Belief, Trust, and Truth

I recently found a great new blog – Every Thought Captive, authored by Professor Rich Davis and Professor Paul Franks of the Tyndale Philosophy Department.

Here is a mash-up of three great posts they recently published that deal with truth and beliefs. I recommend you hit their blog (links are provided), read them in their entirety, and then start following their blog.

People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive – Blaise Pascal

Peter Enns, noted for his rejection of a literal Adam, recently wrote a provocative post stating that he doesn’t believe in God but he trusts Him. For Enns belief is equated with “ideas about God”, “articles of faith”, or “an intellectual construction” that is “in our heads”, while trust is “doing it, risking it” and “is much harder”. If Enns is saying saving faith is much more than head knowledge and getting some facts right about God than I agree.

But Enns seems to be saying more than this. Prof Franks tackles the problem made by Enns implicit assertion – that one can trust God without worrying about what one believes about Him:

First, to “trust God” you must at least “believe that God exists.” If you say to someone, “I trust God at this particular moment” and he responds by saying, “Why are you bothering with trusting in something that doesn’t even exist?” how could you respond without advancing your beliefs about God? It’s not clear that you can. … That is, you’re going to have to respond by not only noting that you believe God exists, but also that you believe certain things about God—namely that he is trustworthy.

Rob Bell, author of Love Wins and a new book exploring God, also seems to expressing the same idea as Enns in a recent HarperOne broadcast. Prof Davis quotes the relevant portion of the broadcast and then captures the problem with Bell’s “a good view of God is one that makes me a better person”:

The strange thing about Bell’s process for dispelling doubt is that it doesn’t appear to be truth-oriented at all. There is no attempt, so far as I can tell, to acquire or assess any reasons for belief. His method for theological belief revision, by his own account, is entirely subjective, pragmatic, and non-truth-conducive …

The “measure of a good view of God” isn’t that there are reasons for thinking there is a God corresponding to that concept. It’s whether it works for you. … In the end, it seems very likely that Bell is operating with a dogma of his own: we should adopt those understandings of God we find most empowering to us personally.

Everyone did what was right in his own eyes – Judges

Which brings us to their post which pulls it all together by tackling the questions – what is objective truth? and does Jesus require us to believe objective truth claims about Himself?

To say that a proposition is objectively true is only to say that its truth obtains apart from what any of us thinks, feels, or believes; it obtains by virtue of the way the world is. …

You can’t rightly believe in (i.e., trust, put your faith in) someone unless you believe that they exist. You have to believe certain objective truths about Jesus; otherwise you can’t be his disciple. …  Indeed, it isn’t rational to give your life to someone who either isn’t really there (i.e., lacks objective existence) or is the product of your imagination (i.e., has subjective existence alone). Belief that (i.e., assent to objective truth) is a precondition for belief in.

What do you think?

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