Un-blinded Faith

Did you see that story a few weeks ago about a DeKalb County Georgia firefighter who caught a child tossed from a third-floor balcony? Capt. Scott Stroup was in the right place, and a helmet camera caught the dramatic rescue. The child was OK, and everyone escaped.

Imagine being the parent of that child, faced with such a decision. Risk falling down the ladder trying to carry the child, or toss him? At that moment, looking down, the parent saw someone and believed he was willing and able to catch the child. It was an informed belief.

The nearly tragic story helps explain the nature of faith. Some think that all faith is “blind faith.” That is, if you want something to be true but you have no evidence that it is, you simply connect the dots with faith. That parent had faith in the firefighter, but it wasn’t blind.

I’ve heard it said that religion has unquestionable answers, but philosophy has unanswerable questions. Frankly that sentiment does a great disservice to both, since they both purport to seek and value truth. Hidden in that turn of phrase is the assumption that religion is really just blind faith. Perhaps much that passes as religion is.

What evidence do God-believers have to assure us that we haven’t fallen into a blind faith trap? Vince Vitale in “Jesus Among Secular Gods” explains that science gives us evidence of the existence of God. He lists four truths about the universe: it has a beginning; it is knowable; it is regular; and it is finely tuned for life.

Some of the loudest objections to the Big Bang Theory were from scientists who thought it sounded too much like the Bible. It holds that the universe had a beginning, but they thought the universe was eternal.

Science would be pointless if the universe isn’t knowable. Einstein said, “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” How could an unknowing, random universe produce comprehending humans by chance? That we can stare at the stars and know the light is from another time and place begs for a different explanation.

A regular universe explained by physical laws is what you would expect in a world created by a God of order who wants to be known. You can say the same thing about the delicate balance of Earth and its solar system that makes life possible. It’s what you’d expect from a Designer.

In fact, it seems that a non-theistic explanation of the origin of the universe is the blind faith here. The evidence means that “by faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3). That’s un-blinded faith.

Which Jesus?

I overheard it in a public place recently. The sincere lady was apparently responding to a question.  Her answer was a new one for me.

“I am a different kind of Christian. I just believe what Jesus said, not all the rest of what’s in the Bible.  All he talked about was love.”

This interesting response raised questions in my mind. Was a church or believer unloving to her?  Is there so much religious noise in our times that she needed some quiet?  Was she dismissing the moral claims of the Bible?

It is good to focus on Jesus, but the Scripture does warn about “a different gospel” or “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4). For example, Oprah would have you think that Jesus just wants people to be nice and fair to each other, and religion means feeling good about yourself.  That’s the self-help Jesus.

Remember when you’re talking about Jesus, He’s actually in the room. The Christian faith is not a religion to be practiced but a Person to believe.  It’s not a philosophy written by dead people but a resurrection offered by the Living One.

Jesus did say, “Love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34). But the same Jesus said much more and referred to other revealed truth, namely the Law and Prophets (Matt. 22:40) and the Holy Spirit’s future teaching (John 14:26).  To believe Jesus’ words means embracing all that He said is true.  When you isolate Scripture portions you assume that heresies have redefined Jesus.  G. K. Chesterton concluded that for the church “to have avoided (heresies) has been one whirling adventure, and in my vision the heavenly chariot flies thundering through the ages, the dull heresies sprawling.”

The heavenly chariot is the wild truth about Jesus’ deity, sacrificial death, resurrection, and imminent return. As Creator, He has final say about what you are, and what is good or evil.  “It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:19-20).  That’s His gospel, or shall you come up with your own?  Richard Wurmbrand said there are “those who sincerely believe in God and those who, just as sincerely, believe that they believe.”

To dabble in pop spirituality is to be inoculated against the real thing. The Hollywood mantra, “follow your heart” is dangerous because, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human.”  The real Jesus offers you a new heart.  He knows you, and loves you enough to rescue you from the turbid spiritual backwater of our times.  Come to Him, and believe (all of) His Word.


It is a great and sweet joy when young parents announce to their families that a baby is on the way, especially the first grandchild!  They all share the concern for safe delivery and a healthy child, and begin to muse on what might become of the child over the course of his or her lifetime.

God knows.  That’s not fatalistic swearing there, just a reference to Biblical history.  Take Abraham and Sarah.  Sarah was barren until it was too late, humanly speaking.  They both laughed when God’s messenger told them what was about to happen.  So when the boy was born, they named him “He Laughs” (Isaac).  But it wasn’t a joke.  God had a plan for the child before he was born:  “My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year” (Gen. 17:21).  Isaac was the one through whom God would pass His everlasting covenant to the generations.

God knew about Samson.  His mother (traditionally Hazelelponi), received a visitor who promised she would conceive.  She hurried to tell her husband, Manoah, what the “very awesome” fellow said.  He then asked the Lord to let him talk to the angel, too.  At that meeting, he asked “What shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation?”  Fair question, but his wife had already received the answer.  “He shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Jud. 13:5).  Samson grew up to be a rascal, but God used him mightily as a judge of Israel for 20 years.

God had something in mind for the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth, too.  They were barren, and advanced in years.  God’s messenger approached Zachariah with news of a son to be born, to be named John.  God’s purpose for him was “to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).  Somehow this baby leapt for joy in utero on hearing the voice of Mary, mother of Jesus.

Here’s what we learn from this historical record.  Little people are a blessing from God.  Even in the womb, he or she is a distinct, living, and whole human being.  God knows them, they have a soul that can know God, and He has a plan for their lives.  They have value because all are made in God’s image regardless of who their parents are, what their health is, or how independent they are.

Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Mat. 19:14).  He wants the precious ones to have life, and have it abundantly.

Resolution Motivation

Are you keeping your resolutions for this year so far? Even if you don’t ride the resolution rollercoaster, from time to time most of us recognize the need for different behavior to benefit our health, relationships, or lifestyle. What moves us from recognizing our vices to acting more virtuously?

Plato posits one answer. In “Republic” he refers to the legend of the Ring of Gyges. The story is about a shepherd that discovered a cave in a mountainside after an earthquake. The cave was the tomb of a corpse still wearing a golden ring. He took the ring, and later discovered that it gave him the power to become invisible at will. Plato believed that someone with such a ring would certainly use it to commit hidden acts of injustice. His point was that the fear of exposure is what animates virtue, you know, “It’s only wrong if you get caught.”

Believers know differently. We are motivated by the life of Christ Himself. As his disciple, you have laid aside the old self and the former manner of life, and are renewed in the spirit of your mind. You “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:24).

If only this truth meant instantaneous virtue. Hypocrisy lies in wait for your behavior to belie your beliefs. How does this happen? Maybe you hear the lie that your past defines your identity. Maybe it’s your “secret” if no human is looking, which was Plato’s point. For a believer, these lies facilitate slouching toward deception, disobedience, and disgrace, which is simply not who you are in Christ Jesus.

It helps to consider your actions as either of darkness or light, of death or life. “All things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you’ ” (Eph. 5:13-14). It also helps that your past mindset does not define you. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

A noble resolution for this year, and for every day actually, is to put on your new self which is like God, righteous and holy. “Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” (Eph. 5:1-2). Let that love be the motivation for your resolutions, and for life.