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It's time for a little quiz, folks. Let's offer four samples for focus:
1. A "faith healer" named Benny Pophagin offers to heal Joe of his lumbago. Benny lays hands on Joe and prays, but the lumbago remains. Benny waves Joe away, saying, "This is your problem. You don't have enough faith."
2. A Christian faces several objections to his beliefs that he cannot answer. He says, "I don't care what people say, I still have faith."
3. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard "contends that the scriptures included in the Bible verify that the Christian belief system is based on a leap of faith, not on tangible proof." This is because Christianity involves paradoxes offensive to reason.
4. The famous skeptic Mark Twain said, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."
Can anyone guess what is wrong with this picture? The answer is that all four of these examples offer an incorrect definition or understanding of what Biblical faith is all about. Twain's own definition does correctly (with some negative, polemical spin) embody the way "faith" is understood by far too many today -- but it does not match the Biblical definition of that word, and as the first two examples suggest, "faith" is a badly misunderstood concept in the church at large. Out third and newest example, brought out in a recent discussion forum by a Buddhist with a rather limited understanding of and concern for Christianity, shows how at least one philosopher, though due some credit, because of his lack of understanding came to a false conclusion about what faith was. We will look at this in more detail below (and we assume here that the representation of Kierkegaard 's position is correct).
The Greek word behind "faith" in the NT is pistis. As a noun, pistis is a word that was used as a technical rhetorical term for forensic proof. Examples of this usage are found in the works of Aristotle and Quintiallian, and in the NT in Acts 17:31:
If you are used to thinking of "faith" in terms of our first two examples, this will assuredly come as a surprise. The raising of Christ is spoken of here as a proof that God will judge the world. However, if we think about the missionary preaching of the book of Acts, this makes perfect sense and teaches us a certain lesson. Here is more food for thought: Is there anyplace in the NT where we can find someone giving their "personal testimony"? The answer is yes -- but it is in Phil. 3, where Paul gives his personal testimony about his former life, when writing to fellow Christians. He does not use it in a missionary setting to unbelievers.
Indeed, one will find nowhere in the NT an example of missionaries, or anyone, giving their personal testimony. This is for good reason. The ancients conceived of personality as static; the way you were born is the way you stayed. Personal change was not a focus, because it was thought impossible. This is why the church remained suspicious of Paul even after his conversion, and until Barnabas (who probably knew Paul previously) testified on his behalf.
But note well: The following is not the sort of thing one will find in the NT:
Acts 2:48-52 And Peter arose and said, Men and brethren, I testify to you that whereas I formerly smoked mustard leaves, drank wine, cursed daily, and smelled moreover of fish, when the Lord Jesus Christ entered my heart I became clean. Now I no longer smoke, I no longer drink, my language is no longer filthy, and I bathe daily. Praise the Lord!
On the contrary! Here is what we do find in the missionary preaching of the NT:
Peter's primary appeal here was threefold: He appealed to the evidence of the wonders and signs performed by Jesus; he appealed to the empty tomb, and he appealed to fulfillment of OT prophecy. In short, his appeals were evidentiary. One of course might wish to dispute the validity of the evidence, but in context this is beside the point. The point is that Peter grounded belief in Christianity on evidence -- or, as the definition of pistis in Acts 17:31 would put it, proofs.
Now before you re-read various passages on "faith" in this light, bear in mind two things. First, this does not necessarily mean abandoning personal testimony as a form of witness. Changed lives may be, and often are, appealed to as proofs of the Christian faith, and in our individualistic society which has lost a sense of history (to the point where many people cannot even name our Vice-President), such appeals may actually be better in some contexts than an apologetic for the empty tomb.
Second, note that in very few cases is this form of pistis, as meaning a proof, in view. The meaning does give us a clue as to the nature of other meanings. It is often used as a noun to refer to the Christian "faith" as a set of convictions. In far many more cases the meaning intended is in the sense of faithfulness, or loyalty as owed to one in whom one is embedded for service (in this case, the body of Christ). This now leads to an expansion of the pistis concept as derived from deSilva. As deSilva shows, the relationship between the believer and God is framed in terms of an ancient client-patron relationship. As God's "clients" to whom he has shown unmerited favor (grace), our response should be, as Malina and Neyrey frame it, a "constant awareness" of prescribed duties toward those in whom we are indebted (God) and the group in which we are embedded (God's kin group, the body of Christ). This "constant awareness" is the expression of our faithfulness of loyalty -- in other words, this is our pistis, or faith. "Faith" is not a feeling, but our pledge to trust, and be reliable servants to, our patron (God), who has provided us with tangible gifts (Christ) and proof thereby of His own reliability.
