faith


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Idioms, Wikipedia.

faith:

see creedcreed
[Lat. credo=I believe], summary of basic doctrines of faith. The following are historically important Christian creeds.

1 The Nicene Creed, beginning, "I believe in one God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and
..... Click the link for more information.
.

Faith

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

"Faith," said the young Sunday school scholar, "is believing somethin' you know ain't true." And more than a few members of the choir quietly said, "Amen."

It's a safe bet that a lot of people, probably without ever stopping to think about it, have the same thought about faith. They don't cross their fingers behind their back while reciting the Apostles' Creed or slip quietly out the door after the Rabbi assures them Balaam's donkey talked his master out of cursing the children of Israel (Numbers 22:28). They don't really believe Allah is going to "get" them if they forget their morning prayer. But they still feel uncomfortable because they really can't convince themselves they believe what other members of the congregation seem to accept without question. If pressed, their best response might begin, "Well, I guess I believe it because it's in the scriptures, but...."

And many others in their community probably think the same way, but they are equally afraid to admit it because "a good Christian," "a good Jew," "a good Muslim" believes what they are expected to believe.

The English word translated as "faith" in the scriptures of modern monotheistic religions is one of three words used to translate the Greek word pistis. The word means "faith," but it also means "trust" and "belief." The problem is rooted in the long, historical process that gradually changed Western religious thoughts from the right side of our brains over to the left—from intuitive acceptance of the way things are to thinking about the way things are. Westerners have been taught that believing dogma and doctrine, accepted as the body of religious facts received, equals faith. In other words, Western religion has become more a process of believing "about" God rather than believing "in" God.

Religion probably originally consisted of living within a tribal framework that described and defined life in terms of day-to-day activity experienced by everyone in the community. This was certainly the case in early Judaism and in many indigenous traditions. The oral myths and stories were meant to teach moral lessons and history. Most of all, they were meant to be fun. Like stories of Santa Claus or George Washington chopping down his father's cherry tree, they ceased to be enjoyable when you stopped playing the game and started questioning the details. It wasn't the content that was important. It was the lesson.

But Western thought gradually shifted to the analytical. Because we're so used to it, it's hard to imagine that the way we think about religion is a relatively new product of the scientific era. Systematic thought has always been with us. We could never have moved past stone-age technology without it. But, as Robert M. Pirsig pointed out in his intriguing book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a systematic approach didn't really consume philosophical thought until the time of the Greeks. And although the apostle Paul had a Greek education and employed its methodologies, systematic theology wasn't really practiced in the Western religious world until Thomas Aquinas rediscovered Aristotle's analytical method and introduced the world to Scholasticism (see Aquinas, Thomas). This resulted in a move from "thinking religiously" to "thinking about religion."

Monotheistic religions began to consist of "believing in" a series of systematic facts called doctrines. They were listed in statements of faith called creeds (see Creed). Those who accepted the creeds verbatim "had" faith. Those who did not accept them did not "have" faith. Peer pressure elevated those believers who embraced creeds most fervently, calling them people of "great faith." Sermons and homilies became talks aimed at convincing rather than converting. Indeed, conversion came to mean accepting at least enough truth to squeeze yourself into the kingdom of God. Faith became a matter of intellectual acceptance. Science, psychology, and philosophy, once a single package, separated from religion. People unable to accept their church's doctrines or creeds wholesale either faked it on Sunday morning or left their "community of faith" because they felt they were faithless. A "believer" became one who tried hard to accept something he or she knew wasn't true. An atheist was considered the honest one who wouldn't play the game.

Refreshingly, ever more religious scholars accept the scrutiny of doctrine and systematic theology, following truth wherever it may lead while still feeling very much at home in their lifelong community of faith. They are usually called "liberals" and must bear the slings and arrows of more conservative members of their congregations.

Such liberal believers assert that God is truth (not "knows" the truth or "speaks" the truth, but "is" the truth) and has big shoulders. So any honest search for truth, whether it takes place in the Bible or the test tube, is a search for God. And to the extent people discover truth, the liberals continue, they discover God. Indeed, it is the fact that they "have faith" that enables them to believe there is something to find.

faith

1. Christianity trust in God and in his actions and promises
2. a conviction of the truth of certain doctrines of religion, esp when this is not based on reason
References in classic literature ?
So they parted; and the young man pursued his way until, being about to turn the corner by the meeting-house, he looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons.
Well, then, to end the matter at once," said Goodman Brown, considerably nettled, "there is my wife, Faith.
Supposing you'd asked God to do something," said Philip, "and really believed it was going to happen, like moving a mountain, I mean, and you had faith, and it didn't happen, what would it mean?
It would just mean that you hadn't got faith," answered Uncle William.
Knavery and folly, though never so exorbitant, will more easily meet with assent; for ill-nature adds great support and strength to faith.
To-morrow had come; the mysterious and lying to-morrow that lures men, disdainful of love and faith, on and on through the poignant futilities of life to the fitting reward of a grave.
Upon this one point your whole faith shall be tested -- so it has been decided in the Sacred Council of Four.
In it is described the way by which faith can be reached, and the happiness, above all earthly bliss, with which it fills the soul.
yet him God the most High voutsafes To call by Vision from his Fathers house, His kindred and false Gods, into a Land Which he will shew him, and from him will raise A mightie Nation, and upon him showre His benediction so, that in his Seed All Nations shall be blest; hee straight obeys, Not knowing to what Land, yet firm believes: I see him, but thou canst not, with what Faith He leaves his Gods, his Friends, and native Soile UR of CHALDAEA, passing now the Ford To HARAN, after him a cumbrous Train Of Herds and Flocks, and numerous servitude; Not wandring poor, but trusting all his wealth With God, who call'd him, in a land unknown.
Daylight, too, was sceptical, and this despite his faith in the Upper Country.
As he went along in the darkness under the trees he forgot the babbling voice of the stranger and his mind returned to the making of arguments by which he might de- stroy men's faith in God.
In fact, the antibelligerent policy of this tribe may have sprung from the doctrines of Christian charity, for it would appear that they had imbibed some notions of the Christian faith from Catholic missionaries and traders who had been among them.