(Continued from Part 1)
Justification is the concept that provides our belief with the assuredness of its truth. People believe things for reasons, which provide the warrant for their belief. Without these reasons, you do not have knowledge, although you could get lucky in your belief. Guessing is not knowledge. If a belief is justified, then we have the right to believe it or ought to believe it or it is the rational thing to believe. A critical factor for this concept is that justification comes in degrees. The typical “straw man” argument against this view is to assert that since you cannot know something with 100% certainty, you cannot obtain the truth (or knowledge). Cartesian certainty is not necessary in order to have knowledge. As our evidence grows, our confidence increases. We might describe our belief as probable once our certainty reaches 51%, and as the justification increases, our belief becomes more confident. A skeptic may respond that without absolute certainty you could be wrong. Surely it is possible you could be wrong. But in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, just because I could be mistaken, does not mean that it is reasonable to think that I am mistaken. It seems self-evident that our goal in life is to know as many true things as we can while at the same time avoiding as many untruths as possible. Justification assures us of this by providing the foundation for a belief, which in turn gives us knowledge.
This brief journey into epistemology was done in order to show the relationship between faith, belief and truth. Christianity requires faith, faith requires belief, and belief requires truth. I have mentioned two of the three essential elements of biblical faith (notia and assensus), but the third is also required – fiducia or trust. This is not just a mere belief that you hold to be true, but rather a trust that is characterized as knowledge in action. If you have this sort of faith, you are ready to act as if it were true. Notice how Paul incorporates all three of these elements in his letter to the Romans, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). This biblical faith involves knowledge (Jesus’ nature and the Resurrection) that you assent to – but more than that involves faith that the individual enters into.
It should be noted that faith alone does not save, because what you have faith in must be true. I can have all the faith in the world that a hypodermic needle I inject myself with has the cure to an ailment, but this faith is worthless if the needle is full of saline. Biblical faith is accurate knowledge combined with active trust. Faith and knowledge are not opposed to each other. Instead, faith is a kind of knowledge of the spiritual and immaterial realm. Although faith is opposed to sight in the Bible, it isn’t to knowledge. We should be willing to die for knowledge (justified true belief), as the prophet Hosea was reminded that “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:9).
The last item to address is the role of the mind for spiritual formation as related to faith. An important passage for this topic is Romans 12:1-2:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We must present our whole body including our soul and mind, to God for transformation and renewal. The Christian understanding of a person consists of a unity of two distinct substances – a body and a soul. Moreover, I am my soul and I have a body. The soul has thousands of capacities which can be developed, some of which are not currently being utilized. The mind is one of these capacities that reasons and thinks (Romans 14:5, Philippians 4:8, Colossians 3:2). Moreland describes the mind as the “faculty of the soul that contains thoughts and beliefs along with the relevant abilities to have such things. It is with my mind that I think, and my mind contains my beliefs.”
These beliefs are how we run our lives, i.e. the way we act matches our beliefs most of the time. First, the content of our belief (e.g. about Jesus, morality, life after death) will shape our lives and actions. As mentioned previously, sincerity of the belief is not what counts, but rather whether the belief is true. Second, the strength of the belief is determined by how convinced you are that it is true. The more evidence or justification you have for the belief, the more certain you are of it, and the more it becomes part of your soul. Third, the more central the belief is to your worldview, the greater the impact it will have on your entire set of beliefs. All three of these (content, strength and centrality) contribute heavily in determining a person’s character and behavior.
Scripture holds us responsible for our beliefs, but upon examination it is apparent that we cannot choose our beliefs directly. No matter how hard I try, I cannot make myself believe that there is a pink elephant in the room right now. I do not have direct free will over my beliefs, i.e. I can’t make myself believe something. I also cannot just tell people what to believe or exhort them to believe it.
But if I don’t have free will over my beliefs, how can the Bible hold me responsible for them? The answer lies in the fact that I do have responsibility as to where I choose to focus my mind. I have free choice in body movements and where to place my attention (what you choose to think about). I have to choose to be preoccupied with something to change my belief or increase my certainty in that belief (philosophers call this Indirect Doxastic Voluntarism). I can start asking questions or researching it (reading, discussing with others). This brings us back to biblical faith. If you want your faith to grow, you must expose yourself to gain more knowledge. So although I cannot directly change my beliefs or their strengths, I can indirectly affect them by choosing to investigate or place before the mind evidence for them. This might be a course of study, meditation, or reflection which will help change the content, strength or centrality of a belief. This renewing of your mind should be a regular part of spiritual formation.
I began this blog with some examples of anti-intellectualism that is infused in the Church. Faith in the modern sense now means a choice to believe something in the absence of evidence or knowledge. This idea has faith covering the difference between the evidence. Rather, faith in the biblical sense means trust or confidence – confident in what we know to be true. Next, I demonstrated that the Bible reveals God as a God of reason and as image bearers of him, we are expected to use reason as well (I Peter 3:15). I then provided a brief epistemology lesson to define knowledge, belief, truth and justification and to demonstrate the relationship between them. An important point is that we do not have to be 100% certain in a belief for it to count as knowledge. I further defined biblical faith as consisting of not only knowledge (notia) and assent (assensus) to certain propositions, but also active trust (fiducia) in that belief. Trusting faith alone does not save, but instead what is trusted must be true.
Last, the role of the mind was shown to have a vital role in faith as it is the faculty that reasons and thinks. By choosing to focus your mind with the intention of gaining knowledge, you can increase your faith. Faith grows the more you know of the object. Faith is also an expression of trust that you have from knowledge. Faith is not opposed to reason or knowledge, but rather faith is built upon both. The faith Jesus had was not an absence of knowledge, but was based upon an intimate knowledge of his Father. We too can gain knowledge to make our faith richer.
 Gregory Koukl, “Truth Is a Strange Sort of Fiction Part II: Belief & Faith,” Solid Ground (November/December 2006): 4.
 Ibid., 3.
 J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind, 68.
 Due to space limitations, I am unable to go into a full metaphysics lesson, but would refer the reader to chapter 3 in J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind.
 Ibid., 72.
 Points take from J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind, 73-75.
 Ibid., 75.
 Lecture by J.P. Moreland at Biola University, October 26, 2006.
 This has huge implications to those that express doubt, as this is normal. One can work on their doubt indirectly by choosing to bring before the mind information that will build up justification for their beliefs.
 Points contained in Lecture by J.P. Moreland at Biola University, October 26, 2006.