Saturday, 31 October 2009


here are two extremes that must be avoided, whether in a study and presentation of Christian
apologetics or in a Christian’s daily life: the use of reason alone; and the use of revelation
alone. In practical terms, this is not a situation of “either/or” but “both/and.” The
proper relationship should be that of reason and revelation. Though many religionists posit some sort of
separation between faith and reason, I argue that such is not the case. Faith and reason are to be distinguished,
but never separated. To illustrate this, consider the relationship of the mind and body. The body
is not the mind, nor is the mind the body. Yet they are inseparably joined in this present mode of existence.
Therefore, the mind and the body can be, and ought to be, distinguished, but not separated. In a
similar way, faith and reason are distinct, but not separate. Both are essential to Christianity, though each
must function within its proper sphere. Faith is primarily an act of both the intellect and the will, whereas
reason is essentially an act of the intellect.
The word family of pistis and pisteuo in Scripture is related to the term peitho. These three words are
used 244, 248, and 55 times, respectively, in the Bible. The verb pisteuo primarily has reference to the act
of faith, while the noun form more clearly depicts what faith means. Liddell and Scott define the noun as
follows: “a means of persuasion, an argument, proof ” (1869, pp. 1272-1273). Peitho, in the active voice,
means “to be fully persuaded, believe, trust: of things, to be believed” (1869, p. 1220). At the very least,
the terms imply a prior understanding (i.e., knowledge) of what is to be believed or trusted. In other
words, faith is based upon a foundation of knowledge. Moreover, faith can lead to a greater expression of
Faith is used in Scripture in a general way to refer to those things both supernaturally and naturally
revealed by God (cf. Hebrews 11:1,3,6, Psalm 19:1-14, Romans 1:18-22, and 10:9-17). Scripture records
at least seven different ways in which the term “faith” is used, five of which (the first five in my listing)
play an indispensable role in man’s salvation. First, faith is used to designate “belief ” (John l2:42; Hebrews
11:6). Second, faith sometimes means “trust” (John 14:1; Romans 4:17-20; Luke 7). Third, faith
often refers to “obedience” (Numbers 20:12; John 3:36, ASV; Hebrews 10:39; Romans 1:5,8; 16:25-26).
Fourth, faith frequently refers to steadfastness, loyalty, or “faithfulness” (Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 3:9;
Hebrews 10: 23,38; Revelation 2:10). Fifth, the word is used objectively to refer to the content of faith,
hence, “the faith” (Romans 10:9; Jude 3; Galatians 1:11,23). Sixth, at times faith is used of strong personal
conviction (Romans 14:2,23). Seventh, faith also is used on occasion to speak of a spiritual gift (1
Corinthians 12:8-9; Matthew 17:20, 1 Corinthians 13:2). While faith sometimes is contrasted with sight
(2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:1; cf. John 20:29 for an exception), doubt (James 1:6; cf. also Matthew
14:3 and 21:21), and deeds of the law (Romans 3:28; Galatians 3:2-5), it never is contrasted with knowledge
so as to imply a separation.
In John’s Gospel, pisteuo with the dative is employed frequently (John 2:22; 5:46; 8:31-47). With
regard to the nature, mission, and role of Jesus, John utilized pisteuo with a hoti clause, as in John 8:24
(“be convinced that I am”), John 20:31 (“be convinced that Jesus is the Christ”), as well as several other
passages (see John 13:19, 14:11, and 17:8). Pistis (belief) here is close to gnosis (knowledge), as in John
6:69: “...we have believed and have known that you are the holy one of God.” Both faith and knowledge
are concerned with the fact that the Father sent Jesus (faith—John 11:42; 17:8,21; knowledge—John
17:3). Both faith (John 16:27-30) and knowledge (John 7:17) realize that He and His teaching are from
the Father. If knowledge relates to the truth (John 8:32), faith relates no less to Him who is the Truth
(John 14:1,6). The fact that He is the Christ is an object of faith (John 11:27; 20:31), but it is also an object
of both faith and knowledge together (John 6:69).