With this in mind, we now turn to a study of specific examples of "faith" in the NT, and how they are misunderstood -- and we will close with a revisit to our three examples above.
With a form of pistis used over 240 times in the NT, it will not be possible to examine every instance of it. But it is enough to highlight some of the more obvious examples.
We see the definition of "faith" in terms of loyalty to, or trust in, a deserving patron, exhibited quite clearly here. The centurion knew of Jesus' miraculous abilities (v. 8). His faith was not "blind" but based on the evidence of Jesus' past works. He considered Jesus worthy therefore of his trust and came to him for help.
This is the sort of "faith" also exhibited by other people who come to, or are brought to, Jesus for healing. The man with palsy, the woman with the issue of blood, Jairus, the blind man (Matt. 9), the Syrophoenician woman (Matt. 15) -- all came knowing of Jesus' abilities to heal. Their actions were based on evidence and proof. Of course one may argue that their trust was misplaced and that Jesus was a charlatan, but contextually that is beside the point. Our point is that faith is not "blind trust."
This passage is one of the leading "make hay" passages for charlatans like our Benny Pophagin. Not healed? You needed more faith! But understand instead "faith" as loyalty and "unbelief" as disobedience. So what is the implication? Matthew 17:21 ("Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.") is missing from the best mss. of Matthew. It's parallel, Mark 9:29, shows textual data indicating that only "prayer" was part of the original (see here). Wherein then lies the disciples' disobedience and disloyalty? It is in lack of prayer, and a false perception that the gift of exorcism was something inherent in themselves rather than being conveyed through them by God. (Note that the exorcism is preceded by a note that the scribes were questioning the disciples [Mark 9:14-16] -- most likely challenging them to perform an exorcism. We find a parallel lesson in Luke 10:17-20: "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." This is a firm caution against pride and focus on self, and a loss of concentration on the real power behind the ability to exorcize demons.)
A similar lesson may be drawn from Matthew 21, in which Jesus states, "Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." This needs to be combined with our comments elsewhere: No Jew would recognize such statements as giving believers carte blanche to ask to have mountains turned over (see more here). This is simply a way of emphasizing God's commitment, as a patron, to bless and show favor to the believer -- who would be expected not to ask for silly or selfish things in the first place, no more so than any client in the Roman world would be foolish enough to ask his patron to give him a million bucks to blow on video games. A person with pistis does not knowingly ask for that which God would not or does not will, and does not ask for something to happen if it is against God's will. In Jewish thought, God was sovereign. Nothing happened that God did not permit or cause. "Early Jewish teaching did celebrate God's kindness in answering prayer, but rarely promises such universal answers to prayer to all of God's people as the language suggests." [Keener, 245] Only a small number of sages were considered pious enough to ask for and receive whatever they wanted -- and that piety was their key indicates that they weren't going around asking for just anything they wanted (like Hanina ben Dosa, and Honi the Circle-Drawer), but only what they supposed to be in the will of God. "Such a call to believing prayer supposes a heart of piety submitted to God's will..."
Limitations upon what we may receive are clearly set by the context. The Lord's Prayer instructs us to pray for daily needs (Matt. 6:11) -- it does not say, "Give us this day a Rolls Royce." Earthly children ask for bread or fish (7:9-10) which are "basic staples in the Palestinian diet" that were provided to children on a regular basis. We can ask for "good things" (7:11), a term which sometimes referred to prosperity generally, but also "referred to agricultural produce that the righteous would share with others (Test. Iss. 3:7-8)." Neither the Jewish nor the Roman client-patron background would understand the mountain-moving phrase as literal permission to request whatever our selfishness desires -- or to expect something to be given to us contrary to the will and desire of the patron.
