Can The Christian Know?
by Brian Auten
Christianity claims to be true. Christians believe it to be true. But can the Christian know that it is true? Moreover, can the believer who cannot prove Christianity to be true, legitimately say that he knows that Christianity is true? Our purpose here is twofold: to show that the Christian can legitimately claim to know that Christianity is true, and to explore how the Christian knows.
Truth and Belief
Before exploring the subject of knowledge, we must first define truth and belief. Truth can be defined as “that which corresponds to or adequately expresses what is real.”1 This is most commonly referred to as the correspondence theory of truth, which says that something is true if it comports, or corresponds, with reality. Truth has to do with the real. A proposition or statement is true if it accurately describes reality.
Belief can be described as a positive cognitive acceptance of something to be true. Belief tends to be propositional. That is to say, when a person believes, he is taking a proposition to be true. For example, the proposition “there is a cat in the tree” may be true or false. If a person takes the proposition to be true, then that person holds the belief that the cat is in the tree. Obviously, if there really is a cat in the tree, the belief is true. But if there is no cat in the tree, the belief is false.
Belief that something is true must be distinguished from belief in a person or ideal. Belief in carries a meaning more akin to trust and somewhat similar to faith. Often, belief that must precede belief in. For example, to believe in God, one must first believe that God exists.
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