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Many Christians who attend church, when confronted by inquirers outside the church, who wonder why they believe in Christianity, simply respond by saying, I just accept it by faith. Or they might say, It was good enough for my grandpa, so it's good enough for me.

But in an age of science and technology, which places a premium on "facts, evidence, proofs, etc., those responses seem hollow--even irrational, or at least unintellectual. Quite inadequate to the modern mind enmeshed in collegiate surroundings.

The average church-goer seems oblivious to the biblical aspect of apologetics. Nor do they understand the exhortation of Saint Peter:

Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer (Gk. apologian) for the reason (Gk. logos) of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15)

This leaves the Christian, especially the Christian student, in the lurch, susceptible to attacks of doubt by professors, as well as peer pressure from culture. So should pastors and teachers equip their congregations with occasional sermons on the evidences, infallible proofs (Acts 1:3), metaphysical proofs (Romans 1, Acts 17:18-34), reasons (1 Peter 3:15), supernatural conclusions (John 5:36 miracles), eye-witness testimony (1 John 1:1-3): things which would provide a "reasonable response" to skeptics who doubt these revolutionary facts"?

Or is "faith in faith" without proofs, or "blind faith" as some would call it (uninformed faith, that is), sufficient for Christian believers? Should this be the biblical approach for preparing congregates to survive in modern society? What is the correct definition of "faith"? What is the best definition that would be adequate for the modern mind, and cause him to consider Christ as God?

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    Hebrews 11:1 is a pretty standard definition! Of course faith isn't proven, but it is a strong confidence that God will keep his promises based on his track record of doing so. Just like most people have a spouse, family members, or friends, who they absolutely trust.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 21:43
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    "Modern universities" don't discount faith like that, though some university students might.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 21:45
  • (Curiousdannii) So faith is BASED on the facts of a "proven" track record: factual evidence willingly displayed by a Reasonable God! Is this correct?
    – ray grant
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 20:49
  • @ curiousdannii - So belief is based on the " factual" historical track record of God . Is that correct? Those would seem to be very reliable facts. "Modern universities don't discount faith"? Check with the students who have sat under the professors at the universities in Portland! I have sat in on some of those lectures, as well.
    – ray grant
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 21:31

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You ask for a definition. All right. As far as I'm concerned, the essence of Faith is trust. Specifically, trust in a person. There is no point in being ashamed of this. The demand for "facts" is about distrust. Our relation with God depends on choosing one or the other.

This definition of faith could be illustrated by the examples in Hebrews ch11. Noah trusted God, and therefore listened and built the ark. Abraham trusted and obeyed. The parents of Moses trusted that God would look after him. The people crossed the Red Sea by trust. And so on. For that matter, the submission of Job, in Job ch42, was based entirely on trust, since God refused to justify himself. "I am your Creator. That's the only answer you're going to get."

I set great store in the implied distinction in John's gospel between believing that [OTI], and believing in [EIS or EN]. The first is about believing in the truth of statements. For John, it means means believing something specific about the nature and identity of Jesus. Thus his disciples believe that he is “the Holy One of God” (ch6 v69), or the Christ (ch11 v27). “Believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me” (ch14 v11) and “You have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father…” (ch16 v27). Inn addressing the Father, his desire is “that they may believe that that thou hast sent me” (ch17 v21).

Believing IN Jesus means placing one’s trust in him. It’s an advance on simply believing what Jesus says, though it may follow on from believing what he says. His disciples believed in Jesus, the Samaritans believed in Jesus, "many people" believed in Jesus. Jesus himself urges his hearers to “believe in me”; “He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (ch11 v25). His final appeal to his disciples includes the claim “He who believes in me, believes not in me, but in him who sent me” (ch12 v44). Then his final discourse to the disciples opens with the words; “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me” (ch14 v1)

My argument is that the function of believing "that" is to help us towards believing "in". It may be easier for the historic church to teach and monitor belief "that", but belief "in" is what really matters.

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Faith in God

No, Christian Religion is based on "Faith in God who expressed His Triune nature in the human person of God named Jesus Christ who walked on earth around 2000 years ago and who have been sending His Holy Spirit to believers who accept Him". It is thus based on "Acceptance of God and His works", which is consistent with the "acceptance of revolutionary facts" about this God if by "revolutionary facts" we mean His "works": what He did to save us in Christ.

Faith as light

One very good lecture on this, that I believe most Christian denominations will agree, is to define faith in terms of the light given by God to accept spiritual truths in our souls (i.e. the truths of the Christian religion) despite insufficient empirical evidence: The Light of Reason and the Light of Faith. A summary is this 10 minute Aquinas 101 video by the same lecturer, Fr. Dominic Legge: The Light of Reason vs. the Light of Faith.

Faith, Reason, and 2 kinds of facts

... modern universities discount religion by saying, "You Christians go by faith, but we only believe what is proven by facts!"

