Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dear Christians, Biblical Faith Isn't Blind

This is a post for Christians. My purpose is to combat the misuse of the word "faith" as it is widely used in Christian circles today. This is important because the misconception is obvious, widespread, hurts the credibility of the church, and severely hinders Christian's ability to share the gospel (which they ought to care about).

Biblical Faith Isn't Blind

The modern, popular concept of faith: A way of knowing things--a fallback for when you can't know whether or not something is true. You combat uncertainty by just having faith. You get to know stuff because you have faith in it. You know because "no reason". Modern faith is the concept of choosing to hold a belief when the evidence is lacking, incomplete, or contradictory.

Biblical faith: Being convinced of the truth of something based on evidence, and acting on this truth.

I'm going to use the word "faith" as a noun a lot, so let's just go ahead and use the original Greek word for faith, πίστις (pis-tis). Don't worry if you don't know Greek. I'm going to highlight everything important with pretty colors and provide translations.

I suspect that the main reason for the modern misunderstanding of πίστις is a poor reading of Hebrews 11, in particular, verse 1: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see."

Many Christians take this to mean that we can punt whenever there is uncertainty. Do you hope that God exists? Yes? Well then, be convinced that that is true even though you don't have evidence! This interpretation is utterly, obviously, completely false. It is also damaging to the church.

Let's take a look at Hebrews 11.

I don't expect you to read the Greek--I just want to show you where πίστις comes up, and how it is defined. Hebrews 11, or "The Hall of Faith", describes what Biblical πίστις is, and then gives examples of people in the Old Testament who exemplified πίστις.!bible/Hebrews+11:1

The Faith of the Members of the Hall of Faith

The members of the Hall of Faith are Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and his parents, Rahab, the people of Israel in general when they knocked down the walls of Jericho, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets in general.

Let's look at the πίστις of some of the members of the Hall of Faith, in comic format! I highly recommend reading the technical breakdown of each one I will write (links will be provided soon), but if you choose to just read the comic versions, well, who will know?

The Faith of Noah, Pokemon Master
Genesis 6,

I hope you got the point--Noah was OBVIOUSLY aware of God's existence. He had awesome reasons to think that God existed--God directly TALKED to him. πίστις for Noah wasn't a fallback when he didn't feel like pursuing the validity of a claim about God, or a punt for choosing to believe something without evidence. He KNEW that God existed, and CHOSE to live in accordance with the things that God said. He was convinced of the truth of God's words and it showed in the way he lived--by God's command he built a gigantic ark and wrangled a huge number of animals. THAT. IS. FAITH. USE THAT AS A DEFINITION. THAT IS HOW THE BIBLE DEFINES FAITH. STOP TRADING THAT DEFINITION FOR A LIE.

If you don't, you are making a joke of your beliefs.

After all... If the basis for your belief is that weak, why act on it?

Let's breeze through the other members of the Hall of Faith for the sake of completeness. I know I promised comics earlier, but I'm tired of drawing. If you want more comics, leave a comment below.
  • Abel--parents had direct contact with God, he may have as well (Genesis 4)
  • Enoch--he "walked with God." This may be figurative, but even if it is, he would have had a strong historical argument. (Genesis 5:24)
  • Abraham--directly talked with God (Genesis 16,17)
  • Jacob--Direct contact with God (Genesis 32)
  • Joseph--relatives had direct contact with God (Genesis16-32)
  • Moses--direct contact with God (all over Exodus)
  • Rahab--possible exception, we don't know much about her.
  • The people of Israel--saw many miracles (all over the Pentateuch)
In conclusion, Biblical faith is conviction of the truth of something based on evidence, and living a life in accordance with that truth. It is the trust of the trustworthy.


  1. In Rahab's story, there was a strong second-hand account of all the miracles done by God for/through the Israelites from coming out of Egypt on. Apparently the stories had spread throughout Canaan because several different groups of people from Exodus to Joshua mention hearing testimony of what God had done for the Israelites. Rahab is one of the only people we see from Canaan acting on these stories in a God-honoring way, perhaps why she was in the hall of faith.

    1. Robby, awesome comment. I hadn't thought of that, but you totally nailed it. You have my respect.