By now it should be easy to see that Jesus rebukes the disciples for a lack of trust and loyalty, which by this time he should have justly earned from them, having already shown his miraculous powers and wisdom.
We've seen a lot of skeptics quote this verse lately, saying that it indicates that Jesus was a charlatan who (like our modern "faith healer" Benny) needed people to have "faith" and excused away ability to heal real diseases as a lack of faith. The word "unbelief" here is apistia, meaning a lack of pistis. In light of our better understanding of pistis, the problem is indeed not with Jesus but with the lack of loyalty and trust by those who reject Jesus. Like the ungrateful client in the client-patron relationship, the people rejected Jesus as a patron in spite of his acts of grace, thereby dishonoring him. (Note how this affects the meaning of Mark 6:4: "A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.") To reject a gracious act was the height of dishonor. Jesus could not heal these people not because of a lack of power, but because of ingratitude and a rejection of his gracious patronage! A rejected patron could and would never force his gracious gifts upon a client who didn't want them!
Finally we look at this most-often abused use of pistis by skeptics who prefer the Twain definition:
"There, see! The evidence of things not seen. Blind faith. Case closed." Try again! The list that follows offers examples of people who had been given undeniable proof of God's existence and power. Pistis here is a matter of trust in a God who has demonstrated His ability to be a worthy patron, and the examples are those of clients who, knowing this ability, trust in God's record as a patronal provider. Hebrews 11:1 therefore is telling us that faith (trust in our patron, gained by conviction based on evidence) is the substance (the word here means an assurance, as in a setting under, a concrete essence or an abstract assurance) of things hoped for (this word means expected by trust, which is something earned!), and the evidence of that which is not seen, which in context means we expect, based on past performance, continuing favor from our patron, who has already proven Himself worthy of our trust by example, and this trust is our confidence in the fulfillment of future promises. Blind faith? Not in the least! It is faith grounded in reality.
With these things in mind, let's now look back at our four case examples and see where they go wrong.
1. A "faith healer" named Benny Pophagin offers to heal Joe of his lumbago. Benny lays hands on Joe and prays, but the lumbago remains. Benny waves Joe away, saying, "This is your problem. You don't have enough faith." As Mark 6:5 shows, Benny is full of bologna. Anyone who trusts God already has all the "faith" they need. What Benny misses is the central truth that this trust is not something giving us carte blanche to get everything we want. What we do get remains in the patron's good grace.
2. A Christian faces several objections to his beliefs that he cannot answer. He says, "I don't care what people say, I still have faith." Our Christian probably does have "faith" even by the right definition -- but it needs to be grounded in something firm and not held blindly. We'll do #4 next, then skip back to #3 as it requires a more detailed treatment.
3. The famous skeptic Mark Twain said, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so." Like our friend Benny, Twain dipped a little too heavily into the Oscar Mayer on this one. "Faith" is believing what you know to be true and trustworthy. Once again, one may argue about whether the evidence is indeed trustworthy, but contextually it remains that true faith is far, far from blind.
4. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard "contends that the scriptures included in the Bible verify that the Christian belief system is based on a leap of faith, not on tangible proof." This is because Christianity involves paradoxes offensive to reason. We need to actually have a closer look at what Kierkegaard (if our Buddhist source represented him correctly, which it does seem that he did not -- see here ) incorrectly regarded as paradoxes, due to his lack of education in relevant fields. Our Buddhist forum member put this forward first:
1. The idea that a God could be transformed into a man, more specifically Jesus, is a paradox. "Christian dogma, according to Kierkegaard, embodies paradoxes which are offensive to reason. The central paradox is the assertion that the eternal, infinite, transcendent God simultaneously became incarnated as a temporal, finite, human being (Jesus). There are two possible attitudes we can adopt to this assertion, viz. we can have faith, or we can take offense. What we cannot do, according to Kierkegaard, is believe by virtue of reason. If we choose faith we must suspend our reason in order to believe in something higher than reason. In fact we must believe by virtue of the absurd."
