Tag Archives: Fideism

Does the Bible teach that faith is opposed to logic and evidence?

Probably the biggest misconception that I encounter when defending the faith is the mistaken notion of what faith is. Today we are going to get to the bottom of what the Bible says faith is, once and for all. This post will be useful to Christians and atheists, alike.

What is faith according to the Bible?

I am going to reference this article from apologist Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason in my explanation.

Koukl cites three Biblical examples to support the idea that faith is not blind leap-of-faith wishing, but is based on evidence.

  1. Moses went out into the wilderness and he had that first encounter with the burning bush, and God gave him the directive to go back to Egypt and let his people go. Moses said, Yeah, right. What’s going to happen when they say, why should we believe you, Moses?God said, See that staff? Throw it down.Moses threw it down and it turned into a serpent.God said, See that serpent? Pick it up.And he picked it up and it turned back into a staff.

    God said, Now you take that and do that before the Jewish people and you do that before Pharaoh. And you do this number with the hail, and the frogs, and turning the Nile River into blood. You put the sun out. You do a bunch of other tricks to get their attention.

    And then comes this phrase: “So that they might know that there is a God in Israel.”

  2. [I]n Mark 2 you see Jesus preaching in a house, and you know the story where they take the roof off and let the paralytic down through the roof. Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” And people get bugged because how can anyone forgive sins but God alone?Jesus understood what they were thinking and He said this: What’s harder to say, your sins are forgiven, or to rise, take up your pallet and go home?

    Now, I’ll tell you what would be harder for me to say : Arise, take up your pallet and go home. I can walk into any Bible study and say your sins are forgiven and nobody is going to know if I know what I am talking about or not. But if I lay hands on somebody in a wheelchair and I say, Take up your wheelchair and go home, and they sit there, I look pretty dumb because everyone knows nothing happened.

    But Jesus adds this. He says, “In order that you may know that the Son of Man has the power and authority to forgive sins, I say to you, arise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and he got out. Notice the phrase “In order that you may know”.  Same message, right?

  3. Move over to the Book of Acts. First sermon after Pentecost. Peter was up in front of this massive crowd. He was talking about the resurrection to which he was an eyewitness. He talked about fulfilled prophecy. He talked about the miraculous tongues and the miraculous manifestation of being able to speak in a language you don’t know. Do you think this is physical evidence to those people? I think so. Pretty powerful.Peter tells them, These men are not drunk as it seems, but rather this is a fulfillment of prophecy. David spoke of this. Jesus got out of the grave, and we saw him, and we proclaim this to you.

    Do you know how he ends his sermon? It’s really great. Acts 2:36. I’ve been a Christian 20 years and I didn’t see this until about a year ago. This is for all of those who think that if you can know it for sure, you can’t exercise faith in it. Here is what Peter said. Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” There it is again. “Know for certain.”

What is faith according to Bible-based theologians?

I am going to reference this article from theologian C. Michael Patton of Parchment and Pen in my explanation.

Patton explains that according to Reformation (conservative, Bible-based) theologians, faith has 3 parts:

  1. notitia – This is the basic informational foundation of our faith. It is best expressed by the word content. Faith, according to the Reformers must have content. You cannot have faith in nothing. There must be some referential propositional truth to which the faith points. The proposition “Christ rose from the grave,” for example, is a necessary information base that Christians must have.
  2. assensus – This is the assent or confidence that we have that the notitia is correct… This involves evidence which leads to the conviction of the truthfulness of the proposition… This involves intellectual assent and persuasion based upon critical thought… assensus… says, “I am persuaded to believe that Christ rose from the grave.”
  3. fiducia – This is the “resting” in the information based upon a conviction of its truthfulness. Fiducia is best expressed by the English word “trust.”… Fiducia is the personal subjective act of the will to take the final step. It is important to note that while fiducia goes beyond or transcends the intellect, it is built upon its foundation.

So, Biblical faith is really trust. Trust(3) can only occur after intellectual assent(2), based on evidence and thought. Intellectual assent(2) can only occur after the propositional information(1) is known.

