Imagine that after a routine checkup, your doctor says, "My hunch is that you have cancer and must undergo extensive surgery." Would you feel confident going under the knife based on a hunch? Would your confidence grow if the doctor said he had a "strong feeling" or "believed" you had cancer? Obviously not. When the bodily stakes are high, we want to be guided by knowledge-not belief, opinion, or conjecture. Only knowledge gives the doctor's counsel authority.
Why, then, in matters of the soul are we content to be guided by a faith consisting of deep feelings or inner experiences? Why should we be surprised when nonbelievers politely decline to change their lives because we have pious opinions and strong sentiments?
Sadly, says Dallas Willard, those outside the church (and many within it) have ceased to see the Christian religion as a source of knowledge, as a system of claims that successfully tracks the truth and by which we can be guided confidently. So too, says Willard, has the longstanding tradition of objectively true moral knowledge given way to talk about …