What is Faith?

13th Century Stained Glass, Sainte-Chapelle Church, Paris, France Copyright 2000 by Blair Atherton

13th Century Stained Glass, Sainte-Chapelle Church, Paris, France Copyright 2000 by Blair Atherton

As I understand it, faith is the certainty in one’s belief in some thing or someone. Of course in the context of spirituality, faith usually refers to one’s certainty in the existence of a higher being, Universal Energy, or Creator.

When we say we have faith in a person, we are letting them know that we trust them or have trust in them—trust in their abilities, trust that they will not do anything to hurt us, trust that they will be there when we need their help or support.

It could be said that our faith in God has these same attributes and expectations. However, our faith in God is intuitive and comes from spiritual awareness, whereas our faith in a person is experiential and based on concrete knowledge of their past behaviors. Consequently, faith in a higher being is a leap that some are unwilling to take.

Another form of faith refers to trust in a religious doctrine and what are believed to be God’s promises and teachings found in religious scriptures. I believe that one should be cautious here and not let this type of faith to be blind. The scriptures and the clergy should not go unchallenged.

Scriptures from the various religions provide a lot of wonderful guidance concerning how to live a spiritual life of goodness. I think that most of us would independently agree on which passages provide such spiritual wisdom.

However, skepticism about other passages is healthy and may provide deeper insight. We would be remiss if we blindly accepted everything in the scriptures as the word of God. We were given the ability to reason and, if we apply it, we will be able to distinguish the word of God from those of men.

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2 comments on “What is Faith?

  1. peddiebill says:

    Believing something to be absolutely true does not make for a faith. I would have thought a faith requires one to put sufficient trust in a belief or assertion to act on it. Thus for instance you can be perfectly certain that Jesus said “Forgive your enemies” but unless you trust the statement enough to show that you actually forgive your enemies (and have a serious go at doing all the other things he said on the Sermon on the Mount) your faith is not going to mean much. I will leave it to you to ask if going off to war to shoot enemies is quite the same as forgiving them!!

    • Thank you for your comment. As you point out, faith alone is not enough. You must also have spiritual awareness through which you internalize spiritual knowledge. Having done so, you then have the responsibility to act upon and follow the spiritual knowledge you have acquired.

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