Faith, Not Math

I anticipate some reservations after the last post, especially since faith is popularly thought of as being equal to absolute certainty.  Hebrews 11:1 bolsters the case for that view, saying, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”    There you have the two words “assurance” and “conviction” making a case for certainty.   But did the writer of Hebrews mean to imply that faith brought mathematical certainties that were utterly irrefutable?  I don’t think so.  Even non-Christians see the absurdity of that kind of assurance.  Albert Einstein said, “As far the propositions of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality” (FN 1).  Secondly, even if Hebrews 11:1 did refer to something that resembled absolute unquestioned belief, it couldn’t possibly mean an unbroken state of it.  The reality is that our assurance, no matter how powerful and passionate,  runs in long spurts, interrupted by frequent distressing states of doubt.

Seasons of uncertainty come upon us because of a lot of things.  Unanswered prayers sometimes trigger moods of anger and questioning.  At other times it is the pain of tragedy or the confusion of  intellectual difficulties.  Now and then doubt occurs because we drifted into spiritual flatness.   I call these times “faith hiccups” because they represent  breaks in assurance.  They keep our conviction from becoming hard, faithless certainty.  They keep our faith from turning into math.

1  As cited by Ravi Zacharias in his book, A Shattered Visage, p. 177.

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