1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrews 11:1,2
I'm not even going to get into the definition of faith since I've been through this a thousand times before. But what I will discuss in this post is why faith is the foundation of the believers claims about what he/she believe. As you can see in verse two of the passage faith is a virtue which is commendable not just by believers but also by Christ himself.
Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29
This was Jesus admonition to the apostle Thomas, who because of this tale has been forever labeled "doubting" Thomas for having the temerity to disbelieve that he was actually seeing and talking to the recently risen Christ. But unlike the author of John I have to disagree with the words he has put into the mouth of Christ.
Atheist, and I'm pretty sure that in just this point that most would agree require evidence before we commit to believing in incredible claims. We see reason as a virtue and most of us weigh things based on probability. We look at the available evidence and after careful examination attempt to establish whether the evidence is valid and that what that evidence represents is true. For the rational mind faith is not even an option.
Faith doesn't ask questions nor does it require evidence for any assertion. Basing myself on the virtue of faith I can assert with absolute certainty that the biblical god exist and that Jesus Christ was his son. The more I tell myself that this is true the more I condition my mind to believe it, and in some cases even induce subjective experiences based on my beliefs.
So, the first step towards being a Christian is in believing that the bible is the word of God and that everything contained there is true. The gospel narratives are historical "evidence" for the existence, life, and times of Jesus Christ.
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever
believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands
condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s
one and only Son. John 3:16-18
The next step is to acknowledge that Jesus Christ was not just a man, but the son of the god we claim to believe in! Some theists like to take the existence of Christ to argue for the existence of their god, but that is nothing more than an illogical leap of faith. Even if it was proven that Christ was an historical figure, this would not prove that he was the son of god but rather create a whole new dilemma: was he a man or just God incarnate or the second member of the trinity? I'll let the theists fight that one out.
Next we have to believe again without evidence that he rose from the dead. One big problem about this is that there is no way to prove a miracle that allegedly happened in the past. All we have on the resurrection are the gospel narratives and as you already know they are entirely based on hearsay and not first hand accounts. Even if it was based on first hand accounts then we would have to deal with the issue of the reliability of those reporting the event.
14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:14,17
An important thing to note is that the entire New Testament is based on hearsay and not first hand accounts by anyone. Many of the authors are unknown and there are no credible secular documents in existence that verify their claims. Not to mention the fact that what we have are copies of copies of the original texts and none of the originals to compare those copies to. So when someone claims for instance that the gospel narratives are historically accurate etc. it is a fallacious statement since the original text did not survive and the ones we do have have been heavily redacted.
The entire foundation of Christianity thus hinges on the resurrection of Christ and the hope of his imminent return at some unknown time in the future. The problem here is that Jesus did give a time for his return although it was vague and quite frankly it was never fulfilled. Could it be that the theists of today have misinterpreted what was said and are clinging to an ancient unfulfilled prophecy?
So basically, in order to call yourself a Christian you need the following:
2. Faith that God exist
3. That Jesus is his son
4. That he was tortured and died on the cross
5. That he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven shortly after
6. Finally, above all there is obedience
"But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and
sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than
sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams." 1 Samuel 15:22
"To love him with all your
heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to
love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt
offerings and sacrifices." Mark 12:33
The kicker is that you must believe all of these things without requiring a single shred of evidence! Just as a child believes anything he/she is taught such as racism, hatred of women, monsters, goblins, and Santa; so must a Christian believe without question.
Note: All biblical quotes are taken from the New International Version