Faith, Round II
Awhile back I made a post about faith, where I equated regular faith with blind faith, showed that evidence destroys faith, and generally criticized the whole faith concept in general. Well some Christians didn’t like me doing that, and they accused me of misrepresentation and bad form because I used the dictionary for a definition of faith rather than the Bible.
I don't accept the Bible as any authority, so why should I be forced to use the Bible's definition of faith? The Bible is not the definitive source for the English language, and when I debate and write, I do so in the tongue of "English," not "Biblish". I think the Van Til quote about faith that I copied and pasted is also in "English" and not "Biblish". When Christian apologists deride me for using the dictionary definition of faith rather than the Biblical definition, they imply that the Biblical definition is something quite different than the dictionary definition. Let's take a look at what the Bible defines faith as, and compare it to what the dictionary defines it as, just so that we can settle this confusion.
Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
I had this verse waiting in my notes. I deliberately did not use it at first, to see if any Christians would volunteer the verse. Nobody did. I even went so far as to deny that the Bible even defined faith, as bait to get someone to offer up the verse. Finally, here it is. Hebrews 11:1 in all its glory.
So let's compare the Hebrews verse to the dictionary definition. From dictionary.com:
Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
Hmmmm, they look kind of similar, don’t they? Substance of things hoped for vs. belief that does not rest on logical proof. Evidence of things not seen vs. belief that does not rest on... material evidence. But what is evidence of things not seen? I think that is just another way of saying "...does not rest on... material evidence".
Honestly, these two sources have remarkably similar definitions of faith. So similar, that I believe these two definitions both essentially say "belief in things unevidenced". So what is with all these "bad form" claims from Christians? And what is with the "blind faith" distinction that Van Til makes, especially considering that Hebrews 11:1 says "things not seen"? Surely Van Til was aware of this "unseen" word in Hebrews 11:1 when he said "...but surely it must not be taken on blind faith"?
Actually, no. I don’t think Van Til was aware of this when he wrote his defense of faith. I don’t think Van Til had clear definitions for "faith" and "blind faith". I think Van Til just assumed his readers would know the difference. What that difference is, I am not clear, nor have any Christians that I've encountered even attempted to explain the difference. I think Van Til had some kind of notion in his head that normal "faith" was somehow slightly evidenced, but "blind faith" was completely unevidenced. Well, the dictionary and Hebrews 11:1 both just corrected Van Til's sloppy definitions of "faith" for us, didn’t they?
It looks like we haven’t settled the whole matter. We started out with the dictionary's definition of faith. To some readers of this blog, that wasn't good enough. So now I offer up the Biblical definition of faith. Somehow, I get the feeling that this still will not be good enough for all our readers. Now I ask, does anyone have a Van Til definition of faith? I imagine that he was most likely using the same definition for faith that we find in the dictionary and Bible, which is a good thing, for it is likely the definition that all good Christians should use.
Here is a slightly revised points list:
1. All faith is blind; there is no difference between blind faith and regular faith.
2. Faith is belief without evidence or reason.
3. Faith is required for salvation (Hebrews 11:6).
4. To have reason and evidence for Christianity is to not have faith.
5. Without blind faith in Christianity, you are damned.