The Cults, Language, Revelation, and Secularism (1999)

I dug this gem out of my Microsoft Word due to a conversation on my Facebook. I was planning on going a different direction but after I found this from about 1999 via a debate in a forum on what is still SPACE BATTLES… it was late 99 or early 2000 that I cut my teeth on the Internet via Space Battles. I kept most of my debates from the 4 or so years I was on the forums there… at least my responses. This is one of those early debates — the main point here is that secularism is a religion. (I may add some media when I see fit):


SKEPTIC, YOU SAID:

  • I don’t know how you can say Jimmy Jones and the Branch Davidians weren’t believers in absolutism and God.

This is easy to say. Both rejected the God of the Bible, period. They were not Christians, period. They were cults who had sex with multiple partners and were power hungry and changed meanings of plain and clear scripture to get their way. This is important, because when anyone deals with a cult member, they need to realize that there is a language barrier. For instance, when a Mormon says he or she believes in Jesus, is this the same Jesus Christianity has preached for 2,000 years? How a bout the Jehovah’s Witness when they say they believe in Jesus?

JESUS

Mormons believe that Jesus is not God, but a god, they are polytheists. They believe that Jesus was born first in heaven in a spiritual body via sexual relations between “Heavenly Father” (God in Mormon terms) and one of his many wives. Lucifer also was a son born by “God” sticking his dingy in one of his wives. By the way, God was once a man like us, and now resides on the planet Kolob (according to the Pearle of Great Price – one of many added Mormon scripture). And be sure that all mentioned here have to take away, change, or add scripture to get their theology to work – just like Hitler and his cronies.

(SEE ALSO: “MORMON GLOSSARY: WORDS HAVE MEANING“)

Jehovah’s Witness’s believe that Jesus was the first created being, that is, Michael the Archangel. Jehovah (God) then created all things THROUGH Michael the Archangel. When Michael came to earth in bodily form he was known as Jesus. And now is not Jesus any longer, but once again under the name and title Michael the Archangel, the first-born.

Jesus, according to the historic Christian faith is God, the creator of everything in heaven and on earth. He is not bound by time-space; for unlike the two before mentioned perversions of plain scripture, Jesus is the Creator of the space-time continuum. He is God Almighty.

SALVATION

Both Jehovah’s Witness’ and Mormons believe that the sacrifices given on the cross by “Jesus” was only in remission of Adam’s original sin, opening the way for these sincere persons to “work” their way into heaven or “salvation.” Jehovah’s Witness’s believe that 100 hundred hours a week of going door-to-door or standing in front of donut shops handing out booklets will one of the many rules sufficient enough to allow them to be resurrected here on earth to live forever more (only 144,000 get to go to heaven). Mormons don’t drink caffeine, cuss, marry in the temple, wear special undergarments, tithe, all in the hopes of making to the “best” heaven.

Christianity teaches that we can do nothing to please God, all our good works are like leaves in the wind, they blow away. Salvation is a gift that only can be fulfilled by an immutable, perfect, gift… man can never attain this in his finite state. Salvation is through Christ alone. This is one of the many proofs that Christianity is divine, that is, if this were a man-made religion, man would have made it conquerable. So like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness’ religious construct of lists of items to do for salvation to be attainable, Christianity has no such list. If man had made Christianity, there would be something we could do to please God for our salvation, in fact, we cannot. Christianity is unconquerable by man. (sorry, back to the point).

So when a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon come to your door and say, “we believe in Jesus,” or, “we believe in salvation,” and, “we are followers of Christ, therefore we are the true Christians,” you can break through the fog by understanding what is meant by terms used.

(From a debate with a J-Dub):

The main problem is that the Watchtower gives ALL truth that is to be believed by the Jehovah’s Witness. I will show an example, and I quote the founder, Charles Taze Russell:

If the six volumes of SCRIPTURE STUDIES are practically the Bible, topically arranged with Bible proof texts given, we might not improperly name the volumes THE BIBLE IN AN ARRANGED FORM. That is to say, they are not mere comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself….

Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the SCRIPTURE STUDIES aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years – if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood the Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. on the other hand, if he had merely read the SCRIPTURE STUDIES with their references, and not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.

Even if you’ve read the Scripture Studies for ten years, and you lay them aside and read the Bible for two years alone, you enter into darkness?!

This is a revealing quote.

It shows how brainwashed Jehovah’s Witnesses are to the fact that the ruling council and president of the Watchtower Society dispense nothing but truth and reality while the rest of humanity who points out the misquotes and misrepresentations are shunned as devils (almost literally).

I will go out on a limb here and say, “if the devil were to create a religious group that undermines the true message in the Bible, would the devil require someone to read the Bible by itselfor would the devil want to add something to it that would interpret everything within?”

Same goes for our current discussion.

When Hitler uses the words Christians, Jesus, church, and the like, you know he had changed the Biblical absolutes to fits his relativistic pantheism/paganism that we know he believed. If Hitler came to our door today passing out tracts talking of Jesus’ non-Jewish heritage and that he was going to finish what Jesus couldn’t, namely the extermination of the Jews, then we would know that this is not Christianity, not absolutes, but fascism at it most perverted. Remember what a philosophy major once said:

  • “Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable” — Mussolini

Mussolini, Diuturna (1924) pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18.

This is what Hitler did, Mussolini, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, Jim Jones, David Koresh, and all others who relativize God’s plainly stated truth to fit their particular needs or situation. And in doing so, they must change, reject, or add to the Bible or the historic Christian faith in order to do so.

SKEPTIC, WHEN YOU SAID:

  • That I agree with! Claiming a personal revelation can hid a host of evils. But it seems like the religious are more likely to do that then a humanist…. I am also arguing that a humanist who believes he contains within himself the ultimate determination of what is moral, would not do the things that these people did without, at least, the recognition that he is being evil. These nazis, Branch Davidians, terrorists, and kool aid killers are all more dangerous because they believe they are doing good.

I almost fell out of my chair. The Communists killed many, many millions believing they were doing good? God revealing this is not mandated by Mao is it? Special revelation isn’t only from God. One needs only to read the Humanist Manifesto’s or the Communist Manifesto to see revelation without God. Huxley called evolution a religion without revelation. However, there can be revelation in non-belief. For instance, consider the following excerpt from a letter written by Charles Darwin in 1881:

“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit…. The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”

Charles Darwin, Life and Letters, I, Letter to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, p. 316; cited in Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, by Gertrude Himmelfarb (London: Chatto & Windus, 1959), p. 343.

Or:

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd ed. (New York: A. L. Burt Co., 1874), p.178.

How a bout this:

“No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried on by thoughts and not by bites. The highest places in the hierarchy of civilization will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins, though it is by no means necessary that they should be restricted to the lowest. But whatever the position of stable equilibrium into which the laws of social gravitation may bring the negro, all responsibility for the result will henceforward lie between Nature and him. The white man may wash his hands of it, and the Caucasian conscience be void of reproach for evermore. And this, if we look to the bottom of the matter, is the real justification for the abolition policy.”

Thomas Huxley, Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews (New York: Appleton, 1871), pp 20-1.

One more before I head to humanism:

“The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy (New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942), pp. 161-162.

These seem very revelational, just revelations from nature.

John Dewey, signer of the Humanist Manifesto I, says this regarding education:

education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform…. In this way the teacher always is the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of God.

John Dewey, Education Today, “My Pedagogic Creed,” (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1897), p. 15, 17.

You see, John Dewey argues that “scientific” education has made the notion of the supernatural “incredible,” and anticipates “the coming of a fuller and deeper religion” – Humanism. Dewey viewed public education as the vehicle to promote this “deeper religions.”

