Faith Defined, By Good Morning America?
On Friday (Nov.15, '96), Charley Gibson interviewed Evander Holyfield on ABC's Good Morning America. This came just a few days after Holyfield's defeat of Mike Tyson, making him (again) the WBA Heavyweight Champ.
Holyfield is a very personable man. Several years ago I flew into Houston Hobby Airport for a meeting. Bill Collett met me at the baggage claim area, and while we were talking Bill was suddenly distracted (I thought somebody had a heart attack). He said, "Look, Holyfield!" (Collett is a classic boxing fan, so he forgot about me and turned all his attention to the Champ.) Holyfield couldn't help but observe Bill's gaping mouth - so he came over (with three body guards) and greeted us. I had to drive that day, but the point is, Holyfield is a very friendly man. And, he is not afraid to speak of his faith. Perhaps we would feel compelled to visit with Holyfield about various tenets of his faith (very gently of course), but we can admire his candid willingness to state his faith in God.
Back to the GMA interview. Gibson knew these things about Holyfield, so he began the interview by minimizing his faith. He said, I know you are going to tell us about your faith, but "to me, faith is belief in the absence of evidence."
First, it is disturbing to me that media celebrity types who enjoy such numerous and constant audiences make such pronouncements. And, that their celebrity status gives them credibility in the minds of so many people. In interviews of Hollywood personalities, questions may be asked about world issues, international politics, academic issues and matters of religion. Because of their status, their sometimes mindless answers are embraced as truth by the gullible. Some who heard Gibson's statement no doubt found confirmation of their subjective and evidence-less view of faith.
Second, it should bother us that Gibson must immediately disarm this man's convictions about God. This reflects a long-standing media bias against anything religious in nature. In Robert H. Bork's recently published book (Slouching Towards Gomorrah), he expresses his concern - from both moral and judicial standpoints - of "the hostility or indifference of the national media to religion," (#291). He quotes Journalist Fred Barnes who observed that there is a "...peculiar bias in mainstream American journalism against tradition religion . . . [W]henever religion comes in contact with politics or public policy, as it increasingly does, the news media reacts in three distinct ways, all negative. Reporters treat religion as beneath mention, as personally distasteful, or as a clear and present threat to the American way of life." (#291). So, when Gibson used his access to the public to make his pronouncement about the nature of faith, he was acting in harmony with the general attitude of media toward anything religious. But now to his definition . . .
Is faith merely a person's own belief, in the absence of any evidence. Not biblical faith! Evidence is "the data on which a judgment or conclusion may be based," (American Heritage Dictionary). Our conclusions about God, Christ, and the Bible ought to be based on the strength of the data, the testimony (Jno. 20:30,31).
In the ordinary decisions of life on earth, we try to base our beliefs, plans and behavior on the best evidence we can get. Whether we are dealing with questions like who to marry, the advisability of surgery, or where to deposit our money, we want to carefully assess all available facts in order to make an informed decision. "From sitting on a jury to buying a new house, we try to base our decisions on a careful assessment of all the relevant evidence we can get. If, for example, someone used blind faith and bought the first house he or she saw with a 'for sale' sign in front of it, but made no effort to get information about the house and neighborhood, we would consider that person foolish. Why? Because when we use our reason and base decisions on the best assessment of the evidence we can make, we increase our chances that our decisions are based on true belief," (p.#7, Jesus Under Fire). Gibson and other post-modernists would agree with this. They would regard this as sound and wise, then throw it all out when it comes to God or "faith."
Evidence is simply information that leads to a conclusion!
We have drawn the conclusion, there is a God and the Bible is His message to us. We believe the Bible account of creation because of the vast body of data that supports the Genesis account. We believe in Jesus Christ because of all the testimony given to support His claims. Indeed, there are "many infallible proofs" which uphold and support these propositions.
"Evidence is defined as 'ground for belief, that which tends to prove or disprove something . . . data presented to a court or jury in proof of facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.' The Hebrew writer taught that faith and evidence are inseparable: 'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,' (Heb. 11:1). The apostle John suggested that a recording of essential evidence was a principle motive for his writing: 'And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name,' (Jno. 20:30,31). Jesus knew and demonstrated the importance of presenting evidence (Matt. 11:2-6). Paul was skilled in the use of evidence to persuade his audiences (Acts 17:2,3; 18:4,19; 24:25). . . the Scriptures warn us about being too ready to believe (Mark 4:24; Luke 8:18; 1 John 4:1; 1 Thess. 5:21). The kind of faith that God wants us to possess is a reasoned reaction to convincing evidence." (Greg Gwin, The Preceptor, Sept. 1995).
Faith is the process by which we acquire knowledge by reliance on good testimony (evidence). This is illustrated in Hebrews 12:17. The writer said: "For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected . . ." These people who were reading this epistle were not alive when Esau sold his birthright; they did not witness that event. Yet, on the basis of the historical truth of Scripture (testimony, evidence) they were able to know about it. Thus, the writer said: "You know" that though he wanted the blessing he was rejected. You don't have to be an eye-witness to know something; you can acquire knowledge through the testimony of good evidence. That's what believing is. We consider the "many infallible proofs" of the Christ, believe in Him and hopefully develop such wholehearted trust, we live in allegiance to Him all our lives.
For the latest news and weather; for entertainment and interests in notable persons and exciting events - tune in to Good Morning America with Charley Gibson. For a good definition of what faith is, what faith does and how faith will be rewarded, open your Bible.
Good Morning America, ABC, Nov. 15, 1996.
Slouching Towards Gomorrah, by Robert Bork.
The Preceptor, special issue on Faith,
Jesus Under Fire, by Wilkins & Moreland
By Warren E. Berkley
The Front Page
From Expository Files 4.1; January 1997