The church today accepts 1 and 3, but denies 2. I call this “fideism” or “blind faith”. Ironically, activist atheists, (the New Atheists), also believe that faith is blind. The postmodern “emergent church” denies 1 and 2. A person could accept 1 and 2 but deny 3 by not re-prioritizing their life based on what they know to be true.

How do beliefs form, according to Christian philosophers?

I am going to reference a portion of chapter 3 of J.P. Moreland’s “Love Your God With All Your Mind” (i.e. – LYGWYM).

J.P. Moreland explains how beliefs form and how you can change them.

  1. Today, people are inclined to think that the sincerity and fervency of one’s beliefs are more important than the content… Nothing could be further from the truth… As far as reality is concerned, what matters is not whether I like a belief or how sincere I am in believing it but whether or not the belief is true. I am responsible for what I believe and, I might add, for what I refuse to believe because the content of what I do or do not believe makes a tremendous difference to what I become and how I act.
  2. A belief’s strength is the degree to which you are convinced the belief is true. As you gain ,evidence and support for a belief, its strength grows for you… The more certain you are of a belief… the more you rely on it as a basis for action.

But the most important point of the article is that your beliefs are not under the control of your will.

…Scripture holds us responsible for our beliefs since it commands us to embrace certain beliefs and warns us of the consequences of accepting other beliefs. On the other hand, experience teaches us that we cannot choose or change our beliefs by direct effort.

For example, if someone offered you $10,000 to believe right now that a pink elephant was sitting next to you, you could not really choose to believe this… If I want to change my beliefs about something, I can embark on a course of study in which I choose to think regularly about certain things, read certain pieces of evidence and argument, and try to find problems with evidence raised against the belief in question.

…by choosing to undertake a course of study… I can put myself in a position to undergo a change in… my beliefs… And… my character and behavior… will be transformed by these belief changes.

The article goes on to make some very informative comments on the relationship between apologetics and belief.

Why men stay away from the feminized church

On the Biola University site, I found a book review of a new book by David Murrow called “Why Men Hate Going to Church”.

Here’s the problem:

There are generally more women than men in every type of church, in every part of the world, according to church growth experts like Patrick Johnstone, author of Operation World. A traditional explanation is that women are more spiritual than men. But the leaders of this new movement suggest that the church’s music, messages and ministries cater to women.

…In America, among evangelical churches, 57 percent of members are women and, among mainline Protestant churches, 66 percent are women, according to a 1998 book American Evangelicalism (University of Chicago Press).

The problem is that the church has become feminized, and men don’t like that, and so, they leave.

Here’s more:

To describe many women, Murrow lists traits like “relational,” “nurturing” and “peace-making.” He describes many men as “goal-driven,” “competitive” and “adventurous.” These differences show up in the types of movies many women and many men like: romantic vs. adventure films, Murrow said. In sum, women thrive when secure, and men thrive when challenged, he said.

As Christianity became more feminized, it began to focus more on producing emotional satisfaction. But men want something different.

The article goes on to quote one of my favorite Christian writers, Nancy Pearcey, an expert in apologetics and theology.

…many people think of church only as a nurturing place that addresses personal needs, Pearcey said. Think: sitting in circles, sharing feelings, holding hands, singing softly, comforting members. An example of the feminization of the church is its music. Typical praise songs refer to Jesus as a Christian’s lover and praise his beauty and tenderness. Rarely do they praise his justice or strength, or refer to him as the head of an army leading his church into spiritual battle, like “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

All of the outward facing disciplines within Christianity, such as apologetics, theology, ethics, etc. are de-emphasized, censored or resisted in feminized churches. There is no place for rationality, moral judgments and boundaries, debates and disagreement, confrontations and persuasion, or other manly Christian practices.

Christianity is evangelical, and evangelism takes study and preparation, which culminates in confrontations and discussions. The object of these discussions is not to win the argument. It is to win the person over to your side. So facts and arguments play a huge role in  evangelism, but there has to be gentleness too, if you actually want to win. And this is what Christian men are supposed to do. But does the church support it?

Another turn-off for men is touchy-feely sermons. Pearcey said the modern church stresses emotions and inner spiritual experiences while neglecting the intellectual side of the faith.

