We are told, 'The just (upright) shall live by faith.' So I have a question for the Christians here. How do you understand faith? This does not have to be strictly biblical (since the scripture does not interpret itself, except where it really explicitly does so) but can also use anecdotal, philosophical or logical proofs/reasons for your explanation.
A good definition an agnostic gave me once was, 'A strong trust in someone or something'.
Consider the following two sided propositions:
Does faith refer to a blind acceptance?
- We are often told, no, and consider the case of Gideon, but --
- Job is told he does not understand -- he is expected to accept the goodness of God without an explanation he can grasp
Is faith rational?
- In some cases, we are told yes, consider the phrase, 'a reason to believe'... but --
- Abraham is asked to do something wrong on orders from God; that he really will go through with it is met with 'Now I know that you are faithful.'
Does faith itself save a person?
- John 3:16 suggests this, as do some of Jesus' words, but --
- We are repeatedly told, 'Those who endure until the end shall be saved.'
Is faith a work?
- In some traditions, faith is contrasted against works, but --
- James the Just tells us 'faith without works is dead' and in another place equates Abrahams faith and works ('see how he was justified by works...') and indeed many passages where we have the word 'faith', it is really 'faithing', i.e. trusting, meaning something active: a work.
Is doubt a sin, or at least, the lack of faith?
- Jesus warns against doubt as does James the Just, but --
- The Apostle Thomas is in our tradition lauded for his doubt ('the precious doubt of Thomas' it is called) and we are also confronted with a contradiction where the man in the Gospels says, 'I believe, help my unbelief' - suggesting doubt and faith can coexist.
Is faith a source of knowledge?
- Paul suggests so 'evidence of things not seen'
- But we have numerous examples where faith itself is only a substitute for knowledge (for example, Abraham's case.)
What is the 'faith of Christ' (pisteis Christou)?
- Some suggest it is Christ's faith, i.e. his personal faith, but
- The verbiage is vague, and may be interpreted as 'faith in Christ', i.e. believing in him.
We use faith generically, but is this even correct?
- Is having faith in Christ the same as having faith that space aliens exist?
- or does our definition of 'faith' implicitly include the object of that faith?
Is it possible to overemphasize faith, as opposed to questioning?
- On the one hand, we are told we must enter the Kingdom as little children: that's radical acceptance
- We are also told that false Christs will come with false signs and to test all of the spirits. That seems like pretty radical skepticism there.
You may either answer personally or for your tradition, or for another person's interpretation. But most of all, I'm hoping to find a consensus on some if not all of these points. It does not have to be either/or, it can be both/and, but if so, why?