Faith in Christianity

Faith in Christianity

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Faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

, in Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, has been most commonly defined by the biblical formulation in the Letter to the Hebrews (11:1) as "'the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen". Most of the definitions in the history of Christian theology have followed this biblical formulation. As in other Abrahamic religions, it includes a belief
Belief
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.-Belief, knowledge and epistemology:The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy....

 in God
God in Christianity
In Christianity, God is the eternal being that created and preserves the universe. God is believed by most Christians to be immanent , while others believe the plan of redemption show he will be immanent later...

, a belief in the reality of a transcendent domain
Transcendence (religion)
In religion transcendence refers to the aspect of God's nature which is wholly independent of the physical universe. This is contrasted with immanence where God is fully present in the physical world and thus accessible to creatures in various ways...

 that God administers as His kingdom
Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is a foundational concept in the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.The term "Kingdom of God" is found in all four canonical gospels and in the Pauline epistles...

 and in the benevolence of God's will or plan for humankind
Eschatology
Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

 and the world to come
World to Come
The World to Come is an eschatological phrase reflecting the belief that the "current world" is flawed or cursed and will be replaced in the future by a better world or a paradise. The concept is similar to the concepts of Heaven and the afterlife, but Heaven is another place generally seen as...

.

Christianity differs from other Abrahamic religions in that it focuses on the ministry of Jesus, and on his place as the prophesied Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

,
as substantiated by his Passion
Passion (Christianity)
The Passion is the Christian theological term used for the events and suffering – physical, spiritual, and mental – of Jesus in the hours before and including his trial and execution by crucifixion...

 and Resurrection. It also includes a belief in the New Covenant
New Covenant
The New Covenant is a concept originally derived from the Hebrew Bible. The term "New Covenant" is used in the Bible to refer to an epochal relationship of restoration and peace following a period of trial and judgment...

. According to most Christian traditions, Christian faith requires a belief in Jesus' resurrection from the dead
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

 by God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

.

The precise understanding of the term "faith" differs among the various Christian traditions
Christian denomination
A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. In the Orthodox tradition, Churches are divided often along ethnic and linguistic lines, into separate churches and traditions. Technically, divisions between one group and...

. Despite these differences, Christians generally agree that faith in Jesus lies at the core of the Christian tradition, and that such faith is required in order to be a Christian. The Christian tradition is sometimes called "the faith", since faith in Jesus is so central to the tradition. Faith and the word "belief" are often treated synonymously, which has led to Christians being called 'believers'. However, faith in Jesus is generally considered to encompass more than only mental belief.

New Testament


The word "faith", translated from the Greek πιστις (pi'stis), was primarily used in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 with the Greek perfect tense and translates as a noun-verb hybrid; which is not adequately conveyed by the English noun. The verb form of pi'stis is pisteuo, which is often translated into English versions of the New Testament as 'believe'. The adjectival form, pistos, is almost always translated as 'faithful'. The New Testament writers, following the translators of the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) rendered words in the Hebrew scriptures that concerned 'faithfulness' using pi'stis-group words. The pi'stis-group words are most appropriately translated into English by a range of words, depending on the context in which they occur. In both the New Testament and other Greek texts, pi'stis describes connections of firmness that can form between a wide variety of entities: people, traditions, practices, groups, purposes, facts or propositions. The appropriate English translation is often evident from the relationship between the two entities connected by pi'stis. The pi'stis-group words in the New Testament can thus be interpreted as relating to ideas of faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty, commitment, trust, belief, and proof. The most appropriate interpretation and translation of pi'stis-group words in the New Testament is a matter of recent controversy, particularly over the meaning of pi'stis when it is directed towards Jesus.

