I’ve heard it said that if God didn’t hide himself, we wouldn’t need faith–but is that true?
The same Apostle who said “we walk by faith, not sight,” saw the risen Christ in a blaze of light on the road to Demascus, and the father of faith (Abraham) talked to God–but they both had to trust Him (unlike the Israelites who crossed the Red Sea dry shod.)
Would direct contemporary evidence of God’s existence remove the need for faith?
Hey Michael, I know this is late news as this question was posted awhile back, but what the eyes see or not does not affect faith. Paul describes faith as evidence of the unseen. Evidence is seen many times, it points to the unseen. One could say that I have evidence that God is true to his word and is the saviour of all men, and that would be the same thing as saying I have faith that God is the saviour of all men. Faith is based on evidence, from what I read, God never expects us to just take him at his word, he proves to us what he is capable of.
Some people say, I have faith God is going to heal me, or give me that, now that is not faith, that is wishing God would do it, or asking him to do it. But faith is something we have evidence he is going to do, or of who he is, ect. The faith JC had in God was because of what he knew, not what he hoped was true. The same with us, it is not really faith if there is no evidence to support what we believe.
And I do believe there is an extraodinary amount of direct contemporary evidence to support God, and who he is, and why we are here, and that is why we can believe him, or “have faith in him” for the promises that he has made, about where we are headed after this short visit… back to his house.
I think of epistemic distance as falling along a continuum. We can receive evidence for God’s existence (or love, or goodness) enough to give us a basis upon which to trust him (i.e., have faith), even for which to be held accountable, but without overwhelming us (i.e., without making it impossible for us to rationally misrelate to God). Presumably Lucifer and other angels had a tremendous amount of light (more than Paul was exposed to in the way to Damascus). Nevertheless it was possible for them to rationally/responsibly misrelate themselves to that light. So even great revelations can be “explained away” should one wish to do so.
‘Faith’ is necessary, I think, so long as the epistemic distance between our perceptions (of God and ourselves and the world) isn’t collapsed to zero, in which case we have no “space” to misperceive and rationally and responsibly choose against God (which freedom I think is required for character development and our growth into perfection). But neither can the distance be infinite. God has to reveal SOMETHING of himself and the truth to us so that we can responsibly respond and grow. I think in the eschaton our perceptions we’ll be sufficiently enlightened and our characters sufficiently solidified to foreclose all possibility of reasoning our way out of relationship with God.
I believe that the word “faith” implies more of “trust and commitment” than it does mere belief in something. I believe in demons, evil spirits, air and other things that I cannot “see” or imperically prove beyond a shadow of a doubt (especially someone else’s doubt), but such does not imply that I have faith in them. Also, I don’t know that “God hides himself”; I actually find it more likely that we hide from the reality of God.
The way I look at it, God doesn’t need to hide Himself (although it’s often better for us that He does), but faith is of a different nature than sight. Faith comes by internal willingness to let go. Of course, anyone can believe in Jesus and tremble, as the demons do - or worse yet, just shrug their shoulders. But what made Paul fall on his face was that he really was zealous for the truth but he just honestly believed that Jesus wasn’t it. Not to mention that deep inside he probably longed for the freedom from legalism that he saw the Christians having.
Jesus didn’t perform signs and wonders when people demanded them as a prerequisite for belief. Why? Because that would be to totally miss the point, and it would be to subject himself to their demands. It seems to me that divine inspiration and miracles happen when we least expect them, which is just what we should expect from the supernatural - something we can’t control.
Heck, we hear God’s voice only to later doubt it. But while He’s speaking to us, it’s impossible to doubt. Oswald Chambers dares us to try to doubt Him when in His presence - hah!
Therefore, faith is something much deeper than external happenings. That’s why there are so many who just find it hard to believe.