What is faith? part 5
The apostles didn't expect converts to accept the gospel without reasons. They actually gave arguments for why the gospel is true in order to pursuade people. In Acts, 2:22-36, Peter argues that Jesus is the messiah by pointing to his resurrection, and he points to the empty tomb of Jesus in contrast to the occupied tomb of David as evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead. Acts is full of examples of the apostles (especially Paul) debating and trying to pursuade. Here are just a few examples:
Acts 9:22 "Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ."
Acts 9:29 "He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him."
Acts 18:4 "Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks."
Acts 18:28 "For he [Apollos] vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ."
Acts 19:8 "Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God."
In his own writings, Paul talks about his own purpose in defending the gospel and trying to pursuade people of its truth:
2 Corinthians 5:11 "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men."
2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
Philippians 1:7 "It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me."
Philippians 1:16 "The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel."
Not only does he think he should defend the gospel, but he also admonishes us to defend the gospel. He writes, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:5-6). And again, Peter tells us to be prepared with reasons for the hope that we have and to be able to articulate these reasons to other people with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
For all of these reasons, I take faith to mean "trust in what you think is true," and I think the notion that faith is "belief without reasons" is at odds with what the Bible says.
That's it for the email.