Faith in Jesus as belief, trust and reliance


In the Protestant tradition, faith is generally understood to be closely associated with ideas of belief, trust, and reliance. This understanding is founded in the doctrinal statements of the Reformers. One of their confessional statements explains: "the principle acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life." The Reformers contrasted faith with human efforts to do good works
Good works
Good works, or simply works, within Christian theology are a person's actions or deeds, contrasting with interior qualities such as grace or faith.The New Testament exhibits a tension between two aspects of grace:...

 as a means of justification
Justification (theology)
Rising out of the Protestant Reformation, Justification is the chief article of faith describing God's act of declaring or making a sinner righteous through Christ's atoning sacrifice....

. This understanding of saving faith has remained within the Protestant tradition. Saving faith is generally understood in terms of a belief of, trust in, and reliance on the person of Jesus and his work of atonement accomplished through his death on the cross.

In a more everyday sense, faith is often discussed in terms of believing God's promises, trusting in his faithfulness, and relying on God's character and faithfulness to act. Yet, many Protestants stress that genuine faith is also acted on, and thus it brings about different behaviour or action and does not consist merely of mental belief, trust or confidence. Hence, having authentic 'faith in Jesus' is generally understood to lead to changes in how one thinks and lives. However, the Protestant tradition holds that these changes in character and conduct do not have any value for obtaining a positive final judgment
Last Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

, but that a positive final judgment depends on faith alone (sola fide
Sola fide
Sola fide , also historically known as the doctrine of justification by faith alone, is a Christian theological doctrine that distinguishes most Protestant denominations from Catholicism, Eastern Christianity, and some in the Restoration Movement.The doctrine of sola fide or "by faith alone"...

).

Faith in Jesus as faithfulness, loyalty and committment


In recent decades, scholars have researched what pi'stis meant in the social context of the New Testament writers. Several scholars who have studied the usage of pi'stis in both early Greek manuscripts and the New Testament have concluded that 'faithfulness' is the most satisfactory English translation in many instances. This recent research has prompted some to argue that New Testament faith and belief in Jesus should be understood in terms of faithfulness, loyalty, and commitment to him and his teachings, rather than in terms of belief, trust and reliance. Such an understanding of faith can be integrated well with the moral influence theory of atonement.

Specific verses


: "Now faith (pi'stis) is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction
Belief
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.-Belief, knowledge and epistemology:The terms belief and knowledge are used differently in philosophy....

 of things not seen." This passage concerning the function of faith in relation to the covenant of God is often used as a definition of faith. (hy-po'sta-sis), translated "assurance" here, commonly appears in ancient papyrus
Papyrus
Papyrus is a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt....

 business documents, conveying the idea that a covenant is an exchange of assurances which guarantees the future transfer of possessions described in the contract
Contract
A contract is an agreement entered into by two parties or more with the intention of creating a legal obligation, which may have elements in writing. Contracts can be made orally. The remedy for breach of contract can be "damages" or compensation of money. In equity, the remedy can be specific...

. In view of this, James Hope Moulton
James Hope Moulton
Reverend James Hope Moulton, born on 11 October 1863, and died at sea on 9 April 1917, was an English non-conformist divine.-Biography:His family had a strong Methodist background. His father was the first headmaster of the Leys School, Cambridge where James was one of the first students. After...

 and George Milligan
George Milligan
A. George Milligan was a Scottish professional footballer who played as an inside forward.-References:...

 suggest the rendering: "Faith is the title deed of things hoped for" (Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, 1963, p. 660). The Greek word e´leg-khos, rendered "conviction" in Hebrews 11:1 (ESV), conveys the idea of bringing forth evidence that demonstrates something, particularly something contrary to what appears to be the case. Thereby this evidence makes clear what has not been discerned before and so refutes what has only appeared to be the case. This evidence for conviction is so positive or powerful that it is described as faith. Christian faith, described in these terms, is not synonymous with credulity, but rather has connotations of acting in faithfulness and trust.

: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son
Son of God
"Son of God" is a phrase which according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son"...

, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life
Eternal life (Christianity)
In Christianity the term eternal life traditionally refers to continued life after death, rather than immortality. While scholars such as John H. Leith assert that...

." This passage is often used as a standard statement of Christian faith.

