I mean a particular approach to knowledge. In this context faith might best be understood if preceded by the words leap of. It means believing something for which there is very little evidence or strong evidence to the contrary. It is this approach to knowledge that distinguishes uniquely religious beliefs from other beliefs, including beliefs about morality that one might derived philosophically, for example, from mans nature as a creature with a rational capacity and free will.
Aquinas distinguished natural law, which is discovered through reason, from divine law, which is revealed directly in the Bible. But there is no rational way to determine whether the revelations in the Bible are any better than those in the Koran or those expounded by Hindu or Buddhist mystics.
Later thinkers tried to understand God as revealed in nature via reason. This line of thinking ended in Deism, with a god as a prime mover/designer force who is not involved in any way in the day-to-day operations of the universe or the world of humans.
Some religious folks argue that those who accept that our knowledge about objective reality must come through rational inquiry are acting on faith just as much as someone who believes every word of the Bible (or any other holy book) is revealed wisdom and instant knowledge. But thats playing a word game because the two approaches to knowledge are very different.
When I think of faith I must base it on my almost 60 years of study (the last 48 years, more seriously)of the promises in the Holy Scriptures.
We know: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:13)
In the Gospel of John Chapter one: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.”(v.1) “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (v.14)
In Hebrews chapter 11: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (V.1) “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (v.3) “But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (v.6)
We know the Lord Jesus told Satan: “Man shall live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)
And like we read in Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is quick and sharper than.........and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Now that I’m 77 years old, have worked in the consulting engineers field over 40 years, along with other Architects, Engineers, and Contractors; many of which were Hindus, Moslims, Russian Jews, Buddists, etc. I learned one major lesson: Our Lord Jesus Christ died for all of them, He came to bring salvation to the Jew first, then to all others.
“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world: but that the world through Him, might be saved.” (John 3:17)
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen is the definition given in the Bible. That’s good enough for me and most Christians.
Based on that definition, all human beings live by faith. We had faith that when we went to bed last night, we would wake up this morning. We have faith that the doctor gives us the proper diagnosis and that the pharmacist who fills the doctor’s script will give us the right medication. We have faith that the food we eat and drink we drink won’t make us sick or kill us. The list could go on and on.
God does not ask His children to live by blind faith. The evidence of His existence is everywhere if we will take the time to look and listen. Science is just man’s way of showing how God does things.
After hundreds of prophecies written in the Bible are fulfilled exactly as predicted, it would be unreasonable and illogical to not have faith that they were written by the hand of a Creator. For example, the coming of Christ was predicted many times by Old Testament prophets and came to pass. If anyone here can predict even one unusual event before it happened, I would pay attention to their words. Harold Camping is disqualified from that. :)
“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:16-21
Notice where it says “that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.” This is where Camping and those of his ilk constantly err.
Thanks to all for the conversation on this interesting topic.