If this was Kierkegaard's understanding of the Trinity, it was badly misinformed. Via the concept of Wisdom/Logos this "paradox" disappears; what was incarnated was a temporal, hypostatic extension of the transcendent God, not the transcendent God Himself. There is no call to suspend reason; indeed, the most "reasoning" Greek philosophers came up with essentially the same ideas, as did other great minds in the ANE. #2 takes a little more doing:
2. The idea that Abraham could be commanded to kill his own son by the same God whose commandments include 'thou shalt not kill', is a paradox. "Using the example of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22:1-19), Kierkegaard suggested that God called Abraham to violate moral law in slaying his son. For Kierkegaard, Abraham's willingness to "suspend" his ethical convictions epitomized the leap of faith that is demanded of everyone. Kierkegaard believed the incident proved that "the single individual [Abraham] is higher than the universal [moral law]." Building on that conclusion, the Danish philosopher offered this observation: "Abraham represents faith.... He acts by virtue of the absurd, for it is precisely [by virtue of] the absurd that he as the single individual is higher than the universal." "[I] cannot understand Abraham," Kierkegaard declared, "even though in a certain demented sense I admire him more than all others."
Kierkegaard was misplaced in two respects. First, he was clueless about the actual meaning of "Thou shalt not kill" in Hebrew. (See further for our Buddhist opponent's cognitive-dissonance dodge of this point; Glenn Miller also has relevant material here and here.) The "faith" here is Abraham's loyalty to God, and an expectation, based on the evidence of his previous dealings with YHWH, that God will either stop the process or return Isaac to life. In contrast, our opponent had but emotion to offer as a response:
Abraham's choice of action was irrational. Why did he listen to God, and begin to sacrifice his own son? As a father, i can tell you that i would have refused, offered myself instead, and would have even contemplated killing myself before harming my son. In fact, i would have taken a run at God himself if he tried to harm my son.
It is a well known and understood thing that we don't bring harm to our own children, no matter who tries to tell us otherwise. It is our sacred duty to protect our children. It is one of the central moral themes of mankind. To do harm to a child, our own child, is the most heinous crime on earth, and a mortal sin in the eyes of God, under any other circumstances.
So, given all of that, why did Abraham do what he did? There can be only one answer. He took a leap of faith. He put his faith in God above all the things he knew, the difference between right and wrong, the duty of a father to protect his children, and even his belief that the God he knew wouldn't do such a thing.
Readers will wish to note Miller's responses to this line of thinking -- among them: priority to God over man; the primacy of loyalty and personal sacrifice in the mind of the ancients (which we, in individualistic selfishness as displayed above, have lost); the amount of time that passed within which there was assuredly interchange between Abraham and Isaac (which practically guarantees that Isaac's role became one of self-sacrifice -- he was old enough to know and understand what was going on, as well as put up resistance if he wanted to!). In short, our opponent has the entire scenario read in the wrong, which is the natural result of relying on a philosopher (however competent) rather than, or without input from, relevant scholarship. The opponent continues:
So what kind of faith did Abraham demonstrate when he chose to obey God and kill his only son, in spite of the fact that he knew it was morally wrong? There is only one kind of faith that fits the bill; blind faith.
This is false on several counts, for we have noted that there is no moral contradiction: the cited command is of no relevance, and Isaac clearly was a willing participant. Abraham's faith was not blind, but based on evidence: note therefore Abraham's repeated statements of confidence: "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." The true scenario is as Miller notes: The OT passage itself focuses on Abraham's priority loyalty to YHWH--cf. Jesus' words in Matt 10.37: ""Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me". As is standard practice with God, when we 'give up' the good things in our lives to Him, we almost always get them back again with blessings. Miller's comment fits hand in glove with our understanding of the meaning of "faith". Another forum member put it well:
The term "blind faith" is often used as an insult to the intelligence of one who has any kind of faith. I invite you to read the account of Abraham and discover if he had any reason to trust God's word by virtue of His previous actions. Probably the most amusing of those actions was the birth of Isaac to 90 year old Sarah, who laughed the previous year at the idea. This was certainly a sign of God's power to 100 year old Abraham.
Blind faith would by like trusting in your dog to save your soul. You have no reason for this belief, no written records, no writings dated thousands of years back, no lives changed, nothing. Christianity is hardly blind.