We certainly cannot teach religion as an abstract essence. We have got to teach something as religion, and that means practically some religion…. It is their business to do what they can to prevent all public educational agencies from being employed in ways which inevitably impede the recognition of the spiritual import of science ands of democracy, and hence of that type of religion which will be the fine flower of the modern spirit’s achievement.

Ibid – 1940 edition.

My point as I continue on here is that men are made for revelation, if God’s is thrown to the wayside, some other revelation will take its place. Roy Wood Sellers is also a signer of the Humanist Manifesto I, he says:

The center of gravity of religion has been openly changing for some time now from supernaturalism to what may best be called a humanistic naturalism…. There have been many steps forward in the past, for every age must process its own religion, a religion concordant with its knowledge and expressed of its problems and aims…. The coming phase of religion will reflect man’s power over nature and his moral courage in the face of the facts and possibilities of life. It will be a religion of action and passion, a social religon, a religion of goals and prospects. It will be a free man’s religion, a religion for an adult and aspiring democracy.

Roy Wood Sellers, The Next Step In Religion (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1918), foreword.

Here Sellers makes the case for atheistic, naturalistic Humanism as the next world religion, or revelation. Again:

But the humanist’s religion is the religion of one who says yea to life here and now, of one who is self-reliant and fearless, intelligent and creative. It is the religion of the will to power, of one who is hard on himself and yet joyous in himself. It is the religion of courage and purpose and transforming energy. Its motto is, “What hath man not wrought?” Its goal is the mastery of all things that they may become servants and instrumentalities to man’s spiritual comradeship. Whatever mixture of magic, fear, ritual and adoration religion may have been in man’s early days, it is now, and henceforth must be, that which concerns man’s nobilities, his discovery of, and loyalty to, the pervasive values of life. The religious man will now be he who seeks out causes to be loyal to, social mistakes to correct, wounds to heal, achievements to further. He will be constructive, fearless, loyal, sensitive to the good wherever found, a believer in mankind, a fighter for things worth while…. The religion of human possibilities needs prophets who will grip men’s souls with their description of a society in which the righteousness, wisdom and beauty will reign together…. Loyalty to such an ideal will surely constitute the heart of the humanist’s religion…. If religion is to survive, it must be human and social. It is they who insists upon a supernatural foundation and object who are its enemies. Man’s life is spiritual in its own right. So long as he shall dream of beauty and goodness and truth his life will not lack religion.

Ibid., p. 212, 215-216, 225.

Curtis W. Reese likewise signed the Humanist Manifesto I, he says quite plainly:

Within the liberal churches of America there is a religious movement which has come to be known as Humanism…. There is a large element of faith in all religion. Christianity has faith in the love of God; and Humanism in man as the measure of values…. Hypotheses, postulates, and assumptions in their proper realm are comparable to faith in the realm of religion. In this way I speak of the faith of Humanism.

Edited by Curtis W. Reese, Humanist Sermons, preface and “The Faith of Humanism,” (Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 1927), p. v, 39, 40

One last quote, as I could go on ad infinitum, another signer was Charles Francis Potter, he plainly states:

[Humanism] is a new type of religion altogether…. Is Humanism a religion? It is both a religion and a philosophy of culture…. Education is the most powerful ally of humanism, and every American public school is a school of humanism. What can the theistic Sunday-schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching.

Charles Potter, HUMANISM: A New Religion (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1930), p. 3, 114, 128

You can see that one revelation, say, “God exists,” is replaced with another that says, “God does not exist.”

Here is a quote from the famous 1961 court case, Torcaso v. Watkins:

  • Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.

See: Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, 101 U.S.App.D.C. 371, 249 F.2d 127; Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda, 153 Cal.App.2d 673, 315 P.2d 394; II Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences 293; 4 Encyclopedia Britannica (1957 ed.) 325-327; 21 id. at 797; Archer, Faiths Men Live By (2d ed. revised by Purinton), 120-138, 254-313; 1961 World Almanac 695, 712; Year Book of American Churches for 1961, at 29, 47.

