More Less Randomly Ordered Opinions, this time…

On Faith

The word “faith,” from the Latin fides, from the root fidere, “to trust,” has a range of meanings.

Objectively, faith can denote what I believe, e.g., the Christian faith or the faith of the Christian church.

Subjectively, faith can refer to the act of my believing, which, at the least, has two connotations.

One, I believe or have faith that a proposition or statement is true.

Someone tells me, “Paul, water is wet.” The fact or truth of this is demonstrable to me by my own firsthand experience.

Another tells me, “Paul, the universe has one hundred billion galaxies.” The fact or truth of this is not demonstrable to me by my own firsthand experience, but I can (meaning that I could choose not to) accept this intuitively based on my conviction or confidence in the probable accuracy of astronomical investigation and discovery.

This kind of believing or having faith involves my intellectual assent.

Moreover, intellectual assent alone does not necessarily imply that I have any personal relationship or particular interest in the matter that I believe to be factual or true. I can believe and have faith that water is buoyant based upon the testimony of countless swimmers, yet never take to the water myself.

Two, I believe or have faith in a person.

I have confidence, through my examination of my historical experience of that person, of her/his truthfulness and reliability in word and deed.

This kind of believing or having faith involves my first-and-ongoing decision of commitment to be in relationship with that person.

Detail - The Hands from the fresco, The Creation of Adam (1511-1512), Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564)

Theologically, faith denotes my belief in God.

This form of believing or having faith is subjective in both senses of the word.

It involves my intellectual assent. For I cannot trust or have confidence in God unless I believe that God is real and present to be trusted and in whom I can have confidence. To put this another way, with this kind of faith I do not have confidence in a proposition or statement about God, say, that God exists, but rather in the reality of the person of God who exists.(1)

It embraces my whole self; not only my intellect, but also my emotions, what I feel, and my will, my power to choose to commit myself to God.

On Reason and Faith

Reason and faith are not opposed.(2) For by “faith,” I mean my belief in the existence of God and, in believing God to be a reality, my response to God in desiring to be in relationship with God.

Therefore, reason, as I wrote in a previous blog post,(3) that human capacity of make sense of things, is a necessary aspect of faith, particularly in my efforts to seek to know God (an endless, indeed, eternal task, for God is beyond the fullest human comprehension) and to communicate with others, however imperfectly, my understanding of God.

 

 

Footnotes:
(1) That is, God is real and no mere product of my imagination or projection of my inner need for an overarching power and authority to which or to whom I can appeal for resolutions to life’s imponderable questions and for relief from life’s vexatious tribulations.
(2) Reason and faith are not opposed, unless by “faith,” I mean my belief or confidence that something is true contrary to observable and confirmable proofs, e.g., my faith that the earth is flat despite conflicting scientific evidence or my faith in the honesty of a person who repeatedly lies to me and betrays my trust.
(3) Less Randomly Ordered Opinions, February 7, 2019

Illustration:
Detail, the hands of Adam (left) and God (right) from the fresco, The Creation of Adam (1511-1512), Michelangelo (1475-1564), Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

2 thoughts on “More Less Randomly Ordered Opinions, this time…

  1. Good Morning Paul!! It’s been a crazy busy week and I behind on my writing…BUT I had to read this and I’m so glad I did!!!

    You asked a question the other day if I would be posting some of my writing from my Spiritual Writing class in my
    blog. My answer is YES…

    And in this blog you provided more class information for me. I believe my faith is strong, and others always allude to it. But it’s hard for me to put my faith into words. I’ll try to do so in my writing this weekend and yep you’ll eventually get to see it.

    One of the things I’ve learned in this class already is that YOU have an amazing amount of material to teach your own spiritual writing class.

    Much love!

    Like

  2. Loretta, I look forward and, indeed, will relish reading your writings. Bring ’em on!

    And, as always, you are kind to me. The “amazing amount of material” I have of which you speak, truly and only, are my personal ruminations, which, as you know of my stubbornness to try something new, doubtless, will remain where they are. On my blog. Ah, well, for another life!

    Love ya’!

    Like

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