I was recently asked about the tag line of this ministry, “A Faith Based on Fact.” To some these concepts are mutually exclusive. If you are relying on facts then you don’t have faith, if you have faith, there can be no facts. So why do I claim a faith based on fact.
Let me first define my terms. While a precise and full definition would be quite involved, in general, facts are simply those things that can easily be determined to be true. For example, that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States would be a fact.
In the book of Hebrews faith is defined as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1-3). The author then proceeds to give a series of examples of faith from those in the Old Testament. These examples all have the same general pattern, by faith someone did something. For example in verse seven we read, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” For Noah, that God warned him was a fact because he had experienced it himself. Noah’s faith was not in the certain knowledge that God had warned him, or even in the mere act of believing the warning. Faith was in the fact that he trusted what God said enough to act upon it. He built the Ark.
A belief that does not lead to action is not a saving faith. If someone believes that a bridge is strong enough to support them, but still is too scared to cross it, then they do not really have faith in the bridge. A person who believes in Jesus Christ, but does not trust him enough to follow him, does not really have faith. This is what James is referring to when he says, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17)
This is not to say that we are saved by our works. We are not. But it does say that without works there is no saving faith. This is like a car’s exhaust. It would be silly to say that the exhaust is what powers a car. But if there is no exhaust the engine is not running and the car is going nowhere. A living faith powered by the Holy Spirit, will produce works, just like a running car will produce exhaust.
What God is concerned with is that we have faith, that we do trust him enough to live our life based on what he has said and that we act according to his will. Why we have faith is not really that important. Thus for the most part, why the Old Testament Saints had faith is not mentioned in Hebrews 11. One exception to this is Abraham’s faith in sacrificing his son, for in verse 19 we read that “Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead.” This shows that faith can not only be based on facts, but on reason as well.
So what then do I mean when I say that Christianity is a faith based on fact? I mean that there are a whole range of facts upon which our faith is based. It is not a blind faith, where one must flip a coin to see whether or not it is true, but a faith that can be investigated and tested, at least to some extent.
Few would question that a major foundation for Christianity is the Bible. But why should we trust the Bible? I would argue, and have done so in my books such as Evidence for the Bible that there are plenty of facts, upon which to base our faith in the Bible.
For example, it is just a fact that most of the cities mentioned in the Bible existed and their locations are known. In fact many of the persons, places, events, and things mentioned in the Bible are established facts. We know for example that Nebuchadnezzar, did in fact conquer Judea and took many of the Jews back to Babylon. This is not to say that everything in the Bible has been confirmed to be accurate and true, but it does provide a basis of fact upon which our faith in the Bible is based.
In contrast, compare this to other religious texts. Most are purely theological in basis and as such there is no history to compare with. A book that makes historical claims similar to those of the Bible would be the Book of Mormon, which purports to describe the history of Jews who traveled to the Americas. Yet unlike the Bible, not a single New World person, place, event, or thing mentioned in the Book of Mormon has ever been found. With the Bible as our knowledge of early history has grown, so has the confirmations of the reliability of the Bible. Yet for the Book of Mormon, as our knowledge of early Central America has grown, the possibly that the Book of Mormon contains any actual history has correspondingly diminished.
There are solid reasons to believe Bible is the Word of God. That its message of Jesus Christ, his ministry, his death, burial and resurrection is historical. It is a message of salvation that we can not only believe in, but have faith in.
This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.