know and believe

Had a discussion with a friend recently, and was shocked and appalled to hear it suggested that knowledge is a hindrance to faith.

Not really shocked, obviously, as it’s a very common conception of what faith is. But the faith the Bible recommends, the faith that saves, is faith that has a thoroughly firm grounding in reality known and grasped with conviction. Faith always includes knowledge. You can’t rightly be said to believe in Jesus if you don’t know for a certainty that he is the Christ, the Son of God (and so on).

Certainly some things that faith (this faith, saving faith) lays hold on are unseen, beyond our senses, not amenable to empirical testing, beyond even our comprehension, and beyond what we could ever find out if they weren’t revealed in scripture. The fact that there are three persons in the Godhead is maybe the most important of these. (And of course there are many kinds of non-saving faiths which fix on propositions which are not even true – but that wasn’t part of our discussion.) But saving faith needs a foundation in reality – the reality, for example, that Christ is a suitable Saviour for exactly the kind of sinner that you are, the truth that there is mercy available even for the chief of sinners, the fact that he is able to save to the uttermost any sinner who comes to him. And the more the believer knows about these propositions the better – whatever faith builds on, is amply set out in the scriptures to be built on, and faith has nothing to fear from being increasingly better educated and more knowing.

Faith – saving faith – is completely different from ignorance, superstition, and wishful thinking. If it isn’t saying, We know and believe, it isn’t worth much.