by Jonalyn Fincher
When stumped by a difficult question about Christianity, have you ever been tempted to say, “I just take it by faith”? A simple, religious sounding response that keeps our faith safe and often deflects the anxiety we feel.
But it also stops the conversation.
Not because God doesn’t care about faith; He does. But because “take it by faith” in today’s culture sounds like we’re saying, “I have no idea; I just believe blindly.”
In Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, she writes, “If faith were rational, it wouldn’t be—by definition—faith. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark . . . a leap of faith” (P 195). Gilbert, like many secular people, thinks religious faith means doing scary, often silly, things.
Haven’t you heard phrases like “blind faith” or “leap of faith”? Atheists and skeptics use their secular definition of “faith” as one more reason to mock Christians as blind and irrational. The skeptic’s dictionary defines faith as “a non-rational belief in some proposition.”
As an apologist this concerns me because God talks about “faith” differently. God wants people’s faith to grow out of knowledge (Search biblegateway.com with the words “know the Lord”). God cares about his reputation among all peoples (Isaiah 45:5). He came to earth as a human because he wants to be known, loved and trusted.
In Scripture “faith” is synonymous with trust; we have faith or trust in the faithfulness of God. Faith or trust requires good reasons. Nowhere does God advocate “blind faith” or taking a “leap of faith.” These very words or concepts are never found in Scripture.
The more we know and can share about who God is, the more our faith and our friend’s faith grows. Faith and reason work together.
Imagine yourself praying for a friend’s healing. Will your faith be increased or decreased if God heals your friend?
Why? Because when we see God at work we have more reasons to trust him, and our faith grows. In fact, given how our own ears have grown accustomed to thinking of “faith” in non-biblical ways, practice replacing “faith” with the word “trust” as you read Scripture. You’ll get closer to the heart of the Bible’s meaning.
When sharing our love for Jesus, we need to be sensitive to the ways Biblical words are heard in our friend’s ears. Faith is a good word, but its meaning has been held hostage.
If we are going to share the good news of Jesus with others, we need to make a point to avoid the phrase, “Just take it by faith.” It does not help anyone step closer to who Jesus really is. It demotes Jesus into an item on the buffet of religion. By using this phrase we inadvertently tell our friends that Jesus is not real enough to know and we have no good reason to believe in him.
Jonalyn enjoys baby-wearing her new son, Finn, into coffee shops and striking up meaningful spiritual conversation. Pick up her and her husband's latest book Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk for more about sharing your faith. For more check out her blog (jonalynfincher.com) or her first book, Ruby Slippers. Jonalyn is co-founder of Soulation (soulation.org), a non-profit dedicated to helping others become more appropriately human. From their home in the Rocky Mountains, she and her husband, Dale, work as a national speaking/writing team.