Friday, September 30, 2005

What is faith? part 2

But there is further reason I have for taking issue with the common understanding of faith as belief without evidence. I don't think the Bible advocates blind faith at all, but rather, it encourages critical thinking. First of all, 1 Peter 3:15 says, "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." In this passage, we are admonished to "give a reason" for the hope we have. Before we can give a reason for why we have hope, we have to first HAVE a reason for our hope. So this passage presupposes that our faith not be blind or arbitrary. It must be based on reasons. 1 Peter 3:15 is where the ministry of apologetics comes from. The Greek word translated as "answer" here and as "defense" in the NASB is "apologia," from which we get "apologetics," which involves giving reasons for thinking Christianity is true and answering objections to the Christian worldview. It's something that according to 1 Peter every Christian should do, but that requires them to engage the gospel on an intellectual level and not to be content with mere blind belief without reasons.

Part 3


At 10/01/2005 7:27 PM , Blogger Steve said...

you're definitely right Sam that the early Christians probably promoted a lot of critical thinking.

I think as the church became more established such subversive intellectualism made it difficult for the Catholic Church to have one "official" understanding of religion.

Any study of the Byzantines or other pseudo-Christian Empires of the period demonstrates that it was quite common to label new religious interpretations as "heresies." In particular, the Nestorian Christians and Monophocytes had this difficulty when the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Pope in Rome both condemnded their viewpoints during the Ecumenical Councils.

I think therefore the tendencies to have a unified viewpoint on Christianity reflect the increasing needs of the church as an institution to survive alternative explanations of faith.

At 10/03/2005 5:50 AM , Blogger ephphatha said...


In the early years of the church, contrary ideas were not met with anti-intellectualism. They were met with intellectualism. You can see this especially in the writings of the second century (e.g. Justin Martyr). Christianity had no real power in those days to enforce any point of view. They had nothing but arguments. It wasn't until later years, when Christians gained political power, that they began to use that power to silence alternate views rather than debate them.

At 10/03/2005 8:03 AM , Blogger Jeff said...

I always thought that most of the anti-intellectualism in western civilization came on the heels of modernism. As an alternative explanation for the existence of life arose (Darwinism), and science over and over supposedly proved the Bible to be only a myth (see 19th century cosmology), the Church had to respond. There was such a strong subjective, or internal, testimony that Christianity is true that people decided to ignore the 'intellectualism' of modernity. At least that's my take on it.

At 10/03/2005 7:42 PM , Blogger Steve said...

yup, I think that when the Christians lacked power they were open minded (as an outsider of the mainstream religous community) but when elevated to real political power (as you point out) they fell victim to the same close mindedness.

Once you have more to lose, being open minded is a handicap!


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