God had promised him a son in his old age, and God delivered, at a time when it was impossible for old men and their wives to have babies.
In fact, if you follow a biblical anthropology, there is no such thing as a blind leap of faith, because the first man woke up out of the dust of the ground and met his creator on a daily basis in the Garden of Eden. This establishes that God is involved in His creation from the beginning in self-revelatory ways that doesn't require a blind faith at all. So Abe knew about this God, and had on ongoing relationship with him for YEARS before God tested him. Blind faith? No way.
Kierkegaard had his political/social context to which he was reacting. I suspect he would be singing a different tune were he alive today in NA.
In response to these points, our opponent repeated his emotional appeals, and added this sort of thing re the definition of "kill":
Let me get this straight, you are claiming that Kierkegaard's credibility is blown, because he wrongly defined the word 'kill'? Are you for real? That is the most ridiculous crap you have brought forward yet. A five year old child can accurately define 'kill'. It means 'render dead'. Something was once alive, now it's not, and something was responsible. And you're trying to suggest that Kierkegaard somehow got this wrong? I suppose now you are going to point me to a foreign root of the word 'kill' in Arabic or Sumerian or some other exotic language to try to prove your point? Give me a break, it's pathetic.
I replied to this methodology thusly:
Yes, it is indeed pathetic the way cognitive dissonance leads people to stick their heads in the sand and avoid actual answers. Funny, usually it's the True Believers who are accused of that...
Kierk was no expert in Hebrew language or culture, and it would not be hard to discredit a person on a particular point (you burn the excessive strawman of discrediting him as a whole, undoubtedly because of severe cognitive dissonance and high frustration you are experiencing) when they step out of their field of knowledge.
And tried to excuse away the evidence of the late birth of Isaac with a dipsy-doodle:
As for Abraham, his story is dramatic in the fact that he was made to wait until the age of a hundred before having a child. His belief in God was already put to the test by being made to wait so long. The fact that God turns around after waiting so long to give Abraham his promised son, and then demands his son be sacrificed serves to add further drama to the test of faith he underwent.
Not one word of this controverts the point that the late birth nevertheless was one piece of evidence upon which Abraham based his trust. This opponent was engaging distraction tactics by emphasizing "drama" and ignoring the point of the argument. In short, Abraham's faith was not "blind" at all.
In conclusion: If you as a Christian have held one or more of these views of faith, we offer this in humbleness as a corrective. Your faith does not have to be, and was never intended to be, a blind trust -- not in God, and not as something you hold even in opposition.
See a SecWeb Skeptic get corn-fused over this article, and our reply, here.
Here are some observations from a reader who has been following this article:
Recently, I've been dealing with some (I dare say heretical) individuals on the issue of salvation. Essentially, they state the loss-of-rewards variant of eternal security. (If you ask them what that reward is, they'll stutter.) Anyway, one of the big issues that came up was the definition of faith. They continue to insist it is the one-time act of mental belief. I showed them the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Then the two verses before it with wonderful antithetical parallelism, and the two verses after it with the exhortation to persevere. (I don't think you made a real distinction between eternal security and perseverance of the saints in your article, and yes, dealing with antinomians has made me sensitive to that. Oh, well.) Anyway, the fact that "pistis" is the same word for faith and faithfulness didn't convince them. So I was just browsing and saw these definitions in Young's Literal Concordance:
1. aman, to remain steadfast.
2. peithomai, to be persuaded.
3. pisteuo, to adhere to, trust, rely on.
4. pisteuo eis, to remain steadfast to.
5. pisteuo en, to remain steadfast in.
6. pisteuo epi, to remain steadfast on.
"To believe" is recognized not simply by the culturally aware, but also the linguistically aware to mean "to remain steadfast." If mental belief were meant, then why not use peithomai? (Interestingly enough, the active voice, peitho, refers back to the assurance/confidence/persuasion idea. Seems they didn't really like the idea of any belief that wasn't proven.) Those sneaky English translations! Oh, wait.
American Heritage Dictionary:
faith: n. 3. loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance.
In any case, most people can't handle the idea of knowledge-based loyalty any more than they can take love as group-centered attachment. 2 Cor. 5:7 says to walk by faith, but by this definition faith is not blindness -- "sight" there refers to being distracted by the visible realities rather than focusing on Christ.
