathan. Vineyard Columbus: Heroic Faith Series
- Abdu Murray podcast: Faith and Doubt – Part 1
- Abdu Murray podcast: Faith and Doubt – Part 2
- Abdu Murray podcast: Faith and Doubt – Part 3
- Abdu Murray: Truth:more than a feeling