“Secular Humanism” is official atheism… BTW. It is a religion according to law, and why there are atheist (secular humanist) chaplains in the military.

Humanism is revelation, and just as “absolute” as the other.

  • Paul Kurtz says, “Humanism is a philosophical, religious, and moral point of view.”
  • Dewey states, “Here are all the elements for a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class or race…. It remains to make it explicit and militant.”

Chesterton said,

  • “When a man ceases to believe in God he does not believe in nothing, he believes almost in anything.”

And so it is.


2021 EXCERPT


This is from APOLOGETIC PRESS:

Humanism is a religion, and the Supreme Court defined it as such in 1961 (Torcaso v. Watkins, 1961; the word “religion” or “religious” occurs 28 times in the first Manifesto, 1933). While the initial Manifesto is specifically religious, the subsequent humanist documents are not. However, the democratic humanism of the Secular Humanist Declaration (1980), and the “planetary” humanism of Kurtz’s Humanist Manifesto 2000, do not contradict the major premises of the first Manifesto.

The initial Manifesto most plainly declares humanism to be a religious enterprise. The very first section (or article) states: “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created” (1933, emp. added). Religionists familiar with the goals and practices of secular humanism may be surprised at the high praise of traditional religion in this seminal treatise:

Religions have always been means for realizing the highest values of life. Their end has been accomplished through the interpretation of the total environing situation (theology or world view), the sense of values resulting therefrom (goal or ideal), and the technique (cult) established for realizing the satisfactory life…. [T]hrough all changes religion itself remains constant in its quest for abiding values, an inseparable feature of human life (Humanist, 1933, Preface, parenthetical items in orig.).

So the secularist’s problem is not with religion per se, but with religious beliefs and practices that are antithetical to certain humanist norms and objectives. Secularists reject “salvationism,” which they regard as based on mere “affirmation” (Humanist, 1973). Practically all religion other than humanism falls into the category of religion that humanism would oppose. So, religion must be restructured into a humanist “faith” or belief system.

The first Manifesto unveils the humanists’ desire to reshape modern religion. “The time has come for widespread recognition of the radical changes in religious beliefs throughout the modern world. The time is past for mere revision of traditional values…. Religions the world over are under the necessity of coming to terms with new conditions created by a vastly increased knowledge and experience” (1933, Preface). In a sense, humanists see themselves as saving people from theistic religion: “There is a great danger of a final, and we believe fatal, identification of the word religion with doctrines and methods which have lost their significance and which are powerless to solve the problem of human living in the Twentieth Century…. Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created” (Preface-Section 1).

Because theistic religion is so “out of date” according to secularists, a mammoth adjustment is in order. Religion of practically every kind must be eliminated or restructured.

Today man’s larger understanding of the universe, his scientific achievements, and deeper appreciation of brotherhood, have created a situation which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion. Such a vital, fearless, and frank religion capable of furnishing adequate social goals and personal satisfactions may appear to many people as a complete break with the past. While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age. To establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present. It is a responsibility which rests upon this generation (Humanist, 1933, Preface).

Humanists seem to have as their primary religious activity expunging God from society and the minds of people (see “Humanists Praise,” 2007; “‘Church Polling Place’,” 2006). Only when God is out of the picture may humanists convert all humans to the religion of humanism (and this is precisely what they intend to do; see Ericson, 2006; Lyons and Butt, 2007).

(READ THE REST)

What Is Faith? Is It Blind? Or Is It Trustworthy? (Updated)

RE-POST

(Originally Posted In February 2017)

I just wanted to update the below a bit with a great explanation of how theists view evidential propositions about God as compared to agnostics and atheists. Tim Stratton makes a great short example of what is being discussed in the below — but clearer: “ATHEISM: LACK OF BELIEF OR BLIND FAITH?

