Difference between revisions of "Faith"

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(The Uniqueness of Christian "Faith")
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The Biblical definition of '''Faith''' (from the Greek, πίστις or ''pistis'') refers to ''trust'',<ref>[http://www.zhubert.com/word?root=%CF%80%E1%BD%B7%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B9%CF%82 Definition of πίστις from zhubert.com]</ref> and if applied refers to applying a confidence in what is already known about God (specifically Christ), to a situation where every detail is not laid out in full. We can see that kind of confidence as the [[Bible]] describes what faith is in the [[Epistle to the Hebrews]]. (This kind of trust based on knowledge is [[#The Uniqueness of Christian "Faith"|unique]] to historical Christianity and Judaism)
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'''Faith''' is a uniquely [[Christian]] concept referring to a confidence or trust in a greater good as provided by the [[Lord]].  A classic statement of faith in the [[Bible]] was by the [[Roman Empire|Roman]] centurion of [http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew%208:5-10;&version=49; Matthew 8:5-10], who expressed his confidence that [[Jesus]] could cure his servant from a distance without even seeing him. [[Jesus]] repeatedly emphasized the importance and value of faith to his disciples.
:Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1, NASB)
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==The Practicality of Christian "Faith"==
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'''Faith''' embodies more than belief in two significant respects.  First, faith implies a causal role by the believer in an outcome, as in [[Peter]]'s walking on water based on his faith or in overcoming a personal fear. Second, faith implies advancement or accomplishment rather than wrongdoing.
The verb for the word "faith" in Greek is πιστεύω (pisteuo), which is translated most often as "believe" in English. Having faith, believing, trusting, or having confidence are all things that imply much more than a simple head knowledge about something, and more specifically God himself. For example, it is possible for one to acknowledge God's existence and know it as a fact deduced from logical arguments, and yet still not make God a practical faith, belief, trust, or confidence in their life. Faith, then, is a trusting action taken based on knowledge.
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Often times the example of a chair is given to illustrate the practicality of biblical faith. When you sit down in a chair (and perhaps you are now, while reading this article), do you generally worry whether that chair will hold you up? Usually, one will never think about the chair, and take it for granted. Another way to think of that same illustration is a person who sits on the edge of their seat, because they are nervous about the chair. They are not sitting back and resting in the chair, but tensed and ready just in case it turns out that the chair becomes untrustworthy and falls over.
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'''Faith''' plays a central role in overcoming [[addiction]]. Virtually everyone is plagued by one or more addictions, and faith enables overcoming those weaknesses.
  
This is what it means to have biblical faith in God. It means a knowledge of God and who he is in his character and actions, and resting in that knowledge from day to day.
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'''Faith''' is also helpful in overcoming fear, such as fear of public speaking, appearing on [[television]], or standing up to a [[bully]].
  
==Faith and Knowledge==
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Opposites of '''faith''' include fear, anxiety, depression and lack of confidence. A lack of faith can be very harmful, leading to self-destructive behavior.
In the modern secular mindset and even in some evangelical circles, the ideas of faith and knowledge cannot coexist. In other words, many believe that faith is antithetical to knowledge and even science. Really, this is a misconception which comes from an ignorance of both what true biblical faith is (as described in brief above) and what knowledge really is (from a philosophical point of view). According to Dr. Dallas Willard (a Christian philosopher), faith is not opposed to knowledge because "faith is a kind of knowledge."<ref>[http://www.scriptoriumdaily.com/2008/01/07/how-people-perish-for-lack-of-knowledge/ How People Perish for Lack of Knowledge]</ref>
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In the Bible, faith is never offered in opposition to knowledge, but it is in opposition to ''sight'' ("for we walk by faith, not by sight" — 2 Corinthians 5:7). In the modern context, ''sight'', or the use of the five senses, is almost always used as a limiter for the extent of knowledge. This is unfortunate, however, because there are practical things that people interact with all the time that cannot be sensed. For example, friendship, love, truth, beauty, and even knowledge itself are all things, which in essence, cannot be observed with the senses. These are all things that we have some sort of ''knowledge'' about, and yet they cannot be empirically tested, if "empirical" means the five senses.
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'''Faith''' is expressed in [[Greek]] using the term ''pistis'', and in [[Latin]] using the term ''fides''. Faith is mentioned in 229 verses in the [[New Testament]] ([[KJV]]), but only twice in the much larger [[Old Testament]] ([[KJV]]).<ref>http://www.crosswalk.com</ref>  In attempt to convert [[Jews]] to [[Christianity]], [[Paul]] described [[Abraham]]'s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son [[Isaac]] to [[God]] as an act of [[faith]], though the [[Old Testament]] did not describe it with that term.
  
