Archive for the ‘Justified Faith’ Category

You don’t have to look very hard in the New Testament to find the word ‘faith’—it’s literally everywhere.  In fact, we are assured in Hebrews 11:6 that, without it, it is impossible to please God, which means that it is obviously very important.  However, it has been my experience that Christians often fail to understand the true nature of the faith that God requires of us.  Consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1:  A young boy wakes up on a cold winter morning in a small South Dakota town.  Excitedly, he pulls back the curtains of his bedroom window to reveal a winter wonderland outside, with the first snowfall of the year having blanketed everything in sight.  He throws on his boots, trousers, coat, and scarf and then grabs his bobsled as he makes his way to the freshly frozen lake out behind his house.  He approaches the lake at a full sprint and, without a second thought, throws his sled down onto the ice and jumps, outstretched, on top of it with a squeal of delight.

Scenario 2:  The same young boy awakes on the same snowy morning.  He dons his winter wear, and grabs his sled.  As he approaches the freshly frozen lake behind his house, he notices the tire tracks from his dad’s 2.5 ton pickup truck stretching from the driveway of their home all the way out across the frozen lake to the other side, where his father is gathering a load of fresh firewood for their home.  With confidence, he gleefully runs out onto the ice and begins his fun-filled day of bobsledding.

Now, in both scenarios, the boy had faith in the ice on the lake and its ability to hold him and his sled.  The difference is, the faith exercised in the first scenario was an unjustified or blind faith, as there was no rational reason for the boy to trust that the ice could hold him.  Sure, he believed that it would, but there was no real justification for his belief. However, in the second scenario, the boy was exercising justifiable faith.  That is, he had a very good reason for believing that the ice would hold him and for subsequently acting upon that belief by stepping out onto it.  The tracks, indicating that his father’s much larger and heavier vehicle had successfully been supported by the ice, gave him a logical justification for his assumption that it would also hold him.  That is the same type of faith that God calls us to exercise with regards to trusting Him and His Word.  Consider Romans 1:18-20:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

According to these verses, God has clearly revealed Himself to all mankind such that we are without excuse for denying Him. That is, the ‘tracks’ He has left for us via both His natural and special revelation, not only justify our faith in Him, they demand it.  As such, Christianity is not a blind leap into the dark unknown, but rather, it is a confident step onto a sure foundation of Truth that has been established and revealed by God in such a way that we can know with certainty who He is and that His Word is true.  This is why the Apostle Paul could confidently declare in 2 Timothy 2:12—

 ……nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

The foundation of God is indeed a sure one. It is not shameful to trust in Him—it is shameful not to. May God help us to trust Him more and to build up ourselves on our most holy faith!

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(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 6]:

Greetings Soldier,

You do not have to apologize for the feeling of disappointment you are feeling now. After all, a sense of frustration is only natural when good evidence is given to support your case, but then dismissed out of hand due to the hostile bias of the one examining the evidence. It is very important to understand what is going on here with your brother and it is time that you were granted insight into the nature of ‘presuppositions’ and the effect they have on one’s reasoning and conclusions about the world around them. You see, everyone has a worldview—a view of the world founded upon certain tightly held beliefs that are assumed to be true and through which they interpret all of their observations and experiences (including any and all evidence presented to them for consideration). Because of this, it is impossible to convince someone of something they do not wish to be convinced of since they will interpret any evidence via the lens of those tightly held, most foundational assumptions that are already present. Confused yet? Perhaps this illustration might help:

Once upon a time, a young man believed he was dead. For months, his friends and family tried desperately to convince him that this was not the case, but to no avail. Finally, at their wits end, they decided to take him to see the family doctor in hopes that he could offer some sort of medical counsel to help the young man come to his senses. After two unproductive hours of talking with the young man and reasoning with him using the latest medical journals, charts, and photos, the good doctor had an idea! “Son, do dead men bleed?” He asked. The young man thought for a moment and then responded, “well, if a person is dead, there is no heartbeat to pump the blood and, therefore, no blood pressure to force the blood out of the body, so, no, dead men do not bleed.” Upon hearing this, the doctor took a needle and pricked the young man’s index finger. As the blood began to ooze from the small wound, the young man grabbed his finger and cried with great excitement, “well, what do you know! Dead men DO bleed after all!

