Faith is the fundamental requirement of Christianity. Yet, as this article shows, the biblical idea of faith is nonsensical and unachievable.

Faith is believing something that doesn't seem very likely, and being certain of it.

That might be a somewhat facetious statement, but it's basically what the bible says. In John 20:19-29, Jesus expected Thomas to believe his mates when they told him that, while he was out, a man who had died a few days earlier had dropped in to say hello. And Hebrews 11:1 in the New International Version says: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Jesus appears to the apostles

Faith, thus defined, is something that most people would find impossible. We can't voluntarly believe something that doesn't seem likely. However, the Christian position is that faith is the only thing that can save us from hell: those with faith go to heaven; those without go to hell; being good is not important. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast," (Ephesians 2:8-9).

These verses confirm that we cannot voluntarily have faith; it is a gift from God. If he gives us the gift, great; if he doesn't, bad luck - we're off to hell. This idea that we have no control over our destiny might seem harsh, but there are plenty of other verses to support the view; see here.

Even if we are willing to believe anything we are told, there is another problem: different people tell us different and contradictory things. It is impossible to believe them all. So again, we cannot satisfy the biblical requirement. The most logical thing to do in that situation would be to use our common sense to see which of contradictory statements would be most sensible to believe. But then we are using reason rather than faith and that is exactly what Thomas was reprimanded for. Suppose one person tells us to believe the bible; another tells us to believe the quran. Both books say that they are the right one. What should we do. We can't know.

The whole concept of faith and salvation by faith thus makes no sense. The requirement for salvation is incoherent and impossible to satisfy. Thus it is impossible to be Christian and to be saved. Anyone who does consider themselves to be a Christian would have come to that conclusion by not reading the bible properly and not thinking through what it says. It does sort of make sense if you just go by first impression and then quickly form your own opinion about what it means. God's word should stand up to logical scrutiny. But it doesn't, not even in regards to the most fundamental and important questions of what God expects of us and how we get to go to heaven rather than hell.

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Image Acknowledgements

Jesus: Lawrence OP on Flickr