I am enjoying our first and perhaps last full week of summer in Michigan (every day sunny and in the 80s), so I am trying to get outdoors as much as possible. Since I don’t have a research assistant, and if I did he or she would be at the beach anyway, I’d like to ask two questions of you who are reading this.
1. Why aren’t you at the beach?
2. Do you know of any examples—in print preferably but also in word—of the separation of faith from knowledge? I don’t want this to burden you, so don’t take the time to look this up. I’m only asking for examples you might remember from what you have read or heard. You don’t need to supply precise bibliographical information, just steer me in the general direction and my imaginary assistant will take it from there.
Here are two examples of what I am looking for:
a. Regarding faith in the existence of God: “As long as you have faith, you will have doubts. I sometimes use the following illustration when I’m speaking. I tell the audience that I have a twenty-dollar bill in my hand and ask for a volunteer who believes me. Usually only a few hands go up. Then I tell the volunteer that I am about to destroy his (or her) faith. I open my hand and show the twenty-dollar bill. The reason I can say I am destroying his faith is that now he knows I hold the bill. He sees the bill and doesn’t need faith anymore. Faith is required only when we have doubts, when we do not know for sure. When knowledge comes, faith is no more” (John Ortberg, Faith and Doubt, 139).
b. Regarding faith in doing the will of God: this may be more controversial, but I would argue that we separate faith from knowledge when we claim that “stepping out in faith” means attempting risky, chancy plans that are doomed to fail unless God steps in and rescues us (how do we know that our foolish plan is the will of God?).
Example: “It’s a frightening and utterly exhilarating truth, isn’t it? As God’s chosen, blessed sons and daughters, we are expected to attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed…unless God steps in” (Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez, 47).
I understand that many Christian ministries were built in this manner (rest in peace, Jerry Falwell), but compare Wilkinson’s quote to Luke 4:9-12 (pay attention to the identity of the speaker) and you’ll understand my concern.