Monday, October 24, 2011

"I know my Redeemer lives"

It is a conceit of modern secular society that faith is belief in the absence of evidence or knowledge. That is not how Scripture sees faith. The New Testament constantly talks of us knowing God, knowing the grace of Jesus Christ, and knowing all sorts of things that are the content of faith. In Scripture, faith and knowledge are quite compatible. What may not be compatible is faith and vision, or direct apprehension of the truth. In fact, I think the way to right distinction in a Christian context is between knowing naturally and knowing by faith: but both are species of knowledge.

Aristotle in the Rhetoric defines "pistis" ("faith") as a persuasion by means of the character of the speaker. In the New Testament, "faith" has two aspects: there is the aspect of entrusting oneself to Christ and the aspect of believing. The belief aspect fits very well with what Aristotle says: what we believe by faith is that which we believe on the basis of the perfect character of God.

Belief on the basis of another's character can certainly be knowledge. A friend tells me something. She's got the sort of character that I can't imagine her saying it unless she knew it. I believe her. That's "faith", but it's also a species of knowledge.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of course, most of our knowledge comes from trusting what someone else says, but — thinking of your recent piece about having to rely on folk psychology — even information we figure out for ourselves depends on trusting our own senses, memory, etc. And since God is the only one who can't be wrong, faith in Him is not merely compatible with proper knowledge, but required for it!