Evidently, in today’s world, it is more important to be LOUD than to be confident, and it’s more important to come across as confident than it is to be correct! At least, that seems to be the way things are now, based on the results of a study involving more than one billion tweets on Twitter.
Talk about living in an irrational world! People assume others are right, simply because they said it louder? I guess we can thank everyone from “Donahue” to “The View” for that. At the same time, we shouldn’t be surprised, then, if a great segment of society dismisses believing in Jesus Christ as irrational—given that being loud has come to be accepted as synonymous with being rational.
The Compatibility of Faith and Reason
Atheist Richard Dawkins often serves both to represent the point of view of the skeptic and to shape that point of view in others. Dawkins said, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” In this instance, Dawkins could not be further from the truth. Jesus Christ never called anyone to “blind faith.” What the Bible calls “faith” is never a leap in the dark.
Merriam Webster Online defines the noun “reason” as “the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways,” and the verb “to reason” as “to discover, formulate, or conclude by the use of reason.”
Biblical faith is logical faith. Biblical faith in Jesus Christ is based on propositions, on evidence, and on historical claims. Faith in Jesus Christ actually requires making judgments about propositions, drawing conclusions, and assessing and formulating inferences. It requires the use of reason, not the rejection of reason. Jesus never appealed to people to believe in spite of what they saw and heard. He called people to believe precisely because of evidences that were being given. For example, He said,
I have shown you many good deeds from the Father. For which one of them are you going to stone me? (John 10:32)
Biblical faith never says, “Close your eyes and hope for the best.” It always urges us, “Open your eyes, and choose.” When religious leaders rejected Jesus out of hand, without truly examining, assessing, evaluating, and thinking in orderly ways about the evidences He set before them , Jesus said to them,
If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin, but now because you claim that you can see, your guilt remains. (John 9:41)
This is precisely what Christ calls people to today—an examination of the propositions, evidences, and inferences set before us in space-time history.
A God Who Invites Us to Reason Together
In Old Testament times, God appealed to rebellious man, based not simply on emotion or on wishes, or on feelings. The Book of Isaiah has sometimes been called “the Bible in miniature.” The book begins with God stating a case against people who had rejected Him, in spite of all that He had done for them. Immediately after stating the case, God makes an appeal (Isaiah 1:18), variously translated as follows:
- “Come now, and let us reason together …” (King James Version, New American Standard Version)
- “Come now, let us argue this out …” (New Living Translation)
- “Come, let’s consider your options …” (NET Bible)
Any rendition would require the use of reason, the development of rational argumentation, and the evaluation of propositions. This is perfectly consistent with the call to faith throughout the Bible.
A Faith That Spread through Reason
After the earthly ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul and others approached people of quite a number of religious backgrounds—Judaism, Greek polytheism, atheistic Greek philosophy, and more. The historian Luke, recorded a number of these encounters in the biblical Book of Acts. Note the terms that are used as followers of Jesus made their appeal to those who had not yet heard of or believed in Christ.
- “ … he reasoned with them …” (Acts 17:2; 17:17; 18:4; 18:19)
- “ … trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 18:4; 26:28)
- “ … arguing persuasively …” (Acts 19:8)
- “ … make a defense before the people.” (Acts 19:33; 22:1; 24:10; 25:8; 26:1-2)
- “ … convinced …” (Acts 19:26; 28:24)
All of these terms strongly suggest appeals to the mind, not to the heart alone. They require the use of reason, with no evasion of thinking, evaluating, or weighing of evidences. Luke’s description of Jesus’ own ministry after the resurrection, also, appeals to evidences. Luke put it this way.
After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. (Acts 1:3)
A Heritage of Reason
Secularists claim that they are scientific while Christians are superstitious, that they build their arguments on facts while Christians defer to blind faith, and that they are, thus, right while Christians must be wrong. But in actuality, secularists and Christians both examine and study the same fossils, the same rock samples, the same laws of physics, the same genetics, microbiology, nuclear chemistry, and so forth.
Consider that Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Nicolaus Copernicus, and Gregor Mendel were all Christians. John Locke appealed to the Bible more than to any other document or person in his famous Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The heritage of the Christian faith is a rational, intellectual heritage. Believing in Jesus Christ is a very reasonable thing to do.
So the next time you hear someone dismiss Christianity as irrational and superstitious, maybe it would be reasonable to ask, “Is that correct, is it convincing, or is it just something that I’ve heard proclaimed LOUDLY, over and over?”