The Rationality of Biblical Faith (1)
The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all.
Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying,
Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.
But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.
(Isa. 7:9-12 NRS)
In the Hebrew of the first sentence in the passage above, there is a word play whose force is difficult to convey in English. The same word is used in two different forms that give it slightly different connotations. It is something like “If you will not make firm (in trust), you cannot be firm (in the face of your enemies). The Hebrew term used is one that connotes reliability, and nouns formed from it include “truth” and “faithfulness.”
The opponents of Christian faith often equate “faith” with mere wishful thinking. Even Christian thinkers have compared it to jumping over the rail of a speeding ocean liner on a dark night in the expectation that we will be caught. That is not faith, but lunacy.
No, the Hebrew concept conveys something else. It is to put confidence in the reliability, the “truth” of someone. That is the whole thrust of the Bible: God has made some incredible promises, and then has fulfilled them. In other words, if we believe his promises (which is what Biblical faith is) there are very good reasons for doing so. As F. B. Meyer says, “Although our faith is sometimes more than rational, it is never irrational.” Jesus told his followers before the fact that he would rise from the dead. Then he did so, as a matter of fact. To believe in resurrection is more than rational. But the evidence we have been given for our faith is perfectly rational. This is true throughout the Scripture. We are not called to “blind faith,” but to confidently put our trust in God, to risk everything for him, because he has proven himself “true” again and again