I also noticed the whole James thing makes a lot more sense. "Loyalty without works." Sounds better than, "Belief without works," or, "Trust without works." Faith is faithfulness. The example I always use is a husband who has faith in his wife: that doesn't mean he believes she exists and that they married at some point in time. Then again, some "Christians" don't even think repentance is necessary for salvation. (This week, I've dealt with some that don't even regard unbelief as a sin.)
Addendum: What is forgiveness? Though it may be enough of a surprise to know that "faith" meant, in the first century, not quite what we have been taught (!), there is another surprise: Neither does the word "forgiveness". Like "faith" this word is often tied up with an idea of emotional attachment and release of guilt. But that's our modern idea -- the ancients had different ideas entirely.
Malina and Rohrbaugh note in Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels (303-4) that within the context of the ancient world, the "introspective, guilt-oriented outlook of industrialized societies did not exist...." "Guilt" therefore referred not to personal feelings, but to liability and responsibility for an offense. (One will find nowhere in the Bible someone who says, "I feel guilty!") "Forgiveness" meant, in turn, "being divinely restored to one's position" and being "freed from fear of loss at the hands of God." Forgiveness was restoration to a previous position -- not an emotion.
Please visit Tekton Apologetics Ministry for more informative articles such as this as well as an exhaustive amount of material refuting skeptical assertions against Christianity.
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Tillich was worfully ignorant of such matters as the client-patron relationship and the contextual meaning of pistis. His commentary is thoroughly decontexualized and is worthless to the informed student. While he may accurately describe "faith" as some or many (mis)understand it, he does not accurately describe pistis as it was understood by the contemporaries of Jesus.
I haven't ready JP's article yet. I don't know if I will agree or disagree. However, the very mention of the topic above indicates to me that he's got insight into a profoundly important issue involving social dynamics of the ancients. I've been encouraging others to read books realted to this issue, including GrayP., Red. and Zag.
Thanks for your contribution JP. I look forward to reading the rest of it when I get back from vacation.
Last edited by Arminian; August 19th 2003 at 04:22 PM.
Always reforming.How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (John 5:44)
Luke 8:38-39 (NASB-U)
But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying, "Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
Luke 8:38-39 (NASB-U)
But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying, "Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
Nope. He didn't either. He didn't tell how Jesus "changed his life" or made him a better person. He told how had healed him. In other words, he appealed to evidence: his own healing.
I would suggest reading Kierkegaard for yourself instead of consulting 2nd hand sources. Kierkegaard is probably the most misunderstood and misquoted of all Christian philosophers. Many of his works were written under pseudonym and do not reflect his personal views.
A good anthology of his work is "A Kierkegaard Anthology" edited by Bretall.
first, you can never prove Christianity. Kierkegaard's point in "Concluding Unscientific Postscript" was that any historical "proof" was at BEST an approximation; and no matter how good the odds are, no approximation is stable enough to base your eternal happiness on. Furthermore, the arguments for the existence of God are terrible philosophy. They're useful to a believer, but mean jack squat to a thorough skeptic. But... neither is there any "proof" that is in favor of athiesm. A person has to be convinced of their need for God, which brings me to my second point.
Even if you could objectively prove the validity of Christianity 100%, this wouldn't give someone a reason to believe it. God is not an object, as if He were a created being, God is a subject, and thus you can only come into a relationship with Him subjectively. Now, apologetics might silence your protests, but it doesn't give you a reason to change. One of the students up here said once "we have faith in the promises of God, not in the existence of God." Now, go and read Hebrews 11. [note: we do believe in that existance, but it is God as a subject that we trust] I think every Christian should read Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. BTW, Kierkegaard was a theology student, so he was fairly well informed on things pertaining to religion.
"If this was Kierkegaard's understanding of the Trinity, it was badly misinformed. Via the concept of Wisdom/Logos this "paradox" disappears; what was incarnated was a temporal, hypostatic extension of the transcendent God, not the transcendent God Himself. "
This is just straight-up heretical, seriously!
Last edited by Dee Dee Warren; October 7th 2003 at 05:47 PM.
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