The confusion is between the different kinds of "facts" and the 2 different faculties to interpret them. Modern science is a tool to observe scientific facts and make theories about them, but by its own principle it denies itself the competency to observe spiritual facts and to make theories about them, which is the domain of theology. Humans use their senses and their faculty of reason to do science, and Christians (who are humans too 😀) use the faculty of faith in addition to reason & the senses to do theology.

Christians do not have to be professional theologians, but use their light of faith (given from God by grace) to intuitively accept the truths offered to them in the theology taught to them by a church. This light of faith does not contradict the light of reason but reason is elevated so that reason concurs despite the insufficiency of empirical evidence (since we cannot see God with our senses). Because reason concurs (although not satisfied fully until the light of glory is given in heaven), Christians say that our religion is rational.

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  • (Grateful Disciple) I accept the majority of your answer with the caveat that we recognize that Jesus appealed to several proofs of His Deity in John 5. He was not an advocate of "blind faith." By the way these same 5 proofs are appealed to by Peter in Acts 2's sermon!
    – ray grant
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 21:46
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Stephen Disraeli's answer is a fine one. In mentioning Hebrews, he touched on a point that bears a closer look.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJ21)

Now faith is [the] substantiating of things hoped for, [the] conviction of things not seen. (Darby)

The first translation is one commonly known. The second rendering was used in a sermon I once heard. "Substantiating" or "substantiation" carries a meaning stronger than mere assurance. Faith (in the true God, not any other) literally creates the things that are hoped for. Thus evidence, reason, science, and all that merely describe what is and can be seen. Faith goes deeper and creates realities that can later be seen.

Faith is not less than reason, it is more.

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"You Christians go by faith, but we only believe what is proven by facts!"

That statement isn’t even true. I have asked many of the people who say that to show evolution true by using archeology, and specified that one fossil in between a man and ape isn’t going to help, because if evolution is true, there should be more in-betweens than man and ape.

I also showed them that evolution is mathematically, and biologically nearly impossible.

Furthermore, how many of the greatest scientists were not Christians compared to Christians? Isaac Newton was a Christian–in fact, he said he only was a scientist so people would believe in God. People often say he was the greatest scientists ever. There are others.

Everyone makes decisions, and has opinions that aren’t bases on logic or facts at times (some change such opinions to align with logic and fact).

The greek word translated to faith (Πίστει) means trust/assurance.

I do not believe Christianity blindly (my Lord has shown me truth), I have faith in my Lord. If my Lord was not true, than explain the fulfillment of the prophecies? How were they fulfilled? When people question me on sich a subject, they leave with the knowledge that I do not blindly believe. If this is true for me, surely it is true for other Christians. It is true for my father.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for(A) and assurance about what we do not see.(B) 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.(C)

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command,(D) so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended(E) as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings.(F) And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.(G)

5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”a For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him(I) must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen,(J) in holy fear built an ark(K) to save his family.(L) By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.(M)

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance,(N) obeyed and went,(O) even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land(P) like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents,(Q) as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.(R) 10 For he was looking forward to the city(S) with foundations,(T) whose architect and builder is God.(U) 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age,(V) was enabled to bear children(W) because she[b] considered him faithful(X) who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead,(Y) came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.(Z)

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised;(AA) they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance,(AB) admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.(AC) 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.(AD) 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.(AE) Therefore God is not ashamed(AF) to be called their God,(AG) for he has prepared a city(AH) for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.(AI) He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”c 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead,(AK) and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.(AL)

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons,(AM) and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.(AN)

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born,(AO) because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.(AP)

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.(AQ) 25 He chose to be mistreated(AR) along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace(AS) for the sake of Christ(AT) as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.(AU) 27 By faith he left Egypt,(AV) not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer(AW) of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.(AX)

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.(AY)

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.(AZ)

31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.d

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon,(BB) Barak,(BC) Samson(BD) and Jephthah,(BE) about David(BF) and Samuel(BG) and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms,(BH) administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,(BI) 34 quenched the fury of the flames,(BJ) and escaped the edge of the sword;(BK) whose weakness was turned to strength;(BL) and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.(BM) 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again.(BN) There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging,(BO) and even chains and imprisonment.(BP) 37 They were put to death by stoning;e they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword.(BR) They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,(BS) destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves(BT) and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended(BU) for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,(BV) 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us(BW) would they be made perfect.(BX)

~ Hebrew 11

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    (TacoBlayno) So "faith" is aided by the "facts" of historically fulfilled prophecies? Such that the Magi were led to believe in the Christ child at Bethlehem. And the factual fulfilment of Isaiah 35, describing the miraculous healings by Jesus, helped John the Baptist to confirm his faith just before he died. Well put!
    – ray grant
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 21:00
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Yes, I've sometimes heard Christians urge a person having difficulty believing something that Christianity maintains, "Oh, you have to take it by faith". But they never mean, "Have faith in faith!" That's where people who don't have living faith in the living God misunderstand, which is not surprising, given that Christian faith is faith in the living God.

