A leap of faith?

Sunday 18th February 2024

 Abraham believed the LORD,
and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:6 (NIV)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A leap of faith?

When I used to work as an engineer, I remember a colleague one day telling me, “I wish I had your faith” – in the same way, I suppose, that he might have said, “I wish I had your car.”  (Actually, that is unlikely as he had in fact sold his car to me!).   The idea is that faith is something you just ‘have’ and there is no real explanation for it.

I discovered this week where this idea of faith being a ‘leap’ comes from, that it is ‘a leap into the unknown’ or even ‘a leap into the dark.’   It comes from the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (and I also discovered the adjective Kierkegaardian, which is one to throw around in a dull moment).   I am indebted to Christopher Watkin’s book Biblical Critical Theory for these insights.

What is important for us is that Kierkegaard’s idea of faith is constantly seen in common notions of faith today, and it differs from biblical faith in at least four ways.  For Kierkegaard:

 1. Faith is separated from reason, as if they occupy different realms, when King Agrippa had no doubt that the apostle Paul was trying to “persuade [me] to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28).

2. Reason needs to be suspended for faith to be exercised,whereas Peter encourages his readers, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

3. Faith is thought to be a private and personal experience,whereas Paul considered faith to be reasonable, and so he “reasonedwith them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving to them that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead” (Acts 17:2-3).

4. Faith requires a leap that is not based on reflection but on passion, whereas Paul can urge Timothy to “reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this” (2 Timothy 2:7).

You do not need to understand all the detail here (and I don’t) to realise that these ideas concerning faith are almost assumed in our culture today.   Now biblical faith is more than reasonable, but it is not unreasonable.  It is not unreasonable to put your trust in the God who has revealed himself to be supremely good and all-powerful, a Sovereign Creator, a loving Father, and a mighty Saviour.

Lord, give me a faith like Abraham’s, that simply and reasonably takes you at your word.  Amen.

Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister)