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"Is Our Faith Blind?"

adapted and posted with permission of Outreach.com from God's Not Dead Movie Event Package

Nov.9, 2014 Ps.22:12-19; Is.46:8-13


In the movie God's Not Dead, Christian student Josh Wheaton is forced to defend God's existence in his philosophy class because he can't agree with his atheist professor, Jeffrey Radisson, who considers Josh's faith blind superstition. Our second question in our series today is this: "Is our faith blind?" Does it involve some giant irrational leap? Or - are there truly rational supports for believing in Jesus Christ, God in the flesh?

Some of you may know my son Keith is a fan of Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard; Keith did a Master's in Philosophy based on Kierkegaard's work, and hopes to do his Ph.D on him as well. John MacArthur in an article titled The War Against Reason notes Kierkegaard "decided that objectivity and truth were incompatible.To counter the passionless ritualism and lifeless doctrinal formulas he saw in Danish Lutheranism, Kierkegaard devised an approach to religion that was pure passion, altogether subjective.Faith, he suggested, means the rejection of reason and the exaltation of feeling and personal experience.It was Kierkegaard who coined the expression 'leap of faith.' Faith to him was an irrational experience, above all a personal choice.He recorded these words in his journal on August 1, 1835: 'The thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die.' Clearly, Kierkegaard had already rejected as inherently worthless the belief that truth is objective."

Note his words, "a truth which is true for me" - can you see how Kierkegaard resonates with today's generation that embraces relativism and shuns absolutes, cold objective truth? SUBjective is "in", OBjective is "out". To folks today, truth is only significant if it's interesting, engaging, helpful to me, supports and condones my aims in life.

Well, Kierkegaard's philosophy, known as 'existentialism', eventually invaded the church. Karl Barth was a popular theologian in the mid-20th century who acknowledged his debt to Kierkegaard, and my favourite professor in seminary was a big Karl Barth fan, as was my best friend. Barth and other "neo-orthodox" theologians downplayed the significance of objective truth. For them, as MacArthur sums it up, "the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually." It's very subjective - if a passage of Scripture doesn't resonate with you, you can minimize it, like Thomas Jefferson cutting out and keeping only the passages of the Bible that he really liked!

Francis Schaeffer in his 1968 book The God who is There criticized the new theologians: their struggle, he said, "is the struggle of modern man who has given up [rationality].As far as the theologians are concerned...their new system is not open to verification, it must simply be believed." But you're in trouble with such a system: it has no integrity. It leads to despair, as Schaeffer called it - "a level of mysticism with nothing there". Try getting up in the morning and going about your day without any rationality! Schaeffer said, "In practice a man cannot totally reject [rationality], however much his system leads him to it, unless he experiences...some form of mental breakdown." We call someone who's thoroughly irrational "crazy", and tend to lock them up before someone gets hurt.

So the question of whether our faith is blind - if it's just a "leap of faith" - is very important. Is there some rational, objective basis to Christian teaching? Or is it something made up we just choose to believe - like the new Jedi religion that's becoming popular in Britain?

Here are 5 reasons to be confident in the objective truthfulness of our Christian faith.


This is by far the most important support for our faith because Christian teaching or "doctrine" is all based on this revelation, so we'll spend a majority of our time this morning on the Bible. Let's examine the New Testament in this first section, and investigate its viability as a reliable historical document. Can we trust that what we see on the page reflects what was actually spoken or written back in the early decades of the first century AD?

Matthew 5:18 Jesus said,"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." There are tremendous reasons to be assured about the authenticity of the New Testament. As a matter of fact, more than any other ancient manuscript, but to fully appreciate this we first need to understand the two primary questions that guide linguistic scholars' textual criticisms: (a) How many copies are there to examine and compare? And (b) How close in time are the oldest copies to the originals?

Obviously the more copies that exist and the closer in time the copies are to the original, the more accurate the results. So how many do we have to work with? There are over 5,664 Greek manuscripts and over 19,000 other copies in various other languages besides Greek for a total manuscript base of over 24,600!* To get an inkling of how significant this number is we need to see how other ancient manuscripts add up in comparison, works like Josephus or Thucydides that are rarely questioned as being authentic in authorship or content. The next closest document in significant copies would be Homer's Iliad with 643.That's it.The New Testament trounces that by over 24,000 copies! This is very significant. All the other major works of note from ancient history such as Plato, Caesar, Pliny, Euripides, Tacitus, and Herodotus have just 20 copies or less, and usually much less! Only Sophocles (193) and Aristotle (49) have more than 20.

In terms of being close in time - The entire New Testament was written within 70 years of Jesus' resurrection. In other words, there were a lot of people still alive when New Testament documents were being penned - witnesses who could have easily contested their authenticity and accuracy, but never did. 1Cor 15:6 Paul notes, "After that, [Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep." In other words, you can check it out - talk to the other eyewitnesses if you need to. See already the documents allude to the objective truth-worthiness and verifiability of what's being proclaimed.

The significance of writing occurring so soon after, within decades, can be seen when we compare the next best ancient manuscript copies and its original, Homer's Iliad, as being within 500 years. Conversely, one New Testament piece of John 18 is dated to within 25 years after the original was written!

Ironically, none of these other manuscripts are ever seriously contested, despite most of them having an 800-2000 year gap from originals to copies. So when someone challenges the historical veracity of the New Testament, they probably have never actually investigated their charge. Sir Frederic Kenyon, former director of the British Museum, observed: "In no other case is the interval of time between the composition of the book and the date of the earliest manuscripts so short as in that of the New Testament.The last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed."

Further - these New Testament copies have a whopping 99.5% accuracy rate! Greek scholar D.A.Carson sums it up this way: "The purity of text is of such a substantial nature that nothing we believe to be true, and nothing we are commanded to do, is in any way jeopardized by the variants."

So when someone says that the Bible can't be trusted - that it's been changed and translated so many times like the Telephone Game where the original message becomes an eventual joke - you can dismiss their criticism as the real joke. As John Adams once said, "Facts are stubborn things."


A good follow up question to ask is: if God did author the Bible, and He meant it to be His primary communication device to us, do you think He would, as the all-powerful Creator of life, supernaturally protect its contents? 2Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." It is a supernatural document, "God-breathed": there are things contained within that require a supernatural ability to know ahead of the event taking place. Consider items of prophecy, foretelling. One of the ways God establishes His credibility is to prove His control over what happens. His personal name is YHWH, Yahweh, from the Hebrew verb "hayah" to be. He alone is sovereign, able to bring to pass whatever He chooses. So, in the Scripture, often He would predict something ahead of time and make it come true later. Isaiah 46:9-10"Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure' ."

The main distinction between the Bible and other religious writings is in its ability to predict the future accurately, which only makes sense if the author is truly the Creator and wanted to prove its veracity, its truthfulness. Therefore, fulfilled prophecy makes the Bible completely unique. According to The Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy there are 1239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 in the New Testament for a total of 1817 future predictions. But this claim of divine inspiration is no idle boast. We see in Deuteronomy 18:20-22 that anyone claiming to speak for God, if not 100% accurate, would be put to death: "But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?' When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."

Knowing the severity for a fake prophet not only eliminated charlatans, it also made God's prophets uniquely qualified as His anointed messengers. Let's consider just a few examples of the veracity of the Bible as his Word in regards to the Messiah.

His Conception: Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." No one can determine HOW they will be born, especially by a virgin!

His Birth: Micah 5:2 "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity." No one can determine WHERE they will be born!

His Betrayal: Zechariah 11:12-13 "I said to them, "If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!" So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages.Then the Lord said to me, "Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them." So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord." No one can determine another's BETRAYAL of them, the coinage, and its use.

His Death: Psalm 22:12-18 "Many bulls have surrounded me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring lion.I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within me.My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you lay me in the dust of death.For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet.I can count all my bones.They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots." No one can describe how they will be MURDERED so exactly.

Now let's look at just one non-Messianic prophecy from Ezekiel, and remember there are over 1,800 other ones!

