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faith-road-sign-with-dramatic-clouds-and-skyI got sucked into the world of negativity (aka politics) for the last few posts. Sorry about that. It’s time to turn back to something brighter – theology.

Today’s question is this – What is faith?

How would define it? What does it mean to you?

I think faith is fascinating. And I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to define it. If I define it, does that mean I’m trying to have faith on my own terms? Does faith then originate from me? Of course it doesn’t, faith is a gift from God – that’s what I’ve been told and believe about it.

Is faith just an understanding about God? Some would say so. I don’t agree. I think faith is so much more. So much more to the point that I’m not sure there are adequate words to describe what faith is.

We use all sorts of words to describe or define faith, but there’s a few challenges with this. How do you adequately describe something that comes from an unlimited God? Are there really the right words for this?

Second, even the words that we do have raise a ton of questions. What does understanding truly mean? Or do we just through the term around and assume that everyone agrees on the definition. It’s kind of like the one class I am taking right now. We spend classes looking at the debates, true theological debates, about such terms as person, freedom, consciousness, human, etc. On the surface, these seem like simple terms that “everyone” understands. But when you start to look at the terms, you realize how difficult there terms really are. There is a ton of debate, for instance, as to how to define a person. Is a person just their body? just their soul? A combination of the two? That’s just the initial debate about what a person is. And all of this within the realm of theology. It gets worse when you take into account the cognitive sciences.

So what is faith? Martin Luther liked Hebrews 11:1 to define faith – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” That’s a pretty good definition. It still allows for the mystery of faith.

I took a crack at defining faith myself. Here’s what I came up with – Faith is not us understanding God – we can’t, we are limited. We are fortunate enough to get glimpse of what God is like. Faith is the cause of our being as a new creation. It becomes our essence. Faith envelopes us, continually squeezing our the old, sinful person and rebuilding and raising up a new creation. Many may say that I am mixing faith with justification and sanctification. That is fine. And it’s not really the point for this discussion. I know the definitions of justification and sanctification. Faith runs through all of these. It is the driving force.

It’s not a great definition, but it’s more of something to work with. Kind of like faith – it’s a work in progress. Only this work is not ours, but rather God’s.