: This passages describes the meaning and the practical role of faith: "Without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

: When asked "What must we do to do the works God requires?" the writer has Jesus answering, "The work of God is this: to believe (pi'stis) in the one he has sent."

Roman Catholicism


According to Roman Catholic theology, in an objective sense faith is the sum of truths revealed by God in Scripture and tradition and which the Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 presents to us in a brief form in its creeds. Subjectively, faith stands for the habit or virtue by which these truths are assented to.

Faith is a supernatural act


Faith is claimed to be a supernatural act performed by Divine grace. It is "the act of the intellect
Intellect
Intellect is a term used in studies of the human mind, and refers to the ability of the mind to come to correct conclusions about what is true or real, and about how to solve problems...

 assenting to a Divine truth owing to the movement of the will, which is itself moved by the grace of God" (St. Thomas, II-II, Q. iv, a. 2). And just as the light of faith is a gift supernaturally bestowed upon the understanding, so also this Divine grace moving the will is, as its name implies, an equally supernatural and an absolutely gratuitous gift. Neither gift is due to previous study, neither of them can be acquired by human efforts, but "Ask and ye shall receive."

Because the virtue is "infused" and not reachable by human efforts, it is therefore one of the theological virtues.

Faith is not blind


"We believe", says the Vatican Council
Vatican Council
The First Vatican Council took place in 1869 - 1870 and was the 20th of ecumenical councils recognized by Roman Catholicism.The Second Vatican Council took place in the 1962 - 1965 and was the 21st....

 (III, iii), "that revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

 is true, not indeed because the intrinsic truth of the mysteries is clearly seen by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Who reveals them, for He can neither deceive nor be deceived." Thus, with regard to the act of faith which the Christian makes in the Holy Trinity, faith can be described in a syllogistic fashion, thus:
  • Whatever God reveals is true
    • but, God
      God
      God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

       has revealed the Holy Trinity, which is a mystery
      Sacred Mysteries
      The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology.-Pre-Christian religious mysteries:...

      • therefore this mystery is true.


Roman Catholics accept the major premise as being beyond doubt, a presupposition upon which reason is based and thus intrinsically evident to reason; the minor premise is also held to be true, based on belief in the infallibility of certain Church declarations, and also because, as the Vatican Council says, "in addition to the internal assistance of His Holy Spirit, it has pleased God to give us certain external proofs of His revelation, viz. certain Divine
Divinity
Divinity and divine are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in...

 fact
Fact
A fact is something that has really occurred or is actually the case. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability, that is whether it can be shown to correspond to experience. Standard reference works are often used to check facts...

s, especially miracle
Miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

s and prophecies, for since these latter clearly manifest God's omnipotence
Omnipotence
Omnipotence is unlimited power. Monotheistic religions generally attribute omnipotence to only the deity of whichever faith is being addressed...

 and infinite knowledge
Knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

, they afford most certain proofs of His revelation and are suited to the capacity of all." Hence Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 writes: "A man would not believe unless he saw the things he had to believe, either by the evidence of miracles or of something similar" (II-II:1:4, ad 1). Thomas is here speaking of the motives of credibility
Credibility
Credibility refers to the objective and subjective components of the believability of a source or message.Traditionally, modern, credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise, which both have objective and subjective components. Trustworthiness is based more on subjective...

, the causes which give rise to belief.

Text adapted from The Catholic Encyclopedia article "Faith".

Noetic faculty


Faith (pistis) in Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 is an activity of the nous
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

 or spirit. Faith being characteristic of the noesis or noetic experience of the nous or spirit. Faith here being defined as intuitive truth meaning as a gift from God, faith is one of God's uncreated energies (Grace too is another of God's uncreated energies and gifts). The God in Trinity is uncreated or incomprehensible in nature, being or essence. Therefore in Eastern Christianity, unlike in Western Christianity (see Actus et potentia), God's essence or incomprehisibility is distinguished from his uncreated energies. This is clarified in the Essence-Energies distinction
Essence-Energies distinction
A real distinction between the essence and the energies of God is a central principle of Eastern Orthodox theology. Eastern Orthodox theology regards this distinction as more than a mere conceptual distinction...

 of Gregory Palamas
Gregory Palamas
Gregory Palamas was a monk of Mount Athos in Greece and later the Archbishop of Thessaloniki known as a preeminent theologian of Hesychasm. The teachings embodied in his writings defending Hesychasm against the attack of Barlaam are sometimes referred to as Palamism, his followers as Palamites...