==The Opposite of Faith: Doubt==
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'''Faith''' is strengthened by prayer ([http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=jude%2020;&version=9; Jude 20]). For those who strengthen their faith, [[Jesus]] promised "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."<ref>John 14:12 (NIV).</ref>
If faith is ''a trusting action taken based on knowledge'', then doubt is having that knowledge but not trusting it to aid you through an unknown circumstance. For example, it would be like saying, ''I know about God and what He is capable of, but I won't trust that knowledge in this situation because of all the unknown factors involved''. Therefore doubt is a reaction to uncertainties rather than certainties.
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==Biblical examples==
  
Jesus acknowledges that doubt is the opposite of faith.
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Perhaps the greatest description of faith is Hebrews 11. It states: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."<ref>Hebrews 11:1 (NIV).</ref>
:And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, <u>if you have faith and do not doubt</u>, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it will happen." (Matthew 21:21, NASB)
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Taking the definition of faith and doubt as described above, Jesus is basically saying here, ''If you have a knowledge of who I am [and they did because they were with Jesus and saw that he was God], and you trust that knowledge in a practical sense, you will be capable of great things''.
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Although doubt is the primary antithesis of biblical faith, it may manifest itself in a variety of ways. It may manifest as fear, anxiety, depression, and lack of confidence. A lack of faith can even be very harmful, leading to self-destructive behavior.
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[[Paul]] indicated that faith itself is a gift of the [[Holy Spirit]]. 1 Corinthians 12:8-9 <i>For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit</i>
  
==The Uniqueness of Christian "Faith"==
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As discussed above, a potential reference to faith is [[Genesis]] 22 where [[God]] tested [[Abraham]] by commanding him to sacrifice his only son [[Isaac]]. As Abraham prepared to do what God commanded -he was stopped.
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Genesis 22:12
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<i>"Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." </i>
  
Some other religions have concepts similar to Christian "faith". [[Judaism]] and [[Islam]] particularly view ''faith'' in virtually the same way as Christianity.
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==Martin Luther on Faith==
  
* Some branches of [[Buddhism]], such as the Jodo (or Shin) school popular in Japan, have a concept that is sometimes described as "salvation through faith".  These Buddhists believe that devotion to a certain Buddha will allow them to be reincarnated in a kind of heaven, regardless of what sort of life they led.  Their "devotion" takes the form of repeating a short meaningless prayer over and over again.  This is very different from the personal relationship with Christ that is implied by Christian faith: "Christian and Shin Faith are exactly opposite."<ref>[http://www.seattlebetsuin.com/Is_Shin_Buddhism_the_same_as_Christianity.htm]</ref>
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Luther in his Table Talk papers writes this thought provoking and rather difficult passage on faith:
  
