by C Michael PattonJanuary 27th, 2013 28 Comments
There are four different ways to define faith. It is incredibly important that we, as Christians, don’t go wrong here.
1. Blind Faith: Faith is a blind leap into the dark.
“Faith is a blind leap into the dark. The blinder the leap, the greater the faith.” Have you ever heard this? In the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, this mentality was put on the big screen. Indiana Jones was making his way through the caves through tests and trials as he attempted to retrieve the Holy Grail, which would bring life back to his dying father. The last test was a “test of faith.” Here Jones was challenged by a great chasm which separated him from the grail. But when he looked, there was no way across the chasm. The solution? A step of faith. After much hesitation, he closed his eyes, held his breath and took the blind leap. His faith was rewarded as a bridge, unseen to the naked eye, suddenly appeared.
Take something as simple as a chair. God is the chair. He is asking you to sit down (rest) in the chair. If faith were a blind leap into the dark, this is what it might look like:
2. Irrational Faith: Faith as an irrational leap
In this view, faith is something we have in spite of the evidence. While everything may militate against our faith, we are to make the most irrational choice of all. The more irrational the faith, the greater the faith. Here is what it looks like with the chair (notice all the rationality is behind you):
3. Warranted Faith: Faith as a step according to the evidence
The next option is that faith is a step taken according to rational evidence and inquiry. In other words, we believe because it makes sense. Everything in life, according to this view, takes faith. Even getting in your car and driving to work takes faith. You have to have faith that your car’s brakes won’t go out, that other drivers will not cross the yellow line, and that you won’t fall asleep at the wheel. These are all steps of faith, but they don’t need to be irrational or blind steps. We can have warranted trust in ourselves, other drivers, and our car due to our knowledge of these things. This is called “warranted faith.” We make our decisions precisely because the evidence supports it, but this is still faith. This is what it might look like:
4. Biblical Faith: Warranted faith brought about by the Holy Spirit
It might surprise you to know that while all of these are legitimate ways that the word “faith” is used today, none of them represent the faith expressed in the Bible. The faith that God calls on us to have is neither blind nor irrational. And while we believe our faith is the most rational choice that we can make given the evidence, rational alone is not enough. The Bible says that without outside intervention, we are antagonistic to spiritual truths. If we rely on naked intellect or personal effort alone, even as Christians, we will never truly be able to rest in God. The most important component to our faith has yet to be revealed. What is this element? It is the power of the Holy Spirit. The third member of the Trinity must ignite our faith. Yes, he uses rationale , inquiry, evidences, personal effort, and our minds to do so. But these things alone can only get us so far. In order to have true faith, the power of the Holy Spirit must move within us, releasing us from the bondage of our will. True biblical faith looks like this:
It is our will that is the problem. We don’t have the will to trust in God alone. Listen to what Paul says to the Corinthians:
1 Cor. 2:12-14 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Any time we rely on ourselves to rest in God, we are acting as “natural” people. We have to act as spiritual people and call on God to increase our faith through the power of the Spirit as the Spirit energizes our will and intellect.
- Sometimes Faith Does Take Faith
- The Sufficiency of Probability in Christian Faith
- Anatomy of Belief (6): Rational Conviction
- The Anatomy of Belief (4): Complexities of Conviction
- A Warning to Young Apologists: Take Breaks from the Battle