See the point (pardon the pun)? The young man in the story had a predetermined belief which he was unwilling to surrender, despite being shown ample proof that it was false. The overwhelming evidence given to him did not change his mind, but, rather, his mind changed the interpretation of the evidence to make it agree with what he already assumed to be true (his ‘presuppositional bias’). Perhaps this makes it easier now to understand how and why many of the people who actually witnessed Jesus’ most notable miracles were the same ones who demanded His crucifixion. Why do you suppose they were not convinced of His Divinity by the marvelous feats of the dead being raised and the blinded eyes receiving sight in their presence? It was simply because they did not WANT to be. In fact, this is nothing new, as many today would simply rather be their own god instead of bowing the knee to God and surrendering to His authority. It has been rightly stated that the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a criminal can’t find a policeman—-they simply aren’t looking. The unbeliever chooses to live in willful denial of what they know to be true about God’s existence in order to avoid accountability to Him. You will do well to keep this in mind in your evangelism endeavors. At your service,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 7]:

Greetings Soldier,

I’m glad that you are beginning to grasp these concepts and wholeheartedly agree with you that the aforementioned topic of worldviews–and the presuppositions upon which they are founded–warrants further commentary. Indeed, volumes could be (and have been) penned about this topic and its effect upon the human psyche and behavior. Simply put, it is a matter of two opposing foundational belief systems that are as different as night and day and/or black and white (and which are as diametrically opposed as the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of satan from which they each originate).

Case in point: the Christian begins with two basic assumptions which form the foundation of their worldview. First, they assume that God exists and secondly they assume that His Word (the Bible) is true. It is through the ‘lens’ of these two assumptions that the Christian then begins to reason, form their conclusions, and interpret their observations about the universe in which we live. In contrast, the unbeliever assumes that God does not exist and that the Bible is not His inspired, infallible Word and then proceeds to reason and interpret the world around them from THAT position. This is why Christians and unbelievers can examine the exact same piece of evidence and then reach two totally different conclusions about it; it’s because they have two completely different starting points from which their evaluation of any evidence is conducted and from which their conclusions about the validity of that (and all) evidence as a valid proof is determined. Whatever does not correspond with the primary presuppositions of their respective worldviews will be rejected while that which agrees with those presuppositions will be accepted.

Therefore, the real issue is not one of evidence at all, but of those foundational assumptions (presuppositions) through which people interpret the evidence in the first place and whether or not they are logically sound and rationally defensible. It goes without saying that if something cannot pass this test, it should be rejected as false (since that would make it illogical and irrational by definition). Let’s examine both sets of presuppositions to see which passes the test. First, we’ll look at the Christian’s presuppositions:

God Exists: This presupposition is justifiable/provable after the fact, in that God has revealed Himself to all mankind both directly and indirectly via natural and special revelation. Again, natural revelation is God’s revelation of Himself by natural means (through His Creation), while special revelation pertains to God’s revealing of Himself via supernatural means (the Bible, His Spirit, and His Son, Jesus Christ). Through these avenues, God has made it possible for mankind to be certain of who He is and what He expects with regards to their behavior, reasoning, and salvation.

The Bible is true: This assumption is also provable after the fact, by the impossibility of the contrary. That is, the contrary position (i.e. The Bible is not true) ends in absurdity and irrationality, which makes it false. Consider what the Bible says about this in Romans 1:21-22:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

According to Scripture, when someone rejects or fails to acknowledge God and the truth of the Bible as the foundation of their thinking and reasoning, we can expect their thoughts to become ‘vain’ and ‘foolish’ (illogical). Let’s see if that’s what we get when we examine the unbelievers’ presuppositions that God does not exist and the Bible is not true: First, it should be pointed out that, when someone makes these assumptions, they are forced, by default, into the position of embracing evolution as the means and mechanism by which life as we know it exists on earth today (as opposed to the Biblical account of creation as found in Genesis). As such, there are several other assumptions (some of which I have mentioned already) that they also have to accept as a consequence of this position. Namely:

~In the beginning there was nothing.

