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WHAT IS FAITH AND WHO HAS IT?
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Think about your day so far.
This morning, you got up and had something to eat—by faith—trusting that nobody had laced your food with poison. Perhaps you stopped by a coffee shop and you relied on the character behind the counter not to put some kind of harmful substance in your triple-shot, extra-foam latte. You got to work—maybe even took an elevator?—and sat in an office chair without testing it first to see if it was strong enough to hold you. (This can be a highly dangerous activity. I read once—and I know it had to be true because it was on the Internet—that someone sat on what turned out to be a defective chair; it broke, the man was injured, and the accident led to his eventual death! So you just can't be too careful.)
You started your computer and typed in some confidential information, even though you knew that the latest Internet virus could hijack that information and broadcast it to everyone in your address book. During your lunch break you went out for a walk and paused to pat a stranger's dog, assuming you would not join the ranks of the 4.7 million Americans bitten by a dog each year (of whom, on average, 2,425 require medical attention every day).
Then, at the end of the day, you steered your car onto the road and headed home, trusting (but not really knowing) that some sixteen-year-old NASCAR wannabe wouldn't be out drag racing his friends and come careening toward you at an extreme rate of speed.
No doubt about it—you live your life by faith every day, even in the mundane details. What is faith? My broad definition is beliefs and actions that are based on something considered to be trustworthy—even in the absence of absolute proof.
You believed the food was safe, so you ate it; you trusted the chair would hold you, so you sat in it; you've had luck in the past with computers, random canines, and commutes home—so why not try them again? You didn't have conclusive evidence that any of these things would work out, but the odds seemed to be in your favor, so you went for it. All of us do similar things—routinely.
We live by faith not only in the small, everyday details of ordinary experience but also in the bigger issues related to religion, God, and eternity. We all adopt "beliefs and actions" related to these areas, "based on something we consider to be trustworthy—even in the absence of absolute proof." So if you are a Christian, you're trusting in the teachings of Christ; if a Muslim, you're trusting in the teachings of Muhammad; if a Buddhist, you're trusting in the teachings of Buddha.
Even nonreligious people live in the trust that their nonreligious beliefs are accurate and that they won't someday face a thoroughly religious Maker who, come to find out, actually did issue a list of guidelines and requirements that they failed to pay attention to.
"Oh, I never worry about things like that," someone may say. But that statement itself is an expression of faith—faith that it's okay not to concern oneself with such matters. You don't know that they are unimportant—you just assume that to be the case. That's part of the person's own particular version of nonreligious faith.
Even well-known atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris live their lives accepting an unproven assumption that there is no God and that the opinions they express about these matters are ultimately helping and not harming people. They don't know they are correct—they just believe and act as if they are.
In fact, Dawkins, who is probably the best-known activist for atheism of our day, admitted recently that he was only "6.9 out of seven" in terms of his certainty that there is no God, adding, "I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very very low." Prior to that, in an interview in Time magazine, he acknowledged that "there could be something incredibly grand and incomprehensible and beyond our present understanding."
Biochemist Francis Collins, who was arguing in the interview for the other side, shot back, "That's God."
Dawkins replied, "Yes. But it could be any of a billion Gods. It could be God of the Martians or of the inhabitants of Alpha Centauri. The chance of its being a particular God, Yahweh, the God of Jesus, is vanishingly small—at the least, the onus is on you to demonstrate why you think that's the case."
Whether the chances are big or small, the important thing to catch here is that Dawkins doesn't know there is no God—he even concedes the possibility that some kind of God might actually exist. Rather, he takes it on faith that there actually is no God, and goes on with his routine of belittling people's belief in God and writing books like The God Delusion.
Now, I'm sure Dawkins would argue that his is an educated conclusion that is supported by the preponderance of the evidence. But even if he turned out to be right (I'm betting my life he won't), it wouldn't change the fact that his conclusion is a belief that he holds in the absence of real proof. In other words, it's a conclusion that seems to him to be the right one, based on the data he's been willing to examine—but one that goes beyond what can be known with certainty.
That's just the way life is. We all live by some form of faith—in something. Which leads us to the central question of this book: Is ours a well-founded faith? A wise faith? A faith that makes sense and is supported by the facts? One that works in real life and is worth hanging on to?
More personally, is yours a faith you've really thought about and intentionally chosen—or did you just slide into it at some point along the way? Is it a faith about which you can be genuinely confident?
* * *
When I went to college, I came to the painful realization that I'd grown into my faith quite passively. I'd been raised believing in Jesus, trusting in the Bible, and accepting that the church was the carrier of God's truth. I had an unsubstantiated confidence in the truth of all of this.
Then I signed up for a philosophy class. My professor, a religious man with a degree from a radically liberal seminary, seemed to delight in dismantling what he considered to be the simplistic beliefs of many of his Christian students—and I felt like one of his favorite targets. He pointed out problems with the Bible, with what he referred to as "traditional views about God," and with most of the rest of the things I'd been taught. His intellectual onslaught woke me up and made me face the fact that I'd bought into a belief system that I barely understood and had never critically analyzed. My superficial confidence melted away quickly.
