Our Faith Is Historically Verifiable—Or It’s Nothing

Doveryai, no proveryai is a Russian proverb that’s probably more famous in translation than in its original language. “Trust, but verify” was used extensively in various international negotiation settings, and continues to be trotted out as needed. It’s not a bad idea. Trust is good; proof that your trust isn’t unfounded is even better. Where does this proverb apply in the life of a people of faith? Some equate faith with the phrase “leap of faith,” or, as Mark Twain is reputed to have said, “Faith is believing in what you know ain’t true.” Though cleverly put, I doubt that’s true of any person of faith, however untutored. There’s nothing to be gained by clinging to a myth, a falsehood, or a lie. When life is raw and wretched, the only stability to be found is the truth, wherever it exists.

When life is raw and wretched, the only stability to be found is the truth, wherever it exists.

Not a Fairy Tale

I thought of this recently as I mused on the necessity of historical, verifiable fact as the foundation for the Christian faith. Of all belief systems, Christianity is the only one that insists its truths must be founded on the historical existence of a person named Jesus, and that further, he historically said and did the things claimed of him. Most importantly, if Jesus didn’t die (really die, dead-as-a-doornail die) and rise again (in a physical body, one that walked, talked, ate, and resumed relationships with his friends), then, as Paul told the Corinthians, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.... If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:17, 19).

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