Friday, January 01, 2016

Heb 11:1--A Response Once Given to a Questioner (Edited for Clarity and Content)

There are some who make a sharp distinction between faith and reason, but I question that approach. Heb. 11:1 reads: Ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων· (WH 1881)

Based on the Greek of this text, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that faith is somewhat synonymous with the evidence that buttresses unseen realities. Faith is therefore the same as conviction (ἔλεγχος) and is based on strong and certain evidence. So I would provisionally define faith (and this does not encompass the whole of πίστις) as a rational acceptance of and continual trust and belief in God, His Son, and God's revelation. I.e., Christian faith involves human thinking that is in harmony with divine reason and godly purposes. James E. White sums up the view of Henry in this matter quite well, when he pens the following words: "Truths must not contradict each other, and derived theorems must be self-consistent. Rational consistency as a test for truth is necessary for presuppositionalism to avoid lapsing into fideism" (White 103).

Authentic divine revelation must not have contradictory elements, and fideism should not be mistaken for genuine faith. If Jehovah's self-disclosure is true--in an absolute sense--then His self-disclosure should not/must not violate the law of contradiction. Since writing this reply, I now understand the statement about "derived theorems" much better than I once did. The derivation of theorems from axioms is an interesting study in itself. I believe Euclid derived thirteen volumes of theorems known as the Elements from just five axioms. One desideratum of logic and and faith, it appears, is to derive only self-consistent theorems.


Duncan said...

I came across this new work which may be relevant to redefining fideism.

As an aside, I find the definition of shalom used by Wolterstorff ("flourishing") similar to my own - becoming whole.

also found this interesting & it led me to find the above:-

4. A Rational Fideism?

Edgar Foster said...

I agree that one may impute different senses to fideism like we do with other words or concepts. However, the kind of fideism espoused by Kierkegaard, that kind that wants to belief in the face of no evidence whatsoever, is probably not tenable and it can even be dangerous in some cases. Even the so-called "rational fideism" would admit that we can't just throw reason of evidential thinking out the window. But the article you shared is interesting.

As for shalom, I have no problem with your/Wolterstorff's definitioon although I don't think that definition necessarily obviates other semantic treatments of shalom.