Ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων. Heb. 11:1
Now faith “IS” the basis, or support, or structure of the things hoped for, the evidence or proof for the truth of the things we are not seeing. In continuing my response to J.P. Holding and other apologists who oppose presuppositional apologetics, it seems to me that Hebrews 11:1 provides a good description of faith. If it is true that faith needs proof, then does it not follow that such proof needs proof? If this were true, would not an infinite regress of a need for proofs logically follow? However, the writer of Hebrews seems to think otherwise. Faith, rather than requiring evidence as a ground, is itself evidence and proof. Hebrews tells us that faith is the basis for our hope. Faith IS the evidence or proof for the truth of the things we are not presently seeing. What is the content of this faith? Who is the object of this faith? Orthodox Christianity has always maintained that the content of faith is Scripture while the object of faith is God. Since God’s word serves as the content of faith and God serves as its object, what more does faith require?
According to alternative forms of apologetics, faith rests on the evidence provided it by human reason. That is to say that unless faith is deemed “reasonable” by human method, then it is no longer faith, but rather, fideism. This is exactly the opposite of Christian theism. According to the Christian worldview, reasoning is no longer reasoning, but vain and empty speculation unless and until it is reformed by faith. The proposition that belief without evidence is irrational is an unsupportable proposition. It is impossible to locate this deontological notion in human reason. Who says that belief is “wrong” without evidence? Perhaps there are some cases, to be sure, where this is the case. However, it is not the case, universal. I need no evidence to believe that I have a mind. I have no right to demand evidence for the belief that tomorrow, the earth will continue its rotation around the sun. I do not require evidence in order to believe other people exist. “Belief” in and of itself does not require evidence for its justification. If every belief requires proof, then so too does this belief. Where is the evidence for the belief that every belief requires evidence? The proposition that every belief requires evidence is self-referentially incoherent.
Not only has the writer of the Hebrews told us that faith IS THE EVIDENCE or proof for the truth of the things we are not seeing, he also says that faith is how we understand creation. The term “pistei nooumen” which is translated “by faith we understand” tells us that the instrument of understanding creation is faith. This construction is an instrumental dative, signifying that the instrument of understanding in this phrase is faith. Therefore, the writer to the Hebrews falsifies the proposition that faith logically follows from human reason.
In addition, the Apostle Paul had something to say about faith. Here is the idea posited by J.P. Holding and others from that school of apologetics: humans examine the evidence employing autonomous human reason, which calls upon a variety of tests and judgments to determine if the evidence is sound. After arriving at a judgment, belief in the matter is either justified or not, depending upon the evidence. Paul tells the Corinthian church to think exactly in opposite terms. Paul intentionally avoided rhetorically impressive speech and human wisdom. In contradistinction to this, Paul’s message came, not with persuasive words of human reason, but rather in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Why would Paul speak in this manner? He knew that humans insisted on having things their way. If they were going to bow to God, and believe in Him, they would at least do so based on their own steam! Their own intellectual predication would be the basis of their faith. The power of the Christian argument, from an intellectual standpoint would be the basis of their faith. In short, their faith would rest on their own ability to reason to Christian theism. However, Paul would not permit this sort of thinking to stand. Rather, Paul said he used a foolish method (preaching) to deliver a foolish and offensive message (the cross) to fools SO THAT their faith would not rest on human reason and predication, but rather on the power of God. That is the gospel delivered to us by the apostles.
If one were to read a variety of publications by men like J.P. Holding, one would have to conclude that Christianity is not a supernatural work of God at all. Rather, it is the product of men, over the years that reasoned their way to God and made a natural decision, using natural reasoning, placing their natural faith in Christ. One cannot help but feel the impact of naturalistic social science methodology throughout Holding’s theology and apologetic. I suspect it was not always this way. For whatever reason, Holding decided to embrace a method of criticism that orthodoxy views with a suspicious eye and make it his primary means of interpreting Scripture. The architects of this method that Holding most often calls upon for their “expertise” deny the inerrancy, inspiration, authority, and self-attesting nature of Scripture. They deny the supernatural origin of Christianity in preference for a social science explanation instead. This has led to voluminous errors in Holding’s theology and has resulted in an apologetic method that is at best seemingly schizophrenic. Such a result is predictable if one desires to hold to orthodoxy on one hand, all the while using hermeneutical method that deny it’s very foundation on the other hand.
Does this mean there is no evidence for faith in Christian theism? Absolutely not! The evidence for Christian theism is overwhleming. Evidence follows from faith, never before it. Reason must serve as Faith's minister, never her magistrate!!!!!!!!!!