Many atheists claim that their atheistic beliefs are just as viable as my theistic beliefs. Typically, the following scale (or something similar) is provided:

1- God exists (100% certainty)
2- God probably exists (51%-99% certainty)
3- Neutral Agnostic (50%/50%)
4- God probably does not exist (51%-99% certainty)
5- God does not exist (100% certainty)

I have claimed to hold to proposition (2) as a theist. Because of a cumulative case of coherent reasons (backed up by evidence), I believe theism is probably true with extremely high degrees of certainty (say, 97% certainty). Although I am not 100% certain (but have justification to believe God probably exists), it is quite reasonable to put my faith in what is probably true. This is why Christian theism is a reasonable faith.

Many atheists ignore the plethora of arguments and evidence for God and attempt to make the same move on the other side of the scale. However, they run into the same problems I discussed above. If they claim to hold to proposition (4), then they need to provide coherent reasons (backed up by evidence) as to why they think atheism is “probably true.” Why has the belief needle moved from (3), neutral agnosticism, to proposition (4)? If there are no logical answers then the atheist holds this view for no good reason at all (especially while ignoring the cumulative case for the existence of God). Indeed, their commitment to this definition of atheism is still nothing but a blind faith.

I reside when discussing apologetics with persons in category two. If I feel moved to pray a sinners prayer with a person, I am speaking from category one, and the person who is inviting the Holy Spirit into their life is falling into that category as well. “… fundamentally, the way we know Christianity to be true is by the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit.” Tim’s whole post is worth reading


HOW ATHEISTS VIEW CHRISTIAN’S FAITH


Dawkins Faith Atheist 330

  • Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. ~ Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York, NY: Marine Books, 2008), 347.

  • Faith in the prayer-hearing God is an unproved and outmoded faith. There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, the immutable [i.e., unchangeable] truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural law or moral absolutes. ~ John Dewey

John Dewey, “Soul-Searching,” Teacher Magazine, September 1933, p. 33.

  • There are those who scoff at the schoolboy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the schoolboy who said : “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” ~ Mark Twain

Caroline Thomas Harnsberger, Mark Twain at Your Fingertips: A Book of Quotations (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2009), 116, cf. faith.

Betrand Russell 330

  • I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm as I am that they are untrue. The harm that is done by a religion is of two sorts, the one depending on the kind of belief which it is thought ought to be given to it, and the other upon the particular tenets believed. As regards the kind of belief: it is thought virtuous to have Faith—that is to say, to have a conviction which cannot be shaken by contrary evidence. Or, if contrary evidence might induce doubt, it is held that contrary evidence must be suppressed. On such grounds, the young are not allowed to hear arguments…. The consequence is that the minds of the young are stunted and are filled with fanatical hostility both to those who have other fanaticisms and, even more virulently, to those who object to all fanaticisms. ~ Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects (New York, NY; Simon and Schuster, 1957), vi.

(See response to Russell’s “induce doubt” portion at bottom)

According to the A Manual for Creating Atheists, faith is:

  • “pretending to know things that you don’t know”
  • “belief without evidence”
  • The author calls faith “an unreliable epistemology”
  • a “virus”
  • and calls for a process and agenda that will “ultimately eradicate faith”.

(Bullet points via THE CONFIDENT CHRISTIAN)Boghossian Atheist 330

Two Definitions of Faith

The words we use are important. They can help us see clearly, or they can confuse, cloud, or obscure issues. I’ll now offer my two preferred definitions of faith, and then disambiguate faith from hope.’

faith /fāTH/

1. Belief without evidence.

“My definition of faith is that it’s a leap over the probabilities. It fills in the gap between what is improbable to make something more probable than not without faith. As such, faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities.”

—John W. Loftus, “Victor Reppert Now Says He Doesn’t Have Faith!” (Loftus, 2012)

If one had sufficient evidence to warrant belief in a particular claim, then one wouldn’t believe the claim on the basis of faith. “Faith” is the word one uses when one does not have enough evidence to justify holding a belief, but when one just goes ahead and believes anyway.

