What is Faith?
The word “faith” has two meanings: trust and doctrine. By the first use of the word, people mean they can believe in someone personally, there is a relationship marked by fidelity and honesty and goodness. By the second usage of the word, people mean “the faith” or “The Faith,” as a set of dogmas or doctrines to which each particular religion requires its members give assent of mind and committment of heart.
Frequently, a lot of time can be wasted on semantics in a discussion of faith, trying to clarify terms. It always comes down to these two definitions, but even when terms are clarified and agreed upon, those in the dialogue usually refuse to adopt the other’s usage, even “for the sake of argument.” There is a solution, however: Since the first use depends entirely upon the character of the person you are trusting, what if that person is God himself? Is not God trustworthy? Suppose God were to befriend a person, talk to them plainly, develop a relationship, and convey certain facts about what He wants that person to do, teach others, raise their kids, tell the world, etc? Wouldn’t that be a reliable way to turn the first definition into the second? In regard to the definitions of faith above, simply put, Christians believe WHAT God said because it was God WHO said it.
The process for the above conversion of terms (as well as conversion of people) is called “Salvation History.” It recounts how God related to Abraham, the other Patriarchs, to Moses, to King David, the prophets, etc. all the way to coming to Earth himself in human form as Jesus so that he could speak and act clearly, the aim of course being to BE heard and BE understood clearly. Jesus was the culmination of a faith relationship with God turning into a religious faith, with a trusting relationship AND a set of factual beliefs, whereby God said exactly what kind of worship he wanted.
” ‘The hour is coming, and now is here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ the woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he.’ ” John 4:23 – 26.
We hope the submenu for this section, with its links to more materials, will help you relate your faith in God to The Faith God revealed.