The Intuitive Faith Path. Reviewing Mittelberg's Book "Confident Faith" Part 14

On January 2018 I started a series of posts on Mark Mittelberg's book, Confident Faith. The first post introduced Mark and his book right here. [See the Tag "Mark Mittelberg" for more]. I stopped reviewing his book when I got busy on my final three books [See Link.]

So I'm back to Mittelberg. To briefly rehearse, Mittelberg begins his book in Part 1, "Six Paths of Faith", by speaking about approaches, or methods readers adopt to embrace their respective faiths (remember, *cough* he says we all have faith):

1) The Relativistic Path: "Truth is Whatever Works for You"
2) The Traditional Faith Path: "Truth is What You've Always Been Taught"
3) The Authoritarian Faith Path: "Truth Is What You've Always Been Told You Must Believe"
4) The Intuitive Faith Path" "Truth Is What You Feel In Your Heart"
5) The Mystical Faith Path" "Truth Is What You Think God Told You"
6) The Evidential Faith Path: "Truth Is What Logic and Evidence Point To"

"This is crucial" he says, "because the method (or methods) you use in deciding what to believe has a huge bearing on what those beliefs will actually be, as well as how confident you'll be in holding on to them." (p. 9) "Most people never consider this" he goes on to say. "They just arbitrarily adopt an approach--or adopt one that's been handed to them--and uncritically employ it to choose a set of beliefs that may or may not really add up." (p. 10)

To his credit, Mittelberg does something intellectually respectful, that William Lane Craig does not do. Mittelberg discusses other ways of knowing the truth about faith and religion. Craig participates in debates about apologetics but he only defends his own particular view in them. It's like he's forever in debate mode!

So far I only got to method 3. Given my emphasis lately on William Lane Craig's Spirit Guided Epistemology, it's time to compare and contrast Craig's views with Mittelberg's.

The Intuitive Faith Path, according to Mittelberg, is one in which people have "an inner sense--a spiritual instinct that they believe points them toward right ideas and actions" (p. 82). For these people "Truth is what you feel in your heart." Along these lines Mittelberg confabulates "a leap of faith" into the unknown, to "feeling the Force" in Star Wars, to to Psychics "who claim to have special access to the mysteries of truth and knowledge", to "New Age" beliefs seen in Rhonda Byrne's book "The Secret", and to Malcolm Gladwell's story where someone had a hunch that turned out to be correct, about a statue that ended up being a forgery [in his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.]

Mittelberg tells us that "If God is wise, powerful, and full of knowledge, then it certainly follows that he is able to give us data that goes beyond the normal information available through our senses" (p. 93). He quotes Blaise Pascal, that "the heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing." Then Mittelberg is quick to say, "We need to be careful. Many hearts have been broken--and lives shattered--by following the heart alone. Hunches, intuitive flashes, and gut feelings can serve as cautionary tales--but whenever possible, these need to be tested against other proven methods for finding or scrutinizing truth" (p. 93). Later he reiterates, that intuition is "at best, an imperfect can be misleading. We tend to forget all the times our intuition was wrong. and selectively remember the times--even if rare--when it was actually right" (p. 98). He even quotes the Bible. Proverbs 14:12: "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death." Jeremiah 17:9: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked" (17:9). Shouldn't apologists themselves take note?

Concerning psychics, Mittelberg says something poignant, since I have equated Reformed Epistemology with Psychic Epistemology. "It is interesting," he wrote, "that those who advocate the intuitive way of knowing routinely write detailed logical defenses of it, trying to supoort it with evidence and examples drawn from daily life. They don't tell you just to clutch their books to your heart or hold them over your head as you decide through some sixth sense if what they are saying is true. Rather, they give you reasons to trust them...reasons that at least to some degree undermine the main thrust of their approach" (pp. 97-98)

I would think this insight would end all apologetics. Just preach the Gospel (as you see it). Follow along with many other Christian theologians who don't think highly of apologetics, like Karl Barth, who believed natural theology was a failure. In their colleges there is no apologetics department, or apologetics classes! According to them, natural theology is a failure. God is his own witness. Only God can reveal God. Revelation from God can only come from God, or as Barth himself said, "the best apologetics is a good dogmatics". [Table Talk, ed. J. D. Godsey (Edinburgh and London, 1963), p. 62].


John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist credited with 12 critically acclaimed books, including The Case against Miracles, God and Horrendous Suffering, and Varieties of Jesus Mythicism. Please support DC by sharing our posts, or by subscribing, donating, or buying our books at Amazon. Thank you so much!