Is Faith Blind?
In the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones is searching for the Holy Grail, and, in order to complete his quest, he must pass several tests. One of the tests is a "leap of faith" that requires Indiana Jones to take a step off of a cliff into a vast chasm with no assurance that he will not fall.
Peter Boghossian describes faith as “delusion, pretending, religion, fear, pseudoscience, superstition, or a certainty achieved by keeping people in a stupor” (A Manual for Creating Atheists, p. 16). Sam Harris likewise says, "Faith is nothing more than the license religious people give one another to keep believing when reasons fail" (Letter to a Christian Nation p. 67). This is exactly how many people conceive of faith, but is it biblical?
Faithfulness in the Old Testament can be summed up in the following way: God initiates the action by revealing himself to his people, often through miraculous deeds. God’s people are asked to respond in trust and obedience. In every case, trust and obedience are rewarded by God’s faithful provision for his people. Deuteronomy 7:9-11 reminds the people of God that while obedience to the covenant leads to blessing their disobedience to the covenant will also come with consequences and curses. Josh and Sean McDowell describe this concept of Old Testament faithfulness and its relation to rational knowledge, writing, “God showered Egypt with miracles before inviting Israel to follow him in the wilderness. Rather than asking Israel for blind allegiance, God’s miracles through Moses gave them good reasons to trust him … Miracles preceded the call to belief, laying the foundation for a rational step of faith” (Evidence That Demands a Verdict, p. xxxix). The Old Testament is not a record of people blindly following God with no evidence. Rather, the Old Testament records a pattern of revelation and response that prepares the reader for what is to come in the New Testament.
Wayne Grudem highlights three aspects of saving faith that are illuminated by the New Testament: “knowledge, approval and personal trust" (Systematic Theology, p. 709). The faith of the apostles was rooted in their first-hand experiences of Jesus, witnessing his life, teaching, ministry, death, and resurrection. In fact, when John the Baptist began to have doubts about Jesus being the prophesied Messiah (Matthew 11:1-6), John sent one of his followers to Jesus to ask if he was really the one. Jesus reassured John gently and commended him to have faith even in prison.
Jonathan Morrow sums up the biblical understanding of faith in this way, "Faith is active trust in what we have good reason to believe is true" (Questioning the Bible, p. 26). The Christian Faith is not a blind leap into darkness with hope to avoid a disastrous fall. Rather, the Christian Faith offers a longstanding knowledge tradition rooted in the unwavering faithfulness of God as played out in human history.