By Caleb Keith –
Before everybody thinks I am a jerk, let me just say that I care about how you feel in the proper sense of the word that describes your emotional status. If you are happy, I am glad you feel that way. If you are sad, I sympathize with your distraught. I don’t care about how you feel in what I will call the “weak” sense of the word, that is the sense of the word which attempts to replace knowledge and indicative reality with uncertainty and personal probability. What follows is an example that attempts to get across what I mean.
EX 1: Luther emphasized justification by grace through faith in his writings.
EX 2: I feel like Luther emphasized justification by grace through faith in his writings.
While the words are similar between examples one and two, they are extraordinarily different in meaning and value. The first sentence makes a statement which can be found to be either true or false outside the mind of the author. This means that someone could read works which Luther wrote and test the claim that Luther emphasized justification by grace through faith. On the contrary, example two cannot be tested against history or even the writings of Luther because the truth which the author conveys is not a claimed reality but is instead a personal opinion or “feeling.” The problem with sentence two is that Luther’s emphasizes within his writings are not emotions; they are realities which either occurred within the historical writings of Luther or not at all.
I call example two the “weak” use of the word feeling because its use removes the risk of being wrong or engaging in conflict when one makes statements about the world around himself or herself. This is particularly dangerous when it comes to faith. If I say that I feel Jesus Christ is my savior, I am not making a statement about reality which may be proven or refuted, but instead an emotional statement dependent only on myself. This means that my feeling about Christ carries equal weight as somebody else’s feeling about Mohamad or Buddha. However, if I say that Jesus Christ is my savior, I am making an indicative claim that can be tested, proven, and refuted. The factual and testable nature of faith is a Scriptural truth and assurance. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” The defense of the factual nature of the Christian faith is apologetics, a term which many readers may recognize and understand without having any experience with the task. The Thinking Fellows podcast is starting a series on apologetics this week which you shouldn’t miss if you want to understand more about the reality of faith and how to defend it.
I don’t care if you feel that this blog was good or bad, but I would love for somebody to prove me wrong or affirm these words in the comments section below.