How to Choose Your Faith Wisely
- Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Mark Mittelberg's new book, Choosing Your Faith... In a World of Spiritual Options, (Tyndale House Publishers, 2008). Our reader commented: "I’m passionate about apologetics..., and this is one of the best apologetic books I’ve ever read! ...Lots of seekers... will start thinking critically about faith after reading it."
You live your life by faith, whether or not you place your trust in a set of religious beliefs. Every day, you eat meals with the faith that your food hasn’t been poisoned. You drive from place to place with the faith that you can make it to your destinations safely. You type personal information into your computer with the faith that it won’t be broadcast to people who will use it steal from you.
So, no matter what your religion or lack of it, you already have a faith. But is it a wise faith – one that truly works and is supported by facts? Did you intentionally choose the faith you have, or did you just slide into it at some point along the way?
The faith you base your life on is vitally important, so it makes sense to think it through well. Here’s how you can choose your faith wisely:
Think about how you’re thinking. Before you consider what faith to choose, you should consider how you’re thinking about the various faith options you have. Are you just arbitrarily deciding on a particular approach? Are you accepting an approach that’s been handed down to you from others, such as your family members? It’s important to think critically about faith so you can truly discover what you believe, and why.
Understand the Relativistic approach. This approach says, “This is my truth. You find your own.” It claims that truth is what fits each person’s individual perspective, so something can be true for you but not for others. But this approach is self-defeating, because if someone says that truth is limited to his or her own point of view, then the claim itself – that all truth is a matter of perspective – must itself be limited to the speaker’s point of view, and thus is not relevant to or binding others. If it is relevant to or binding on others, then it’s the exception that proves that all truth is not a matter of perspective. While religious tolerance is a good thing because it respects people’s free will, all religions can’t be true at once. Many of different religions’ claims contradict each other. All the various religions could all be wrong, but they couldn’t all be right. Truth is objective; it’s simply what’s real. Truth is a matter of the way things really are – whether you like it or not, whether you can prove it or not, whether you have a different perception of it from someone else, and whether you think about it or believe it. Your faith needs to be based on something more than what you sincerely hope will work for you. You can be sincere, yet still be sincerely wrong. Whatever is real in the spiritual realm was already real before you arrived; it doesn’t depend on you. So set out to find what’s truly real and then align your life with that reality.
Understand the Traditional approach. This approach says, “But I’ve always believed what I believe.” It claims that truth is reflected by the traditions that others who have influenced you – such as your family members—have carried over into your life. But just because it’s become a habit to adhere to a certain set of beliefs doesn’t mean that those beliefs are true. Rather than passively accepting them without question, it’s wise to actively examine them. Step back to study your inherited beliefs to make sure you’ve thoughtfully and intentionally chosen a faith that’s worth following. Be willing to consider the real possibility that what others close to you have taught you is wrong, even though they’ve sincerely believed it. Lower your defenses so you can become a lover of truth instead of just a defender of tradition. Seek to discover what’s accurate, no matter what. You can still maintain respect for your family and friends while challenging their points of view and considering the evidence for what’s true and what’s not.
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