What is Faith?

Saturday, January 02, 2010


As I investigated this word its usage in the NT I am more and more convinced of its key importance for apologetics.

This is how I would translate the definition of Faith from Heb 11vs1:

Faith is the firm basis for hope
Faith is the rebuke from the unseen world.

The rebuke from an unseen world which faith embraces is manifest in the conscience as an awareness of right/wrong.

An awareness that I am personally committed to the wrong and therefore I am under right rebuke and am worthy of judgement by the maker of conscience.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Robert Pennock and the definition of "faith."

Robert Pennock is the author of "Tower of Babel-The Evidence against the New Creationism." and professor of philosophy at Michigan State University. As such one would have expected him to have more carefully researched his understanding of the crucial term "faith" in this debate. In his article in "Debating Design" called "DNA by Design" he critiques the writings of Stephen Meyer. On p139 of that volume he says the following:
[The context is the criticism of Meyer for his enthusiam for so called "evidences" and Meyers criticism of the great capitulation of biological natural theology where intelligent design become undetectable except through the eyes of faith.]

"Natural Theology, from this perspective, misunderstands the essence of religion in trying to emulate the natural sciences. The very definition of faith and its religious significance lies in believing without evidence, or even in spite of evidence to the contrary."

This is exactly the same view almost word for word that Richard Dawkins has of faith. In a biologist is could be excused but in a philosopher it is shocking.
This is a serious misunderstanding of the nature of Christian faith.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Faith in Hebrews 11

As well as the definition of faith the author in this chapter seeks to show some of the great decisions that resulted from faith.

v3 Through faith we understand that the worlds (aions) were framed (created) by the Word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

This seems to indicate that faith is the process by which we become convinced that the writings of the scriptures are the Words of God and are therefore ultimately reliable.

The question then is ...what is that process?

....to be continued.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What we mean by the word "faith".

The word through Anglo-Norman (fed) or Old French (feid, feit) from the Latin fides.
In the SOED there are 7 senses for the word "faith"used as a noun:

I - Confidence, belief.

1. (a) Confidence, reliance, belief esp. without evidence. (We have lost faith in government.)
(b) Belief founded upon testimony or authority. (The absolute rejection of authority...the annihilation of the spirit of blind faith.)
2.What is or should be believed; a system of firmly held beliefs or principles; a religion. (She abandoned her faith)
3. (a) Belief in the doctrines of a religion. esp such as affect character and conduct.
(b) The spiritual apprehension of divine truth or intangible realities. (Faith is the faculty by which we realize unseen things.)
4. (a) The power to convince; authority, credibility.
(b) Attestation, confirmation, assurance.

II - Fidelity

5. A pledge, a solemn promise. (I give to you my faith and truth... I will marry you)
6. The duty of fulfilling a trust or a promise; allegiance, obligation. (The Lords took their oaths of faith and allegiance.)
7. The fulfillment of a trust or promise; fidelity, loyalty. (Person's of great faith to his Majesty's cause.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Faith and Knowledge

There is a view that "faith" is a realm in which evidence has no place. This I believe is a misunderstanding of the nature of faith.

Human being crave certainty and confidence. We seek to move along the gradation below. Moving down this series is a triumph for truth.

We use "evidence" to move downwards. This evidence can be put into various categories:








Interestingly the etymology of this word shows that it is intimately related to faith.

cum fidere - with faith

To confide in someone is to trust that person fully.

This trust is derived from a knowledge and experience of a person's character.

We use this word however when we refer to scientific results as well as when we refer to our personal trust in people.

To be continued

Thursday, June 01, 2006


“Right” and its associated word are crucial for the Christian message. To be made Righteous and to be justified are at the centre of the Christian message. It is associated with “rectitude” and Latin rectus- straightness, uprightness. A rector is a ruler and all these word seem to come from the root REG – to rule.
The “Just” word group seems to be associated especially with the role of a judge in his work to bring justice into a situation.

“Right” is a complex word which is used in many different ways. E.g Right handed, Right answer, It fits here just right, right vs wrong morally, politically right wing etc.

Human rights are an attempt at building a legal system without reference to God. Tony Blair speaks enthusiastically about “social justice” as if it was a well defined and clear set of principles which are universally respected. Usually this involves an attempt to put all human being on the same level to avoid any form of structure and hierarchy. Thus the basis for law on a human rights basis is democracy…the weird thing is that this idea is not applied consistently…sometimes “the people” are wrong and they need to be “educated” to understand the particular view of human rights that the leaders espouse.

It seems to me that a Christian view of “Rights” are that they are what you are entitled to by the just application of the law. They are given on the authority of the one who makes the law. Eg. The daughters of Zelophehad appeared at the door of the tabernacle to ask for their rights to an inheritance.

My rights are therefore my claims to justice according to the laws of the person who is my sovereign.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What is Christian Faith?

Perhaps the only attempt to provide a clear definition of Christian faith in the New Testament:

εστιν δε πιστις ελπιζομενων υποστασις πραγματων
But faith is of being hoped the sure basis of things

ελεγχος ου βλεπομενων
demonstration of things not seen.

proof of

evidence of

υποστασις is the counterpart of ελεγχος which refers to objective evidence sufficient to bring conviction in the conscience.

A translation could therefore be:

But faith is the sure basis for things we hope for, the proof of things we cannot see.

This is a totally different idea of faith from the popular conception of faith as "blind faith."