~Nothing somehow turned into something.

~The something which came from nothing somehow blew up and became everything.

~Life somehow arose from that non-living matter.

~Randomness somehow became ordered (i.e. non-random).

~Intelligence somehow came from non-intelligent matter.

~Morality somehow evolved from amoral (non-moral) matter.

~Absolute (unchanging), immaterial (not made of matter), universal (applying everywhere and at all times) laws such as laws of logic, math, science, and morality somehow came from a strictly material, constantly changing, random chance universe.

The problem with these assumptions is, they are all unjustified and unjustifiable. Each of them is contrary to sound reasoning and good science, as they are not consistent with reality nor are they based upon ANY observable data or evidence gathered through actual repeatable testing and experimentation. Rather, they stem from a flawed belief system about the unobserved past and, as such, are based upon nothing more than blind faith. It should be pointed out that believing something and acting upon that belief with no logical reason for doing so is but one form of irrationality. This makes those who hold to anti-Christian positions a lot like the young man in the ‘Dead men do bleed’ illustration; that is, they hold to their position in spite of any logically sound reasons, not because of them. Without exception, this is the sad end result when one abandons the absolute Truth of God and His Word in favor of ANY competing non-Christian worldview (including those which advocate the existence of a generic or specific ‘deity’ (or deities) other than the God of the Bible). The following quote from Christian Author Ken Ham sums this up nicely. He says:

“It’s not a matter of whether one is biased or not. It is really a question of which bias is the best bias with which to be biased.”

If nothing else, hopefully it has become clear that everyone has certain tightly held foundational beliefs that form the framework for their worldview (even though they may not always be aware of those beliefs). However, not all worldviews (or their corresponding framework of beliefs) can be true. In fact, only one IS true—the Christian one. I trust you will find this newfound knowledge refreshing and an asset to you in your witnessing endeavors. At your service,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 8]:

Greetings Soldier,

Yes, it really is a lot to take in and learn. However, you will find that the ‘Bible first’ approach to dealing with objections to the Christian faith is the God honoring way of resolving the dispute once and for all. While the old ‘evidence first’ approach accomplishes little more than allowing each side to present their interpretation of the evidence they are disputing–ultimately resulting in a ‘stalemate’—and shamefully allowing the unbeliever to replace God as judge in the process, the ‘Bible first’ approach challenges the very foundation and authority of the unbeliever’s worldview along with the assumptions that it is based upon to show that Christianity is necessarily true by the impossibility of the contrary (rather than only possibly or probably true IF the evidence happens to be correct) and asserts God’s Ultimate Authority over the believer instead of vice versa. Now, I will not pretend as if this approach will not take much intentional, deliberate effort on your part to put into practice and to ultimately master, but I can promise you that the results will be well worth the challenge. Believe it or not, but you will actually come to see objections against the Christian faith as arguments for the Christian faith once this paradigm shift in your understanding of God and His Word as Ultimate Authority is made.

While all sincere Christians would no doubt say that God and His Word are their Ultimate Authority, the problem is, they often do not behave that way when it comes to defending the Faith, choosing to inadvertently grant to the unbeliever certain assumptions about the world and reality that they are not the least bit entitled to, given their professed beliefs. Consider for a moment how you might respond in the following scenario:

You have agreed to participate in a live formal debate.  After weeks of preparation, the big day arrives and you take your place on stage behind your podium as the auditorium begins to fill with people.  You look to your left and see your opponent behind his podium with a confident look upon his face.  The moderator gives the introduction and then it’s time to start.  Your opponent goes first and begins his opening statement.  His position? That air does not exist (an a-airist?).

