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.