Consider this conversation:
“Don’t defend the Bible. Just let it loose.”
“But sir, the Word doesn’t profit if it isn’t mixed with faith in them that hear it?”
“Son, the Word is a two-edged sword and you just have to keep jabbing people with it.”
“But Paul affirmed God’s existence by natural revelation, moral reasoning, and even quoted philosophers. He supported supernatural revelation with reason and proof. Even the disciples had to SEE Jesus before they believed!”
“You just don’t have enough faith.”
“I do have faith. I just know some people need a reason to believe something that contradicts what they’ve always been told or what people they respect have taught them.”
“Without faith, you can’t please God! And faith doesn’t need evidence!”
Fideism. This is the teaching that belief (faith) does not need reason or proof. Fideism could be summarized by the statements, “believing without evidence” or “believing without seeing” or “believing without reasons.” Here are some examples of fideistic thinking:
Which of these statements is true? Well if you’re Christian-1, a Mormon-2, a Muslim-3, and a Catholic-4.
How can one know which belief is valid since they all claim divine authority? Should one offer reasons, ration, or evidence? Some Christians castigate questioners for “doubting” the Word of God because they desire a reason to believe it is God’s Word. Is this the way God demands all follow Him, with no proof, evidence, or reason? How can people of other faiths believe in truth if they can’t be shown why their religion is false and verify the Bible’s truthfulness?
If one were to tell a Muslim he should reject Islam because “The Bible is the Word of God, and it is because it says so inside and the Koran is false because it is not the Bible,” he would reply “well you should reject the Bible because the Holy Koran says IT is the Word of God!” Who is right? Both books claim to be the Word of God!
What is seen in this example is two people pitting their beliefs against one another. This is one of the reasons America is moving toward a post-Christian society. The world recognizes that beliefs can be separate from facts. On most college campuses youth are accepting the views of relativism because of fideistic teaching concerning religion and morality. They already feel judged and underprivileged so why should they choose to follow the white, anglo-Saxon, privileged, bigoted, misogynistic belief of Christianity over that of peaceful Hindus or Buddhists or Muslims? (I speak facetiously) Why should they believe anything at all?
Although it may take a while to work through the stereotypes of modern liberal propaganda, the reason each should believe is because Christianity is TRUE. In spite of what someone believes, the truth remains valid, and a belief not grounded in truth (no matter how deeply held) is invalid. The truth is supported by facts and verified through reason or evidence. If there is none of these, a person will have little reason to believe something is true.
For example, it seems true that “mother birds leave their eggs if they are touched by humans.” This is something widely believed, and it makes sense because the bird smells the human and is scared or put-off by the eggs. However, this is not true. How would one belief show another to be wrong? Truth trumps belief. It would seem the wrong belief has good logic concerning the scent of humans, maybe a bird didn’t come back to its eggs one time after someone touched them, so there is evidence. It could be shown though that there is evidence of eggs being tampered with and not left by mothers, the fact is that birds likely can’t even smell the humans because they don’t have a good sense of smell, and birds are often loyal to their chicks to the point of death. Also, one could support each statement by bringing in professional opinions who study and verify that “in abandonment, a destroyed nest is more likely the cause than disturbing the eggs.”
In spite of what is believed about human scent driving away birds, it is wrong. In spite of what is believed about reincarnation, the Book of Mormon, and Muhammad being a kind man, they can be shown as false or unbelievable. Christianity must also be subject to a form of verification, or it can’t be shown as more valid than the alternatives. There are expectations for evidence concerning almost everything, why would one treat the most important belief of all, that which relates to the eternal soul, any differently?
God often gave visible evidence to His servants in the Bible. He appeared to Abraham in dreams and through angels before destroying Sodom. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him three signs for his doubts. The angel of the Lord appeared to Joshua before the walls fell. Gideon was allowed to lay out a fleece, twice. God gave a sign to Hezekiah that he would live through his illness. Jesus performed miracles that people might believe through the miracles even if they struggled to believe His words. If real faith is believing without seeing then the disciples were never saved. They had to see the resurrected Christ before they believed. This is also true for Paul the Apostle. Even John the Baptist doubted the very Christ he proclaimed would come and sent his followers to question Christ. Jesus told his followers to share with him the miracles they saw. Jesus showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs. John wrote that they were testifying of things “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled.” Thomas had to see and feel to believe and Jesus gave him that privilege.
Often when Christians are questioned about the Bible’s divine authorship they point to prophecy as evidence. This is a proof of their faith. It is a validation. But if asked about canonicity they reply that a person just needs to have faith the Bible is accurate. When a person desires to defend their Bible translation they will point to the historical proof that the translators used the right method or correct manuscripts or were more intelligent and educated than other translators. Yet, when someone desires historical evidence for the resurrection or gospels this is wrong and an unbelieving heart. Why is this inconsistency so prevalent?
As has been shown, the God of the Bible does not expect man to believe Him with no evidence. He has given creation, a conscience, and a resurrection verified by written records in the gospels, eye witnesses, and alluded to by historians. To not believe what there is good reason or proof to believe is an evil heart of unbelief. Israel was shown plagues, the red sea crossing, and water from a stone to believe that God would carry them into the promised land! Yet, they didn’t trust what they knew about God. They rejected what they knew, this is evil.
In helping someone to faith (strong confidence in something or someone) in Christ it is not unbiblical to give them reasons and proof. Some need more evidence than others (Thomas, Moses, Gideon). Christians can not see all that they believe (Hebrews 11:1), but that does not mean there is no evidence to support their beliefs! The wind can’t be seen, but there is evidence to believe in it, so it is with God.
May believers in Christ not shortchange God’s preserved Word, shun honest questions and keep people from coming to Christ by stubbornly expecting people to have a faith to know God that He does not require. 1Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
Here is a link to answer one main objection concerning a more sure Word: http://www.tobiengland.com/2016/02/a-more-sure-word.html