Chuck" To: "'Samuel.D.Olsen@rf.no'" <Samuel.D.Olsen@rf.no>
@aecl.ca> Subject: RE: Faith Defined
Lucy, Chuck, George, Moorad,
Here are some thoughts which summarise what I have come to understand of
the nature of FAITH in God and the Christian message.
Like Agape Love, Faith is a many facited entity:
1. Kierkegaard emphasizes the aspect of it being an "act of decision" - a
proposition of a Creator that seems probable; makes sense of the universe;
gives meaning to life; that provides hope in the face of adversity and
2. Bonhoeffer emphasizes the aspect of it being a consequence of action.
Similarly to love - I do not always feel love for my wife, but acting
lovingly toward her or a stranger results in a feeling of love; loving
action and attitude feed each other. I think it was George Murphy who
referred to the reference "Those who believe, act and those who act,
There is a sense in which we at times must Do what God has commanded us
wven while suspending our lack of faith for the moment.
3. Augustine emphasises the intellectual basic assumption aspect of faith:
Credo ut intelligam - "I believe in order to understand".
Faith in our unproven assumptions is the bais of all that we claim to know.
Faith is the basis of sciences as much as it is the basis of our eternal
hope. Those who come to the world to do science must believe that it exists
just as surely as those who come to God must believe that He exists.
4. Intelectual credibility aspect of faith. As suggested by psychology
(Piaget etc), we all construct a framework into which the knowledge that we
assimilate is fleshed onto or into. This has to continually be modified as
we grow and develop - we adapt to reality. It is here where we have
problems with the pain of giving up our Sunday School pictures or the
interpretations that do not take into account the culture, type of Biblical
literature, the science etc. As we have to abando our simple childrens
blocks which do not explain reality ( reconcile the two books of Gods Word
and Work of creation), we move to Lego blocks and then to closer to the
real thing the concrete structures of a more mature person, we often
experience what Josh McDowell quoted "The heart cannot rejoice in that
which the mind thinks is false".
The problem is that many are so disappointed that reality does not fit the
Sunday School or Lego Block /Denominations dominant interpretation or
model, that they give up on trusting the credibility of the Bible - they
"leave the faith".
5. Biblical aspects of faith:
Ephesians 2:8 Faith is the gift of God (would seem to fit with election of
Calvinism and whosoever will of Arminianism)
Romans 10:17 Faith wells up in a person as a result of "hearing" the Good
News of Jesus Christ and God's dealings with man in the historical records
of the Bible.
Hebrews 11:1 Faith is a subjective assurance (feeling) that God exists and
that believing in Him meets our deepest needs for unconditional acceptance
(Grace), freedom from rejection - the ultimate fear being death "without
God and without hope"; meeting our fear of cosmic loneliness and not being
cared for (I Am with you always Hebrews 13:5/Mathew 28:20).
How do you more experienced Scientist Christians, Theologians and
Philosphers on the list see faith to be?
Chuck" To: "'Lucy Masters'"
<vandergraaft@aec cc: email@example.com
l.ca> Subject: RE: Faith Defined
You've raised a very important point. I've used the term "abandoning one's
faith" as "shorthand" for the situation where people who were raised in a
religious environment (home. church. school) and who, at some time in their
life, made a commitment ("confirmation," "confession of faith," "adult
baptism,"), but then, years later, renounced their faith.
One of the tenets of Calvinism (if I recall correctly) is "perseverance of
the saints" that basically says that God won't let this happen. Sort of,
"once you're in, you're in." I have an image of playing the board game
"Sorry" where the pawn is invulnerable when it gets inside the little
"house" at the end. So, if there is this "backsliding," either it's not
really backsliding, or the faith was not genuine in the first place. I
sense that your definition of faith is along those lines.
So, genuine faith would survive concentration camps and loss of loved ones.
It would also survive the conditions associated with wealth and "the easy
I know of Pastors that lived through the horrors of concentration camps and
"kept the faith." I know of parents like my father who "kept the faith"
when his only daughter (my only sister) died in "far-away" Australia and
left two young children behind. I also know of people who were taught that
the Bible is literally true and who later "abandoned their faith" when
evidence to the contrary stared them in the face.
Trouble is, we don't usually start of with a "conditional faith." We don't
(and I can only speak for myself) say "OK, God, I accept what you offer me,
until I get evidence to the contrary." So, it is not up to me to judge the
genuine-ness of one's faith and commitment. If we define faith as
"unshakable," the best we can do, IMHO, is to say at somebody's deathbed
that the dying person had faith.
Hope this helps.
From: Lucy Masters [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday August 15, 2001 10:25 AM
Subject: Faith Defined
You have talked about people abandoning their faith in a couple of
posts. This might be a good time to open up a discussion about the true
meaning of faith. I suppose faith is another thing that can occur along
a continuum, but it seems to me a person's faith is *extremely*
conditional and weak if the interpretation of a story out of the Bible
can actually cause him/her to stop believing in God. My definition of
faith involves a belief system that CANNOT be broken by - well -
literally anything. So if I lose a child, my faith in God cannot
dwindle. If I am forced into a concentration camp during WWII, my faith
in God cannot dwindle. If I study biology and change my mind about a
previous belief in a Bible story, my previous belief in God cannot
dwindle. There seems to me something wrong about equating belief in God
with belief in the Bible. The Bible is not God. It is a book. God
does not survive in that box. He survives, in fact, outside that box.
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