(Jn. 20:29) Does this passage support blind faith?

CLAIM: Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (Jn. 20:29). Fideists argue that this passage supports blind faith. Is this the case?

RESPONSE: A number of observations can be made:

First, Jesus did not support blind faith. Throughout his life on Earth, Jesus appealed to evidence—such as his miracles, his resurrection, and his fulfillment of messianic prophecy—in order to validate his divinity (Lk. 24:25-27; 44-46). He repeatedly used rational arguments to make his case (Mt. 7:11; 10:25; 12:12; Luke 12:24, 28). Jesus debated publicly with skeptics, and listeners would notice that he had “answered well” (Mk. 12:28 NLT). Even though critics would try to “trap” Jesus with arguments (Mt. 22:15), he was able to retort so persuasively that they “were amazed” (Mt. 22:22). In fact, Jesus’ arguments were so good that in one case he utterly “silenced” his opponents in debate (Mt. 22:34, 46).

Second, Jesus is not rebuking Thomas in this passage, as is so often assumed. Morris writes, “We must bear in mind that if it is true that Thomas believed on the basis of what he himself saw, this is also the case with all the others John has so far mentioned.”[1] He adds that these future believers will be “blessed,” but not “more blessed.” He writes, “This does not look like a comparison, with Thomas worse off than the others.”[2]

Third, Jesus was not denying the importance of SEEING EVIDENCE, but rather the necessity of SEEING HIM. Jesus clearly says, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed?”). Jesus is supporting the apostolic testimony of his life, death, and resurrection would be sufficient for people to come to faith “through their word” (Jn. 17:20). All believers throughout history are not second-class believers—merely because they haven’t personally seen Jesus. They are “blessed” even if they come to faith through the apostolic testimony and the evidence it contains. John goes on to write, “These [miracles] have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:30-31). In other words, while we cannot see Jesus directly, John gave us a historical and verifiable record that supports his authenticity. Elsewhere, Peter writes, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:8-9).

Therefore, in conclusion, far from being a passage against the importance of evidence, this passage actually supports the notion of seeing evidence based on verses 30-31. At the end of the gospel, a reader might’ve wondered if faith in Christ was only for the eye witnesses. But Jesus contradicts this view. In a sense, he is saying, “You (the reader) can also come to faith in Me too, and you’ll be ‘blessed’ if you do so.”

[1] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 754). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[2] Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel according to John (p. 754). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.