Archive for March, 2014

Is Belief In God Irrational?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Must one abandon reason to accept revelation?
Most modern concepts of faith are fideistic; tending to deny or minimize the role of reason inChristianity. Many contend that faith and reason are somehow contradictory. More and more,we see Christians ridiculed as foolish, ignorant, or fanatical in the national media and
elsewhere. Of course, this is nothing new (cf. Acts 26:24). Unfortunately, many who profess to follow Christ speak and behave in such a way as to support the proposition!

Many in Christendom have misunderstood Biblical faith. Faith has become “a leap in the dark” wherein one lives righteously, hoping (with fingers crossed, perhaps) that there really is a God. Some even allege that to use the reasoning faculties in pursuit of righteousness negates faith. Is this the case? Is that Biblical faith?

Let’s explore briefly the question—Is Christianity of human construction or based upon truth and verifiable facts? Putting it another way, are we irrational in believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16)? This is extremely important. As Antony Flew stated:
“For the committed Christian what is at issue is the rationality of the commitment”‘

The scriptures present faith as an act both of the intellect and the will. Notice the case in John chapter four:
“And from that city many of the Samaritans believed on him because of the word of the woman, who testified, he told me all things that ever I did” (v. 39)

The Samaritan’s belief was based on the woman’s testimony. Her belief was a result of hearing Jesus’ very words regarding her history. As the story continues, the Samaritans further state: “Now we believe, not because of thy speaking: for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is the Savior of the world” (v. 42). For both the woman and the Samaritans, there was the claim (Jesus is the Savior) and belief in evidence to support the claim, which produced a knowledge of the truth of the claim.

Similarly, our Lord openly confronted Thomas with his unbelief and offered him the opportunity to empirically test the validity of the other apostle’s resurrection claim, urging him to touch his hands and reach in and feel the wound made by the spear (John 20). Notice that as our Lord extended this invitation he was encouraging Thomas to “be not faithless, but believing”(John 20:27).

Analysis of the New Testament demonstrates the authors were aware of the need to offer verifiable and credible testimony regarding their message. Peter and John both state that they were witnesses to the resurrection. That they had seen, heard, and even handled the Son of God, and were not following “cunningly devised fables” (2 Peter 1:16-18; 1 John 1:1-3).

Paul stated regarding the resurrection, that over 5oo people, many who were still alive, had seen Jesus after His resurrection (1 Cor.15:5,6).

An accepted, rational way of arriving at knowledge is through credible testimony (ie., a court of law). In fact, “faith” presupposes testimony. If nothing is said or reported, there can be nothing to believe or disbelieve. This is exactly the situation found in the Scriptures (Romans 10:14-17)! Wherever the gospel was proclaimed in the book of Acts, faith in the testimony of the messengers produced obedience to the gospel.

Is it rational to believe in God, have faith in His word, and submit to Jesus Christ? Yes!
Others may look at the evidence and choose not to believe, but they cannot honestly claim that it is irrational for those who do believe, to do so.

REFERENCES

Ashton, John & Michael Westacott (2006) The Big Argument:Does God Exist? (Green
Forest, AR: Master Books, Inc.)
Flew, Antony (1966) God & Philosophy (New York: Dell)
Geisler, Norman L. & Ronald M. Brooks (1990) Come, Let Us Reason-An Intro. to Logical
Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House)
Popkin, Richard H. & Avrum Stroll (1956) Philosophy Made Simple (Garden City,
NY:Garden City Books)
Sztanyo, Dick (1996) Faith and Reason (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press)
Woods, Guy N. (1991) 1 &2 Peter, 1,2,3 John, and Jude; New Testament Commentary
(Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Co.)