What Is Faith?

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Originally published August 8, 2015

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

I’ve been involved in an interesting discussion, on Twitter, about faith.  Right now it’s a touchy subject with me.  Anyone familiar with my writing knows I’ve been battling my faith, or lack of it for nearly five years. Faith can be defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something.  It can be defined as a belief in the doctrines of a religion.  Merriam-Webster goes on to as an allegiance to duty or someone; fidelity in one’s promises, sincerity of intentions; belief and trust in and loyalty to God; firm belief in something for which there is no proof, and so forth and so on.  According to Fideism, faith is independent of reason…

“…Fideism is an epistemological theory which maintains that faith is independent of reason, or that reason and faith are hostile to each other and faith is superior at arriving at particular truths…”

Rationalism is just the opposite, yet just the same, and there is the paradox.

“...holds that truth should be determined by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma, tradition or religious teaching….”

This is where once again, we bring in Richard Hooker’s Three Legged Stool of Reason, Scripture, and Tradition.  The Catholic Church teaches that reason and faith must work together.  I don’t want to get bogged down in a discussion of ‘faith’ as ‘faith’ but almost as a science. Ergo, as a good Episcopalian, I must once again turn to C. S. Lewis.

There are two different concepts at work here.  The first is personal faith, and a personal story.  The second is a a narrative about faith, as a concept.  In many ways they are the same thing, yet they are different. I don’t think we can have one without the other.  But, like C. S. Lewis, I’ve learned you can’t really have ‘faith’ until you have doubted you have it.  There is a difference between losing your faith, and doubting your faith, and losing your believe in Christ, and doubting God.  Trust me, I’ve been there, and done that.

 

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One thought on “What Is Faith?

  1. If the Catholic Church teaches that reason and faith work together, why have private apparitions nearly taken over the church? Now, it looks like the church will approve the apparitions at Medjugorje. Reason? You have got to be nuts to believe that a bleached blond bimbo with dyed black eyebrows knows the exact date when details of a catastrophic, doomsday scenario will be released. She makes it clear that she was chosen by the Blessed Virgin, who told her many secrets that she cannot yet reveal to little people like us. But for $19.00 a month we can sign up to get recent updates on all the secrets. What has happened to the Catholic church? This is their equivalent of the Protestant revisionism.

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