Defining Faith

My biggest problem with the New Atheists boils down to this:

That’s not faith. Here’s how Hebrews 11 defines faith:

1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

I would suggest, humble readers, that this definition of faith – belief in the unseen – is not the same as deliberately not seeing. Which is the way most atheists seem to frame it. Seeing something and denying it is not faith – which is a problem for some Christians, I’ll admit. But thought and faith are not in opposition – faith simply deals with that which we hope and do not see. I don’t have faith that a chair will hold me. I trust that it will. Because I have watched it, or experienced it, holding me. That’s where, I think, faith and trust are different.

If I had found any contradictory evidence (ala point 1 of the above definition), ie if I had seen it – then it would no longer be faith keeping me in a position (according to Hebrews 11) but stupidity. Taking something “on faith” does not mean not seeking to confirm the thing by investigation, or observation – and it does not mean holding a position contrary to logic, reason, or observation. This is where I think Atheists 2.0 have it most wrong. At least second most wrong. I think not believing in God is where they have it most wrong…

That is all.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

3 thoughts on “Defining Faith”

  1. Yeah, this keeps bugging me, too. And Christians don’t just talk in terms of this faith, but in terms of faith, hope, and love. We hope for a future that has not yet happened. We love others because of what we are not and because of what we are becoming.

    It’s at this point that I’d love to see today’s atheists interacting with the Christians that have already been addressing them for decades: guys like Wolfhart Pannenberg, who have been moving beyond boring debates about evidence towards eschatological thinking for the modern world.

  2. Actually, I would argue that the Hebrews 11 faith is much more like the trust you have in chairs: because of past experience. Just look at Hebrews 10: it’s all about Jesus’ and that’s why we can trust God’s promises, and just look at the witnesses he cites in chapter 11.

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