Don’t Settle for an Immature Faith
The Lord calls us to have a childlike faith, but not a simplistic or ignorant faith. In this brief clip, R.C. Sproul shows how theologians such as Augustine and Anselm have underscored the importance of continually growing in our knowledge of God.
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Now, neither Augustine nor Anselm was ever satisfied with a blind faith, which they considered to be a form of credulity that was not in any way virtuous. But rather, though both subscribed to the idea that, in the final analysis, God is incomprehensible—namely that we cannot contain in our finite minds or our finite intellect a total comprehensive understanding of God—nevertheless, the God who is has revealed Himself to us with sufficient clarity, and particularly in the sacred Scriptures, to such a degree that we can at least have an apprehensive knowledge of Him. And those who put their trust in God and their faith in God and the things of God should never be satisfied with a childish, immature understanding of God. Now, I mention that because we live again in a time that is one of the most anti-intellectual periods in Western Christianity. That is, we are anti-mind, and it has become a virtue among Christians to embrace what is called a “childlike faith.” Now, of course, there is a point for a childlike faith insofar as a small child puts implicit trust in one who knows more than the child does—namely, the parent, while they are very young, at least. It doesn’t last too long, of course. What we as the children of God should have is an implicit trust in our heavenly father, just as a young child has that kind of implicit trust in their earthly parents. But this concept of a childlike faith has come to mean to many people today what I would call (and what Anselm would call and what Augustine would call) a childish faith. The childish faith says, “I don’t want to have to think about the content of my faith; that’s a destructive thing that scholars get into. I’m just going to keep it as simple as I possibly can and not be engaged in any serious study of theology or the Word of God or anything else. I’m just going to keep it simple.” Now, at that point, when we take that position, we sin. It’s so far from being a virtue. It is a vice according to the New Testament, because the New Testament commands that we are to be babes in evil, childlike in our sin—but in understanding, we are to be men; that is, we are to be adults. And as the author of Hebrews labors, it is a sin to be satisfied with the milk, and we are commanded as we seek maturity in Christ to the diet of the meatier things of the faith. Now, this is the kind of thing that both Augustine and Anselm were jealous to communicate: that the content that God has revealed in His Scripture is content that was designed to be understood by His people, and we must seek to gain as much understanding as we possibly can of that which God has provided for us.