The Expository Files.


Faith, Not Fantasy


It was just another weekend service for churchgoers in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield when, without warning, they began to be gunned down by one of their own. When it was over, the gunman had killed himself and seven others. Most of us can only begin to imagine the grief and the struggling with questions that the survivors in the congregation as well as the friends and relatives of the victims left behind are wrestling with.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based Living Church of God is a denomination that grew out of a schism in the Worldwide Church of God, formed in 1933, and focuses on "end-time" prophecies. Herbert W. Armstrong was the founder, but divisions took place after his death. Today, the main group is evermore main stream, but some of the smaller factions have held on to the various doctrines of Armstrong, including that Great Britain and the United States are the focus of prophecy and made up of the ten lost tribes of Israel. The church believes in keeping the Sabbath as well as the dietary laws and festivals of the Old Testament.

But back to the tragedy. Since I live in the "Chicagoland" area, not far south, our local radio and television stations spent quite a bit of time with this event. I was in the car and listening to a local talk-radio program in which the rather conservative host was getting some flak. She had made that comment that anti-religious zealots would probably try to make some anti-faith statement using the tragedy. Sure enough!

I listened to one caller do that very thing. She was blatantly anti-faith and relished the opportunity to say so. She said, "Faith is nothing but fantasy and everyone needs their fantasy, I guess." When she was corrected by the host who told her that faith was not the same thing as fantasy she got rather hateful and said, "Call it what you want, its fantasy."

Just to clarify: Faith is not fantasy. Faith is belief. Fantasy is make-believe. Those are two different things. Faith is something everyone lives by. To say it is the same as fantasy shows a close-minded ignorance which is blind because it chooses to be. Faith, the Bible says, is "the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1).

A good illustration is that of a jury. Every jury verdict rendered in our nation is done so "by faith." It is the result of members of the jury becoming convinced that something they did not see was true. Juries base their conclusion on the available evidence which includes testimony of witnesses.

That is precisely what Christians base their faith on. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of the Lord" (Romans 10:17). We consider the evidence that exists for that which we did not see. We consider the honesty and reliability of the witnesses. We consider motive. We look at their lives to see if they lived like they believed their message. When they mentions people, places and events, we look into history to see if those people and places really existed and the events really happened.

And, what we find, is that the testimony is correct wherever it can be tested. History and archaeology support our faith. And that is why it is faith, and not fantasy.

By Jon W. Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 12.4; April 2005