Faith Seeking Understanding: Part 1

christmas_faithAre faith and reason at odds with one another? Many people, Christian and non-Christian, seem to think so:

“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” – Richard Dawkins

“*faith /fāTH/*

1. *Belief without evidence.*

2. *Pretending to know things you don’t know.*”- Peter Boghossian

“The Bible is not supposed to make sense, it is supposed to make faith.”- Kamran Karimi

“I once asked the Lord why so many people are confused and He said to me, ‘Tell them to stop trying to figure everything out, and they will stop being confused.’ I have found it to be absolutely true. Reasoning and confusion go together.” – Joyce Meyer

In my experience, most people agree with the people quoted to one degree or another. Spoken or unspoken, faith is popularly described as blind belief without evidence or good reasons and reason is described as proven knowledge based on evidence and good reasons. Going forward, I will describe these popular definitions of faith and reason as *folk faith* and *folk reason*.

*Folk faith* and *folk reason* are biblically and logically false. There
are no examples in the Bible of anyone taking blind leaps of faith in the dark. There are certainly examples of people believing in what they could not see with the eye or hear with the ear, but they still had good reasons to trust God. The modern notion of reason is truncated and unrealistic as well. The mantra of the skeptic is, “observable, repeatable, testable,” but most of the things we all believe–whether Christians or not–cannot be verified in this way.

It is important to clearly define *true faith* and *true reason*. As defined by the Bible, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV). If we just leave it here (and unfortunately, many people do) this seems to support the notion of *folk faith*. Ripping individual Bible verses out of context is a horrible way of reading the scriptures. Hebrew 11, often referred to as the “Hall of Faith,” gives us examples of people who lived by faith. Verse 4 tells us that, “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain…” How do you suppose he did that? According to *folk faith*, Cain and Abel simply had a notion out of thin air one day that God desired sacrifices, and by some blind and baseless process it was reckoned that Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God. Of course, that is absolutely absurd. Although we do not have all the details in the book of Genesis, we see that even though Cain’s sacrifice was rejected, God spoke to him–even after he murdered his own brother! In other words, Cain and Abel had an experiential relationship with God. Other heroes of the Hall of Faith based their faith on their relationship with God at the very least. “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death” (Hebrews 11:5), because, “Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:24). Hebrews 11:7 tells us plainly that Noah was “warned by God” to prepare for a cataclysmic flood judgment. I hope my readers are not so silly as to think that Noah simply heard a strange voice one day and blindly followed its instructions.

Although the Bible does not describe Noah’s relationship with God before receiving the divine flood warning, it is reasonable to assume that Noah knew the Lord well enough to listen to His commands. We a process of building trust in the life of Abraham. God called Abraham to move to foreign country, and as with Noah it is reasonable to think that even by this point Abraham knew God well enough to trust Him. After that God called Abraham and Sarah to take another step of faith to conceive Isaac in their old age, and then God commanded Abraham to offer his miracle boy up as a sacrifice. By this point, Abraham’s faith was strong enough that, “He
considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead” (Hebrews 11:19). Imagine if God had started out asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son? I doubt that Abraham would have listened to God on blind *folk faith*. True biblical faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8) that grows over time as we take steps based on the knowledge God reveals to us.

~Jared Abbot

Please look for the continuation of Jared’s blog on Faith Seeking Understanding next week ~ Canvas Rhapsody

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