A common misconception of the definition of “faith” is that it’s blind belief for no reason. Faith isn’t rationalized, but without it, sound reasoning is impossible. That may seem to be a bold statement, but read on to understand.
Rationalization is a mental process by which insane thinking is made to appear sane. It gives the illusion of sound reasoning when the reasoning is irrational. Rationalization works using two methods: axiomatic thinking and smokescreens.
The first method is axiomatic thinking, simply making stuff up. Assumptions are merely fabrications that were made up and then treated as if they were part of reality. Unsupported assertions are concepts that are claimed true when there’s no certainty that they’re true. Axioms are unsupported assertions that are claimed true just because they’re claimed true. Lies are claims that aren’t true. Assumptions are lies in that they pretend the assumption is known when the assumption is, in fact, not known. It’s a lie to imply that an assumption is true. All assumptions are unknown. All of these fallacies fall under the heading of axiomatic thinking fallacies. On one or both sides of every debate, you will find axiomatic thinking.
The second method of rationalization is to try to make the made-up stuff seem to be real. It’s the art of making fake things look real. There are many methods that are used to do this. Some of them are simple and others are very complex. Usually, several methods are nested together, so these methods become very confusing and deceiving. Examples would include statistical tricks, circular reasoning, infinite regression, equivocation, ad hominem thinking, and appeals to human authorities, popularity, fear, emotion, ridicule, or any other thing that gives the illusion that the made-up stuff is true. Hundreds of logical fallacies are used as smokescreens to hide axiomatic thinking fallacies.
Those are the two elements of rationalization: axiomatic thinking and smokescreens. Rationalization is making believe. Whenever we rationalize, and we all do it sometimes, we lose the ability to tell the difference between reality and make-believe for that time and situation. We lose the ability to tell the difference between substance and concept. We lose the ability to tell the difference between what exists and what is theory. Scientific theories are concepts. Some scientists become so irrational that they claim that scientific theories are facts. They do this by rationalization.
When God speaks to us about faith, He isn’t talking about rationalization. Rationalized belief is worthless.
We don’t make ourselves believe in God. That would be make-believe. We don’t believe in spite of the evidence. God has revealed that the faith is the evidence, and the word, “evidence,” in this sense, means absolute certainty and absolute proof.
Now faith is the substance (as opposed to concept) of things hoped for, the evidence (absolutely certain proof) of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Consider the nature of sound reasoning. Sound logic requires proof. The proof must prove what is claimed. The conclusion is what is claimed. The premise is the proof. The premise must be true.
How do you prove a premise true?
Do you declare it to be an axiom? That’s the axiomatic fallacy. Do you try to prove it with another premise that you can’t prove? That’s the infinite regression fallacy. Do you use circular reasoning? That’s a fallacy, and it proves nothing. There’s only one way to have a true premise.
When God reveals something, then it’s known. It’s true. God reveals things through Scripture, through Creation, and through the moving of the Holy Spirit. God reveals, but we need to acknowledge Him. He does reveal things even to those who refuse to acknowledge Him. Otherwise, all Secularists and Naturalistic Christians would die quite quickly. He supplies what they need to live so that they will have a chance to turn to Him and find Him.
Every person who is actually following Christ is led and taught by the Holy Spirit moment by moment. There are no exceptions to this. They see His Hand working in the Creation. They see His Hand working in others who are following Christ. They hear His Voice in Scripture, in Creation, in their innermost awareness of His Presence, and in any other person who’s speaking by the Holy Spirit. They are learning to hear Him more clearly and to discern between His Voice and every other Voice. As they walk in His Presence and see His glory, they are being changed into the same image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord. They are dying to the flesh and being formed into the new Man. Christ is living in them and becoming stronger and more fully formed. The flesh is losing its hold on them, and the deceptive carnal mind is losing its grip. God has provided an arsenal of weapons for Christ’s followers to make it possible for everyone who is willing to eventually come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. What a day that will be!
Secularists and Naturalists, on the other hand, have no way to know the difference between what they make up and what God reveals. Within their worldview, they refuse to acknowledge God as He reveals Himself and His truth to them. They take some of the practical knowledge that God gives them, but they claim that it’s conceptual, just like all the things they make up. They reject much of the truth that God gives. Eventually, God turns them over to their own reprobate minds. Their own reprobate minds destroy them. They can’t tell the difference between reality and make-believe. The axiomatic thinking of the Secularist or Naturalist can’t be proven. Axiomatic thinking is the means by which the Secularist or Naturalist interprets his or her observations or experiences (experiments). No Secularist or Naturalist can have certainty that his or her assumptions, unsupported assertions, or axioms are true. However, any Secularist or Naturalist can confirm God. Any one of them can seek God in sincerity and respect and come to know Him through Jesus Christ. All such people need do is confess that they haven’t properly respected God, obeyed Him, or acknowledged Him, and ask Jesus Christ to forgive them and reveal His will and His Person, while willingly submitting themselves to the leadership and rule of Christ. You can see the contrast, can’t you? One can be confirmed. All who seek Him find Him. The other can never be confirmed.
Unfortunately, if we, as Christians lean on our own minds to understand rather than acknowledging the presence and leading of God, we can’t tell the difference between reality and make-believe either. We would no longer be walking by faith but we would be walking by human opinion and interpretation of observation, experience, and philosophy. This happens.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Some theologians have assumed that “the word of God” is the same as “the Bible.” However, that isn’t what’s written. If we go into the original language, we find no “the.” We find the Greek word, “rhema,” which means “Utterance.” So, this verse literally says that faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by Utterance of God. God speaks through the Bible. Through the Bible, God says that He also speaks many other ways, and all those ways will be consistent with what He is saying through the Bible.
Interpreting Scripture using assumptions is no better than interpreting Creation using assumptions. When scientists lean on human understanding rather than God, they interpret their observations and experiences (experiments) through the filter of their various worldviews. Often, a groupthink worldview is applied among an entire group of scientists. When this happens, the Holy Spirit won’t force Himself on them. They make up all kinds of stories that later must be changed. The same thing happens among theologians. A great leader and popular theologian can cause problems for generations that follow their speculations.
However, in Christ, we have a sure Leader. We have One Whom we can trust. If we all keep seeking Him and His righteousness, we will be found faithful. He will restore the order of the Body of Christ. He will restore the authority and the power. He will restore the Scriptural offices, ministries, and gifts. Despise not the day of small beginnings. God is now working throughout the Earth.
God speaks. He leads. He teaches. We acknowledge and faith comes. We don’t make-believe that God exists. We hear His Voice. We respond with respect and submission. Faith give us access to grace. Grace does God’s Works through us. We can actually become His Hand extended, reaching out to the oppressed.