The Meaning of Faith?

What is the meaning of faith? What is it’s purpose and how should it impact an individual? These are some of the question swirling around my mind these days.

It seems Christian faith is primarily concerned with the ‘afterlife’ and one’s ‘eternal resting place’. The meaning of faith there is ‘security’ from a very doomed future…coined in the package of ‘salvation’.

But is that what faith is about? That seems to be the bottomline in most Christian theologies – get some security for the end and worry about the rest after that. Then one’s theology is constantly impacted by that ‘future event’ – even one’s actions now – that justification for one’s ‘mean’s are its ‘ends’….which can lead one into a sort of bi-polar effect with their faith (ie: when I am good I am very good – but when the end becomes meaningless – even my bad is meaningless). Needless to say, with the future as the bottom line in theology we can end up with some misplaced emphasis in the ‘here and now’.

So it has me wondering – if an event prior to your birth (Jesus’ death and resurrection) and an event that you have no clue when it arrives (ie: heaven or your death) are the leading factors of what your faith is…it may be fair to ask ‘what’s the use of your faith right now?’.

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2 thoughts on “The Meaning of Faith?

  1. Marcus Borg said that historically, there have been four primary meanings to the word faith.

    1) There’s faith as a belief, where you believe that a certain set of statements are true. This is the main understanding today — such as beliefs about God, Jesus, the afterlife. The opposite of this in a mild form is doubt. The opposite of this in a strong form is disbelief.

    2) There’s faith in a huge trust in God. This doesn’t mean trusting certain statements about God are true, this means trusting in God Himself. The opposite form of this faith is mistrust, or anxiety/worry.

    3) There’s faith as a faithfulness in one’s relationship to God. It’s the same as faithfulness in a committed human relationship, such as to a spouse. The opposite of this is being unfaithful in the relationship to God.

    4) And there’s faith as a way of seeing. In this case, it’s a way of seeing. Such as seeing reality as gracious, and the opposite as seeing reality as hostile and threatening. This way of seeing is part of what shapes people’s relationships to God, in that they see God as gracious and giving.

  2. Thanks OSS – thats a great definition of the dimensions of the idea of faith. I think they are all true of that word and when we talk about ‘faith’ we almost need to define what aspect we mean in the conversation.

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