Scripture refers to itself as having been written to produce both faith (John 20:30-31) and knowledge
(1 John 5:13). Furthermore, there are numerous passages in which faith and knowledge materially pertain
to the same object at the same time and under the same aspect (see 1 Timothy 4:3, 2 Timothy 1:12,
4:42, 6:69, 17:8, 1 John 4:6,16, and 5:13). Moreover, the apostles used a variety of types of evidence to
lead men to a commitment to Christ. For instance, in Acts 2:14-40, Peter used eyewitness testimony (see
John 4:39), the miracles of Christ (see John 20:30-31), and predictive prophecy (see Isaiah 41:21ff.). Indirect
credible testimony is also a predominant line of evidence leading to faith (see Luke 1:1-4, Acts 1:3,
2.36, 9:22, and 13:38). Thus, faith often is portrayed biblically as knowledge based upon testimony.
Though this issue will be addressed more thoroughly later in this study, I already have said enough
to advance the following thesis: Any concept of faith that severs it from its objective, epistemological
base (foundation of knowledge) is at variance with biblical teaching. Biblically speaking, one does not
believe that God is (or any other item to be accepted “by faith”): (1) against the evidence; (2) without evidence;
or (3) beyond the evidence. Rather, one believes on the basis of evidence sufficient to establish the
conclusion (1 Thessalonians 5:21; Isaiah 41:21).
Biblical faith is built upon a prior understanding (knowledge) of what is to be believed. Information
regarding “saving faith” (i.e., what one must do to be saved) comes only from special revelation (i.e.,
Scripture—Romans 10:17; John 6:44-45). But there is another type of faith that is derived from general
revelation (i.e., nature—Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:19-22; Hebrews 11:3,6; et al.). Later in this book, when
I speak of proving the existence of God, I shall be speaking primarily about this second type of faith. I
hope to make clear that such a faith is built and based upon evidence—that is, it is “rational belief.” I intend
to make clear that I am opposed to every notion of faith that is irrational.
I cannot survey in this limited space the various words from the Greek text translated “know” in the
Scriptures (there are several). I will, however, examine numerous ways of coming to knowledge as revealed
in the Bible. In short, I will be examining the types of evidence that can be used to prove one’s
case. I argue that the term “proof ” cannot be limited to what is seen, felt, heard, tasted, or smelled (i.e.,
concerning only empirical evidence). What, then, are legitimate means of coming to knowledge?
1. There is induction, which is simply a “gathering together” of available evidence.
2. There is deduction (Scripture abounds with examples), which is the marshaling of evidence in
such a way that conclusive results can be obtained (see Mark 3:4, et al.).
3. There is the use of empirical data (see Luke 12:54-56), which is simply a direct experiencing of
an object (for instance, a door) or an event (such as the weather outside).
4. There is credible testimony (see John 20:25-31, 1 Peter 1:8-11, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, et al.),
which is testimony from witnesses who either are known to be trustworthy, or whose testimony cannot be
justifiably doubted.
5. There is intuition (see Matthew 12:24-28), which must be distinguished from a mere hunch or
guess (the usual modern understanding of this word). By intuition, I mean a knowledge that does not depend
in any way on sense perception or empirical experience. It is evident immediately, even though it
may require some effort to grasp. The passage alluded to above is an example in Scripture of such. It is
intuitively absurd to suppose that Jesus would cast out Satan’s coworkers by using Satanic power. Other
examples include the metaphysical principle of non-contradiction (“a thing cannot both exist and not
exist at the same time and in the same sense”), and the logical law of contradiction (derived from the
metaphysical principle) which states that “contradictory statements cannot both be true.” These principles
are known immediately and with absolute certainty. Any attempt to deny them, in fact, presupposes them
(i.e., if you deny either principle, then your denial is either true or false; it cannot be both true and false).
And this knowledge does not depend upon even a single empirical observation. For instance, these principles
hold true for the Universe as a whole, and even for God Himself. I know with certainty that God cannot
both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense. He either exists or He does not. Empirical
observation is worthless here. Yet this is a legitimate pathway to knowledge.
6. There is metaphysical deduction, a term that I have coined to refer to a deduction made from
things that can be observed to things that potentially may never be seen (see Luke 17: 20-21 and Hebrews
11:3). Robinson Crusoe (so the story goes) was marooned on an island. While walking on a beach, he discovered
a footprint in the sand that clearly was not his own. He deduced accurately: (1) that there was
another being on the island; and (2) that this other being was a human being. If he had never seen “Fri-
4 -
day” face to face, the certainty of his knowledge nevertheless was not jeopardized. This same concept
relates to the arguments for God’s existence. God has left His “footprints,” as it were, throughout the
Universe (note Acts 14:17: “Yet he left not himself without witness...”). Naturally, each person is responsible
for reasoning properly and for drawing correct conclusions from the available evidence (Romans
1:19-22; Psalm 19:1-6; Hebrews 3:4; et al.).