So often they mix up wishful thinking with faith. Worse, they see some professing Christians show belief in superstitions, even that their lives seem to be ruled by superstitions. But Christian faith is not wishful thinking; nor is it superstition. It is total trust in the reality of God, leading to willing obedience to him, so that their lives are upheld by faith in the promises of God. Well, that's the kind of faith the Bible speaks of, and gives myriad examples of, throughout the centuries.

Of course, if people have no faith in the Bible being the inspired, inerrant word of God, they are not going to consider it, let alone accept those examples as something they should aspire to. That is another major reason why many people misunderstand what Christian faith is. Christians personally know that "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17 KJV).

Books have been written about this, but all I'm going to add is that saving faith is a gift from God: "...think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3 KJV). The apostle Paul explained that "the word of faith which we preach" has to be believed:

"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, for the scripture saith, 'Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed'." (Romans 10:8-11, quoting Isaiah 28:16)

Those without Christian faith are inclined to view quotations from the Bible with exasperation, or even anger. Yet this answer is based on the foundational point that Christians believe the word of God, for his word is perfect and never returns to him void (Isaiah 55:11). That is the experience of those who have faith in the living God, and in his living word.

You ask, "What is the correct definition of faith?" Well, from the foregoing, it should be obvious that it will not be correctly defined by those who do not believe God exists, or that his written word is merely the thoughts of men. That's the negative answer. The positive answer is to search that written word, and to hear the spoken gospel, with an open heart - as per Romans 10:10 as already quoted. Once you've got that living faith, you will know it, even if it is not something that can be clinically explained to others, for it is not an appeal to intellectualism (even though it is based in facts), but to heart-felt desire to find God.

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You ask is the Christian religion based on "Faith in Faith". The short answer is NO.

You ask if the Christian religion has a foundation of “Acceptance of Facts”. The short answer is YES.

You ask, what is the correct definition of “Faith”? Revisit the answer given by Paul Chernoch who concludes that

“Faith is not less than reason, it is more.”

As for the claim that some Christians say “Faith is the reasonable response to revolutionary facts” I’m afraid I don’t even understand what you mean. What “revolutionary facts”?

Your main question implies that Christians depend on “blind faith” – a belief in something that does not stand up to factual interrogation. One dictionary definition describes it as “belief without true understanding, perception, or discrimination.” Another dictionary definition is “unquestioning belief in something, even when it's unreasonable or wrong.” Here is another modern definition: “Unquestioning faith (in someone or something) that is not supported by reason, logic, or evidence.”

However, for the purpose of addressing this question as it pertains to Christianity, here is an accurate definition of faith from my 1979 Collins English Dictionary of the English Language:

3. Christianity: trust in God and in his actions and promises

Allow me to direct you to the post by TacoBlayno who provides a long list of people whose faith and trust in God and in God’s actions and promises were based on a solid foundation.

Abraham followed God’s order based on his faith that God would keep His promise to raise up a nation through Isaac. Abraham’s faith was based on a lifetime of walking with God. Abraham’s faith was a reasoned and informed faith. Christian faith is neither blind nor unreasoned. It is based on knowledge of God’s nature and character, His promises in the Scriptures, and our personal experience walking with God every day.

To conclude, there is a caveat to Christian faith, which helps to explain why so many people fail to understand or to experience faith in the creator God of time, space, matter and all life:

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. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)

Related question: How do Christians define knowledge and faith?

To sum up, faith is described fully throughout the book of Romans, for example in chapter 3 verse 22 which explains that righteousness from God comes through faith in Christ Jesus. Romans 10:17 says faith comes from hearing the message - the message through the word of Christ.

This is more than mere intellectual assent - it is also transformative.

