Faith, Reason, and Personal Persuasion
by Kenneth Samples
Recently a newspaper reporter asked me to respond to two provocative questions: (1) "Is it necessary to leave reason and move to faith in order to embrace Christianity?" and (2) "If there are strong arguments in support of Christianity’s actually being true, then why aren’t more people, particularly intelligent, well-educated people, persuaded as to its truth?"
As to the first question, historic Christianity doesn’t require believers or nonbelievers to choose between faith and reason, as though the two are unalterably separate spheres. Rather, Christianity is uniquely a reasonable faith (a trustworthy and reasonable belief system). The events that form the core of Christian belief-the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth-are rooted in history. Christian apologists for two thousand years have presented diverse evidences and arguments for embracing Christian truth-claims.
While specific Christian doctrines such as the triune nature of God and the union of the two natures of Christ certainly transcend human comprehension, Christian belief never violates reason itself. In fact, Christian philosophers have argued that the God of the Bible uniquely provides the metaphysical foundation for logic and rationality. The consensus throughout church history is that faith and reason are compatible and complementary.
The New Testament word for "faith" or "belief" (Greek: pisteuo, the verb; pistis, the noun) is rich in meaning. To have biblical faith in Jesus Christ for salvation includes: (1) a genuine (factual and historical) knowledge of the gospel events; namely, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, (2) a personal assent to the truth and importance of those events, and (3) a confident trust in the object of that faith (the risen Lord Jesus Christ). Faith, in a biblical context, is therefore not separated from authentic human knowledge of truth and reality…
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