Tuesday, February 2, 2010



Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. Proverbs 16:20

Faith in God was birthed in my family. My parents took us to Bible classes and worship. They believed in God and taught and modeled faith for us. Faith was so natural and simple for me I couldn’t understand how anyone couldn’t believe in God.

My faith was buttressed in college where I studied Bible and theology. One class in particular, Christian Evidences, gave further information and support to faith. We studied some of the great thinkers in apologetics (the defense of faith) and classical arguments for believing in God.

We also learned sophisticated terms and concepts that have been used by Christian philosophers to defend the existence of God and give Christians confidence in their faith. One of these concepts is known as the Teleological Argument. The Teleological Argument is based on observation of the world, where we can see design, such as order and purpose. From this design we can reasonably conclude that a great designer planned the order and purpose in the universe. God is the great designer.

The Ontological Argument asserts that reason rather than observation is the basis for determining that God exists. The classic statement was made by St. Anselm in the 11th century. He wrote, "God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived." I first studied that concept when I was about 19 years old, and remember having such a difficult time trying to grasp it that I figured it had to be right, so God must exist!

The Cosmological Argument is also known at the First Cause or Uncaused Cause argument. It posits that nothing can cause itself. We can’t cause ourselves, we can’t make ourselves. So, our existence must be explained on the basis of something greater than us causing our existence. That something greater than us is God, also called the unmoved mover in this argument.

I don’t know how thoroughly I processed these thoughts and concepts, but they did give me some confidence that belief was reasonable. Men a whole lot smarter than me conceived these complex arguments, and if they believed in God, then it was reasonable for me to believe, too. I was comfortable with my faith.

That comfort was shattered in my mid-twenties when I read about a man’s explanation for not believing in God and I couldn’t successfully counter his reasons. Does God exist? Is he the creator? Is faith reasonable? These questions and more overwhelmed me through the day and late into the night. My study, sleep and calm were wracked by these disturbing questions that robbed me of peace. I dug out my old texts and studied the great philosophical arguments from my evidences class. These classic arguments satisfied the intellectual questions I had, but they couldn’t quiet the doubts I felt at an emotional and spiritual level.

These kinds of questions are tough when you are a preacher! I turned to a respected professor and explained my dilemma. He gave me a list of books and articles to read, and encouraged me to stay in the struggle. Faith was reasonable, he assured me.

With his encouragement I began a long study and search for myself. I am happy to say that the search and struggle were worth the effort. I do believe and am confident that faith in God and his redemptive plan in Jesus are reasonable. This belief forms the basis for my life, my family and my work. I am still a minister of the Gospel and believe this work has eternal value.

What confirmed the value of faith for me? It wasn’t the complicated and sometimes confusing teleological, ontological and cosmological arguments. No, it was something that went beyond the intellect to the heart. While a number of factors confirmed the value of faith for me, one of the most convincing was the presence of good people in my life who faithfully modeled faith in their daily lives. Those who heed the instruction of God prosper, not necessarily in worldly terms, but in the quality of their personal lives and their relationships. Good people who love God encourage my faith more than anything else, and because of them, I have been one of the blessed because of trust in the Lord.

Warren Baldwin


  1. This is an excellent piece Warren. I really relate as I too survived such a challenge to my long held beliefs! Interestingly I am just this morning looking at this idea from another perspective, that of a Christian wife to an agnostic husband. I have been personalizing 1 Peter 3: 1-4 in my devotions this week "In the same way I should yeild to my husband. Then if he is not obeying the teachings of God he will be persuaded to believe without anyone saying a word. He will be persuaded by the way I live. My husband will see the pure life I live with my absolute respect for God".

    Thank you for being so open and honest in your writings as it gives people permission to say "Me too!"

  2. Cynthia, that is a great way to read 1 Peter 3:1-4. I have done that with other passages, such as 1 Cor. 13:4-7. It does personalize it. I commend you for doing that with a passage and in a situation that must be very challenging. God will bless you for that, as the lead verse for this article (Prov. 16:20) attests.

    Thanks for the nice comments. wb

  3. Great article Warren, :) I think we all have had those moments of battling away our doubts and fears. Maybe those can be called a "test of faith." Sometimes we may need those moments to strengthen our faith. We can only go so far without any solid evidence, but only a true believer will find his own evidence from God. But then, it becomes impossible to explain that to an athiest. That's why it is faith, and it is the most precious of all to the Lord! (1 Peter 1:7)

  4. Enjoyed the post and appreciate your transparency. Before F-HC I learned to deal with my struggles by "placing my doubts/questions on a high shelf" until I had more information to use in answering them. That way I did not try to deny they existed, but I also did not allow them to keep me from doing what I knew to do and believing what I could hold onto with confidence. Sometimes the answers came quickly and at other times it took years.

  5. Charlene - Great response. I agree, faith is a compoment we can't quite explain to an athiest. I ahve tried, but without success.

    John - Great hearing from you! It has been years. Yes, I have shelved some of my doubts, too, for consideration later. I did that with some of them in my 20s, and pulled them off the shelf from time to time to look at and deal with. I think that is ok. The experience has left me a whole lot more considerate and patient with people who have faith struggles.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting! wb

  6. Good to catch up with you, too. I noticed you follow several blogs. I encourage you to check out one by John Mark Hicks. He was at F-HC a couple of classes ahead of us. He is a brillant thinker and some of his personal journey will connect with some of your writings:


    John King