Reasonable Faith

Reasonable FaithIs faith blind? This is what millions of emerging atheists (no God), and even more agnostics (not sure about God), think about Christians—they just believe in the absence of any evidence. Armed with this definition of faith, these skeptics come to the Bible and see Jesus say to Thomas, “don’t doubt, just believe!” (John 20), convinced that here Jesus gives the divine sanction for checking your brain at the door of the church. The charge is that Christians are just brainwashed, blindly accepting what they are told to believe. So is this true?

In short, no! Whilst this “blind faith” caricature is popular amongst Christianity’s detractors, or is even something perpetuated by well meaning but misguided Christians, this kind of faith has no place in New Testament. In fact it seems that the opposite is the case. Let me explain what I mean.


Ancient Koine Greek (the dominant language of the NT) has two different words it could use for faith. The first is Nomizo, which means to believe or hold something by custom—you believe because your family taught it, or because someone told you to believe it. Many people’s beliefs are based on this sort of faith, where they accept something as true just because they have always held that belief, not because of any evidence to believe it. Nomizo, then, perfectly matches the “blind faith” critique. The problem for the skeptic is that the NT never encourages that kind of faith.

When the NT authors speak of or encourage faith they unilaterally use a second term, Pistis, which means to believe on the basis of trustworthiness—you have reasons you believe. Furthermore, the content of faith in the NT is not certainty in a fact, but trust in a person. Like the choice in whom to marry, this is not a blind decision. You make the choice based upon trusting the character (and existence) of the other person—you trust that they will remain faithful to their promises. Even though you do not know the future, you entrust your life to a person in light of who they are and their track record.


The Apostle John chose to record a few of his experiences with Jesus “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Luke, the Apostle Paul’s travelling companion, researched the history and eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life so that Theophilus could know the “certainty of the things [he had] been taught” (Luke 1:1-4). When Paul shared the gospel with the Jews and Greeks of the ancient world, the book of Acts records that he reasoned, debated, disputed, argued, proved and persuaded people about Jesus. He offered a compelling argument as to why they should have faith that Jesus was real (existence), really who he said he was (resurrection), and relevant (trustworthy in his diagnosis and cure of the human condition). This is the consistent witness of the Bible—faith is reasonable, built on the evidence that Jesus really is the God-man, and that his words and his works to diagnose and offer himself as a cure for the human condition are true.


But faith, like love, requires choice and commitment. As Ravi Zacharias has said, “God has put enough into this world to make faith a most reasonable thing and God has left enough out to make it impossible to live by sheer reason alone.” At some point faith must act. This is the reasonable response to the evidence, entering into a relationship with God, not knowing the future, but entrusting your future to God who has left testimony of his existence and his trustworthiness.

Dan Paterson is director of operations at Traverse, and a Pastor at Ashgrove Baptist Church.


  1. Amen!