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Faith vs Reason? Or Faith vs Faith…

April 16, 2012

Lately I’ve been really thinking about what I believe. Obviously, I profess to believe in Christ and follow the tenants of Protestant Christianity, but, am I really believing it, and should I really be believing it? Is this faith real, or should I believe only in what I can see and feel and reason? I guess it’s one of the periods of doubt and questioning that we all go through, regardless of what we believe. For me, doubts usually accompany times of less focus on the Lord and less time in His Word, so I will admit that here in the beginning. But as I was considering things today and thinking about who God is and if I’m really following Him, and if I’m following Him because of Who He is, or because of the perceived benefits to myself, I turned on a message from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City (it wasn’t Tim Keller, but just as compelling). The message is part of a series that addresses the major issues/doubts that people have about Christianity, and it’s entitled: What Should I Do with My Doubts?

Let me lay some quick groundwork before I quote from this message. When Jesus was resurrected, the first witness at the empty tomb was His friend Mary. When Mary found the empty tomb she hurried back the other disciples and told them that Jesus was gone and that she suspected grave robbery. So the other disciples hurried to the tomb, and when John saw the evidence he believed that Jesus was alive and was resurrected. Mary concluded that Jesus body was stolen, and John concludes Jesus rose again as He said He would. Now we’re ready.

…in Mary and John we have the secular and the religious views of the world. It’s very common to hear, when you think about these kinds of issues, “Well there are people of faith and there are people of reason.” There are people who look at the evidence and are skeptical and say, “Unless you can prove it to me empirically, unless I can understand it scientifically, I’m gonna doubt it, I don’t believe it.” Grave robbery. There are other people, the religious types, the people of faith, who live by these ancient creeds and believe in the ethereal, divine power and say, “Resurrection.” The natural and the supernatural. Faith and reason…Now maybe like Mary you come to the claims of Christianity and you say, “Grave robbery. That’s the only kind of explanation I can come up with.” But what about John’s view? What about the fact that maybe Jesus walked out? Well you might say, “Well that’s just impossible.” And the question is, why? Why is it impossible? And the answer may be, “Because resurrection doesn’t happen.” Oh? How do you know? Can you prove it scientifically? Can you prove it empirically? No, it’s a faith you have. See, when Mary comes to the tomb, her doubt (in the possibility of the resurrection) is a belief in a position that somebody stole the body, and that belief is based on a assumption that resurrection can’t happen…when you take the mask off of your doubt, what you find is faith. Belief. Assumptions. Not faith versus reason, faith versus faith. Belief versus belief. Assumptions versus assumptions. That’s it.

We’re all people who are profoundly built on our assumptions and beliefs. Here’s how you can see it in other ways:

Maybe you would say, “There can’t be just one true religion or one truth when it comes to ultimate reality.” You have to recognize that this is a belief. What you believe is that all truth is relative. It’s a belief; you can’t prove it…Maybe you would say, “I don’t have any particular belief in God, I don’t really feel the need to choose from among all the religious views in the world.” That doubt in God, the Christian God, for example, is really a belief; that either God isn’t there, or that if he is there, he doesn’t care. That may or may not be true, but you have to recognize that that doubt is just a belief. It’s a leap of faith, based on an assumption.

Let me wrap up these thoughts with one final quote from Richard Dawkins, one of the foremost naturalists of our time. During an interview with the New York Times, Dawkins stated, “I cannot know for certain, but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.” Even Dawkins, self-admittedly, is a man of faith. Doubt is just an alternative belief.

Once we admit that we are people of faith. What is it in? That is the question. Because, it’s less about how strong your faith is, than where your faith is.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in. Agree? Disagree?

(Also, listen to the full message on iTunes. Search for Redeemer Presbyterian podcast and search the title Doubt: What Should I Do with My Doubts?)

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