Is the Christian Faith Rational?
There are Christians who become troubled when they think about their faith and sometimes they wonder if their Christian faith is true. Too many Christians have accepted the facts of Christianity solely on the basis of trust and confidence in others (parents, friends). They have never given a close and careful consideration to examine the basis of Christianity (the Bible).
The age in which we live is both sophisticated and educated. It demands that we know what and why we believe something. Believing something does not make it true. A thing is true or not true regardless of whether anyone believes it. This is true of Christianity as it is of everything else.
There are those who reason that Christianity is at least non-rational if not irrational. They use Paul’s statement: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8, ESV). However, this is an abuse of Paul’s statement. Christianity is rational. The Bible is the ground of faith. Faith in Christianity is built on evidence. Paul wrote: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17, NKJV). The Christian faith is reasonable and rational.
A Bible class teacher asked: “What is faith?” A young man replied: “Believing something you know isn’t true.” Really? Christianity is about the One who is truth (cf. John 14:6) and any close examination can do it no harm. No one has been able to think of a profound question that has brought Christianity crashing to the ground. Men have posed profound questions over the centuries, but they have been ably answered by men more profound in the faith.
The Bible asserts the reasonableness of the Christian faith and gives clear commands to Christians to be intelligent, rational, and logical about their faith. We are to “sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Paul stated that he is “set for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:7). These texts imply that Christianity is rational, understandable and defendable.
The gospel is always equated with truth. Truth is always opposite of error (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12). There is a “spirit of truth, and a spirit of error” (1 John 4:6). We can learn the truth (cf. John 8:32) and know we know it. We can know error and know we know it. In Romans 2:8, Paul speaks of those who “do not obey the truth.” Biblical statements as these are meaningless unless there is a way to establish objectively what is truth. If there is no such possibility, truth and error would, for all practical purposes, be the same because we could not tell the one from the other. Christians have such an objective body of truth. Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17, emp. added).
W. Terry Varner