Friday, November 12, 2010

What is faith?

Over the past year I have been on a journey of discovery to try and determine what faith (if any) I had lost. At the very beginning of this journey I realised that the first step was defining what faith actually is. There seems to be two possible definitions of faith:

  1. Belief or trust in something without proof (i.e. assenting to agree with something and go along with it).
  2. Knowing spiritually that something is absolutely true in the way that we know that grass is green and the sky blue.

My faith was mainly of type 2. Extremely sure and based on an apparent inward knowledge of truth. Many Christians have a faith of type 1 based on accepting a forensic (legal) argument which seeks to prove that the bible and the gospel message are true. This is one reason why so many Presbyterian ministers had law degrees as first degrees. Protestantism was based on forensic argument and the minister wore legal dress in the pulpit.

My current position is one of honesty. I decided to maintain a position of non-belief until sufficient evidence for the existence of God is revealed. This means that I have been looking for a type 2 faith, when most people do not have this. Interesting.

As an aside to this I have asked a number of people how they would define faith. Most recently via Twitter with Peter Anderson who is the Pastor of Destiny Church in Edinburgh (a charismatic church, descended sideways from the restoration churches founded by Bryn Jones). His Twitter reply:
I c belief as knowing truth "...the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen" (Heb.11:1)
So very much in line with type 1. The difficulty with a type 1 faith is that although it may give you a feeling of assurance about the existential things of life like death, meaning and purpose its uncertainty means that it does not help with everyday situations in the way that it is suggested to by some of the people promoting it. Even the promotion of faith is a bit of an oxymoron. Is it possible to promote something which requires at its centre a lack of evidence? Because faith with evidence stops being faith and becomes knowledge. Thanks to Peter for replying. Communication is always a good thing. I may have to repeat the question to others on twitter.

So where does this leave my journey? Well, I am always open to suggestions, but I am very wary of anything which seeks to supplant reason; makes promises of extreme improvements in quality of life or health or sells itself by saying that life is meaningless without God. I suspect that means I am never going to be pew fodder for an evangelical church.