Faith Is . . .

Defining faith is a lot harder than it first appears. The Bible gives a fairly succinct definition of faith. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I have often described faith as something you can feel about something you can’t feel, and something you can see about something you can’t see. But that does not give us much help in determining what faith is, or at least what some of the characteristics are. However, some of the examples of faith given in the rest of the chapter help us discover a few things about faith that I think will be helpful in understanding the concept. Here are four to consider.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12051
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excellent article…this is probably related to the irrationality of faith, but i think we can add to Jason’s list by highlighting the personal quality of faith…that is, it only exists for us if we personally embrace and experience it…faith can’t be received from someone else’s faith, nor can we give it to anyone…we certainly can’t prove to someone else that what we have, or think we have, is actual faith…

on the other hand, sometimes it’s possible to sense when someone has real faith, or what we think is real faith…but a lot of times, faith may very well be missed because there isn’t enough commonality between what someone else is claiming and what we believe is our own faith…strictly speaking, i don’t think we can ever rule out the existence of faith in someone sitting next to us…even if they really don’t have faith at that moment, who’s to say they aren’t in the process of developing it…

i think this is apt…i definitely think faith can be felt, even if it can’t be proven, or sensed by the person sitting next to us…faith is an amazing, enigmatic situation, actually…on the one hand, it’s a reality that can’t be seen or proven, and everybody believes they have it…but on the other hand, a scenario of everyone sitting there totally deceived, and everyone with true faith, looks and seems pretty much identical…

i think probably everybody likes to think they have faith, but obviously real faith is rare, given jesus’ question in Lk 18:8…

on the other hand, sometimes answers to prayer happen before we pray, but we only find out about it afterwards…it’s always exciting when this happens, although it can be tempting to think that what has happened has had no relation to our prayer…

I don’t know who said it but:

Or, as Richard Dawkins put it:

“Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument.”

And then there’s this:

Again, I am not an atheist but if I must choose between faith in the god of the Bible or the idea that there is no god at all, I’d definitely prayer for the latter.

Besides, if actions actually do speak louder than words, then the god of the Bible is either nonexistent or he is the most apathetic monster humanly imaginable.

:wink:

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Thank you, Jason, for helping us to see the depths of faith. Your writings are treasured, and I’m grateful.

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Yeah, Jason.

Don’t confuse us with difficult questions, tricky logic or hard facts.

Just do whatever you can to confirm what the faithful want to believe based on some stories they’ve read.

(BTW, I know some people think I’m going to hell due to my lack of faith in fairy tales.

But I checked with Jesus and he sentenced me to twenty five years.

Fortunately, he said he would consider my 25 years as an SDA as “time served”!

:rofl:)

Has not too much ink been spilt on this? Faith is more than belief. I.e. “higher”, more significant, greater priority and spiritual. Instead of affirming and acknowledging this reality what do we do? Why not diminish it and drag it through the muck? Second point. Faith produces action, etc. Plenty of Bible support for true faith. Go figure!

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Okay.

The way I figure it “Bible support” is words.

I.e., just more spilt ink and the opposite of action.

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i think this support is what gives what we call faith a measure of objectivity…of course we can’t really prove many things in the bible, but we can determine whether our faith correlates with biblical texts…if we accept the bible as our standard, faith takes on more than the product of our own imaginations…

it goes without saying that it is possible to accept a standard other than the bible, in which case we don’t necessarily have something that isn’t faith, but we likely won’t have biblical faith…perhaps the more accurate term to use when we discuss faith, then, is biblical faith…

of course acceptance of the bible as a standard is itself an act of faith, but if it weren’t, and if the experience we call faith, based on the bible, could be empirically proven, we wouldn’t have faith in the first place…i think it is evident that faith must remain beyond provability, or it isn’t faith…no amount of scrutiny, assessment, or inspection can get around this fact…our choice is either to accept it, or neglect or reject it…that’s about all we can do when it comes to what we call faith…

Ok! I’ll bite. Plenty of support in the written, translated and printed letters and symbols we call “words” in the so-called “book” or perhaps in the so-called “Holy Bible” to support the so-called Bible “faith” or so-called biblical faith. My bad for referring to it as “true faith”. Whew! Now I got that out of my system. The idea that words have meanings and that real communication involves thinking and understanding sometimes gets lost. Don’t you also think so? Satan can quote and misquote scripture. Not that I would want to join him in the game of accusations, right or wrong. An educated mind can quibble. Truly, many will fail to appreciate the wisdom of the wise. Or the wisdom of Wisdom.

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i don’t think there’s any question that an educated mind can be exactly what prevents the acquisition of true biblical faith…i see this over and over again…but ironically, where there is the combination of faith and a trained, disciplined mind, the real value and unique worth of the experience of faith is perceived more finely, in my view…

we have the biblical teaching that the mind-set of children is what we should aim for when it comes to acquiring saving faith, and of course we know most children don’t sit there and quibble…but to be fair, it’s hard to set aside patterns of thought and analysis gained through the education yrs, nor is it easy to shed the type of self-confidence and self-reliance that an education tends to bring (which of course are horrendous impediments to faith)…perhaps we haven’t realized that the premium we’ve put on education over the yrs is standing in the way of stronger faith in our churches…

i’m not sure there are easy answers for this inherent dilemma…

Obviously, no one can conclusively deconstruct or disprove opinions which are based on nothing but faith.

But then again, since you’ve provided no evidence to support your view that some people-you, I’m guessing?-possess just the right combination of education and ignorance, the good news is that there’s no need to even try.

I do find your counterintuitive “The Less Educated a Person is The Wiser He Becomes” Theory most appealing, however, as this concept, in addition to purportedly being a central tenet of Christian faith, helps retroactively vindicate my decision to dropout of Adventist college (and Adventism, for that matter) and opt instead to become a self-supported polymath; this rather than risk pursuing too much “chap’r buk lurnin” or becoming overly edjicated by EGW!

:wink:

Interesting.

I post a comment in an attempt to deconstruct one of the most elemental tenets of Christianity and which basically implies that Jesus, who is supposedly our creator’s only son, was wrong to insist on blind faith from his sycophants.

And I-admittedly an undereducated person-am accused of quibbling?

If understatement is one of the portents of the Laodicean church, I’d say there can be no doubt that prophecy has been fulfilled!

:rofl:

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To be found interesting by a self-described polymath is an honor of sorts! Thanks!

It seems inconsistent to be both a polymath and undereducated but as stated by a well-quoted wag consistency is not a requirement for expression of one’s self. (paraphrased, of course.) By educated I mean having some formal scholastic training in the use of words and rhetoric. By quibbling I mean able to perceive and express both sides of an issue or question in a verbal or written forum. My comment was intended to be somewhat neutral and not necessarily an attack on the “educated” community.

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