Thursday, June 6, 2013

What is Faith?

What is faith? Many people believe faith is believing what is contrary to reason. And there are those who would at least seem to affirm this type of faith. Faith is seen as a leap in the dark that is against reason. I do not at all believe this is the biblical understanding. Faith is trusting in the promises of God (Romans 4:18-21; Hebrews 11:13-16; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8). This, of course, implies that God exists and has made such promises. But it is not opposed to examining the evidence for holding to these things. It is not opposed to reason, but to possession. I do not now see eternal life. I must believe it based on God's promise. But that does not imply there is not evidence to support it. Now faith implies not just a conclusion based on evidence, but a willingness to commit our lives to that conclusion. I may believe intellectually that an airplane can fly, but if my fear of flying prevents me from getting on board, I am not putting my faith in that airplane.And if that airplane is to take me anywhere, I need to have the faith to get on board.

But Christians are encouraged to maintain faith in spite of challenges. Is that not faith against reason? But as C. S. Lewis points out, the chief enemies of faith are not reason, but feelings, difficulties, and temptations. Now evidence and real intellectual arguments are genuine issues and need to be dealt with. But faith stands against the feeling that God is not really present. Or that the difficulties of life mean God does not care. Or that I desire to do something morally improper, so I question the existence of the Lawgiver. It is only by holding on to God in the teeth of these things that faith can be maintained. Also, it is important to remember that once we have faith, it goes from being an opinion on a subject to trust in a person. Faith then becomes a matter of personal loyalty. That does not mean that there is no evidence or that we can ignore the evidence. But once I have formed a relationship with a person, I cannot simply desert them at the first hint of opposition. If I have a friend, who I have good reason to believe is my friend, I do not jump to the conclusion he has turned against me the first time I hear him accused of something. If I believe there is good evidence there is a God who loves me, I do not deny Him on the first hint that there are arguments on the other side. It is to resist this that faith is required.

No comments:

Post a Comment