As I read, think, and write about Christian apologetics I find this question to be a central issue in the minds and hearts of those who struggle with the idea of God. This only makes sense. Salvation comes through faith, but people I rarely meet someone struggling to receive salvation from God; they usually just struggle to believe in Him.
It is in these instances, when someone wants to believe in God, that we need stop discussing faith, and start discussing God. Faith rarely comes by hearing evidence. It sometimes comes by understanding propositions. It usually comes by experience. It always comes with a love for a person – that person is God.
John C. Collins defines faith as “trust towards a person.” I think this simple definition shapes the foundation of saving faith. And it is a definition that people understand.
Every husband or wife puts their faith in a person they know and, based upon that knowledge, trust. Why else do people so often encourage dating as a stepping stone to engagement as a stepping stone to marriage? It is because more time allows for more shared experience, which allows for more mutual knowledge, which allows for more trust. It is only once trust has been established that faith in marriage and commitment becomes tenable. Faith is trust towards a person.
I think most apologetic/evangelistic encounters rise and fall upon the definition and experience of trust towards God.
So next time you encounter someone struggling with the idea of God, stop giving them proof of his existence and start telling stories of His faithfulness. Infect them with the idea that God is a person worthy of their informed trust – not blind faith.
Where trust goes before, faith is soon to follow.
As one who has been very frustrated at the efforts of many to redefine faith as “belief without evidence”, I was encouraged by this. It seems to put the emphasis in the right place, and therefore steer clear of implying that we need to simply muster faith as an act of will.
I have had many of those same conversations. I remember reading a biography of C.S.Lewis which chronicled his conversion. He was frequently confronted with the struggle of “mustering up”enough faith to take what he saw as a blind leap into belief. It was years later when he said that he came to faith on the basis of how many questions were answered by God, not by how many questions went unanswered. That is true faith versus blind trumped-up faith. Hold strong to the real kind of faith. God is not known through mystery, but through gracious self-disclosure.
I agree. Proof of existence conversations are often contested and brushed off in my experience.
Someone in our small group told us that she explains her faith by telling people that, when she does things God’s way, it’s always better than when she does things her way, or the way of the world. That she has faith that God loves her because he guides her and helps her. I think that’s far more powerful.
I’d be interested to hear why other people trust in God. Might be a good video for church 🙂
Hey Katie, thanks for checking out the blog!
That would be an interesting video! I am betting most people come to faith through some sort of experience with God. Then, after we come to believe God is real, we begin to use reason to work out the implications of this new belief in our everyday life. Then, as we progress in sanctification, I see God using a lot of different avenues to increase, restore, and protect faith. But it all has to start by His grace and through our faith.
Therefore, I would say the proof of existence conversations definitely serve to reinforce our faith, not they rarely give birth to new faith.
Yes, good point! Those conversations certainly do help to reinforce established faith; as many of the recent sermons at The Bridge are working to do!