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  • (Lesley ) Several apologists list the events surrounding--and involving--the life of Christ as "Revolutionary Facts." 'What man has ever healed the eyes of the blind?' would be a revolutionary miracle. 'A resurrection from the dead!' would be a revolutionary fact beyond the ordinary. 'The supernatural Outpouring of the Holy Spirit by Jesus would qualify as something revolutionary. These facts would justify a person's decision to believe in Jesus.
    – ray grant
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 21:10
  • (Lesley) Appealing to culturally written definitions of "Faith" is not what astute scholars would consider reasonable. Which is part of the reason for this question. Letting culture--university academia or main street people--define the Christian faith is what is so misleading and detrimental to sincerely seeking individuals who are confronted by men that appeal to facts as the only path to truth. The definition of faith probably ought to rest on God's offer: "Come let us reason together." This is not a "God of the gaps" but one who also said, "Believe Me for My works' sake." (miracles )
    – ray grant
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 21:21
  • (Lesley) Your appeal to a definition of Faith in English dictionaries that are grounded in modern culture is dangerous. This is the crux of this question's posting. Cultural definitions are misleading and unreliable, causing honest seekers--and skeptics--to think twice about becoming a disciple of Christ. A more accurate definition from a Thinking God is needed; and an appeal is made to consider the words of God: "Come let us reason together."
    – ray grant
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 21:54
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    Thank you for explaining what you mean by "Revolutionary Facts". It would have been helpful if you had defined that term within the body of your question rather than assuming it did not require defining. :-)
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 7:32
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Upon checking the Concordance of the Bible, a fact stands out that seems to be hidden, and missed among the use of "Faith" as a term referring to the whole body of Christian doctrine (systematic theology). And that is, that real Faith always has an object. It is "faith in something."

  • Faith in God (Mark 11:22)
  • Faith in blood (Rom. 3:25)
  • Faith in the Lord Jesus (Eph. 1:15)
  • Faith in Christ (1 Tim. 3:13)
  • Faith toward God (Heb. 6:1)

So for anyone's faith to be substantial, it must be in a reliable object. God certainly fits this bill (Psalm 114:1-3) And the problem for many weak Christians is they put their faith in too many objects that are mortal: pastors, parents, mentors, heroes, who eventually prove to be fallible, and disappointing. So many offences arise, and subsequent backing away from God Himself.

Staying focused on the only consistent One is the sure remedy. ( Hebrews 12:2, the Author and Finisher of our faith)

Several Quotes by Scholars present some statements worth considering in the "faith vs fact" discussion:

...it is not unreasonable to believe in Christianity. Some Christians feel that this is all reason can be expected to do in this area, and that then faith must take over. That this is not the biblical view nor the traditional Christian view is, I think, clear from a study of the scriptures and a study of history. It is also, I believe, based on a misunderstanding of the nature of faith. Faith must be based on reasons, and the reasons must be good ones. (Richard Purtill, Reasons to Believe.)

It appalls me...that the phrase "blind faith" is so popular among unbelievers. Few Christians would ever describe their faith as blind. For about 2000 years now the mainstream Christian view has been that faith is a reasonable trust, a sensible confidence in things like God, Christ, and the Bible. This trust is based on adequate evidence, though it may not be perfect or demonstrable... Sadly enough, some Christians fall into this same error of defining faith as if it were credulity. When challenged to give a defense of their belief...they reply: "I just accept it by faith." I can't agree with this. Faith must never be used to cloak ignorance or excuse laziness. To devote your whole life to something you can't defend isn't faith but courageous nonsense...We can never make an intelligent choice between worldviews unless we have some credentials for our various faiths. James Ross is correct when he says: "Widespread 'inadequate evidence' view of faith is entirely unfaithful to...the traditional teaching of Judaism and Christianity." What is the correct definition of faith? Faith is trust, informed trust, reasonable trust, trust based on some evidence. (Arlie Hoover, Dear Agnos)

Today we have been infected by something called "Fideism." Fideism says, "I don't need to have a reason for what I believe. I just close my eyes like tiny Alice and take a deep breath, scrunch up my nose, and if I try hard enough, I can believe and jump into the arms of Jesus. I take a blind leap of faith." The Bible never tells us to take a leap of faith into the darkness and hope that there's somebody out there. The Bible calls us to jump out of the darkness and into the light. That is not a blind leap. The faith that the New Testament calls us to is a faith rooted and grounded in something that God makes clear is the truth... The task of apologetics is to show that the evidence that the N.T. calls people to commit their lives to is compelling evidence worthy of our full commitment. That often involves a lot of work for the apologist. Sometimes we would rather duck the responsibility of doing our homework, of wrestling with the problems and answering the objections, and simply say to people, "Oh, you just have to take it all in faith." That's a cop-out. That doesn't homor Christ. We honor Christ by setting forth for people the cogency of the truth claims if Scripture, even as God himself does. We must take the trouble to do our work before the Spirit does his work, because the Spirit does not ask peiople to put their trust and faith and affection in nonsense or absurdity.(R.C. Sproul,Defending your Faith)

Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer (apologetic, Gk.) to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is within you with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15)

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    Faith IN the object of our worship and in what He has done, through Christ Jesus. And faith comes from hearing the message, and in studying the message, which engages the intellect. But there's more to it than just head knowledge, of course.
    – Lesley
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 7:29
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    @LesleyPrecisely! And the Gospel message contains awesome historical evidence that "is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, etc." (Heb. 4:12) Gospel truth (informed faith) has a way of penetrating the soul of man that will transform even the hardest heart into a cushy teddy bear of love!
    – ray grant
    Commented May 27, 2023 at 21:12

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