What can she see?

Faith is blind, and that’s okay

People challenge faith when they think it’s a blind faith. Christians then generally respond with a whole bunch of arguments grabbing at a defence to say, “No, my faith is not blind.”

I’m not so sure that’s the right response.

Exhibit A: Christians can be heard talking about a “leap of faith”.

I’m building a case, so stay with me — my first point has nothing to do with faith not being blind. I’d like to argue that the same people who argue that “faith is not blind” use language which reveals that they actually hold the opposite belief. They (we, if I’m honest) talk about “taking a leap of faith”, referencing the need to sometimes make a move without seeing where it leads. That is much worse than faith just being blind, it’s admitting that such faith requires an uninformed leap and there’s no telling how the landing will be. This means it’s not just a blind faith, but it’s completely senseless.

We are told to walk in the light, walk in step with the Spirit, to walk by faith and not by sight. No jumping is mentioned. No uncertainty. Leaping by faith has a bad odor of “I’m going to do this and God better make it work”. Conclusion of Exhibit A is that a quick retort of “faith is not blind!” is a knee-jerk reaction to defend a religious standpoint while perhaps exhibiting the very same poor understanding of the relationship between faith and sight and other senses… which leads us to Exhibit B.

Exhibit B: We have five direct senses (smell, taste, touch, sight, hearing).

The arguments for “faith is blind” and “faith is not blind” both rest on one sense — i.e. sight; that we can or cannot see where we’re going, and that this is the sum total of knowledge and reliance as we walk by faith. The flaw is obvious. A blind person may not be able to see, but they are not rendered immobile. So, if we are to walk by faith and not by sight, how do we explain faith — what sense does it use?

Exhibit C: What the Scriptures say.

The Scriptures actually agree with the plain-language meaning of “faith is blind” — not to say that faith lacks any guide or sense, but rather that faith is blind in as much as an ear is blind. Go read Hebrews 11:1. It’s pretty unashamedly clear that faith is being sure of what we don’t see or know from direct observation. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says we live by faith and not by sight.

How are we then sure of what we can’t see? Where then is the certainty of faith? Well, look at Romans 10:17. Faith comes through hearing. Can the spoken word be seen? Can you see your sister’s words floating to your ears? No. Similarly, faith comes through hearing the word of God — hearing a message.

What is faith then?

Faith, this certainty referred to in Hebrews 11:1, is trusting in a message which is spoken to you. Much as your eyes see where a winding road leads, your ears receive communication and information from people’s words. Faith is trusting God’s message, which is heard. A message from a person, like a blind person being led by a sighted person. Faith might be blind, but it’s not deaf.

What this means for us

It means that sharing the gospel is crucial. Who can hear what is not spoken? Now, since Gutenberg’s printing press and the Internet, we have the added advantage that eyes can indeed join the party, that messages can be received through text. This is a type of hearing, isn’t it? (It’s not direct observation, it’s reliance on testimony.) We “hear” about the day’s news by reading an article in the paper, and the same applies here. With hearing the gospel, the message can then be believed (who can believe what he has not heard?). When someone believes in God, then they can call on him. And that calling on him, that is the first step of walking in faith.