Now, what would you say in response to such an obviously absurd position?  Sure, you could produce graphs, charts, tables, and endless other pieces of evidence to show that air does indeed exist (which your opponent may or may not find compelling and which he may even be able to explain away and rebut via his counter arguments), or you could take a decidedly different approach:  You could simply expose the glaring inconsistency of his position by pointing out that, if air did not exist, he could not possibly be doing what he is doing.  You could (and should) draw attention to the fact that, without air, he could not possibly be breathing, and, as a consequence, he also could not be talking since there would be no air in his lungs to create the vibrations in his vocal chords and, therefore, no way to produce the sounds used to form his words.  Not to mention the fact that, if air does not exist, there wouldn’t even be anything to convey the sound waves from his mouth to the ears of his hearers anyway!  In short, his entire ability to breathe and speak (much less to argue) depends completely upon the very thing that he is denying—-air!  He is defeating his own position with every breath he takes and with every word he speaks, since any argument he puts forth AGAINST the existence of air actually turns out to be an argument IN FAVOR OF the existence of air!!

Such is the predicament of the unbeliever.  The Bible teaches that the existence of God is so obvious, that no one has an excuse for denying him (and are, in fact, behaving foolishly if they do so).  In other words, the evidence is all around us, but there are many who do not wish to accept it, and who will even go to great lengths to deny it.  So what should you do?  I submit that, just as in the example above, you should gently and lovingly expose the inconsistencies of such positions in hopes that the unbeliever will come to see the folly of what they are doing and repent.  It is important for Christians to understand and note that, when the Bible refers to those who deny the existence of God as ‘fools’ (Psalms 14:1), it is not merely engaging in name calling.  This is the proper term for someone who willfully refuses to acknowledge that which has been so plainly and openly revealed.  Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 10]:

Greetings Soldier,

You do not disappoint! I thought that you might ask for some practical examples of how to put this information into use when dealing with objections and/or arguments against, God, the Bible, or Christianity in general. Well, here you go! Let’s look at some scenarios you likely have or will encounter in your evangelistic endeavors:

First, suppose the unbeliever’s argument against God is presented in the form of a moral objection (e.g. claiming that He is evil, that certain acts in the Bible are immoral, etc.).  Now, you could spend a lot of time and energy providing evidence as to why that is not the case (only to likely have your evidence discarded or dismissed due the presuppositional bias of the unbeliever), or you could (and should) simply challenge their foundational assumption here and ask them how they arrive at absolute, objective standards of behavior in a universe without God in the first place.  After all, if God does not exist, there could be no absolute moral Authority and, therefore, no binding standard of behavior by which anyone (least of all, God) SHOULD conduct themselves.  If moral standards are arbitrarily stipulated, then the unbeliever loses any rational foundation for their complaint against God, since anyone is free to stipulate their own standard of morality in such a universe and no behavior could ever be truly ‘right’ or ‘wrong’–just ‘different’ from someone else’s personal preference.  The very argument itself reveals the internal inconsistency and contradictory nature of the unbeliever’s position and, as a result, makes this objection AGAINST God’s existence a valid proof FOR His existence!

Now, let’s suppose the argument comes in the form of a ‘logical’ complaint against God (e.g. the Bible is illogical, Christianity is nonsense, etc.).  Again, much time and energy could be spent providing ample, solid evidence to the contrary, only to likely be told “well that doesn’t prove anything.”  Instead of putting God on trial before the unbeliever, the more effective (and Biblical) approach would be to expose the self-defeating nature of such an argument by simply asking how there can exist any meaningful, objective, universal standard of logic and reasoning in a world without God.  Obviously, if there is no true Ultimate Authority, then there can be no absolute standard by which human beings should conduct their thinking and reasoning.  Therefore, no thinking or reasoning could ever truly be said to be ‘incorrect’ or ‘illogical’—just ‘different’ from the thinking and reasoning of someone else.  This internal inconsistency in the unbeliever’s position yet again testifies to the inescapable, self-evident truth of God’s existence and Authority. It also adequately demonstrates that, like the air, one must assume His existence to even begin to argue against it (which makes that position the very epitome of ‘foolishness’). That is why when the Bible refers to those who deny the existence of God as ‘fools’ (Psalms 14:1), it is not merely engaging in name calling.  This is the proper term for someone who willfully refuses to acknowledge that which has been so plainly and openly revealed. Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 11]:

