Imagine this: two acquaintances meet up by chance in a public place. They start catching up and making small talk before turning the conversation to a common interest, namely the “big game” from the day before. At first the conversation goes really well and shifts from talk of the “big game” to the rest of the teams in this particular sports league. Once it gets to this point they start talking about their favorite teams when one asks the other about their thoughts on that person’s favorite team and the recent cheating scandal the team was involved in. Suddenly the conversation takes a shift. The person whose favorite team was actually caught cheating is suddenly stand-offish and gets a little louder with every word. Suddenly facts don’t matter anymore and neither person deals well with any negative comments about their own favorite team, especially if the claim happens to be true (Truth being “that which conforms to fact or reality[ref]Webster, Noah. Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language (1828 facsimile reproduction). 20th ed. 2008. Print[/ref].”). They then respond with selective comments towards the other person’s team with negative, snide remarks. This continues until they both can’t talk about the subject (and unfortunately sometimes they can’t even talk to each other) anymore. Does this sound familiar? Perhaps you have even heard a conversation like this (or unfortunately taken part in one at some point) or something very similar to it. The problem is that the person/people involved suffer from what is called “Brand Loyalty.”
What Is Brand Loyalty?
Brand loyalty [ref]See the following definition for its most common usage: (Brand Loyalty)[/ref] is the faithfulness of consumers to a particular brand of product. In other words, they always stick with their brand. We mostly employ this term to describe how people are committed to a particular household product, but it can also apply to anything from sports teams, politics to even particular brands of automobiles, etc. Unfortunately what seems to be happening is we also do this in areas that are way more important, namely in the area of beliefs and worldview related issues. It seems the vast majority of Christians and non-Christians hold to what they want or have heard to be true not what they have actually found to be true. The result is just blind, “brand loyalty” to their worldview/beliefs that inevitably can lead to disastrous consequences. It seems many religious conversations are of the same nature as the one I mentioned at the beginning of the article.
This is evident in those who blindly believe what a preacher or church leader tells them is true without ever searching it out for themselves (despite Biblical warnings to Christians to “..test all things.[1 Thess. 5:21]”). We even see it among those of other worldviews and religions such as atheism, Islam, etc. Now, not everyone who is involved in a specific church denomination, or everyone who is an atheist or even everyone who is an adherent to Islam holds on to those beliefs blindly in a “brand loyalty” sort of way that I am speaking of. Most people (in fact it seems a large majority) however, irrespective of their worldview, do hold to those things in that way. That is why I really want to challenge our thinking about the beliefs we hold and start asking ourselves “Why do I believe this?” If the answer is because “It’s true and here’s why,” then you are already on the right track! If the answer is something similar to “Because I heard someone say…” or “Such and such said it was true,” then I encourage you to analyze and apply what you read below. What I want to accomplish with this article is challenge us all to ask ourselves, as well as answer honestly, the question “Do I suffer from brand loyalty in the area of worldview/beliefs?”
The Problems of Brand Loyalty and Truth
When it comes to brand loyalty regarding our beliefs there is something we should take immediate notice of right away, namely that it undermines the pursuit of truth. Think about it for a moment. Especially as Christians who love and cherish truth and claim to desire it and pursue it, this thinking (or lack thereof) is highly problematic. Remember the words of Jesus as He stood on trial and testified to the importance of truth:
“You are a king then?” Pilate asked. “You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.” (John 18:37)
If I blindly believe something, that means I cannot demonstrate via good reasons that it is in fact true. How can I claim it is true at that point since I am basically just guessing (hence holding onto the belief “blindly.”)? If we did this in any other area of our lives we would rightly be branded as irresponsible, and dangerous even. How much more should this matter on worldview issues that have not only immediate consequences, but eternal consequences as well! It seems that most of the time seeking the truth and obeying it has become a lost art and the consequences are dire. If we believe anything we should only believe it because it is true, not because it makes us feel better or because we want it to be true as that is a distortion of reality. We should not base our beliefs about the world on hearsay, but rather we should put them to the test and make sure they are true, especially since we are responsible for doing so.
Faith and Evidence: Same As Oil and Water?
