DEFINING "FAITH" AND "BELIEF"
Defining these two words and explaining how
they work together during our faith journey.
The words “faith” and “belief” are
sometimes used interchangeably by religious writers, but on other
occasions are used in a way that gives each word a distinctive
meaning. The two terms can be used to
actually help us describe ‘the way forward’ during our search for both religious truth and related experiences in life. For a quick overview of belief building options, that are actually available to us, please see the article, “How to believe in God”. The article, “Sound Faith” describes the end product of our faith journey and that belief.
In regard to this particular article’s heading though, the word “faith” is used to describe, ‘a theoretical understanding, based on Bible scriptures, that we accept as truth’. And sometimes, especially at the beginning of our faith journey, we may accept them without any proof.
In fact some examples exist where we do accept Bible statements,
like the offer of eternal life after physical death, that can never be
proven during this life of ours. In essence, we come to accept
that concept of eternal life, through faith, because we clearly
recognise that other aspects of Biblical faith are proven to have
a genuine basis.
As beginner Christians, we firstly trust (through faith) that God exists and we can
engage with him, by opening our lives to his potential presence
pray to him. We look for his guidance when trying to make serious
decisions. When reading the Bible, its life affecting message may become obvious. We might attend an Alpha Course, or become a member of a Charismatic fellowship of faith.
Etc. Etc. Eventually we come to recognise that he really is there, our faith has been verified, and he is as the Bible portrays him.
On the other hand, on this website, the word “belief” is used to describe, ‘what we accept as real as a result of
experiences, when they fit our evaluation framework,’ i.e. what we come to believe beyond reasonable doubt through evidence and the use of our justifiable reasoning processes.
To a large extent faith and belief are built one on the other. As explained above, faith is often based on a viewpoint that sits well with what we have
already accepted through the basis of evidence. And on the other hand, experience-based
evidence can also arise through putting our previously unproven faith to the test in life.
The development of belief in God will not occur in the same timely
for everyone of course. We are all different. Each of us are affected
by our own individual genetic bases and the environments in which
our personalities have been forged. Some of us will require
more valid and relevant evidence to believe than others,
a result. And the
extremity of belief building
events in life will obviously vary from person to person.