==Secondary Benefits of "Faith"==
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"This is the acme of faith, to believe that God, who saves so few and condemns so many, is merciful; that he is just who, at his own pleasure, has made us necessarily doomed to damnation, so that he seems to delight in the torture of the wretched and is more deserving of hate than of loveIf by any effort of reason I could conceive how God, who shows so much anger and harshness, could be merciful and just, there would be no need of faith."
* Faith plays a central role in overcoming [[addiction]]Virtually everyone is plagued by one or more addictions, and faith enables overcoming those weaknesses.
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==Biblical examples==
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==Other Definitions and Religions==
* Perhaps the greatest description of faith is Hebrews 11. It states: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."<ref>Hebrews 11:1 (NIV).</ref>
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* [[Paul]] indicated that faith itself is a gift of the [[Holy Spirit]].  1 Corinthians 12:8-9 <i>For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit</i>
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* In attempt to convert [[Jews]] to [[Christianity]], [[Paul]] described [[Abraham]]'s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son [[Isaac]] to [[God]] as an act of [[faith]], though the [[Old Testament]] did not describe it with that term. As discussed above, a potential reference to faith is [[Genesis]] 22 where [[God]] tested [[Abraham]] by commanding him to sacrifice his only son [[Isaac]]. As Abraham prepared to do what God commanded -he was stopped. <i>"Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." </i>
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==Famous People on "Faith"==
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Outside of [[Christianity]], faith is misused as a synonym for "belief". The [[Merriam-Webster]] dictionary, for example, includes this definition of faith:  "a system of religious beliefs."<ref>http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/faith</ref> 
===Martin Luther on Faith===
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Luther in his Table Talk papers writes this thought provoking and rather difficult passage on faith:
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:This is the acme of faith, to believe that God, who saves so few and condemns so many, is merciful; that he is just who, at his own pleasure, has made us necessarily doomed to damnation, so that he seems to delight in the torture of the wretched and is more deserving of hate than of love. If by any effort of reason I could conceive how God, who shows so much anger and harshness, could be merciful and just, there would be no need of faith.
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==Criticisms of "Faith"==
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Alternatively, faith often refers to a "firm belief in something for which there is no proof" or evidence.
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In the [[Koran]], the concept of submission to [[Allah]] is mentioned 11 times, while the concept of faith in Allah is mentioned only once.
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Etymologically, the word 'faith' is closely linked to the concept of "fidelity," which emphasizes commitment to something or someone, specifically [[Christ]]. Thus, faith is often understood to mean 'loyalty' to a particular view of [[divinity]]. Yet, faith can also be envisioned more broadly as a trust in [[providence]], as it entails an active role for the believer himself for advancing good.
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The literary critic Harold Bloom distinguishes Christianity from the other two dominant monotheistic religions in his book Agon by contrasting them with Gnosticism:
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"Gnosticism polemically is decidedly not a faith, whether in the Christian sense, pisits, a believing that something was, is, and will be so; or in the Hebraic sense, emunah, a trusting in the Covenant.  If religion is a binding, then Gnosticism is an unbinding, but not for the sake of things or persons merely as they are.  Gnostic freedom is a freedom for knowledge, knowledge of what in the self, not in the psyche or soul, is Godlike, and knowledge of God beyond the cosmos.  But also it is a freedom to be known, to be known by God, by what is alien to everything created, by what is alien to and beyond the stars and the cosmic system and our earth."
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Faith is emphasized in Christianity but is unrecognized by the worldview of [[Philosophical Skepticism|philosophical skepticism]].
  
 
==References==
 
==References==
 
<references/>
 
<references/>
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[[Category:religion]]
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[[Category:philosophy]]
  
 
== External links ==
 
== External links ==
'''Evangelical perspectives of Faith'''
 
 
* Holding, James Patrick, [http://tektonics.org/whatis/whatfaith.html Fallacious Faith]
 
* Holding, James Patrick, [http://tektonics.org/whatis/whatfaith.html Fallacious Faith]
'''Non-Evangelical perspectives of Faith'''
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*[http://jesuschrist.lds.org/SonOfGod/eng/finding-faith-in-christ/video/finding-faith-in-christ Finding Faith in Christ], video at ''JesusChrist.lds.org''
* [http://jesuschrist.lds.org/SonOfGod/eng/finding-faith-in-christ/video/finding-faith-in-christ Finding Faith in Christ], video at ''JesusChrist.lds.org''
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[[Category:Religion]]
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[[Category:Philosophy]]
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[[Category:Christianity]]
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Revision as of 10:25, 30 June 2008

Faith is a uniquely Christian concept referring to a confidence or trust in a greater good as provided by the Lord. A classic statement of faith in the Bible was by the Roman centurion of Matthew 8:5-10, who expressed his confidence that Jesus could cure his servant from a distance without even seeing him. Jesus repeatedly emphasized the importance and value of faith to his disciples.