Much of this type of “guesswork” belief is due to the idea that faith is blind, or anti-evidence. In other words, if we have facts, then we can’t have faith and so they don’t mix (like and oil and water). This topic should have an entire article devoted solely to it and I may do that in the future, but I do want to touch on it lightly here for a moment because of its importance. What we need to realize is that for Christianity (and even to Judaism because of the Hebrew Bible) the original language texts convey a concept which is best translated into English as a “reasoned trust.” When we believe/trust that something is true, then we should be able to give good reasons to think that it is the case. Also, when we say we “believe” something to be true, we mean that we trust it is true. This can also be applied to people. If I say “I believe in my grandfather,” what I mean is I trust him. What is also implied is that I can give good reasons as to why I trust him. Sort of like when one is called upon to be a reference for someone who is applying for a job. They want to know if the person is trustworthy and they even ask you questions about rating them in certain categories so they can determine if they should hire them. In other words, they want good reasons from you as to whether they should hire them or not. This is how the Biblical notion of trust is to be understood. If this is the case, then why do many still have a “blind” faith?
What seems to me to be happening is that the Hebrew and Greek concepts have been translated into English as “faith” or “belief,” but the English words have a more broad range of meaning and have come to be associated with phrases such as “blind faith” or “leap of faith.” When English readers read those words (belief or faith) in an English translation, they retroject back into the text a narrow understanding of the English words that have been influenced by relativism, rather than what the original author was trying to objectively convey using specific Greek and Hebrew words/concepts. The result is that people believe anything and everything independent of any evidence, and sometimes despite it. However, the moment we claim something is true we are automatically at that point committed to making a case for it. So when it comes to Christianity, the notion of blind faith and leaps of faith simply are irrelevant and do not apply. That also entails that “brand loyalty” to certain beliefs by Christians should be universally rejected by all who profess Christ, as even the Biblical text itself encourages us to test all things, seek out wisdom and knowledge as well as understanding. Again, the text also places a heavy emphasis on truth which entails a commitment to making a case for it. All of those things undermine blind, leaps of faith.
Doesn’t the Bible Teach Blind Faith Though?
Let me briefly examine here two passages that seem to teach “blind” faith, but actually do not. The first is the following verse:
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7)
That seems on the surface to be clear, faith is blind, hence requiring faith and sight to be opposed to one another in such a way that if one is walking by sight one is not walking by faith. This is not true however. Let me illustrate this via an example. Say you trust your spouse, let us also assume you have good reasons to do so. When you can’t see her and she is away from you for a period of time do you still trust her? Of course, because you fall back on those good reasons you have. Now, when you see her again do you stop trusting her? Of course not! This is what is going on here in this verse. Christ is gone away for now, but we have good reasons to trust in Him (His resurrection from the dead for instance, for which we also have historical evidence). So for now, we walk by faith (trust) not by sight. Once He returns will we stop trusting in Him? Of course not! Once He returns we will walk by faith AND by sight, as the two are not mutually exclusive as is commonly assumed.
The second verse that seems to teach a blind faith is found in the book of Hebrews:
“Now faith is the reality of things hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
This passage seems to me to actually align with the rest of the Biblical witness and not teach a blind faith, rather it is a description of how faith works. Like if I describe my car to someone rather than telling them what the car actually is. I own a replica of the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard television series. So I describe my car by saying “It IS really fast, orange, has numbers on the doors, etc.,” rather than telling them I own a replica 1969 Dodge Charger from the Dukes of Hazzard television series. I have given a description of the car, not a definition of it. My car is actually a 1969 Dodge Charger, just as faith by analogy is a reasoned trust. The description of my car and how it functions is like that description of faith in Hebrews 11:1, and doesn’t contradict the notion of a reasoned trust.
I hope this brief exploration of brand loyalty as it relates to certain beliefs we hold has challenged you in a positive way to seek out truth and adopt a Biblical/Christian notion of faith and belief. I also pray I have challenged you in a loving and uplifting way to inventory all of your beliefs about the Bible and Christianity so that you seek to adopt only those beliefs for which you have good reasons to believe are true and that you will continue to grow in the process of discerning truth from error. I hope also that you take to heart the words of Jesus when He instructed us to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your MIND and all of your strength, (Mark 12:30)” and reject any “brand loyalty” commitments you have when it comes to your worldview and walk with Him.