Faith Embracing Certainty? (Part 1)
By John Ferguson
If a person wants to learn more about Jesus of Nazareth, she is already up against the accepted wisdom of our times. It’s not uncommon to hear people in our society say things like, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t true!” or “You just gotta have faith!”: meaning of course that faith is what you’re left with when you’ve got nothing else.
Such a sentiment is underscored by no less a personality than the well-known atheist, Richard Dawkins. In his book, “The Selfish Gene,” Dawkins leaves his narrow specialized field of study in science to wax eloquent on metaphysics. He writes that faith “means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.” (Dawkins, The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition, 2006, pg. 198) He goes on to describe faith as “a kind of mental illness,” (pg. 330) and a “brainwasher of children”. (pg. 330)
When people hear things like this, many are unsure of how to respond. Who wants to concede that they are mentally ill simply for believing in the Bible? Is faith the equivalent of sticking one’s head in the sand? Is this how Christianity describes faith?
Contrary to this popular sentiment, the term “blind faith” is not at all an accurate description of the faith that Christianity calls for. And I’m thankful for an ancient physician, named Luke, who wrote a biography of Jesus to give us some insight on this issue.
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The ancient historical document called “The Gospel of Luke” is the first part of a two volume work from the first century. “The Gospel of Luke” tells us about the events surrounding the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. The second volume commonly called “Acts” or “The Acts of the Apostles” is the history of the first Christians in the months and decades after life and ministry of Jesus.
Luke opens his account of the life of Jesus by directing his words to his first reader:
“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4).
Let’s ask a couple of questions before we hear that basic claims that Luke is making…
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