A Call To An Intellectual Faith

by J. Brian Huffling Ph.D.

I would venture that if you asked people what is meant by ‘faith’, they would likely say “believing something in spite of the evidence or in the absence of evidence.” However, such has not historically been the view of faith.

Faith has traditionally been understood as trusting a reliable source. For example, while it is possible to prove through historical means that Jesus died, it is not possible to prove through merely historical means that his death atoned for our sins. The former is demonstrable through reason, the latter by faith. This is not meant to say that faith is irrational. On the contrary, when a source is demonstrated to be reliable, we can trust that source even when we cannot prove something through empirical investigation. Jesus and his apostles have been verified to be reliable sources. Their message has been confirmed with miracles and Jesus’ claims to deity were likewise confirmed via miracles. Given such reliability, we can trust, i.e. have faith in, what they say.

This is in stark contrast to the blind faith that so many in our culture accuse Christians of having. I have been asked on more than one occasion how I can be a philosopher and also a Christian. The answer is simple: Christianity is philosophically rational.

The Problem

However, sometimes Christians don’t help matters. Sometimes people assert that faith is all it takes to be a Christian. In a sense there is a ring of truth to this; however, that is probably misleading. We have to have faith in the right object. Discerning what object should warrant our faith and belief requires reason. Faith alone is not enough, for one can have (blind) faith in anything. To have faith in the traditional sense requires one to have reasons, and thus to have a reasoned faith.

It is sad that some Christians actually believe (blindly) that we should not base our faith on reason, for such supposedly subordinates God’s Word to human reason. However, understanding (let alone believing) the Bible requires one to rationally understand what it says. We cannot even know what the Bible says without using reason…

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A Call To An Intellectual Faith