About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Faith, Is it Irrational?
In my estimation faith is one of those Christian words that is most central to our religion, yet at the same time one of the most misunderstood words, or so I think. How can this be? I believe that many of us simply have not sat down with Bible in hand to see what the word faith really means. It seems that we have lost the desire to think in our "hand out society". We accept many things that just sound good to our ears. It's just easier not to think things through. There are many Christian words we use all of the time, if we are asked, we cannot properly define them in Biblical terms. I tend to think that faith might be one of these words.
In my conversation with Christians over the years I get the understanding that many view faith as something they need to get, like some spiritual gift that is handed out to them by God in bits and pieces. You might hear someone say, "I need more faith", as if faith was some commodity that you can get more of by the asking. Yet is faith really some commodity that is outside of us? Is it something that we can pick up here and there when we ask?
Along with this way of thinking concerning faith I have noted that many people put the word faith in a category called, "the unknown". Whatever we can't figure out, either scientifically, historically, or even Scripturally, we just accept it, as it were "by faith". We simply believe it anyway. We can't prove it. We just accept it "by faith".
Non religious people often think that we are a bunch of people who merely accept things without any process of reasoning. We believe things to be true for no other reason than because we want to. Our faith, our belief system is based on feelings, tradition, or a desire to believe in something we can't see. The things we can't prove, we just believe anyway. To the world, this kind of thinking just doesn't make any rational sense.
What makes things harder for us as Christians in these days is that there is no truth that is considered absolute. Truth is all relative and transient. Truth changes from generation to generation. It changes from culture to culture. It even changes from person to person. So what one believes as truth may differ from his neighbour. That is okay, so we think, because no one can really know truth anyway, except for Christians who know it by blind faith. Christians take a big leap into a huge pit of the unknown. We call it truth, and do so by faith. Christians are therefore viewed as irrational, because they cannot back up what they view as truth. It is understood only in terms of faith. But really what is faith?
Is faith irrational? Is faith a leap into the unknown without any substantial proofs? No, faith is nothing like that. Peter, believed that we should be able to rationally defend what we say is truth. (1 Pet. 3:15) Paul is an example of a man who could sit down with the best of rational thinkers and explain what he believed was truth, even though he did not depend solely on rational explanations to prove his point. (1 Cor. 4:20).
Faith is rational. Our beliefs concerning what is true and not true to a large extent is explainable. Our faith is based on historical events. The Bible, in which we formulate truth is a historical book, and by all accounts of historical books is more authentic than other books of its kind.
Christians believe in a God-man named Jesus, who had the titles of both Lord and Christ. Jesus is a man that has been well documented in history. Some may concede the point we make concerning his death. Yet when it comes to the resurrection and the ascension, that's a different story. Yet these too can be explained rationally from Scripture and even to a degree from science.
Who Jesus is, is the basis of our Christian faith. From there we work out our theology and our belief system. Then when it comes to what faith really is, well, faith in its simplest definition means to trust. Therefore Christians trust. We trust in the historical Jesus. By trust I mean, we have given our lives to a real person in Jesus and accept as true all that He has told us in Scripture. Faith is not abstract. Faith is not irrational. Faith is not something that we can get in bits and pieces. We all have a certain small ability to begin to believe. When we reach out to Jesus, He by His Spirit, enables us to complete the process of faith, complete the process to trust Him. We have the ability to call out to God, which is not faith in itself. When we call out to Him, He enables us to trust Him with our very lives. This trusting in Jesus with our very lives is faith. We cling to Jesus for every aspect of our being.
Faith is giving ourselves to Jesus in a loving and committed relationship. Our trust in Him is very much explainable and rational. Yes, there are many secondary questions that are hard to answer, or can't be answered at all, yet because we trust in Jesus, we trust that He has the answers and in His good time we will know all there is to know.
Let us be rational Christians, with a rational faith. Let's not believe blindly. Let us understand what we believe and why we believe. We can explain these things to our non Christian friends. Yet like Paul, we don't solely depend on our rational explanations. The Kingdom of God is not in word only, but in the power of the Holy Spirit.