There is nothing, in or out of Scripture, to suggest that only one of these ways of arriving at truth results
in “proof,” while every other means is denied such a status. One may prove his case using any, or
all, of these legitimate means of coming to knowledge (so long as the limits of each method are understood).
It has become apparent that many today hold that “knowledge” or “proof ” is restricted to scientific
investigation alone, and that whatever is not “scientific” then is designated as “faith.” Such a dichotomy
accounts for the strange things one reads on the subject of faith and knowledge. One author suggested,
for example: “Scientific knowledge we know, and things seen we know, but faith is the assurance
of what we accept that we do not yet know but are hoping for” (Thomas, 1974, p. 137). This position
agrees with that of philosopher Bertrand Russell, who said: “Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be
attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know” (1935, p. 243).
Such a position is patently false, because it disregards other important means of arriving at a knowledge
of the truth.

Saturday, 24 October 2009



The exact relationship between faith and reason has consistently been a battleground within
Christendom. From near the beginning of Christianity, there have been serious reflections on
this topic. Why then, one may ask, is yet another essay being offered on the subject? I would
like to offer at least three reasons for the present volume.
First, there always is a need for a study of biblical faith. Many of the studies on this subject, I believe,
have ignored important biblical evidence—evidence that will be presented and discussed in this
book. Since ultimately the question is, “What does the Bible teach about faith and reason?,” one must not
divorce his reflections from a biblical foundation. Unfortunately, this has occurred in far too many cases.
Second, there is a need for this study, if for no other reason, because of the increasing prevalence of
agnosticism within the confines of Christendom. Admittedly, this is a serious charge, yet it is one that can
be documented in literally hundreds of cases—some of which will be mentioned in the body of this work.
There are those who simplistically assert, “Where there is knowledge, there is no longer any room for
faith.” Such a statement is a perversion of plain biblical teaching. Still others have surrendered any claim
to a foundation of evidence for faith.
Some years ago, a seminar was conducted in Dallas, Texas, in which a “debate” occurred between
world-renowned atheists and theists trained in the empirical sciences, social sciences, and philosophy.
The philosophy panel was represented by Paul Kurtz, Antony Flew, Wallace I. Matson, and Kai Nielsen
on the atheists’ side, and Alvin Plantinga, W.P. Alston, George Mavrodes, and Ralph McInerny on the
theists’ side. The theists were to defend God’s existence against the challenge of the atheists. I listened in
shocked amazement as theists Plantinga and Alston actually urged rejection of the law of rationality,
which states that “one should draw only such conclusions as are warranted by the evidence” (cf. 1 Thessalonians
5:21 and Isaiah 41:21). The astonishing thing was that these men spent an inordinate amount of
time giving evidence for their conclusion that one should reject the law of rationality—a position that is
hopelessly self-contradictory. They “reasoned” that one should reject reason with reference to the question
of God! And this was how they hoped to defend God against the attacks of those who challenged His
existence? Since these men are some of the heavyweights in the academic community, this was disheartening,
to say the least.
Third, of course, there is a need to study and understand biblical faith because of the consistent
challenge to Christianity from the atheistic camp. In his book, Atheism: The Case Against God, George
Smith wrote: “The conflict between Christian theism and atheism is fundamentally a conflict between
faith and reason. This, in epistemological terms, is the essence of the controversy. Reason and faith are
opposites, two mutually exclusive terms: there is no reconciliation or common ground” (1979, p. 5).
Smith summarized his claim by saying: “It is logically impossible to reconcile reason and faith” (p. 101).
At least one of my motives for publishing this treatise is to demonstrate that Smith’s position is completely
false. We are not required to flee into the land of irrationality in order to escape the challenge of
the skeptic. My desire is that the reader will come to this same conclusion through a study of the material
made available in this volume. The conclusions drawn from the various arguments presented here become
our shared responsibility. I am traveling the road of reflection regarding the faith/reason controversy; I
now bid you to accompany me on the journey.

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