Faith embodies more than belief in two significant respects. First, faith implies a causal role by the believer in an outcome, as in Peter's walking on water based on his faith or in overcoming a personal fear. Second, faith implies advancement or accomplishment rather than wrongdoing.

Faith plays a central role in overcoming addiction. Virtually everyone is plagued by one or more addictions, and faith enables overcoming those weaknesses.

Faith is also helpful in overcoming fear, such as fear of public speaking, appearing on television, or standing up to a bully.

Opposites of faith include fear, anxiety, depression and lack of confidence. A lack of faith can be very harmful, leading to self-destructive behavior.

Faith is expressed in Greek using the term pistis, and in Latin using the term fides. Faith is mentioned in 229 verses in the New Testament (KJV), but only twice in the much larger Old Testament (KJV).[1] In attempt to convert Jews to Christianity, Paul described Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac to God as an act of faith, though the Old Testament did not describe it with that term.

Faith is strengthened by prayer (Jude 20). For those who strengthen their faith, Jesus promised "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."[2]

Biblical examples

Perhaps the greatest description of faith is Hebrews 11. It states: "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."[3]

Paul indicated that faith itself is a gift of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:8-9 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit

As discussed above, a potential reference to faith is Genesis 22 where God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. As Abraham prepared to do what God commanded -he was stopped. Genesis 22:12 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."

Martin Luther on Faith

Luther in his Table Talk papers writes this thought provoking and rather difficult passage on faith:

"This is the acme of faith, to believe that God, who saves so few and condemns so many, is merciful; that he is just who, at his own pleasure, has made us necessarily doomed to damnation, so that he seems to delight in the torture of the wretched and is more deserving of hate than of love. If by any effort of reason I could conceive how God, who shows so much anger and harshness, could be merciful and just, there would be no need of faith."

Other Definitions and Religions

Outside of Christianity, faith is misused as a synonym for "belief". The Merriam-Webster dictionary, for example, includes this definition of faith: "a system of religious beliefs."[4]

Alternatively, faith often refers to a "firm belief in something for which there is no proof" or evidence.

In the Koran, the concept of submission to Allah is mentioned 11 times, while the concept of faith in Allah is mentioned only once.

Etymologically, the word 'faith' is closely linked to the concept of "fidelity," which emphasizes commitment to something or someone, specifically Christ. Thus, faith is often understood to mean 'loyalty' to a particular view of divinity. Yet, faith can also be envisioned more broadly as a trust in providence, as it entails an active role for the believer himself for advancing good.

The literary critic Harold Bloom distinguishes Christianity from the other two dominant monotheistic religions in his book Agon by contrasting them with Gnosticism:

"Gnosticism polemically is decidedly not a faith, whether in the Christian sense, pisits, a believing that something was, is, and will be so; or in the Hebraic sense, emunah, a trusting in the Covenant. If religion is a binding, then Gnosticism is an unbinding, but not for the sake of things or persons merely as they are. Gnostic freedom is a freedom for knowledge, knowledge of what in the self, not in the psyche or soul, is Godlike, and knowledge of God beyond the cosmos. But also it is a freedom to be known, to be known by God, by what is alien to everything created, by what is alien to and beyond the stars and the cosmic system and our earth."

Faith is emphasized in Christianity but is unrecognized by the worldview of philosophical skepticism.

References

  1. http://www.crosswalk.com
  2. John 14:12 (NIV).
  3. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV).
  4. http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/faith

External links