“The more traditionally masculine side of Christianity enjoys crossing swords with hostile secular worldviews. So, as long as Christianity appeals to the emotional, therapeutic, interpersonal, relational areas, it’s not going to appeal to men as much as to women,” Pearcey said.

Churches should engage men’s intellects to help them see the relevance of Christianity to the “real” world of politics, industry and business, Pearcey said.

“We have to recover the notion that Christianity is true on all levels, not just for your emotional life or repairing relationships, as important as those things are,” she said.

Christian men love apologetics and they also love theology, philosophy, ethics, science and history. We love competition. Anything testable that can be debated! Anything where there is a clear winner and loser.

Many churches emphasize Jesus’ softer teachings, like his love and his desire to save, and they ignore the doctrines of sin and hell, according to Podles. But men dislike liberal Christianity — “a mild religion of progress and enlightenment” as opposed to a battle between good and evil, Podles said.

Men want to expend their lives for a great cause, even if it involves risk, according to Murrow. He said that’s why the U.S. military’s “Army of One” campaign was effective. But American churches rarely teach about Christian suffering and martyrdom, Murrow said. Instead, today’s Christianity is presented as an antidote to these things, he said.

And men thrive on risk, adventure and achievement:

“Men are more attracted to religion if it presented as a quest, an adventure, a heroic exploit,” Pearcey said. “They want something challenging, bracing, demanding.”

To reach men, churches should stress the cost and dangers of following Christ — including Christians’ conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil, according to Podles.

Yet, men should be reminded that the sacrifice won’t always be a “huge, glorious display like William Wallace stepping out on a battlefield,” Erre said. Many times it will be staying in a troubled marriage, raising a handicapped child, or working a hated job to provide for a family, he said.

Many women believe that the purpose of Christianity is to be happy and to make others happy by not discussing controversial things like religion. They do not attach the same importance as men do to the duty to be an informed ambassador for Christ, trained in apologetics, and able to persuade others about God’s existence and character. They do not believe that the Lord’s reputation needs to be defended in public in the same way that men do.

Many women also don’t want to be confronted about their beliefs by informed men, because their beliefs are based more on intuition and emotion. They would rather be accepted and affirmed – and so they favor men who don’t know much about the details of Christianity. So manly Christian skills; theology, apologetics, ethics, philosophy, history, science, etc. are not valued in the feminized church.

Touchy-feely sermons come from touchy-feely pastors. A feminized church tends to attract more “gentle, sensitive, nurturing” leadership,” according to Pearcey.

“If religion is defined primarily in terms of emotional experience and is therapeutic, then who is it going to attract as ministers?” she said.

Pearcey said to consider a typical youth pastor.

“He’s really into relationships, very motivating, but is he teaching good apologetics? Is he teaching youth to use their minds and to understand deeper theological truths? At least the ones I’ve known haven’t,” she said. “Today, the common trajectory is for youth pastors to become senior pastors,” she added.

Maybe women should be more sensitive to male needs and character, and more concerned about what the Bible teaches about the the role of apologetics in the Kingdom of God.

If you want to know what Christian men look like, check out this profile of Christian philosopher and apologist Paul Copan on Truthbomb Apologetics. If you want to see one tough and effective Christian lady, visit Denyse O’Leary’s blogs: Post-Darwinist, Mindful Hack and Colliding Universes.

UPDATE 1: Here is an essay I saw on Truthbomb about the need for apologetics, by Norman Geisler.

UPDATE 2: Welcome visitors from the Anchoress! Thanks for the link. Forgive me if this post was a bit mean, but consider it a cry for reconciliation between men and women in the church. I recommend that everyone make the Anchoress a daily read, as she integrates her faith very well with the issues of the day!

UPDATE 3: I noticed this post linked over on the Anchoress. It talks about what men like and don’t like in the church. But keep in mind that this is a poll of men ALREADY in the church, so these ones are more accepting of the feminization of church already. The men outside the church would be less likely to put up with the feminization of church.

Just one quote:

Sixty per cent said they did not like flowers and embroidered banners in church, while 52 per cent did not like dancing in church…Nearly three quarters, or 72 per cent, said their favourite part of a service was the talk or sermon.

There’s a list of hymns that men do like, as well.