“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
What is faith? It is blind, like the trust falls we once did in elementary school or at a work retreat? It is unreasonable and lacking of any evidence, like a belief in the Easter bunny or Santa Clause, or even Bigfoot and the Yeti and el Chupacabra and the Loch Ness monster? Do we believe because we are told to believe? Faith seems to be a hard thing to nail down and understand, but you might be surprised to understand what the Bible defines faith to be.
Why do you believe what you believe?
Often, we ask people what they believe. But the bigger question is the question behind the question: Why do you believe what you believe?
Why do you believe Jesus rose from the dead? Why do you believe the Bible is reliable? Why do you believe church is important? Why do you believe you are a sinner in need of a Savior?
To an onlooking world, these are important questions that we can have answers for. Here is the point: We can have a reasonable faith—a faith with good reasons to believe what it believes.
Richard Dawkins—possibly the world’s leading and most influential atheist—once said that “Faith is the great cop out. Faith is a belief in spite of—maybe even because of—the lack of evidence.” Mark Twain said that faith is “believing what you know ain’t so.”
You might think these guys are right. But what if you have a friend who asked you why you believe what you believe. Let’s say your answer is akin to, “My parents told me to believe it” or “The Bible says so.”
Now, you ask your friend what she believes. She tells you that she worships the flying spaghetti monster. Every Sunday morning, she goes to the temple of the flying spaghetti monster to worship, sing praises to, and be encouraged by a message from the book of the flying spaghetti monster. She buys spaghetti, praying to it and consuming it. When confused about a decision in life, she looks for answers in the book of the flying spaghetti monster.
When the time comes for you to ask her “why” she believes all that and she looks at you with the most serious intention and says, “Because my parents told me to” or “The book of the flying spaghetti monster says to,” you will think she is absolutely nuts!
As this is no different than what some of us do (I have been guilty of this in the past), we need a better definition of faith: reasonable faith.
The author of Hebrews defined faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV). At first glance, this might seem to support a blind faith without any reason or evidence. But just because we cannot see something doesn’t mean we don’t have a good reason to believe it.
When my wife (Maddi) and I went skydiving for our first anniversary, we had to have faith, but it was not a blind faith. I trusted everything. I never saw the person pack my chute. I never saw someone fuel the plane. I never saw someone check the plane to make sure everything was working properly. I never saw the pilot get his pilot’s license. But I knew these people had led thousands of skydivers safely to the ground. I could not see all of that, but I had good reason to believe and trust it.
I understood these things. Just like the author of Hebrews again says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible” (Hebrews 11:3, CSB). I don’t see people cook my food at restaurants, but I trust the meat will be cooked sufficiently and they will not spit in my food (as long as I keep my order simple and don’t complain).
Own Your Faith
We don’t have to treat faith and reason like opposite ends of a seesaw whereas one goes up, the other goes down. The two can—and should—be harmonized and work together.
Faith is trust. Trust is not unreasonable or illogical. We all have reasons for everything and everyone that we trust.
There are great reasons to trust—have faith in—God. To answer the question in the title, yes. We have far more reason to believe in God—specifically the Christian God—than Bigfoot. Join me on the journey over the next few weeks as we ask questions.
On this journey, you can own your faith. Better yet, you will have to own your faith. You will believe not because you mom and dad told you to or because the Bible says so, but because you made the decision yourself. You can—and will—have more of a “why” behind the “what” of your faith.
“Saving faith is ‘reasonable’ in the sense that there are real reasons to support it. It is not based on a figment of the imagination.” –John Piper