Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
I have had this passage sent to me by a Christian on one hand who claimed I was not following a Biblical definition of "faith" (see link below) which demanded that one should as it were blindly trust Christ, leading this person to as much as brag that he trusted Christ more than I did, because he did not need as much proof to believe.
On the other side, I have had a Skeptic claim that this passage endorses uncritical belief, with suggestions that Thomas was the only smart one and the others were untrustworthy. Is this what our passage tells us?
Since we have already shown in that link that "faith" is not blind, how can John 20:29 fit here, since it implies that one who did not see the rezzed Jesus (being contextually "blind" to it) is more blessed than the one who believes without seeing him? Is not John showing Thomas to be (as one Skeptic put it) "rational and wise for refusing to believe without direct observation, and this shows that we have no more grounds to believe than Thomas did, and until granted the same evidence as he, we are as right as he was to call it bunk"?
Well, Thomas is by no means shown calling it "bunk"; but what of the general charge? Consider that:
- In reality, Thomas had more than sufficient evidence -- the testimony of at least 11 men who he had gotten to know intimately over at least the past three years, plus personal experience of the miraculous powers of Jesus, and even an empty tomb. He had no reason at all to distrust his comrades, and having seen Jesus' miraculous powers, especially the raising of Lazarus, no reason to doubt the resurrection.
- In this light, keep in mind that the vast majority of potential converts in the future would not have as much direct evidence as Thomas did. They would still have sufficient evidence, but if Thomas were allowed to "set an example," then others will object -- as do so many Skeptics today -- that if Thomas could only believe on this basis, why can't Jesus appear to everyone personally? Thomas' implicit attitude devolves Jesus to the level of a wish-fulfilling genie who appears on command.
- A final consideration is the use of the word "blessed," or makarios. This is the same word used in the Beatitudes, "Blessed are...." As Malina and Rohrbaugh note in their social science commentary on Matthew [47; see also John commentary, 281] the best translation for this in context is actually, "How honorable are..." so that the implication is not that those who do not see have some sort of special advantage, but in fact have more honor than one like Thomas who demanded excessive proof.
Jesus offers this "affirmation of honor" in other words to persons who are satisfied with what evidence they have, which is sufficient for loyalty (faith). The counter to this is that it is shameful to show a lack of trust in one's patron who has already proven himself.
Thus it is false to claim that John 20:29 promotes a "blind faith".