The city of Tyre (Ezekiel 26:3-5,7,12,14,16) 590 B.C. Ezekiel prophesies Tyre's destruction with these 7 specifics: Nebuchadnezzar will conquer Tyre. Other nations will take part in its destruction. Tyre will be flat like the top of a rock. It will become a place to spread nets. Tyre's stones and timber will be laid in the sea. Other cities will fear because of Tyre's destruction. And: Tyre won't be rebuilt. It all came to pass when Nebuchadnezzar laid siege in 586 B.C., and then Alexander the Great finished it off 241 years later. (SEE APPENDIX) Now, what do you suppose the odds of this prophecy happening are? Someone has calculated the odds as 75 million to one!


Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." According to Paul, everyone knows that God exists because of the amazing things we see all around us every day - the wings of a dragonfly, a baby's birth, a snowflake, or the Milky Way on a clear night. We all know that these intricate designs in creation imply that there is a Designer. Or did your iPhone just appear in your pocket overnight?

Christians today have somewhat of an advantage, I would say, over believers even a few decades ago, because the more time passes post-Darwin, the more evidence there is against atheism's pet theory of evolution. Scientists like Dr Kirk Durston, our anniversary speaker in 2013, have used the tools of information science to calculate the impossibly small probability of even simple protein molecules, manufacturing "engines" if you will, coming together simply by chance. The honest scientist looks around and notices there is no successful breeding in between species; the "missing links" are still missing. The intelligent scientist knows that, according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, the amount of free energy in a closed system always increases: things "run down" and fall apart rather than getting more complex. Entropy, not orderliness, wins. The improbability of evolution happening by cells blindly being formed in primordial soup drives scientists such as Nobel prize winner Dr Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA in 1953, to propound the theory of panspermia: aliens shot a spaceship which brought life to earth! Gary Bates at Creation Ministries quotes Crick: "An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going." Bates observes, "Even the non-Christian molecular biologist, Michael Denton, says, in his best-selling book Evolution a Theory in Crisis, [NOTE THE TITLE!] 'Nothing illustrates clearly just how intractable a problem the origin of life has become than the fact that world authorities can seriously toy with the idea of panspermia.'"


Matthew 16:18 "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it." This is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church: in many countries today it's not "safe" to be a Christian - you can get beaten, thrown in jail, murdered - and yet believers don't renounce their faith to save their hide! Despite Roman persecution in the First Century, and nearly 2000 years of global persecutions since, the Church continues to exist even in deadly Communist and Islamic countries right up to today. Not only has your life been changed, but millions of others also testify to this same transformation by God's Spirit. The permanence of the body of Christ is a strong testimony to the divine protection Jesus promised to Peter.

Consider with what absolute certainty, upon pain of death, Christians from Jerusalem and Rome on down have attested the factuality of what God has done. The effect that Scripture has upon a willing heart is evidence in and of itself, but - in view of the high stakes of a charge of blasphemy, or of denying the emperor was divine - ask yourself if the original disciples and Apostles who were eyewitnesses to Jesus' death and resurrection would give up their lives as martyrs if they knew it was all a lie? A person may give their life for what they believe, but NOBODY dies for what they know to be false! And as Ravi Zacharias pointed out in a podcast - significantly, they all died alone, separated from each other; they had every chance to come clean and confess if it was a hoax, it wasn't that they were coerced by peer pressure to maintain a conspiracy. Yet they chose to die rather than deny Jesus the One who had died for them, to set them free from sin, free to know God and His Spirit of Truth.


One's experience is very tough to dispute, because when it comes to your experience - YOU'RE THE EXPERT! From the very beginning of the church, God has commanded people to testify of what they have seen with their own eyes. Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." A witness is one who testifies to what they have experienced, what they have seen and heard. In court a witness is called to give "evidence", not hearsay.

Acts 4:13 "Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus." As a Christian, your own testimony is proof that God is alive because He has changed your life, your values, your habits, and your destiny. Of all the evidences of our faith being real, your experience of having the Holy Spirit literally inside your own body is the most powerful proof of all. Your conscience is alive, God speaks to you in your heart, and you have a peace that you never knew before because you have a clean conscience that comes with the assurance of Heaven.