. Faith here beyond simply a belief in something. Faith here as an activity or operation of God working in and through mankind. Faith being a critical aspect to the relationship between man and the God, this relationship or process is called Theosis
Theosis
In Christian theology, divinization, deification, making divine or theosis is the transforming effect of divine grace. This concept of salvation is historical and fundamental for Christian understanding that is prominent in the Eastern Orthodox Church and also in the Catholic Church, and is a...

. Faith as an operation in contemplating of an object for understanding. Mankind's analysis of an objects properties: enables us to form concepts. But this analysis can in no case exhaust the content of the object of perception. There will always remain an "irrational residue" which escapes analysis and which can not be expressed in concepts: it is this unknowable depth of things, that which constitutes their true, indefinable essence that also reflects the origin of things in God.

Intuitive truth


As God in Trinity, as the anomalies of God's essence or being. In Eastern Christianity it is by faith or intuitive truth that this component of an objects existence is grasp. Though God through his energies draws us to him, his essence remains inaccessible. The operation of faith being the means of free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

 by which mankind faces the future or unknown, these noetic operations contained in the concept of insight
Insight
Insight is the understanding of a specific cause and effect in a specific context. Insight can be used with several related meanings:*a piece of information...

 or noesis.XIV. SAVING FAITH.

Lutheranism



According to Lutherans
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

, saving faith is the knowledge of, acceptance of , and trust in the promise of the Gospel.

Faith as steadfastness in reasoned belief


Protestant Christian C.S. Lewis described his experience of faith in his book Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity is a theological book by C. S. Lewis, adapted from a series of BBC radio talks made between 1941 and 1944, while Lewis was at Oxford during World War II...

by distinguishing between two usages of the word. He describes the first as follows:
"Faith seems to be used by Christians in two senses or on two levels ... In the first sense it means simply Belief."


Several paragraphs later he continues with:
"Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods."

Faith involving knowledge


Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

s differ on the exact relationship between faith and knowledge, although all agree that knowledge is normally involved. Roughly, the split is between paedobaptists and baptists, with paedobaptists asserting that faith means placing one's trust in Jesus Christ according to the measure of understanding granted, and baptists asserting faith means placing one's trust in Jesus Christ with a certain minimal core of understanding being necessary.

Faith is an operation of the Spirit of God


Assent to the truth is of the essence of faith, and the ultimate ground on which our assent to any revealed truth rests is the veracity of God. Historical faith is the apprehension of and assent to certain statements which are regarded as mere facts of history. Temporary faith is that state of mind which is awakened in men (e.g., Felix
Antonius Felix
Marcus Antonius Felix was the Roman procurator of Iudaea Province 52-58, in succession to Ventidius Cumanus.- Life :...

) by the exhibition of the truth and by the influence of religious sympathy
Sympathy
Sympathy is a social affinity in which one person stands with another person, closely understanding his or her feelings. Also known as empathic concern, it is the feeling of compassion or concern for another, the wish to see them better off or happier. Although empathy and sympathy are often used...

, or by what is sometimes styled the common operation of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

. Saving faith
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

 is so called because it has eternal life inseparably connected with it, and is a special operation of the Holy Spirit

Faith as a gift of God


Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast." From this, some Protestants believe that faith itself is given as a gift of God (e.g. the Westminster Confession of Faith
Westminster Confession of Faith
The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, largely of the Church of England, it became and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been...

), although this interpretation is disputed by others who believe the Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 gender
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

 alignment indicates that the "gift" referred to is salvation rather than faith.

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