Another way to think about “belief without evidence” is to think of an irrational leap over probabilities. For example, assume that an historical Jesus existed and was crucified, and that his corpse was placed in a tomb. Assume also that eyewitness accounts were accurate, and days later the tomb was empty.

One can believe the corpse was missing for any number of reasons. For example, one can believe the body arose from the dead and ascended to heaven, one can believe aliens brought the body back to life, or one can believe an ancient spirit trapped in the tomb merged with the corpse and animated it. Belief in any of these claims would require faith because there’s insufficient evidence to justify any one of these particular options.

Belief in any of these claims would also disregard other, far more likely possibilities—for example, that the corpse was stolen, hidden, or moved.

If one claims knowledge either in the absence of evidence, or when a claim is contradicted by evidence, then this is when the word “faith” is used. “Believing something anyway” is an accurate definition of the term “faith.”

faith /fāTH/

2. Pretending to know things you don’t know.

Not everything that’s a case of pretending to know things you don’t know is a case of faith, but cases of faith are instances of pretending to know something you don’t know.’ For example, someone who knows nothing about baking a cake can pretend to know how to bake a cake, and this is not an instance of faith. But if someone claims to know something on the basis of faith, they are pretending to know something they don’t know. For example, using faith would be like someone giving advice about baking cookies who has never been in a kitchen.

As a Street Epistemologist, whenever you hear the word “faith,” just translate this in your head as, “pretending to know things you don’t know.” While swapping these words may make the sentence clunky, “pretending to know things you don’t know” will make the meaning of the sentence clearer.

To start thinking in these terms, the following table contains commonly heard expressions using the word “faith” in column one, and the same expressions substituted with the words “pretending to know things you don’t know” in column two.

Faith Columns - Peter Boghossian 680

  • Peter Boghossian, A Manual for Creating Atheists (Durham, NC: Pitchstone Publishing, 2013), 23-26

  • I regard faith as religious belief which is held without evidence. If someone thinks that a bus will arrive on time per its schedule, then that person has trust or confidence, not faith. I don’t use the word faith except to mean non-evidential religious beliefs. I work hard to identify the evidence, so faith for me is an lazy, easy way out.

~ Logicel

(See the response to “has trust or confidence” portion of Logicel’s definition at the bottom)

faith_full

~ THE GOOD ATHEIST

(See a professor comment on this definition at the bottom)


LETTING CHRISTIANS DEFINE FAITH


faith 1. Objective body of truth in the Bible, the creeds, the definitions of the universal councils, and/or the teachings of the church. 2. Positive, subjective, and personal allegiance to and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Faith exists in constant tension with three other elements: works, reason, and knowledge. In Protestant scholastic theology, faith is viewed as a threefold process: notitia (knowledge of what is to be be­lieved), assensus (intellectual acceptance of the truth of what is believed), and fiducia (personal commitment to that truth).

The first involves reception of the message of the gospel. The second involves objective accept­ance of certain theological concepts and historical events. Theologians call this fides quae creditur (the faith that is believed), comprising erkennen (recognition) and assensus (assent). Assensus includes confidence in God’s promises and trust in the events recorded in the Scripture. Peter Lombard pointed out that assensus alone is fides informis (incomplete faith).

Authentic faith must include a second aspect—a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. Theolo­gians variously call this fides qua creditur (faith by which one believes), fides formata caritate (faith formed by love), bekennen (acknowledg­ment), and fiducia (trust in what is believed). Fiducia also involves obedience to God’s Word, perseverance in God’s will, and love for God’s people (John 3:36; Rom. 5:1-5; 1 Cor. 13:2; 1 John 3:1o). Thus Christians not only live because of faith but they also live according to the faith (Rom. 1:16-17). Faith is in one sense a human act, but it is also at the same time a divine gift.

George Thomas Kurian, ed., Nelson’s New Christian Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001), cf. faith, 292-293.

