MOVED TO FAITH BY DIRECT EXPERIENCE
In support of the Central Thesis:
No one can actually believe in something blindly.
Direct Experience is perhaps the most common route to faith articulated in the Bible, and quite possibly by Christians the world over. Seeing something “with your own eyes” is the quickest route to establishing “a fact”, something you can put your faith into. However, even if one has not “seen” Christ with their eyes, many would claim to have seen His work directly through the lives of Christians that they know and His work directly in their own lives. But does this count?
“All we know are the facts, ma’am.” –Joe Friday
How do we get these types of Direct Experience facts, and are these proper grounds for belief?
Primarily, we use our five senses, which must be properly functioning and properly sensitive to the experience, and Christian Philosopher Alvin Plantinga has written much on this topic.
“an immediate ground of a belief is an experience, on the basis of which the belief is formed.” – Alvin Plantinga, Warranted Christian Belief, p105.
This is in line with the experiences of Jesus’ Disciples after his resurrection. Thomas touched him. They saw him eat. They heard his voice. Their belief in the resurrection was based upon direct physical interaction, as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
In fact, a relationship would be a case where belief is warranted, thus, requiring no further justification. For instance, I don’t have to prove my mother exists using documentation. Her existence is not up for debate because I know her and have had a mother-son relationship with her for many decades. I have an unshakable and properly basic belief in her existence. My faith in her existence is not BLIND, even though I do not remember her giving birth to me.
(I am not claiming that this belief makes her truly my biological mother. I could have been deceived. I am merely addressing the false characterization that this is blind faith. It is not blind if it is based upon direct experience of a relationship.)
What of the Christian’s claim of direct experiences with Christ? No doubt, these form a basis for strong belief, falsifying the claim that these Christians are believing blindly.
But do these claims of a relationship leading to properly basic beliefs satisfy our quest for direct experience fact?
The point is almost inarguable. For those who are convinced that they sense God’s presence, hear his voice (in their inner dialog with conscience), respond to His prompting, and obtain His blessing in good times and bad, there is no debate. “God exists because I have met Him” becomes the ultimate apologetic from the perspective of the believer.
But this is not well understood by those who are not convinced that they sense God’s presence, etc. A description of a relationship with my mother with an emphasis on the inputs from my five senses seems to be qualitatively different than a description of my relationship with Christ with emphasis on inner-dialog, answered prayer, and peace in troubled times. There is fertile ground to explore how best to describe a relationship with Christ. Perhaps that will be another blog post.
Whether Christian or not, hopefully you can see that when someone claims to have a relationship with Christ, they are basing that belief on what they deem to be direct experiences, which are properly basic. This is not blind faith.
You may still ask, “OK, so faith is not BLIND, but is a person’s faith well placed?” “Is what they believe actually true?” And for that I must refer you to the materials available at www.thepoachedegg.net, www.apologetics315.com, and other blog entries on our site www.ratiochristi.org where the case is made for the TRUTH of the Christian world view.
ROADMAP FOR THE SERIES
This series of blog posts will explore what is meant by Christians when they say they have “faith” in Christ.
- Part 1 – Introduction to my “No Such Thing as Blind Faith” series of posts
- Part 2 – What is the Biblical concept of the word “faith”?
- How does one come to have “faith” in something?
- Part 3 – Sources they trust – parents, pastors, professors, publications, papers, posts
- Part 4 – Intuition – putting the pieces of life together (least “explainable” but still not “blind”)
- Part 5 – Reaction to stress or joy – mountain tops and valleys in life
- Part 6 – Experience – direct experience with Christ in some way
- Part 7 – Conclusion, support of the central thesis, and how we come to change our minds