Renowned scholar and author D.A. Carson examined the nature of true faith on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Louisville, KY, March 1-2, 2005.
Dr. Carson, a research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., explored the world of faith through a character analysis of the apostle Thomas drawn from John 20:24-31, according to Towers Online, the seminary's news service.
Recounting Thomas' doubt after Jesus resurrection, Carson noted that the doubt did not stem from a person with a hardened heart, but rather a the devout believer in God.
"This is not the doubt of a philosophical materialist, someone who thinks that all that exists in the universe is matter and energy and time and space," Carson said. " Thomas was a first-century, devout Jew. He believed the Old Testament."
Carson attributed Thomas reluctance in placing faith in the resurrection to fear of "misplacing his faith again" after experiencing despair and misplacing faith upon Jesus' death on the cross.
In contrast to many believers today, who easily and readily place their faith in just about everything, Thomas was the one whose faith was based upon his realization of the truth, according to Carson.
Thomas felt the wounds in Jesus hands and side" and "realized the reality of the resurrection" and confessed that Jesus was Lord and God," Carson explained.
"This is really a kind of faith that eschews gullibility," Carson said. "There are all kinds of Christians around that are ready to believe almost anything. Thomas isn't one of them."
Contending that the confession of Jesus is strictly a personal profession of allegiance to Christ, Carson encouraged the profession be made by all humans upon their realization of His deity.
"This is not some sort of a liturgical profession," Carson said. " This is intensely personal, the kind of personal confession we must make again and again and again. We must never distance ourselves from the Christ of the text, but in all of our study still bow before Him and cry, 'My Lord. My God.'"
Carson refuted the modern claim that faith with lack of evidence is morally superior to faith with evidence and claimed that faith that appears more unreasonable does not necessarily confer itself greater value.
Furthermore, he made a distinction between faith and Biblical faith - one that "regularly means something like, 'subjective, personal, religious choice abstracted from any truth claim" and one that is "based on objective truth."
"The Bible never asks you to believe anything that isn't true," he said. "Never. Part of faith's validation is the truthfulness of faith's object.
"Now faith is more than believing something that is true. After all, the devil believes that Jesus rose from the dead. Faith also includes elements of trust and self-abandonment to God."
He believes that story of Thomas should serve as a testimony to Christ resurrection and guide people to greater faith.
"Faith is not a subjective choice," he said. "It's a God-given ability to perceive what is true and hang all that you have on it. And here the object of faith is Christ's resurrection."
Carson encouraged the crowd to seek, understand and live by the truth, for one increases faith by increasing the truth.
"You magnify faith by explaining and expounding and living the truth. It is the articulation and defense and living out of the truth that increases faith."