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DEFINING "FAITH" AND "BELIEF"

Defining these two words and explaining how
they work together during our faith journey.

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1.    INTRODUCTION

The words faith and beliefare 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.

2.    FAITH

In regard to this particular articles 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 there.  We 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.

3.    BELIEF

On the other hand, on this website, the word belief is used to describe,what we accept as real as a result of our life 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 manner 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, as a result. And the extremity of belief building events in life will obviously vary from person to person.