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Is biblical faith more than a leap in the dark?

Unsplash/ Warren
Unsplash/ Warren

Have you ever seen the part in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy is closing in on his quest for the mythical holy grail? The bad guys shoot Indy's dad, hoping to make him go through dangerous trials to reach the grail, rumored to have healing powers. After surviving many deadly challenges, Indy faces a seemingly bottomless canyon just before reaching the grail.

He hesitates, saying, “I can't jump this ... it's a leap of faith.” The scene cuts to a shot of Indy’s father, played by Sean Connery, saying (in his deep Scottish accent), “You must believe boy. You must believe.” We then see Indy close his eyes, place his hand over his heart, and take a bold step into the dark unknown. 

It's a gripping moment, but it also mirrors how many people see faith today. Some think it’s like blindly jumping into the dark or childlike wishful thinking. In fact, outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins has said, “There are two ways of looking at the world: through faith and superstition or through the rigors of logic, observation, and evidence — in other words through reason.”

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This idea of faith opposing reason has become popular in our culture, even in the church. However, this concept is foreign to the pages of Scripture and historic Christianity. As Christian thinker Edward Feser notes, “Faith is not emotional; it is rather an act of the will. And again, not because faith contradicts reason, for it doesn’t. Rather, faith in God … is nothing less than the will to follow reason’s lead when emotion might incline us to doubt.” In other words, biblical faith is an active trust in what God has said.

Think of it like going to the doctor. You wouldn’t take health advice from a stranger on the street. Instead, you rightly seek out trained and credentialed medical professionals whom you believe have proven knowledge about the human body. Once they make a diagnosis, you choose to trust them and do what they say, or not.

Similarly, biblical faith is a reasonable trust in God's authority. It's based on the belief that God, as revealed in the Bible, is a trustworthy authority about, well, everyone and everything. The Christian faith isn't a blind leap, but a reasonable step of trust supported by evidence. It’s like trusting a doctor who has been trained, credentialed and recommended by others. 

A case can be made, from the ground up, that truth is knowable, God exists, miracles are possible, the Bible is historically reliable, and that Jesus proved to be God in human flesh by rising from the dead. Thirteenth-century Christian thinker Thomas Aquinas called these supporting facts the “preambles of faith.” They give us good reasons to believe in the trustworthiness of the God of the Bible.  

This is where knowledge of apologetics is invaluable. “Apologetics” comes from the Greek word apologia meaning “to give a defense.” It is simply loving people enough to answer their honest questions. In fact, Southern Evangelical Seminary has put together a condensed list of eight essential facts you need for effective Christian apologetics.

Far from being a blind leap in the dark, faith, in the biblical sense, is simply a step of trust in light of the evidence. The more we know about someone, the more our trust in them is able to grow. May you take the time to know why you believe what you believe so that you can not only strengthen your own faith, but be better equipped to share that truth with others.

Adam Tucker is the Director of Marketing and External Relations at Southern Evangelical Seminary.

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