Sunday, February 24, 2013

J. Warner Wallace on Evidence

"As I speak around the country, I often encounter devoted, committed Christians who are hesitant to embrace an evidential faith. In many Christian circles, faith that requires evidential support is seen as weak and inferior. For many, blind faith (a faith that simply trusts without question) is the truest, most sincere, and most valuable form of faith that we can offer God. Yet Jesus seemed to have a high regard for evidence. In John 14:11, He told those watching Him to examine 'the evidence of miracles' (NIV) if they did not believe what He said about His identity. Even after the resurrection, Jesus stayed with His disciples for an additional forty days and provided them with 'many convincing proofs' that He was resurrected and was who He claimed to be (Acts 1:2-3 NIV). Jesus understood the role and value of evidence and the importance of developing an evidential faith. It’s time for all of us, as Christians, to develop a similarly reasonable faith'."

—J. Warner Wallace
Cold-Case Christianity


Jason Engwer said...

Good quote.

The Bible is highly evidential. Both the Old and New Testaments structure the lives of believers around evidential concepts. The Pentateuch refers to the value of eyewitness testimony and discerning between true and false prophets. The evidential value of fulfilled prophecy is a major theme throughout scripture. The highest church office (apostle) requires its holders to be eyewitnesses. Etc.

Ironically, many of the people who are opposed to an evidential faith claim that studying scripture is one of the things we should be doing instead of concerning ourselves with evidence. If they're studying scripture competently, why don't they see the frequent and explicit appeals to evidence throughout the Bible? How do you even study scripture to begin with if you don't concern yourself with evidential issues like how to judge whether a translation of the Bible is reliable, which text to accept in disputed passages, the implications of the historical context of a passage, etc.? How do you make judgments involved in living the Christian life (who to marry, which people to choose as church leaders, etc.) without sifting evidence?

The lack of concern for evidence, and even contempt for it, in many Christian circles seems to have a lot to do with factors that shouldn't be so influential. Some people are just lazy. Others don't like the implications of taking a more evidential view of Christianity. It would interfere too much with their lives. It would have negative implications for their relatives, their pastors, and other people they know who haven't had much of a concern for evidence either. And so on. People will occasionally cite a passage like John 20:29 or Hebrews 11:1 as a (false) justification for having little concern about evidence. But their lack of concern doesn't have much to do with the Bible. To the contrary, their anti-intellectualism is a sin that the Bible condemns, and they should know that if they're studying scripture carefully.

God can and sometimes does work in people's lives without using evidential means. But that's his work, not ours. Our responsibility is to make the most of the resources we have. That includes our minds and evidence. If God intervenes supernaturally in the process, that's his choice, not something we should presumptuously depend upon where he hasn't promised it. There isn't any passage in the Bible where God promises to make up for all of the deficiencies that have resulted from the anti-intellectualism of modern Christianity. Instead of presumptuously waiting for God to do what he's already given us the ability to do, we should take our own responsibilities more seriously. If people want revival, one of the things they should do to prepare the way for it is repent of their anti-intellectualism.

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