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What Is Faith?

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Posted by Harvey on October 23, 2003 16:19:33 UTC

It occurred to me recently that 'faith' is often associated with the term 'belief'. For example, some believe in UFO and aliens abducting civilians and doing all kinds of strange medical procedures to them, but is this faith?

Additionally, there are all kinds of miracles mentioned in religious texts, many of which that seem unlikely by most scientifically observed situations, and yet there are millions, if not billions, of people who don't even blink an eye when asked if they believe those accounts as having happened literally as they say. Is this faith?

The problem I have with this view of faith is that it doesn't imply any kind of struggle in belief. It seems to say that if you are naive enough, all the more faithful that you are as a person. Joshua stopped the movement of the sun in the sky? No problem. Joshua lived for days in a large fish? No problem. It's in the 'book' and that's good enough. No struggle, just belief and go on their merry way of bliss.

Where I differ in this view is that I too see faith as linked to belief, but I see faith as a struggle with doubt, but with the caveat of overcoming this struggle by finding it in one's character to believe. This, afterall, is the kind of faith that Jesus spoke well of in regards to Peter's declaration of him being the Messiah and also of the Centurion who believed in Jesus' healing abilities. There was reason for doubt in those situations, strong and intense reasons.

I'm not saying that just having a struggle in belief and overcoming it is faith, if that was the case, then faith might be something as insignificant as questioning whether I turned off the light switch after having left the room. Rather, faith - in my view - is something of significance. It is a stance on something that makes a difference in our lives or those whom we care about. It is a testimony that speaks volumes of who we are and what we care about.

This is why faith, I think, is seen to be such a spiritual fruit by many religions. It is a sign of loyalty and trust. It is an allegiance of who is with you versus who is ambliviant to your goals, or worse, who are your enemies.

I think this trait is something that God wishes for humans to possess. There is something of value for a physical being to believe in a supernatural being in a manner where real faith is needed. This is not just belief caught in the act of being naive, I think, it is putting your trust in God. The currency says "In God We Trust", if this is a testimony that exhibits trust in face of doubt, then it is faith. If it is just words of belief having no cause for doubt, then it is not faith, it is a mere belief, perhaps not even worthy of mentioning.

So, the question I have is why is this faith so hard to find among those who profess religious ideals? Beliefs are professed, no doubt about it. But, the struggles of belief are often no struggles at all. It is just reciting statements of a book having little or no appreciation of what it really means to believe. If those statements were fully appreciated, there would be doubt. And, if there were doubt, there would be struggle. And, if there were struggle, there would be less thumping on a book and more sharing of their struggles. This is the basis of faith, I think.

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