There's a final example of objective evidence to prove Christian teaching is true...


Hebrews 4:12 "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." When you've drawn near to God with an intense appeal in prayer, and He grants your request - that can result in amazing evidence. This is something that's equally powerful to the previous point about your personal experience because God has graciously granted your prayer requests. And as in God's Not Dead, we know that He does not always say "yes" right away. Sometimes the answer is to wait. Sometimes the answer is "no": He may have a better plan. But we all have examples in our life where God came through for us, sometimes miraculously! (E.g.MR's Steinbach MB story: 9-yr-old drew picture which helped diagnose cancer / cure) Those instances where you shake your head and say, "It's GOT to be a 'God thing'!"

To sum up: Christian faith is not "blind" faith: there are good reasons for believing. Intelligent people have set out, as Frank Morison did in Who Moved the Stone, to prove Christianity was false - only to arrive at the conclusion the evidence demanded a different verdict. In closing, let's look at a scene from God's Not Dead where a mother suffering from dementia snaps back into lucidity to profoundly question whether some people, preoccupied with pleasure and things of this life, like her son who is so successful in business, are actually afflicted by a "blind faith" - sin has trapped them with pleasure to the point they can't see the prison cell door is wide open until it swings shut. [Film clip 1:29:15 to 1:31:27 Comfortable Prison Cell] Let's pray.


According to Dr Peter W Stoner in Science Speaks, "Tyre was a city on the northern coast of Palestine inhabited by the Phoenicians, a strong maritime people, greatly feared by their enemies.(The king of Tyre supplied timbers of Solomon in the building of the temple.) In 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, laid siege to the city of Tyre.The siege lasted for 13 years; and when Nebuchadnezzar took the city in 573 B.C., he found that the Phoenicians had moved everything of value to an island about one-half mile off the coast.Though the city was taken, Nebuchadnezzar profited nothing, and the Phoenicians were not conquered.Nebuchadnezzar could not pursue them to their island position, so he returned to Babylon.Thus the first item of the prophecy was fulfilled: (1) Nebuchadnezzar shall take the city of Tyre.

Dr Stoner continues, "For 241 years the mainland city of Tyre remained very much as Nebuchadnezzar left it. Later, Alexander the Great started his great conquest.His field of campaign lay to the east, but he feared that the fleet of Tyre might be used against his homeland, so he moved south to take the city of Tyre.In 332 B.C., Alexander reached Tyre, but he was unable to take the city at once.So he captured other coastal cities and took over their fleets, but with these combined fleets he was still unable to take Tyre.Alexander finally built a causeway from the mainland to the island. In building the causeway he used all the building materials of old Tyre, and that was not enough.He scraped up all of the soil in and around the old city and with it completed the causeway.After seven months, by a combined attack of land forces marching in over the causeway, and the fleets of conquered cities, he took Tyre. Thus items 2,3, and 5 of the prophecy were fulfilled: (2) Other nations are to participate in the fulfillment of the prophecy. (3) The city is to be made flat like the top of a rock. (5) Its stones and timber are to be laid in the sea.

"Other neighboring cities were so frightened by the conquest of Tyre that they opened their gates to Alexander without opposition and fulfilled another item: (6) Other cities are to fear greatly at the fall of Tyre.

"Today visitors at the old city of Tyre find it is a very popular place for fisherman; they are spreading their nets on this very spot. Thus prediction 4 has been completely fulfilled: (4) It is to become a place for spreading of nets.

"The great freshwater springs of Raselain are at the site of the mainland city of Tyre, and no doubt supplied the city with an abundance of fresh water. These springs are still there and still flow, but their water runs into the sea. The flow of these springs was measured by an engineer, and found to be about 10,000,000 gallons daily. It is still an excellent site for a city and would have free water enough for a large modern city, yet it has never been rebuilt. Thus item 7 of the prophecy has stood true for more than 2,500 years: (7) The old city of Tyre shall never be rebuilt."