Saturday, 3 July 2010

Faith is blind certainty?

We're looking at the moment at Bible passages often accused of teaching anti-intellectual ideas. Today's passage is Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Critics of the idea that faith can be reasonable will point to this and say "aha look! Faith is precisely about what cannot be seen or proved!" To get to the real meaning of this passage we need to recover the Biblical meaning of faith that we looked at in the second entry on how Christianity fits with reason. We saw there that faith is loyalty to God based on the evidence of his trustworthiness. Hebrews 11:1 is just explaining a practical outworking of this. When we have evidence of God's trustworthiness we can confidently trust in the things we have hope in that he has promised us, including those things for which we cannot directly see the reality of (such as future resurrection).

It is worth noting that hope back then didn't mean the kind of wishful thinking that it sometimes refers to nowadays when we say things like "I really hope I win the lottery!" The word then denoted an expectation or confidence in something as quickly explained by JP Holding here.

We've still got a few more passages to examine so it'll be on to another one in the next entry!

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