Friday, November 11, 2022

The Definition of Faith

Before discussing the purpose of faith, we must understand the meaning of faith. While there is some variation between dictionaries, the general consensus is that faith is the belief in something, despite there being a lack of proof for said belief. For example, belief in God requires faith, as we are not able to see God. There are many forms of evidence for the existence of God, but there is no way to prove that He exists. On a side note, there is no proof that God does not exist either, so I would encourage my atheist friends to refrain from attacking Christians for believing in God, despite there not being proof of His existence.

There is a difference between evidence and proof. Evidence can be used to suggest something, while proof can be used to show that something is verifiably true. In keeping with the example of the existence of God, if I could take a picture with God (for example), that would be proof that He exists. However, if I cannot take a picture with God (which I cannot), does that mean that God does not exist?

 It would not be faith if, in order to believe in the existence of God, one must have the opportunity to see Him. Faith is the belief in something, even when the belief in question cannot be verified by the person who holds said belief. While people can believe in the concept of evolution, there is no way to prove that said belief is true without being able to watch it happen in real-time. I do not reject the idea of evolution because I have seen proof that evolution did not happen, I reject evolution because I have faith in God, and I trust that God created us.

Faith also has to do with one’s trust in the abilities of another. As a Christian, I have faith in God (the faith that He exists), and faith in God (the faith that He is all-powerful). I have faith that God exists, despite not being able to see Him, despite me never having heard His Voice, and despite the fact that billions of people do not believe in God.

    The Bible also gives us a definition of faith, as well as numerous examples of people having faith and acting upon said faith.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. [Hebrews 11:1, ESV]

Hebrews 11:1 is my favorite verse about faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us two things that we should keep in mind about faith:

  1. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.

  2. Faith is the conviction of things not seen.

Faith is the confidence in things that we hope for, and faith is a conviction of something that we cannot see.

    I have interacted with many people who are doubtful about the existence of God, or reject God entirely. The most common response from skeptics and atheists is that faith is actually a form of delusion. If one goes off of what a dictionary says about faith, it becomes very difficult to differentiate between faith and delusion. Delusion is the belief in or about something, despite said belief being contrary to available evidence. If one has faith about something, and that faith is not supported by available evidence, then would it not be appropriate to describe his faith as mere delusion?

    I wrestled with that question for months. I prayed, read my Bible, spoke to pastors, spoke to other Christians, read books, read articles, and wrote many thousands of words about what it means to have faith. There is a major difference between a belief being faith, and a belief being a form of delusion.

    The next part of this series will explain where faith comes from, and how the origin of a belief determines whether said belief is based on faith, or based on mere delusion.

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