Not knowing how to respond, I went to my church for help—but I have to admit that my initial attempts to get answers from some of the leaders there were pretty disheartening. For example, I told one of my adult Sunday school teachers that my faith was being assailed in college and that I needed a deeper understanding not just of what we believed but also of why we thought it was correct.
"How do we know that the Bible is really true," I asked, "and that it is actually God's Word?" I'll never forget his response.
"Oh, that's easy," he replied. "It says right here in the New Testament that 'all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for inst
Excerpted from CONFIDENT FAITH by MARK MITTELBERG. Copyright © 2013 by Mark Mittelberg. Excerpted by permission of TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Foreword by Lee Strobel.................... vii
How to Use This Book.................... xi
1 What Is Faith and Who Has It?.................... 1
SIX FAITH PATHS....................
2 Faith Path Questionnaire.................... 15
3 The Relativistic Faith Path: "Truth Is Whatever Works for You"........... 23
4 The Traditional Faith Path: "Truth Is What You've Always Been Taught".... 39
5 The Authoritarian Faith Path: "Truth Is What You've Been Told You Must
6 The Intuitive Faith Path: "Truth Is What You Feel in Your Heart"......... 81
7 The Mystical Faith Path: "Truth Is What You Think God Told You".......... 101
8 The Evidential Faith Path: "Truth Is What Logic and Evidence Point To"... 125
9 Assessing the Six Faith Paths.................... 147
TWENTY ARROWS OF TRUTH....................
10 How Science and Logic Point toward Spiritual Truth.................... 161
11 How Evidence for the Bible Points toward Spiritual Truth................ 181
12 How History and Experience Point toward Spiritual Truth................. 201
TEN BARRIERS TO BELIEF....................
13 Breaking through the Barriers to Confident Faith.................... 223
14 Finding a Confident Faith.................... 255
For Further Reading.................... 281
For Online Research.................... 283
About the Author.................... 286
Posted January 14, 2014
Building a Firm Foundation for Your Beliefs
By: Mark Mittelberg
I loved this book by Mark Mittelberg. It was like he was here in the room talking to me as I read his book. He states in the beginning of his book that it’s worth spending some significant time reflecting on your faith. Otherwise, as soon as someone comes along who questions what you believe and why you believe that way, you won’t know how to respond. When you’ve spent the time researching, discussing, and seeking wisdom on what you believe about God, you’ll be confident in your faith and your answers will reflect that.
One part of the book uses a Faith Path Questionnaire to identify how you have arrived to your conclusions. Mittelberg then explains in separate chapters each of these paths and gives advice and encouragement to teach you how to become increasingly confident in what you believe. The evidential faith path’s “key elements, logic and sensory experience, are the God-given tools that we use to gain the vast majority of our information, and they are our best resources for examining truth claims and for ultimately deciding what to believe.” Once you’ve proven to yourself, using this method, that the Bible is God’s Word, you can then use it to test all other claims, and be confident in your faith to share it with others.
The last part of the book gives you twenty arrows of truth, reasons you can be confident the Christian faith is true. Then there is a chapter on ten barriers that can block your faith and how to overcome them. This is one book I will keep on my shelf. It is filled with helpful advice and a candid look at God’s Word and how to have your own confident faith.
Posted September 2, 2013
Christian or not, this book brings our self-awareness of our faith to light. What kind of faith do you have? Is it strong? Are you on the fence? Do you know why you believe what you believe? Is your belief system based on faith, or by your custom, or what you were taught as a child?
There is a handy quiz that causes one to think. Why do I believe the way I do? Do I listen to others and accept what they say, or do I discern what is true on my own? The chapters are easy to understand and each section is separated in such a way that the explanations and insight are revealed in a logical way.
This book lit a fire in me. It caused me to not only look within myself, but to tolerate and understand other beliefs. I recommend this book to affirm your beliefs, as well as provide you with firm reasons to share your faith with others.
Posted August 14, 2013
I think this is a great book for people really searching to see if God is real. It gives solid proof, including proof about other religions and why they don't have the solid proof that Christianity does. It was also a good book for a believer that may not actually know beyond just blind faith why we believe what we do. There was only one section that I thought the author was speaking either in a foreign language or rocket science speak. Other than that, he gave great examples and illustrations on Christianity. I have even recommended it to a few people that are standing on the fence and unsure what to believe.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 2, 2013
Confidential Faith – This book is written to discern which faith someone believes in. Apparently, according to the authors, there are different kinds of faith, but it is wise to put all our faith in One Being, God and He can direct our lives so we don’t make any more bad decisions, but since we are humans, we are not perfect and so will continue to make mistakes. Therefore, as the author’s states, we will still go by our instincts. But the evidential faith is the right faith to have, because we can test everything against the Bible.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.