  • I suspect that most of the individuals who have religious faith are content with blind faith. They feel no obligation to understand what they believe. They may even wish not to have their beliefs disturbed by thought. But if God in whom they believe created them with intellectual and rational powers, that imposes upon them the duty to try to understand the creed of their religion. Not to do so is to verge on superstition.

Morimer J. Adler, “A Philosopher’s Religious Faith,” in, Kelly James Clark, ed., Philosophers Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of 11 Leading Thinkers (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 207.

  • Certain words can mean very different things to different people. For instance, if I say to an atheist, “I have faith in God,” the atheist assumes I mean that my belief in God has nothing to do with evidence. But this isn’t what I mean by faith at all. When I say that I have faith in God, I mean that I place my trust in God based on what I know about him.

William A. Dembski and Michael R. Licona, Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2010), 38.

  • Faith is not a leap in the dark; it’s the exact opposite. It’s a commitment based on evidence… It is irrational to reduce all faith to blind faith and then subject it to ridicule. That provides a very anti-intellectual and convenient way of avoiding intelligent discussion.

John Lennox

Personal saving faith, in the way Scripture understands it, involves more than mere knowledge. Of course it is necessary that we have some knowledge of who Christ is and what he has done, for “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” (Rom. 10:14). But knowledge about the facts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for us is not enough, for people can know facts but rebel against them or dislike them. (Rom. 1:32; James 2:19)….

In addition to knowledge of the facts of the gospel and approval of those facts, in order to be saved, I must decide to depend on Jesus to save me. In doing this I move from being an interested observer of the facts of salvation and the teachings of the Bible to being someone who enters into a new relationship with Jesus Christ as a living person. We may therefore define saving faith in the following way: Saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and for eternal lift with God.

This definition emphasizes that saving faith is not just a belief in facts but personal trust in Jesus to save me…. The unbeliever comes to Christ seeking to have sin and guilt removed and to enter into a genuine relationship with God that will last forever.

The definition emphasizes personal trust in Christ, not just belief in facts about Christ. Because saving faith in Scripture involves this personal trust, the word “trust” is a better word to use in contemporary culture than the word “faith” or “belief.” The reason is that we can “believe” something to be true with no personal commitment or dependence involved in it. I can believe that Canberra is the capital of Australia, or that 7 times 6 is 42, but have no personal commitment or dependence on anyone when I simply believe those facts. The word faith, on the other hand, is sometimes used today to refer to an almost irrational commitment to something in spite of strong evidence to the contrary, a sort of irrational decision to believe something that we are quite sure is not true! (If your favorite football team continues to lose games, someone might encourage you to “have faith” even though all the facts point the opposite direction.) In these two popular senses, the word “belief” and the word “faith” have a meaning contrary to the biblical sense.

The word trust is closer to the biblical idea, since we are familiar with trusting persons in everyday life. The more we come to know a person, and the more we see in that person a pattern of life that warrants trust, the more we find ourselves able to place trust in that person to do what he or she promises, or to act in ways that we can rely on. This fuller sense of personal trust is indicated in several passages of Scripture in which initial saving faith is spoken of in very personal terms, often using analogies drawn from personal relationships. John says, “To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). Much as we would receive a guest into our homes, John speaks of receiving Christ.

John 3:16 tells us that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Here John uses a surprising phrase when he does not simply say, “whoever believes him” (that is, believes that what he says is true and able to be trusted), but rather, “whoever believes in him.” The Greek phrase pisteuo eis auton could also be translated “believe into him” with the sense of trust or confidence that goes into and rests in Jesus as a person. Leon Morris can say, “Faith, for John, is an activity which takes men right out of themselves and makes them one with Christ.” He understands the Greek phrase pisteuo eis to be a significant indication that New Testament faith is not just intellectual assent but includes a “moral element of personal trust.” Such an expression was rare or perhaps nonexistent in the secular Greek found outside the New Testament, but it was well suited to express the personal trust in Christ that is involved in saving faith.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction To Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 709-711.

