Many years ago, I attempted to initiate a dialogue on Christian Apologetics with a Professor of Theology at a well-known university. His response was, “I’m basically a Barthian and I don’t get involved in that sort of thing.” He was informing me that he, like Barth, completely rejected Christian Apologetics. Karl Barth was a 20th century, Swiss, Calvinist theologian who embraced fideism (faith-ism); this is the belief that religious truth must be based solely on faith. It must not, even remotely, be a consequence of reason based on evidence. Fideism is has inflicted significant damage on Christianity and it is, without question, false teaching.
For example, Jesus gave clear empirical evidence to Thomas (John 20:27) and we know God granted miracles to the apostles in order for them to demonstrate that their teaching was true (Mark 16:20, Hebrews 2:3-4). The apostle John gave evidence in writing to anyone who would read his epistle:
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31)
The process of giving evidence so that one may judge something to be true assumes that an individual who sees the evidence will use his rationality to deduce that such evidence demonstrates the working of God and the confirmation of God’s truth. The entire foundation of Christian Apologetics | Reason for Hope comprises a repudiation and refutation of fideism.
For each issue of belief, the Bible teaches us to reach conclusions by reasoning using a sequence of logical steps; each step should be based on the evidence of Scripture, personal experience and history including the great traditions of the church. The Bible encourages us, from cover to cover, to analyze the evidence using classical logic! The following examples illustrate this point:
We are encouraged to use classical logic to distinguish between a false prophet and a prophet of God. “If a prophet makes one mistake then the prophet is not getting his or her information from God" or, what is the same thing, “If a prophet is of God then the prophet always speaks the truth."
We are told God wants to reason with us.
We are informed that we can be destroyed by lack of knowledge.
John the Baptist sends two of his followers to Jesus with the following question, “Are you the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?" Instead of saying, “Yes, I am the one whom you have awaited," Jesus performs miracles in full view of John's followers. After a while, Jesus sends the followers back to John with information obtained by first hand observation. Jesus says for them to tell John what they've seen so he can deduce the answer based on the evidence of first-hand observation.
We are invited to look carefully at each of the things around us - an incredible level of information stored in the most primitive DNA, a universe expanding at nearly the critical rate to avoid recollapse, abstract thought along with love in the mind of man - and try to explain these things without invoking the existence of God.
1 Corinthians 14:20
Christians are advised to think like adults.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
Christians are advised to carefully examine everything.
1 Peter 3:15
Christians are advised to always be ready to defend their beliefs by providing a sound basis.
1 John 4:1-4
Christians are advised to test every prophet to determine if he or she speaks for God.
Christians are encouraged to contend earnestly for the faith.
The fundamental beliefs of Christianity should be the product of classical logic based on the evidence of Scripture, tradition and personal experience. Christian beliefs should never be based on blind faith in some authority figure or on Hegelian synthesis, which, no matter how cleverly disguised, is no more than a blind leap of faith based on someone’s feelings, intuition and emotions.
The 18th to 20th centuries are replete with European Theologians, like Barth, Kierkegaard, Schleiermacher and others who spouted the haughty fideism that reason is unnecessary and inappropriate for the exercise and justification of religious belief. They focused all their theology through the lens of fideism; consequently, their teachings are tainted by this false doctrine. In the case of Barth, his embrace of fideism and his leaning toward Sabellianism might logically disqualify him as the greatest Christian theologian of the 20th century.