In his book, The Gospel Argument For God, (published by the
Florida College Bookstore; Temple Terrace, FL, 33617), Kenneth L. Chumbley
discusses the nature of proof in the second chapter. The title of the chapter is
"s It Faith If You Can Prove It?" He observes that what may constitute "proof"
in one field may not be at all valid in another. Different criteria must be used
to come up with the correct answer. For example, some truths require
mathematical proof. One can prove mathematically that 2+2=4. We can be very
confident of truths that have been mathematically proven.
But mathematics do not do well at all in proving everything that might need to be proven. Can one find an equation that will prove that Lincoln was shot at in Ford's Theater? No, instead we will have to search for some other way to prove, or disprove the statement. We need to use empirical proof upon which to base our belief, or lack of it, that the place Lincoln was shot was Ford's Theater. All the evidence is weighed and we must determine if the evidence supports the contention. Chumbley considers this in his book, and produces some considerations about the gospel from it. Following his observations but using my own words:
First, most of what we "know" is based on empirical proof, not mathematical proof. We have gained most of our knowledge not through mathematical equations but through observation. In other words, what we know about Jesus we have learned in the same way as we have learned most of the other things we know.
Second, Christians "prove" that Jesus is the Son of God the same way they prove that Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo. We prove neither mathematically. We resort to examining the evidence left for us by the witnesses.
Third, when the evidence is "preponderant" or "overwhelming", then "faith" bridges the gap from "very probable" to "certainty". By faith I am certain that Jesus is the Son of God because the evidence is overwhelming. I am able to act upon that certainty. It is not a "leap in the dark" at all. It is not irrational or superstitious or contrary to reason. But yes, it is faith.
Examine the evidence, and your faith will be reasonable. Chumbley's book is full of such evidence, and there are many more. Josh McDowell's "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" is another good source of evidence.
When someone says concerning Jesus, "Prove it!" be sure that you can (1 Peter 3:15).
By Jon W. Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 6.8; August 1999