I’m On the Road
Greetings from the desert! Today, I’m blogging from a hotel room in Palm Springs, CA.
I just finished doing an all-day apologetics training event at Our Savior’s Church for the Desert Apologetics Network. Dr. Craig Hazen closed up the event and we got a great reception from this group. One of my presentations was on using stories, objects and illustrations to explain your faith.
Let me give you a sample of something I shared about the biblical concept of faith.
In this post, I’ll show you a simple way to contrast the pop culture definition of the word, “faith” with the biblical definition of the word, “faith.” Because they’re actually pretty different.
The Pop Culture Definition of Faith
Ever heard a story about faith that characterized it as a blind leap into the dark? It’s interesting to see how many people say that faith is the opposite of reason.
I’ve heard people say, “If you have all this evidence, how can you have any faith?” Or “I thought faith wasn’t supposed to having anything to do with reason. I thought faith was just this blind leaping into some sort of religious experience.”
That definition really isn’t too far off…if you heard a spiritual guru tell a story about faith on a daytime talk show or something. In a pop culture context, it’s all about taking a blind leap in the dark. But that’s not the Biblical concept of faith. So, what’s the historic Christian definition?
The Historic Christian Definition of Faith
Biblical faith isn’t a “blind faith” that’s opposed to reason, evidence or logic. For example, in 1st Corinthians 15:17, Paul says:
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
Paul doesn’t encourage a faith that rejects evidence. Instead, he pins the truth of Christianity on a historical event which can be tested for truth by reason and evidence. Paul says that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, Christianity is a total lie.
So, biblical faith isn’t “blind faith.” Rather, it’s an active trust that’s dependent on a historical event that can be investigated. You can find a Christian definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
So faith isn’t just wishing. It’s having real assurance. What’s that assurance based on? Evidence. Now how does that work?
A Biblical Story About Faith
Think about the exodus account in the Old Testament. God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. And He did it through all these supernatural attacks on the Egyptians, “that they may know that there is a God in Israel.” That’s a phrase used at least 10 times from Exodus 4 through 14.
God didn’t tell the Israelites, “Just have faith.” He gave them some pretty good reasons to take Him seriously. Read Exodus 14:31
And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
So in this story about faith, the evidence actually came first. The faith came later, as a result of seeing this stuff with their own eyes.
Illustrations About Faith
Let me give you an illustration that contrasts the pop culture concept of faith with the historic Christian concept:
A Story About Faith – The Blind Kind
Imagine you really wanted a one of those new iPads. And what if you just wished as hard as you could that a brand new iPad would magically appear at your doorstep? Say one day, you came home fully expecting to use your new iPad. So much so that you even stopped off at Best Buy to pick up a cool case for it. That whole set-up would be kind of like this idea of a “blind leaping” into the dark, right?
Or say your entered a contest on the Internet to win a brand new iPad. You hope you’d win. But you’ve got no assurance there, right? See, blind faith is just a like blowing out your birthday candles and making a wish. Or chucking a coin into a fountain or a wishing well. You’ve got nothing. That’s pretty much the pop culture take on faith.
Another Story About Faith – The Evidence Kind
But now on the other hand, imagine you went online and bought yourself an iPad! Later, you got the confirmation e-mail saying “thanks for your purchase.” Eventually, you get an e-mail from UPS saying I’ve got a package scheduled to be delivered the very next day. The next day, you get an e-mail saying it’s on the truck to your house. You get the tracking number and track
this thing at work until it’s scanned as delivered. Maybe your spouse is home and you get a text saying, “Your iPad is here.”
Now as you’re driving home, if you want to pick up a cool case or something, you’ve got a pretty good idea—a hope that isn’t based on some fairy tale—that you are going to be using your new iPad around dinner time.
And you know this, even though you’re not actually looking at your new iPad just yet.
This is the kind of concept we see when you read a story about faith in the Bible: Evidence, that leads to knowledge, that gives you an assurance of things you can’t see.
So “blind faith” is like chucking a coin into fountain. But biblical faith is more like tracking a package.