What is faith? part 3
I want to look at a few more passages, especially the ones that are commonly used to advocate this notion of "belief without reasons." You often hear people use the phrase, "child-like faith," and this is supposed to mean some kind of naive approach to Christianity. The idea comes from Matthew 18:2, Mark 10:15, and Luke 18:17 which says, "Whosoever shall not recieve the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." In Mark and in Luke, we're left to interpret for ourselves in what way we are to be like children in order to enter the kingdom of God, and most people seem to take it to mean we're supposed to have a blind and naive faith. That's where the phrase, "child-like faith" comes from. But I think this is a mistake for two reasons.
First, Matthew doesn't leave us to speculate about what it means. He clarifies it for us. He writes, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." So far, he's saying the same thing as Mark and Luke, but he doesn't stop there. He goes on to say, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." In answer to the question, "In what way are we to be like children?" we can see that it has nothing to do with naive thinking, but rather, it has to do with having humility. We are to enter the kingdom with humility, not with blind naive faith.
Second, if we take it to mean that we are to think like children in order to enter the kingdom, we will be in direct contradiction with Paul who wrote, "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men" (1 Corinthians 14:20). In the NIV, it says, "Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults." Earlier in the same passage, he wrote, "When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things" (1 Cor 13:11). Clearly, then, the Bible doesn't advocate that we have "child-like faith." We are to be like children by being "innocent about what is evil" (Romans 16:19), but we are to be adults in our thinking because "a simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps" (Proverbs 14:15).