by Rob Lundberg
This past week, on The Real Issue podcast, I addressed the subject of faith, and how some well meaning Christians, seem to think that the Holy Spirit does not use evidence in the conviction process in evangelism or the discipleship of a believer. The picture in the post is actually a church picture that hit Facebook some time ago.
I must admit that it caused a stir among many of us in the apologetics community. Some were face palming, others were just tweeting and commenting with UGH! There were even some questioning if this was for real, being suspicious that it was of a Photoshop picture. For me, I thought it would make a good blog posting of how some are helping along the anti-intellectualism in the church and presenting conflict between faith and reason when there really should not be one.
It is not my desire in this post to further the viral nature of the picture. Nevertheless my intent is to address the message on the billboard (in the picture), and show how it could be an indicator for why a reasonable faith causes skittishness and is perhaps an unwelcome conversation in many churches across our land.
I plan to do this by giving just a quick summation of the logical problems of the marquis’ message statement and show a Scriptural problem which happens to go along with it. By the time I close, my hope is that you will see how this statement breaks down, and why we need a revival of critical thinking and apologetics in the church today.
The Sign’s Problem
The problem with the sign is two fold, having both a logical problem and a Scriptural problem. Let’s look at the statement and examine the wording and the logical fallacy interwoven in it.
Allow to restate the problem: The message on the sign saying, “Reason is the Greatest Enemy Faith Has” is an illogical statement. How so? Let’s first look at the logical problem.
The Logical Problem
Looking at first glance at the statement, one would think that reason could be the greatest enemy to faith. This could be true depending on one’s view of faith, but not when it comes to the true definition of faith. You see, if one has a faulty definition of faith, then it is easy to see what comes along with it. . . a misplaced role of reason. I will get to that in the second part of this section.
So what is the logical problem with the message on the sign? The logical problem with this marquis sign is that the author of the message had to use his/her reasoning faculties to say that “reason is an enemy of faith.” Did the author of this statement desire to be a support of faith, a reasonable statement? In other words, the one making the statement is making a reasonable statement in their mind that reason is the greatest enemy to faith.
Breaking this down a little more,”Reason is the greatest enemy faith has” is a statement in support of faith being a stand alone object and that one does not need reason to have faith. The problem is that the author of the sign used reason, to create the sign. Then making what they thought was a reasonable statement about faith, it turns out that the statement self-implodes.
The Scriptural Problem
The scriptural definition of faith, found in Hebrews 11:1, says nothing about pitching reason out the door to have a pure faith. In fact, if we were to look at that passage, it says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.“
I am not going to get into an entire discourse on the subject of faith. Let me invite you to check out my posting on whether or not one can divorce reason from faith, that I wrote some time ago. The problem with the statement on the marquis, at least from this writer’s perspective, is that there is no room for evidence, in spite of the Scriptural definition given by the writer of letter to the Hebrews, who put “evidence” in the “definition.”
The unfortunate thing about the marquis’ message is that it plays right into the kinds of definitions being thrown down and used by those attacking the definition of “faith.” We do not have to look to far to see the definitions on faith coming from those like Richard Dawkins, Peter Boghossian, and Harris. We can go on the social networking chat rooms and see how people are influenced by short-sighted definitions which say that faith is, “believing something with no evidence.” The antagonists that I just mentioned are not giving the real definitions of “faith.”
I could have jumped into this subject and written a long treatise. Let me invite you to go to the linked posting I wrote in April, which will give you the definition of faith.
When we talk about biblical faith, we are implying that we are trusting something or someone. We do this in familial relationships. We do this in the marital relationship. For those of use who serve or who have served in the military, we swore an oath to be faithful to the country and the support and defense of the Constitution. None of these things were blind “follow-ship” other than being faithful to carrying out the orders of an irresponsible commander.
When we get on a plane to fly from say Richmond to Providence or Boston, we know that the plane can fly, but we don’t know the pilot. However we are trusting the pilot to get us from Point A to Point B. That is trust. In the case of the Christian understanding of faith, we are trusting in the historical crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our redemption and salvation. And oh, we have reasons to have this kind of faith and believe it to be true. That is what we call giving the evidence (apologetics) for having this warranted faith.
All this said, allow me to close with a quote from one of my favorite apologists, Ravi Zacharias. In his book A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism, he says the following: “God has put enough into the world to make faith in Him a most reasonable thing, but He has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason or observation alone.”
If someone wants to say that the Holy Spirit does not use reason or apologetics, let me share a quote by a fellow blogger named Steve Bedard who waxed eloquently on this:
“There are those within the church who are critical of Christian apologetics, who point out its limitations. They will argue that presenting an apologetic for Christianity will not result in the person becoming a Christian. It is argued that people become followers of Jesus only by the calling of the Holy Spirit. Therefore apologetic arguments are not required. I will agree with this on one condition: I want those same people to agree that no one will become a Christian as a result of preaching, evangelism, missionary activity, prayer, Bible reading or any other human activity. If they will agree with this, then I will agree with them. I do believe that people become Christians by a work of the Holy Spirit. And I also believe that God uses preaching and evangelism and all the other things, including apologetics, in the process of calling that person. — Stephen J. Bedard (from, “Apologetics Will Not Make Anyone a Christian“)
I agree with Stephen one hundred percent! Nuff said.
Rob is a blogger, writer and public speaker on a mission to equip the believer to think and articulate what they believe and to communicate the message of the gospel to a confused culture in a confused, chaotic, “brave new world.” He is available to come and speak to your church, college club, or group. Find out what people are saying.
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