Reasons to Believe

by PastorErick | 8/1/17, 9:07 AM

One doesn’t have to look long in our culture to see the constant dichotomy that is played up between “faith” and “science”. Especially around Easter time where the conversation on nightly talk shows and news shows tends to focus on the person of Jesus, you will see debates rage between professing Christians and various scientists/skeptics. When it comes to the Resurrection in particular, the argument from the skeptic might go something like this:

I don’t have a problem with your “faith” in the resurrection of Jesus, but as a person of science I cannot believe in a literal resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

And that’s when it happens: Those who have faith in the resurrection or some other supernatural aspect of the Christian religion are relegated to the outside of serious thought and scholarship. We are those that seemingly stand against science, logic, and sound modern ideas precisely because we have “faith.” Therefore, faith in supernatural things can be talked about in the same way we might talk about people believing in a flat earth, or Elvis still living, or Unicorns galloping around somewhere in Iceland. In other words, people of faith are “delusional” (to use the phrase of one well known scientist).

Now, there are a number of responses we might have to the claims made against those who have “faith.” For one thing, the understanding of “faith” mentioned above is quite the caricature. Are some people of faith “trusting blindly” in what they’ve always been told? Sure. But is “faith” fundamentally defined as “blind trust”? No, of course not. As a matter of fact, (at least from a Christian perspective) the writers of the New Testament are constantly appealing to the Church to base their faith on things they claim actually happened in space/time history. Consider a small sampling of some of the Gospel writers claims:

[1] Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, [2] just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, [3] it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, [4] that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. (Luke 1:1-4 ESV)

Notice Luke claims to base his story of the life of Jesus on things that “have been accomplished among us” (in space and time) based on “eyewitness” accounts. Now you can try to argue against the claims Luke makes in his gospel about Jesus if you like, but please notice that Luke does not in any way call his readers to “blind trust”. Faith to Luke is rooted in historical events.

Also, consider this from John’s pen:

[1] That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—[2] the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—[3] that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

(1 John 1:1-3 ESV)

Now there’s a lot in the preceding passage that could be dissected, but for our purposes here, notice again, that John anchors the Christian faith in things “he heard, saw, and touched.” You can dispute the truthfulness of their testimonies if you like, but you can’t say they wanted people to just “blindly trust” that what they were saying was true. They were constantly pointing to historical claims.

All this is said by way of introduction to what we’ll be spending the next few weeks going over- namely, reasons for faith. We’ll spend some time going over some of the philosophical arguments for faith in God’s existence: The Cosmological Argument, The Teleological Argument, The Moral Argument, The Design Argument, The Cohesion Argument, etc. will all be given their day for presentation. Beyond that, we’ll then move to reasons for why one might specifically trust in the claims of Christianity: The Resurrection of Jesus, The Reliability of the Bible, etc.

Why spend time equipping you with arguments in favor of belief? In closing, a few reasons:

1. Answer the skeptic- As with any good argumentation, if a solid enough case is made, eventually the skeptic's case begins to break down. For example, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon for the first time, it was so far fetched to imagine such a thing that some were convinced it was all fake. Arguments were made by the Flat Earth Society (yes, a real thing) for why it was all a hoax. But of course, virtually no one denies the landing today. Why? Because the evidence is too overwhelming.

2. Inspire further investigation- There are numerous stories throughout history of people that have taken up the Bible with a critical eye, seeking to disprove the whole thing, only to find after more research they had become convinced of the truthfulness of Christianity. Learning and sharing the reasons for belief may not be able to convert someone, but God may use it on the road to converting someone.

3. Shore up your own faith- Much of the time, one of the more helpful things about learning these different philosophical/scientific reasons for faith is that they remind the believer of the solid footing he/she stands on. It is easy for Christians to shy away from discussion because they feel as if they don’t have “all the answers”. But when a Christian sees that there are indeed good responses to the challenges, it gives them boldness and confidence to step out into the public square with their beliefs. The Christian is not one who has to believe in Unicorns or a Flat Earth, but is One who bases their faith on solid historical evidence.

So next week, we’ll begin our series with a discussion of the Cosmological argument for God's existence.

Blessings,

Pastor Erick

www.epiphanylutherannyc.com

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