Greetings Soldier,

Your recent enquiries reveal a deep thirst for knowledge and an eagerness to put what you have learned thus far into action. Needless to say, the Heavenly Hierarchy is pleased with this! Regarding your question about whether unbelievers (whom we know to be living in willful denial of God’s revealed truth) are necessarily lying when they profess to believe the things they say they do: the answer is ‘no’—they are not necessarily lying but are often ‘self-deceived’. Remember, satan does have the ability to blind the minds of those who deny God in order to keep the Gospel from reaching their hearts. One of the ways he accomplishes this task is by means of cultivating and promoting an attitude of ‘willful ignorance‘ (merely one form of self-deception) on the part of the unbeliever with regards to things concerning God, Christ, and the Bible.  It has been rightly stated that one will not receive into their heart as true that which their mind rejects as false. Therefore, it is the concerned Christian’s urgent duty to engage in pulling down such ‘intellectual strongholds’ through the bold presentation and declaration of the truth in order that the unbeliever might be freed from the captivity of satanic deception and granted repentance unto salvation by God the Father, through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Understood in this light, Christ’s declaration in John 8:32–‘you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’–is received with a new and fresh appreciation in the mind and heart of the Christian.

In response to your second question: ‘yes’ I do advocate trying out these arguments online. There you will find no shortage of anti-Christian blogs, posts, and websites where you may engage the unbeliever, expose the error of their worldview, and enlighten them with Biblical truth. Be forewarned, though, that unbelievers do not take kindly to having the basis of their worldview challenged and exposed in this way and you will almost certainly encounter hostility like you never have before. In truth, this is really a positive, since it is a sign that the arguments have struck a nerve and are provoking some discomfort in the unbeliever’s state of mind. Besides, any reaction is always preferred over apathy (since apathy is but one sure sign of intellectual and spiritual ‘deadness’). So long as there is passion and/or zeal present (even misguided passion and/or zeal), then there is hope of a genuine conversion; after all, who can forget the grand transformation that took place when a certain misguided zealot named Saul was converted into that radical new creature in Christ—the Apostle Paul! If you are interested in beginning a conversation on the Dialogue.org site you mentioned, then I suggest you simply state your position plainly as to how Christianity provides the foundation for preconditions of intelligibility and then challenge the unbelievers there with a few direct questions about how those things are reconciled within their worldview. The purpose of this is twofold: it will provide the unbeliever with an opportunity to tell you about their worldview so that an internal critique of it can be performed, while providing you with the opportunity to plainly demonstrate to them how and why Christianity alone provides a rational, internally consistent, foundation for the preconditions of intelligibility required to hold a discussion in the first place (knowledge truth, logic, etc.). For example, you could begin with something like this:

*’Isn’t Dialogue.org great?! We have a place where anyone can come and argue any point about virtually any topic! However, an astute debater will find that the very concept of ‘debate’ assumes the existence of logic, truth, and knowledge. Since laws of logic are abstract, universal, invariants and truth and knowledge are certain by definition, each of these concepts can be (and are) made sense of in the Christian worldview (since they reflect the absolute, immaterial nature of a Sovereign God who has revealed Himself to mankind such that we can be certain of who He is).One should ultimately ask, though, how any non-Christian can rationally account for any of these concepts apart from the God of the Bible. Well?’

This should elicit enough response from the other side to keep you busy for a while and provide you with plenty of hands on practice in evaluating non-Christian worldviews for the presence of arbitrariness, inconsistency, and the preconditions of intelligibility. Have fun,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

*To see this approach utilized at a real online debate site, check out: http://www.debate.org/forums/Religion/topic/55783/