View Full Version : What is “faith in God”?

16-08-2005, 12:21 AM
What is “faith in God”?
Disclaimer: This thread will not be to everyone's liking please feel free to ignore it and hope it goes away.
In discourse over another issue in the “Does God Exist” thread Kevin Bonham wrote the following.

The typical theist suddenly jumps in what they base their thinking on when the God issue comes up, and thinks it is acceptable to introduce the concept of "faith" at that point - yet the theist does not use this faculty of "faith" in quite the same way for anything else but answering questions about God. (The "faith" people have in each other is something very different, either an ethical disposition or an experience-based confidence.)

This and other statements have lead me to a desire to explain/discuss what faith in God really is. Explain, as in the Christian understanding of faith in God. Discuss, as in debate the merits is the Christian understanding of faith in God. (There is also the small possibility of another Christian disagreeing with my Christian view. :uhoh: )

There is three points that Kevin seems to be making about faith in God. (Not just in the quote above, but in general throughout the thread.)
1.That the theist(Christian's) faith in God is somehow different. Of course it is different! :doh: We are talking about God. It's not like we're putting our faith in some guy with super powers. God is totally unique, God conceived, created & sustains the whole universe. Yes the Christian's faith in God is different, but is it very different from other expressions of faith and is it an unreasonable faith?
2.That faith in God is a very different thing to more general kinds of faith. For example, (this my example) the faith a couple place in each other when they exchange marriage vows. Hebrews 11:1 is generally considered the Bible verse that best summarises what faith, and in particular faith in God, is. It says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.” Is this very different to the faith a couple place in each other at marriage? No. six years ago when I stood at the front of the Church I was sure that our marriage would last, certain no obstacle, no trial, no temptation, nothing could ever break us apart, it was total faith. (and love) Today, six years later the same faith in our relationship still lasts and is even stronger that before. Is this very different from my faith in God? No, they are both faith in a relationship.
3.There is no plausible reason to have faith in God. Some would also argue that there is no plausible reason to have any faith in a marriage relationship. Both my wife and I had plenty of reason to think that. Divorce goes back at least three generations on one side of my family. My wife, would was only in her mid-twenties, had a long list of friends who had already married and been divorced. That did not stop either my wife or I. Our plausible reason for the faith we had that our marriage would work was based on what we knew of each other, on our relationship. Yes, every marriage is most likely built on some similar basis, and only time will tell if our faith was justified. However, as I have already said our faith in each other is stronger than ever. My faith in God is not exactly the same, but very much like my faith in my wife & our marriage. At eight I was challenged to place my faith in God. Based on what I knew of God, (from my mother, my grandparents, and what I was taught in Sunday School) I stepped out in faith and found myself in a relationship. The relationship has been going on now for 33 years, and it is stronger that ever. Again, time will be the only true judge of if I have done the right thing, or I've had a relationship with nothing all these years. :hmm: However, I have no doubt, I have put the relationship(faith) to many tests and it has passed every one.
I know that this is all subjective and personal, and that there are many objections/rebuffs that can be thrown up, but it is a starting point.
There are questions that can be asked like, 'is my experience valid, or have I just been deluding myself for 33 years?' and 'How does one test something like this?' plus many more I'm sure. I'm willing to have my faith put under the microscope and tested to see whether it is plausible or not.