Minding the Borderlands

Mark Koester (@markwkoester) on the art of travel and technology

Definitions of (Religious) Faith

In her article The Difference between Secular and Religious Faith, Greta Christina provides a list of some religious definitions of faith, meriting reflection.

  • “Divine faith, then, is that form of knowledge which is derived from Divine authority, and which consequently begets absolute certitude in the mind of the recipient.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, www.newadvent.org)
  • “…since faith is supernatural assent to Divine truths upon Divine authority, the ultimate or remote rule of faith must be the truthfulness of God in revealing Himself.” (catholic.org)
  • “Faith therefore is to believe that which you do not see, truth is to see what you have believed.” (St. Augustine”)
  • “‘Faith’ involves a growing recognition of who Jesus is… It is much more like an intuitive perception – a kind of ‘sixth sense’ – about this person Jesus: an inner prompting which compels us to go after him, to engage with his words and character, to ‘relate’ to him… But ‘faith’ is also not just about the intuition to seek. ‘Faith’ consists in taking Jesus at his word. This story illustrates clearly that ‘faith’ is characterised by a willingness to grasp what is being offered in the encounter with Jesus… ‘Faith’ in this story is not primarily some settled and serene conclusion reached at the end of a chain of philosophical reasoning. No, faith is rather the readiness and eagerness to receive what is offered to us in Jesus Christ. It is the hand that grasps the gift of God in Jesus and makes it our own. This is biblical faith.” (Revd Dr Paul Weston, ely.anglican.org; emphasis mine)
  • “Assent to the truth is of the essence of faith, and the ultimate ground on which our assent to any revealed truth rests is the veracity of God.” (Christiananswers.com)
  • “The dictionary definition of faith is, ‘the theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.’ For a Christian, this definition is not just words on a page it is a way of life. Faith is acceptance of what we cannot see but feel deep within our hearts. Faith is a belief that one-day we will stand before our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Allaboutreligion.org; emphasis mine.)
  • “Biblical faith, however, is specific and unique. It describes the person who chooses to believe, trust, and obey God. This principle is vital – the object of faith determines its value. Thus, it is very important that what we believe, what we have faith in, is really the truth!” (Herbert E. Douglass, The Faith of Jesus: Saying Yes to God’s Love)
  • “Faith means an individual’s personal, existential connection with the reality and power of God. Faith is not a ‘thing’ that is possessed or an ‘idea’ that is pondered, but rather a relationship that infuses divine power and creates an attitude and a vision for living and acting.” (Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word: Meditations on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew)
  • “Faith is not a power or faculty in itself which “moves” or “compels” God. It is an attitude of confidence in God Himself. It always points to the One in whom it is placed.” (inchristalone.org)
  • “Faith, then, is like the soul of an experience. It is an inner acknowledgment of the relationship between God and man.” (John Powell, A Reason to Live! A Reason to Die)
    “Faith saves our souls alive by giving us a universe of the taken-for-granted.” (Rose Wilder Lane, The Ghost in the Little House)
  • “Reason is an action of the mind; knowledge is a possession of the mind; but faith is an attitude of the person. It means you are prepared to stake yourself on something being so.” (Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1961–74)
  • “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)