What Is Faith?
by Michael Ramsden
“Faith is believing what you want to believe, yet cannot prove.”
Sadly, many people, including some Christians, live with this definition of faith. For some it feels liberating. It means being able to believe in anything you want to believe. No explanation is required, indeed, no explanation can be given; it is just a matter of faith. For others, such a definition is sickening. Embracing faith means you stop thinking. As faith increases, reason and meaning eventually disappear. No explanations can be given, and none can be expected. Thus, living in faith is living in the dark.
For both groups, the problem is the same. By starting with the wrong definition of faith, they have asked the wrong question, are dealing with the wrong problem, and so have ended up with the wrong answer. Faith is not wishful thinking. It is not about believing in things that do not exist. It neither makes all things believable nor meaning impossible.
So what is the right definition of faith? “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” writes the author of Hebrews. A few verses later faith is similarly defined as knowing that God exists and that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
Perhaps the best word we can use to translate the Greek word “pistis” (usually translated faith) is the word “trust” or “trustworthy.” Suppose you tell a friend that you have faith in her. What does that mean? It means two things…
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