By Elysia McColley
If faith is being certain of what is not seen and logic is a mode of reasoning consistent with natural law, then don’t the two stand in diametrical opposition two each other? Aren’t logic and faith contradictory ideas? Maybe at first sight, but not when you look at them in terms of how God reveals Himself to humanity.
Theologians have identified two ways in which God reveals Himself, general revelation and special revelation. Looking at logic through the lens of general revelation and faith through that of special revelation will help reveal that logic and faith work together to bring us to the knowledge of God and His divine plan for humanity.
General revelation is a term that applies to the idea that all of creation testifies to the knowledge of God and His will for humanity. The idea of general revelation derives from Romans 1:18-20, which says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” In other words, you don’t need to read the Bible to know that there is a God who is the Creator of the universe and who established a moral law for people to live by.
Special revelation refers specifically to the will of God as revealed in the Bible and the Person of Jesus Christ. General revelation is available to all people, whether they have access to the Bible or not. Special revelation is only available to people who have access to the Bible and/or the Person of Jesus Christ. (I say “and/or” here because many Christians, especially those who are imprisoned for their faith, do not have access to the Bible; meanwhile, Muslims across the world are coming to faith in Jesus because they have dreams about Him and then seek out a Bible to learn what the gospel says.)
General revelation includes laws of logic that are consistent with the Bible, because God is not a God of disorder, as 1 Corinthians 14:33 shows. Indeed, logic is how some great minds, like that of C.S. Lewis, arrived at the realization that there is a God behind the universe.
While logic is consistent with general revelation, faith is consistent with special revelation. What is revealed in special revelation is not always logical, though apologetics can help us seek out the logic of the Bible and the Christian faith. In fact, one aspect of special revelation – miracles – consistently defies any laws of logic. By definition, miracles are suspensions of the natural order in which the impossible – like the lame walking, the blind seeing, or the dead rising – occurs.
Acceptance of general revelation, including logic, leads to special revelation, and special revelation leads to faith. Faith continues to work itself out through both forms of revelation across the rest of the person’s life. In this sense, faith is not opposed to logic but can actually be derived from it, as long as that logic is consistent with general revelation.