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Faith in Christianity, as in other Abrahamic religions, centers on a belief in God, a belief in the reality of a transcendent domain that God administers as His kingdom, and in the benevolence of God's will or plan for humankind. Christianity differs from other Abrahamic religions in that it centers on a belief in the ministry of Jesus, and in his place as the prophesied Christ, as substantiated by his Passion and Resurrection, and a belief in the New Covenant.

The precise understanding of the term "faith" differs among the various Christian traditions, but one particular verse is often used as a standard statement of Christian faith:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16, KJV)

Belief in the Resurrection

According to most Christian traditions, Christian faith requires a belief in Jesus' resurrection from the dead. The truth of the resurrection is substantiated in several ways: (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) '... the gospel I preached to you... Otherwise, you have believed in vain...'. The same book says, in 15:14: "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith" (see also Acts 2:32; Philippians 3:10; John 11:25).

That he was raised from the dead by God the Father. Most Christians believe that God is one eternal being who exists as three distinct, eternal, and indivisible persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ the eternal Word), and the Holy Spirit.

Old Testament

There are various passages involving the questioning or testing one's faith in the old testament. The Book of Job and Abraham's son sacrifice are the most famous ones and are source of debate about the problem of evil and the omniscient nature of God, being the latter in apparent contradiction with the necessity to test anything, since God would already know the result of the test in advance.

New Testament

The word "faith", translated from the Greek πιστις (pi'stis), was primarily used in the New Testament with the Greek perfect tense and translates as a noun-verb hybrid; which is not adequately conveyed by the English noun. Pi'stis in the New Testament context is a physical action, based upon a mental belief and sustained with confidence. Belief, in this context is non-synonymous with faith because, belief primarily conveys the mental action, thought of confidence, trust, and/or firm persuasion, not the physical act. Depending on the context, the Greek word may also be understood to mean "faithfulness" or "fidelity" (cf. 1 Thess 3:7; Titus 2:10); indeed, Karl Barth consistently translates "pistis" as "the faithfulness of God" in his commentary Epistle to the Romans.

Commenting on the function of faith in relation to the covenant of God, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1 ESV). Υποστασις (hy-po'sta-sis), translated "assurance" here, commonly appears in ancient papyrus business documents, conveying the idea that a covenant is an exchange of assurances which guarantees the future transfer of possessions described in the contract. In view of this, James Hope Moulton and George Milligan 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" at 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 faith is said to be it. Christian faith, described in these terms, is not synonymous with credulity.

Hebrews 11:6 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."

Summarizing the New Testament concept of faith, it is reliance upon God's self-revelation, especially in the sense of confidence in the promises and fear of the threats that are written in Scripture. The writers evidently suppose that their concept of faith is rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures.

In addition, the New Testament writers equate faith in God with belief in Jesus Christ. For example, the Gospel of John quotes Jesus as saying, "The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him" (John 5:22–23). 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" (John 6:28–29).

Roman Catholicism

Holy Trinity Column - Faith

Relief of allegory of Faith on the Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc

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 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 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 (III, iii), "that revelation 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 has revealed the Holy Trinity, which is a mystery
      • 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 facts, especially miracles and prophecies, for since these latter clearly manifest God's omnipotence and infinite knowledge, they afford most certain proofs of His revelation and are suited to the capacity of all." Hence Thomas Aquinas 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, the causes which give rise to belief.

Text adapted from The Catholic Encyclopedia article "Faith".

Eastern Christianity

Noetic faculty

Faith (pistis) in Eastern Christianity is an activity of the nous 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).[1] The God in Trinity is uncreated or incomprehensible in nature, being or essence.[2] 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 of Gregory Palamas.[3] 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. 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.[4] Though God through his energies draws us to him, his essence remains inaccessible.[4] The operation of faith being the means of free will by which mankind faces the future or unknown, these noetic operations contained in the concept of insight or noesis.XIV. SAVING FAITH.

Lutheranism

According to Lutherans, saving faith is the knowledge of[5], acceptance of [6], and trust[7] in the promise of the Gospel.[8]

Protestantism

Faith as steadfastness in reasoned belief

Protestant Christian C.S. Lewis described his experience of faith in his book Mere Christianity 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."[9]

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."[9]

Faith involving knowledge

Protestants 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) by the exhibition of the truth and by the influence of religious sympathy, or by what is sometimes styled the common operation of the Holy Spirit. Saving faith 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[10]), although this interpretation is disputed by others.[11]

The Calvinistic View of Faith: [Saving] Faith, itself, is a gift from God.

The Arminian View of Faith: Faith is not a Gift of God but salvation is. Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

So to say faith is a gift would be "Without the Gift of God" it is impossible to please God and to receive this gift through seeking Him with the gift he would give you.

Salvation is the Gift.

See also

References

Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Faith in Christianity. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

  1. Glossary of terms from the Philokalia pg 430 Palmer, G.E.H; Sherrard; Ware, Kallistos (Timothy). The Philokalia, Vol. 4 ISBN 0-571-19382-X Faith- not only an individual or theoretical belief in the dogmatic truths of Christianity, but an all-embracing relationship, an attitude of love and trust in God. As such it involves a transformation of man's entire life. Faith is a gift from God, the means whereby we are taken up into the whole theanthropic activity of God in Christ and of man in Christ through which man attains salvation.
  2. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, by Vladimir Lossky SVS Press, 1997. (ISBN 0-913836-31-1) James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1991. (ISBN 0-227-67919-9) pg 21 pg 71
  3. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, by Vladimir Lossky SVS Press, 1997. (ISBN 0-913836-31-1) James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1991. (ISBN 0-227-67919-9) pg 71
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, by Vladimir Lossky pg 33 SVS Press, 1997. (ISBN 0-913836-31-1) James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1991. (ISBN 0-227-67919-9) pg 71
  5. John 17:3, Luke 1:77,Galatians 4:9, Philippians 3:8, and 1 Timothy 2:4 refer to faith in terms of knowledge.
  6. John 5:46 refers to acceptance of the truth of Christ's teaching, while John 3:36 notes the rejection of his teaching.
  7. John 3:16,36, Galatians 2:16, Romans 4:20-25, 2 Timothy 1:12 speak of trust, confidence, and belief in Christ. John 3:18 notes belief in the name of Christ, and Mark 1:15 notes belief in the gospel.
  8. Engelder, T.E.W., Popular Symbolics. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934. pp. 54ff, Part XIV. "Sin"
  9. 9.0 9.1 Lewis, C. S. (2001). Mere Christianity: a revised and amplified edition, with a new introduction, of the three books, Broadcast talks, Christian behaviour, and Beyond personality. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-065292-6. 
  10. "The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1646
  11. GREGORY P. SAPAUGH, "IS FAITH A GIFT? A STUDY OF EPHESIANS 2:8," Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Volume 7:12, Spring 1994

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