Is Faith Blind and Irrational?

I wanted to start this post by asking the question, “Is faith blind and irrational?” and then answering by saying, “I sure hope not!” And then after everyone gathered themselves once more, having recovered from the inevitable fits of laughter which accompany a joke like that, I would dive right in to the issues at hand. However, I’ve decided to leave that bit out and simply tell you that I was going to do that. But now I’m not. It’s just better that way, I suppose.

Anyways. Most non-Christians (and many well-meaning Christians, unfortunately) think that faith is blind and basically devoid of any rational character.  The usual argument is that we “take things on faith” and without evidence.  Thus, faith in Christ is not based ultimately upon our knowledge of him from Scripture or on the objective fact that he exists; rather, our faith in him is emotionally driven, a product, it seems, of our wishful thinking.

The problem with this line of argument, of course, is that Christians have never thought that faith was blind.  Even Abraham, who is sometimes upheld as a shining example of someone who “took a leap of faith,” had God’s clear Word: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).  In other words, Abraham did not step out in blind faith, but rather stepped out in obedience to God’s Word. 

And here’s how Louis Berkhof puts it: “The Christian accepts the truth of the existence of God by faith.  But this faith is not a blind faith, but a faith that is based on evidence, and the evidence is found primarily in Scripture as the inspired Word of God, and secondarily in God’s revelation in nature.”[1]  In other words, the Christian faith, and our adherence to it, depends entirely upon God’s self-revelation, either in Scripture, which is, as Berkhof calls it, the “primary” basis, or in nature, which Berkhof calls “secondary.”  This means that our faith could not possibly be blind, for it is fundamentally rooted in God’s revelation of Himself to us.

The implications of this for the Christian life are clear.  We can have actual certainty that God exists and that He has revealed Himself to us.  We don’t have to be anxious about the reality of God or worry about trying to prove God’s existence to non-Christians.  The burden for proving God’s existence falls upon God Himself, and Paul says that, “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:19, emphasis added). 

Furthermore, we need not have “decision paralysis” when it comes to living the Christian life, for God never expects us to “take a leap of faith.”  On the contrary, God has “granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).  In other words, God has given us everything we need to live the Christian life in a way which pleases Him, and He has done this precisely by revealing Himself to us.  As Paul says, “Scripture is breathed out by God (i.e., Scripture is nothing other than God’s revelation of Himself to us) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  So let us trust in God’s clear Word, since it is sufficient evidence for us that God exists.

[1] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1941), 21.

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