Although suffering as a prisoner for proclaiming the gospel, Paul was not disillusioned or in despair. Why? Because of his faith. As he testifies to his faith, its essential elements become clear. “And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because Iknow whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I haveentrusted to him for that day” (2 Tim. 1:11-12). Truth about God can be known. Zeal for God without knowledge (of the Redeemer) did not suffice for monotheistic and moral Jews (Rom. 10:1-2). Neither did worship of an “unknown God” atone for the cultured Athenians (Acts 17:23-31). In contrast, Abraham was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4:21).”

The faith that saves is directed away from human educational, cultural, and religious achievements to the Creator, whose redemptive plan has been preserved and publicized in Scripture. Faith comes by hearing the message of special revelation now affirmed by the written Word of God, the hearer being convinced that “Jesus is Lord” and trusting in him (Rom. 10:4, 8-11, 14). Faith involves knowledge (notitia), persuasion (assensus), and commitment (fiducia). These three elements of faith are operative, not only when one first believes the gospel and trusts the Savior, but also in a growing faith throughout the Christian life.

Gordon R. Lewis and Bruce A. Demerest, Integrative Theology, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 168-169.

  • There is more than enough evidence on every hand from every department of human experience and knowledge to demonstrate that Christianity is true… It is the faith of the non-Christian [that] is externally and internally groundless. They are the ones who leap in the dark. Some, like Kierkegaard, have admitted this

Robert Morey, Introduction to Defending the Faith (Orange, CA: Christian Scholars Press, 2002), 38.

  • When I was undertaking my doctoral research in molecular biology at Oxford University, I was frequently confronted with a number of theories offering to explain a given observation. In the end, I had to make a judgment concerning which of them possessed the greatest internal consistency, the greatest degree of predictive ability. Unless I was to abandon any possibility of advance in understanding, I was obliged to make such a judgment… I would claim the right to speak of the ‘superiority’ of Christianity in this explicative sense.

“Response to John Hick,” by Clark Pinnock, in More Than One Way? Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World, Revised ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1996), 68.

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Misc. Responses


Here is the response to Russell’s position:

Often, however, the cause of our doubt isn’t what you might think. It isn’t necessarily the strength of the arguments that rattles us, but the way they resonate with the unbeliever in each of us (what the Bible calls the “old self”). We hear Tokyo Rose’s voice and she seems to make pretty good sense sometimes. Yet more often than not, if we look closely at the atheist’s arguments, we find that there is little substance. Seeing this can change the argument’s frequency and therefore break its spell.

Believers often worry that their doubts signify the rapid approach of full-blown unbelief. But as pastor and author Tim Keller puts it,

Faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic.

All thoughtful believers—even those whose faith is mature—encounter doubt. Not a single person has had unadulterated faith.

In any case, it certainly won’t do to ignore your doubts, and defusing them will only strengthen your faith. To be sure, doubts can be strong enough to become a trial in your life; but like all trials, they’re meant to refine faith, not stifle it.

Mitch Stokes, A Shot of Faith: To the Head (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012), xvii.

Here is the response to Logicel’s position:

…faith isn’t a theory of how to know things: “Faith is not an epistemological category. It is not a way of knowing something. Faith is a way of trusting something.

“Faith is trusting in that which you have reason to believe is true. Once you have come to believe that something is true, using reliable epistemological means, you can then place your faith or trust in those things.”

~ William Lane Craig (Christinaity Today)

Here is the Comment from Professor Gray:

The definition above of faith is ha-larious! Thanks for posting it. I’m using it to show how ignorant people are about the term, faith. It is totally opposite of the real meaning that it makes quite a contrast. Faith is the substance of things believed based on evidential material, eye witnesses reports, and logical reasons to hold something as true. Those who have “faith” without the evidence are deluded and would believe anything. It is like someone believing that one species evolves into another species without any transitional evidence. Even with no evidence they continue to believe its true! Now that fits your poster’s definition. Anyway, thanks for the post. I am getting a lot of laughs by using it in my presentations.