What is Faith?

January 3, 2010
By M.W.M. BRONZE, Undisclosed, New Jersey
M.W.M. BRONZE, Undisclosed, New Jersey
4 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Test everything. Hold on to the good." -Paul of Tarsus (1 Thessalonians 5:21)


What's Faith? Many world religions have their own definitions of faith. The standard definition of faith today, seems to be “belief without evidence”. Many people even cite Mark Twain in this regard, when he said “Faith is believing what you know ain't so.” But, what do Christians mean when they use the word “Faith”? Yes, many religions have their own definition of faith, as do many people. However, the subject here today, is what is the biblical definition of Faith, and how are Christians supposed to use it?

Let me first clarify that I am making no attempt to argue for Existence of God, the Resurrection, or the validity of Christianity. I am merely trying to correct the common misconception of what biblical “faith” is, regardless of whether or not that particular Faith is true.

First, let us first understand what a basic, and general definition of “faith” is. First of all, faith is “trust” in something or someone, whether it be in religious manners, or otherwise. For example, a man could have faith the horse he bet on, to win the race: he trusts the horse to win. Allow me to reiterate, Faith is trust in something or someone. Now, how this “faith” is warranted is a different question. Some people have “blind faith”, where the person puts his trust in something without evidence, which would be akin to the man trusting the horse to win, even though he knows nothing of the horse's stats, abilities, etc. The opposite, would be a man trusting the horse to win, after he has seen all the stats on it, and seen how the horse has demonstrated it's reliability, thereby warranting his trust that it would most likely win . So, what is the biblical definition of Faith?

In the New Testament, the word used for faith, is the Greek word “pistis”, which was actually a term sometimes used for “forensic evidence”, which is used in the works of Aristotle, for example. In the NT, do we see the apostles saying to the unbelievers “Follow us! Believe! Just have Faith!”?. Nope, instead, let us see what we do find, a clear example being Acts 2:22-36. If one reads it, we can see that Peter's appeals for the validity of the Christian Faith were (1) the evidence of the miracles done by Jesus, (2) the empty tomb, and (3) the fulfillment of prophecy. He appealed to evidence for his claims of Christianity.

What we can see here, is that Peter clearly grounded his trust (faith) in Christianity, in evidence. It is not my intention here to argue that these things actually happened or that the evidences presented are valid, but rather, to show that the Bible used, and teaches faith to be “trust, warranted by evidence.

Again, my point here wasn't to argue for the validity of Christianity, but rather to show what the Bible actually teaches on subject of faith. Biblically, Faith is supposed to be substantiated in evidence. There is not enough space here to answer all the points, but I hope some may understand that a Christian's “faith” is not supposed to be “blind”.

The author's comments:
I'm not tryin' to argue for the validity of Christianity. I just wanna show that biblically, "Faith" is not supposed to be blind. Thanks =)

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This article has 2 comments.


JRaye PLATINUM said...
on Jun. 29 2015 at 8:13 pm
JRaye PLATINUM, Dorr, Michigan
43 articles 10 photos 527 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you."

"Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, 'I just don't care.'?"

So deep, so powerful - terrific job!

M.W.M. BRONZE said...
on Aug. 28 2010 at 10:06 am
M.W.M. BRONZE, Undisclosed, New Jersey
4 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Test everything. Hold on to the good." -Paul of Tarsus (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

the "irrational" faiht you're speaking about is what philosphers call a Properly Basic Belief. These are things that we must believe in without evidence, and it includes things like the existence of the external objective world, the eixstence of the past, and the existence and validity of logic and rationality itself. One philosopher in particular, Alvin Platinga, has argued that the existence of God is also a properly basic belief. I haven't studied the issue in depth, but he may very well be correct. Being 17, I don't have much time to study the issue, but I'd like to look more into Properly Basic Belief. However, the existence of God may be a Properly Basic Belief as well as not one. The issue at hand is not a philosophical one, per se, but an exegetical and historical one

You quote Hebrews 11:1. However, we must remember in a first century Jewish context, when they used the word "Faith" (Pistis, in Greek), they didn't use it in terms of epistemology. It was in terms of loyalty, like the loyalty bewteen a patron and his client, but this loyalty had to of course be warranted. The epistle of Hebrews goes on to list famous biblical heroes who have indeed been given undeniable evidence of God's power and existence. Pistis is trust in a God who had demonstrated His ability to be a worthy leader, and the listed heroes are people who knew God's ability and TRUSTED (had faith in) in Him because of that knowledge. so it's saying that faith (trust in God, gained by conviction based on evidence) is the substance (in this passage, the word means "assurance") of things hoped for (in this context, the word "hope" meant "expected by trust", which has to be earned of course), and the evidence of things not seen (meaning, we expect, based on past performance, continuing favor from God who has already proven Himself worthy of our trust, and this trust is our confidence in the fulfillment of future promises).

I hope ya get the gist of what I'm tryin' to say ;)

Sorry for the long response. And yes, I am a Christian.


matt7 BRONZE said...
on Jul. 12 2010 at 5:13 pm
matt7 BRONZE, Charleston, Other
2 articles 0 photos 56 comments

Favorite Quote:
"For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel."
-Martin Luther

Very interesting...

For intrest sake, are you Christian?

I don't really disagree with you. However, the Bible does say that "faith is the evidence of things not seen." There are two ways you could see this

1) Every pressuposition has another pressuposition and so on, correct? And this shows us that there must be an ultimate pressuposition; or the pressuposition in the "chain." This last ultimate pressuposition (or assumption) is irrational, it cannot be explained without circular reasoning (a fallacy). EVERYONE (Christianity, atheism...)MUST have this last assumption that is based on an irrational faith.

2) My prefered way to look at this passage is the doctrine on predestination (God chooses His people, therefore, those people have faith).



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