True faith is not believing against evidence. Rather, true faith involves trusting in the evidence that God has amply provided in and through His Word. That faith is not without what Calvin called evidences; rather, it is a faith that surrenders to or acquiesces to the evidences.
– R.C. Sproul, Faith and Reason
In our age today, questions seem to be raised about almost everything. In our Christian walk, we will inevitably face some of these questions. The response given by many evangelicals when some of these questions are posed is, “I don’t know, it’s all faith. I just believe, brother.” After all, they say, “blessed are those who believe without seeing.” Now, if this answer was ever given to me as a response to a question, I would be extremely disappointed. The Christian worldview, after all, is supposed to be the most logically consistent worldview. Why then, are Christians today anti-intellectual? How do these answers persuade anyone to the Christian faith? Indeed, blessed are we who have believed in Christ without seeing, but Christ herein does not talk of a blind faith. How do we believe blindly on something our eternity hinges upon?
Growing up in Ghana, I was never able to ask deep theological questions. As a kid, questions like “who were Adam’s parents” and who “made” God, amongst others, were thought to be so mysterious that we could never comprehend and may run mad if we even thought about them. Hence, they were sidelined as illogical, and the kid still had questions left unanswered. For a kid, these are all questions that could be answered by articulating God as a Creator and the self-existence of God in all eternity, without beginning and an end. These questions could have led to an articulation of the sovereignty and supremacy of God in all things and how we relate to him. These simple questions could put into perspective who we are as men before a Holy God, the Fall of humanity in Adam amongst others. They were simple questions by a young kid, but they could have led to profound truths. Rather, they were sidelined. That is the general belief of many in modern day evangelicalism in Africa. Nothing seems to be questionable. As a result of this, we have so much paganism in the church today. (But that is a discussion for another time.) It is no wonder Mensa Otabil, a pastor in Ghana, could come out and say, “Belief defies logic”. (For a response to this, check out, “Belief Doesn’t Defy Logic: A Response To Pst. Otabil). It is not wrong to conclude from this statement that Christianity is illogical in his opinion.
The Christian faith is not set against reason: It is a reasonable faith. We humans are not illogical beings, and neither does Christianity turn us into one. Our very belief in Christ is rooted in human history: Christ came in flesh, died, and was raised up on the third day. This is not mystical, neither is it overtly spiritual. It really happened. The Christian faith is backed by facts and evidence all grounded in human history. So, to believe in Christ as the Son of God, means to believe in something that REALLY happened in history. Michael Horton rightly says of faith that “Faith is not a subjective leap; it is a reasoned trust in the God who reveals himself clearly in the gospel. The whole Christian faith rests not on our collective feelings, experiences or moral sentiments but on the public announcement that God has acted in history to save us from sin and death.” Is it illogical to believe in something that really happened in history?
R.C. Sproul brilliantly says,
“Without reason, the content of biblical faith would be unintelligible and meaningless. So, we say that biblical faith is not the same as reason, but that faith is rational and reasonable. The first assertion that faith is rational means that faith is intelligible. It is not absurd or illogical. If biblical revelation were absurd and irrational, it would be utterly unintelligible and meaningless. The content of the Bible cannot pierce the soul of a sentient creature without first going through the mind.” How does anything have an impact in our lives if it has no meaning and is unintelligible?
Our faith is a rational one. Does it defy logic that God, being God, can create the world in six days? Does it defy logic that Christ can take on human nature and be without sin? Is it unreasonable to believe that Christ died and rose on the third day if you believe He is the Son of God? These are mysteries in the Christian faith, but they are not against reason. They are very logical when one realizes that God is God. They are logical conclusions from the nature of God. If you believe God is God, then the miracles by Christ are logical conclusions from the nature of God. It is not illogical to believe the God of the universe can heal the blind, lepers and even raise the dead. It’s his nature.
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” How do we present a defense or give a reason for something illogical? How did Paul reason with people if Christianity is divorced from reason? “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.” This is a challenge to my Christian brothers and sisters: Our faith is a reasonable one. Reasoning was not left to the world only. We see repeatedly the authors of scripture give reasons for why they believe what they believe. John gives us reasons for why Christ is the Son of God and tells us that he wrote it so that we may believe. Paul repeatedly is seen reasoning with people. Why, have we in the 21st century become deviant of reason? Does it not baffle us that all the great theologians reasoned through Scriptures? Augustine, Luther, and Calvin are just a few. The command is to study and show ourselves approved. Why do this, if our faith is an illogical one? How do we love God with our mind if reason is to be divorced from the Christian faith? R.C. Sproul notes again that, “Biblical faith does not call people to crucify their intellect or take irrational leaps of faith into the darkness with the hope that Christ will catch us. Rather we are called to leap out of the darkness and into the light.”
We must study, and be ready then, to give a “defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is in us”. We must be able to articulate why we believe what we believe. Ask questions, go to the Bible and seeks answers. If you’re not reading the Bible, you definitely will not be able to provide a defense. You may read other books but live in the Bible. The Christian faith is not unintelligible. Rather, it is in every way intelligible, meaningful and rational. We are not here just believing in unicorns or flying dragons or the spaghetti monster(yeah Rachael, I quoted you here!). If even those who believe in these are able to articulate their beliefs, how much more we, the children of the rational God?